Thursday, May 31, 2012

How to Pack Light

A friend suggested that I document what & how I packed for our recent trip to Ethiopia so I made a little video before I left to show those who are interested. Even though I'm not a packing expert, I began traveling with a carry-on only for our month-long trip to Greece in 2008 so I have a little bit of experience in packing light. Ethiopia was my 4th international trip with one carry-on bag and one "personal item" (plus numerous domestic trips). Anyway, check out the video and maybe you'll catch a couple of tips.

A few notes about the video:
  • Sorry for the shaky quality.
  • No matter how light I pack, I always end up taking things that I don't wear. I never wore the purple checked "loose" shirt I packed for "going out" and I never wore the hat or head scarves I took.
  • The "packing challenge" I mentioned was given to us by our team leaders. The purpose of meeting this challenge was two-fold: an act of solidarity (many people in Ethiopia only have one or two outfits) but also to just simplify. I feel I met both of these goals by what I packed.
  • Things I did not mention that were not packed include my zip-lock bag of liquids that I put in right before we left the house for the airport, my Kindle, my phone (which was used as a point & shoot), and a very small across the body purse. Those fit in the top of the blue Timbuk2 bag.
  • The "toiletries for the airplane" bag included my toothbrush, make-up remover wipes, ear plugs, inflatable head pillow, sleep eye mask, and other toiletry items that don't go in my liquids bag like clippers, tweezers, and eyeshadow (yes, I will wear make-up).
  • I wore another light coat/jacket over the thin jacket for my travel outfit. Addis Ababa is at 8,000 ft. and their temperatures have been averaging from mid-50s at night to mid-70s during the day. I was very happy to have this jacket on our first full day because it rained really hard and it was cold!
  • My camera/video gear for this trip included:
    • a travel flat tripod + ball head (carried in Eddie's larger orange backpack) 
    • 1 camera body with battery grip
    • 1 24-70mm f/2.8 lens (would really have loved to take my 70-200 but it's just too heavy and would have taken up too much space)
    • 1 580 EXII flash + sync cord (for potential off camera flash)
    • 1 external hard drive (our team leader will have a computer I can use to download photographs, audio, & video)
    • 1 CF card reader
    • 2 small stereo mics
    • 1 ProTrack Alesis recording device that records to an iPod
    • 1 small iPod
    • 1 small stereo mic stand
    • extra AAA and AA batteries
    • camera battery charger
  • Everything from the list above except my camera, battery grip, and lens were carried in Eddie's smaller "personal item" bag with my tripod in his larger orange backpack.
So, that's it. For other international trips, I have packed using the "bundle" method for my clothes in a regular carry-on suitcase. If you're interested in this method, check out The Packing Book. It seems like I try something a little different each time with variations in bags based on what camera gear I want/need to take. 

I'm by no means an expert but let me know if you have any questions and I'll try to answer them.

Oh, did you like my yogurt pants? ;)