Travelling in the Digital Era

Digital photography paraphernaliaOnce upon a time, you packed your trusty SLR camera (or two if you’re an enthusiast), a collection of prime and zoom lenses, a point and shoot camera, a disposable panoramic and/or underwater camera, a selection of must-have filters (the likes of Cokin and Hoya), a sizeable collection of film for print, slide, black and white, all in various ISOs, a larger than life x-ray safe film bag, a dedicated flash, spare batteries, a collapsible but sturdy tripod (which you cursed while lugging around) and other photographic paraphernalia.

And once you packed all your gear, you stood in wonderment, a perplexed sneer on one side of your face. You scratched your head and pondered if there was a simpler way to get the travel photographs you want without lugging all that equipment.

Then came the digital era.

You welcomed it with the same exhilaration as when you stood on top of the Jungfraujoch mountain after interminable train rides in Switzerland. With digital cameras the size (and cost) of your credit card, you caved in, bought one, then invested in a digital SLR. Suddenly life seemed much simpler.

But is it?

We are just a couple of weeks away from packing our bags and heading on a long-awaited trip. As an avid photographer, I pack my equipment before I pack my clothes. So as a dress rehearsal, I laid them out before me and and pondered about the true convenience afforded by the digital era.

I started with my constant companion, the one who after a few years together may be showing his age every time I think of his megapixels. And I began counting.

  1. Digital SLR Camera body – the Canon EOS 350D
  2. A choice of SLR lenses – wide angle prime lens, mid-range zoom lens, long zoom lens and the 50mm prime lens
  3. Charger – for the EOS camera
  4. Spare battery – although rare, I have run out of juice in one day.
  5. 3 memory cards – 1GB, 2GB and 8GB
  6. A camera bag

There are occasions where the big gun is not appropriate and a smaller camera that fits in an evening bag is essential. With the convenience of shooting short videos and photographing restaurant food, I have recently invested in a new compact camera.

  1. Digital compact camera – Canon IXUS 120 IS
  2. Charger – for the IXUS 120
  3. Spare memory card – 4GB
  4. Camera case

As an enthusiast photographer who downloads their photographs daily, a laptop has become a quintessential tool in the travel digital era.

  1. Laptop – ultraportable Sony Vaio, lightweight, small enough to fit in a handbag if necessary
  2. Charger – for the laptop
  3. USB cable – for camera downloads (best make that 2, just in case)
  4. LAN cable – in case wifi is not available
  5. A USB thumb drive – Since Vista makes the laptop run like a dog, I use it as ReadyBoost
  6. Laptop case

A laptop’s hard drive can malfunction or worse, there is a risk of it being stolen. Therefore it is worth investing in a back up mechanism and backing up those precious photographs daily.

  1. USB external hard drive – like the WD Passport Elite. At least I save on carrying a charger.
  2. USB cable – to connect it to the laptop
  3. Hard drive pouch – for protection

In this digital age, mobile phones have become as essential as a body part; some would even argue it is an extension of it. With the ease of global roaming, contacting friends and family you’re visiting abroad is much more convenient.

  1. Mobile phone – still dreaming of an iPhone…
  2. Charger – for the mobile phone
  3. USB cable – to sync Outlook Calendar with the laptop

And there you have it.

Life is much simpler in the digital era, innit?

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What photographic and digital paraphernalia do you carry on your travels? Share your thoughts in the comments.


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.


  • You’ve got a valid point there. On short trips, I load up on memory cards instead of carrying the laptop unless I’m travelling for business. Else I add a tripod  and a video cam to your comprehensive list.

  • Ha!  We actually carry even more than this.  In addition to all this, we have a Flip video camera, a mini-tripod (Joby Gorillapod), two Kindles, and two external hard drives and all the accompanying cords.  But, we don’t carry as many lenses as you.  We have a 18-200 mm lens that we use about 75% of the time and a wide angle lens, and that’s it.  We love our 18-200 mm lens and, if you’re in the market for a new lens, might want to consider it because it replaces the standard lens, and the mid-range lens (and may even replace your long-range lens).
    I am going to post our electronics packing list this week and, as I’ve been going through it, I keep getting nervous about not having more electronics insurance.

  • What kills me is the unending tangle of charges and cords — it’s such a waste of space in the bag. What we need is a universal charger that can adapt to all portable digital equipment. No joke — I think they should be standardized!

  • Richard – After taking nearly 500 shots in one evening, I’m not brave enough to rely on memory cards alone unless it’s a weekend away. You must have good shoulders! 🙂

    Akila – 2 kindles?! I take off my hat to you both!
    I gave up on video cams a while ago because shaky footage didn’t encourage watching the videos back home. So now, it’s up to whatever the Canon IXUS can do for short videos. As for the tripod, I rely on the high ISO now and a steady hand but have been debating whether to replace my broken one.

    My long range lens goes up to 300mm but I have my eye on an ultra wide angle, pricey, so it’ll have to wait. Besides, I end up carrying the camera bag, and the laptop bag…

    Daniel – Absolutely! If we had a one size fits all for all this stuff, well… I think we’d pack more gadgets! 😀 And let’s not forget those pin adapters. About time the world got a standard!

  • I’m a *huge* fan of traveling with digital gear and my laptop is never far from me. It’s such a useful tool I can’t see traveling without one although there are some that don’t see the benefits of an added 5lbs in your backpack.
    I’m waiting for an iPod touch with a microphone and speaker so I can unlock and use it like a Skype phone…

    • Anil: I can’t see why some people grumble about taking laptops. Not as if we’re lugging the old chunky dinosaurs around.
      At least that’d be a small gadget! With its own charger etc…

  • Last time I circumnavigated the globe it was with my trusty Canon T-50 SLR, Speedlite Flash, a 35-55mm lens and a 200mm Tele. No tripod, so I was constantly leaning up against railings and walls to stabilise my shots.
    Don’t you miss getting home and opening up that biscuit tin you filled up with rolls of film, and waiting anxiously for them all to come back from the processing lab, not knowing if extremes of temperature or airport baggage machinery has destroyed them?

  • Daniel – Good stuff! I wonder how a netbook compares to my 11.1″ screen Sony Vaio, so I might check one out. I look forward to your feedback on it after your travels.

    Kerry – Your comment took me back. The T50 was my very first SLR! And yes, I too did the trick of leaning against poles to steady myself for that low light shot. Good times.

    Actually, I don’t. I have had that many disappointments with print processing that I switched to (pro) slide for a while. Too many arguments and disappointing results. At least now I can minor Photoshop editing. But I do remember the wait until the photos were back, and the anticipation of reliving the memories back home.

    Thanks for dropping by and hope you come back 🙂