A list of what’s currently in my bag for living in Saigon for two months, and general thoughts on packing for the road and photography:
Clothing (all merino wool)
For clothing, I recommend all merino wool (besides underwear/boxers). Merino wool is resilient, cool in hot weather, warm in cool weather, doesn’t stink, and dries quickly. Merino wool is epic because it’s not itchy, like traditional wool (I know, because I have sensitive skin).
My recommendation: two pairs of everything merino wool (all black). Everyday you can wash one pair in the shower or sink with shampoo, wring it, then hang dry. It should dry overnight, depending on weather.
Merino wool Tshirt
Merino wool darn tough socks
Merino wool Leggings
For pants I recommend merino wool “leggings” (look like yoga pants). Wear them with black athletic workout shorts (if you’re a man, to hide your junk).
Exofficio boxer briefs in black. I’ve worn these the last 6 years. Best boxers ever.
For shoes, my new epic discovery are water shoes for travel. Super light, minimal, and great for walking and strengthening your feet. I got a pair on Amazon (shark style) for only $15 USD! Or for more traditional shoes, just get some Nike Free Flyknit shoes (the more minimal, the better).
Of course camera equipment. Now my setup is a bit different, because I’m getting more into video equipment and vlogging.
Camera is the Lumix G9, Leica 12mm f/1.4 lens (24mm full frame equivalent). Great for stills and video, just shooting it in iA (intelligent auto mode), with medium sized jpeg for smaller file sizes. SD card is a SanDisk Extreme 128gb (Transcend is good too).
Microphone: Rode video microphone, runs with a volt battery, is big but very light, great audio quality. Essential for vlogging.
Phone: Currently sharing a Samsung Galaxy S7 edge with Cindy (I’m writing this blog with the WordPress mobile app). Disclaimer: this phone was given to me for free about 2 years ago, because I was part of the “Samsung White Glove” program. Today if I got a new phone it would be the iPhone X, or perhaps a Google Pixel 2.
Headphones: Apple Beats X (love these), some generic earbuds, and the Samsung Level On (wireless, Bluetooth, noise canceling, also given to me for free. But these headphones are actually surprisingly good, using them right now to drown out the distracting noises at the coffee shops in Saigon). Currently writing this at “Marou Chocolate” in Saigon.
For laptop, I got a refurbished (maxed out) MacBook Pro 13 inch (2017 edition touch bar, Space Grey) and I love it. Insanely fast, super light, thin, same weight as 13 inch MacBook Air. Highly recommended to buy a maxed out Refurbished MacBook computer (search Apple website for Refurbished MacBook Pros).
I also brought iPad Pro 10.5, which is great for processing GoPro Fusion videos. I’m currently not using it as much as my laptop.
For toiletries, get this thing from Muji. I’ve had it for around 5 years, and it is going strong. Can’t find it anymore, but this is pretty close.
7 travel photography packing tips
Overall basic tips for packing before a street photography travel trip:
- When in doubt, throw it out: Even now I overpack. If you’re not sure whether you should bring something or not, don’t bring it. If you forget something essential, you can always buy it abroad (yes, other countries are also developed enough).
- All merino wool everything in black (2 pairs): Don’t overpack clothing, it is the biggest waste of space and weight.
- One backpack: Fit everything in one carry on backpack. Less time waiting at the airport for checking in and out. And you will be less fatigued, less stressed, and more nimble in your movements.
- One camera, one lens: Don’t overpack camera gear. For one camera one lens, just bring a Ricoh GR II, a Fujifilm X100F, or whatever you own. Treat it like a fun “creative constraint“.
- Bring a laptop: While you’re traveling, do creative work. Process and edit your photos, share them, make videos, and take advantage of fast wifi (Vietnam internet speeds are insane. I can upload 2gb files in around 10 minutes at a public coffee shop).
- Don’t bring books: Optimize for weight. Use the Kindle app on your phone, or read ebooks on your iPad.
- Blog about your experiences: Better to share your experiences while you’re traveling. Don’t just Instagram and Facebook. Make your own Photography website or blog (bluehost.com and WordPress.org), and share your stuff there. More info on how to build your own Photography website/blog in my “Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Photography Entrepreneurship” online course.
More thoughts and ideas to come.
For more recommendations, check out my EQUIPMENT page.
Travel Photography Articles
- Why I Love Traveling
- 10 Tips How to Take Better Travel Photos
- Life Lessons I’ve Learned Living Abroad and on the Road for the Last 2 Years
- How to Make Better Travel Pictures
- 10 Travel Hacks
- 25 Travel Photography Tips For Beginners
- Will Traveling Make You a Better Photographer?
- Why Travel?
- How to Travel as a Photographer With Family
- Economy of Movement
- On Travel and Street Photography
- 10 Tips For Traveling and Shooting Street Photography