White Pass & Yukon Scenic Railway, Skagway, Alaska
Kathy & I are planners, and we have developed a number of tools to help us gather and pack the clothing, sundries, camera equipment and other essentials for every kind of trip we take. I was talking with a friend the other day about our upcoming Alaska/California adventure, with the usual small talk (have you started packing, how many suitcases are you taking, etc.). I replied that while Kathy & I have talked about the fact that our packing for this trip will be a little different than our packing for a typical Caribbean cruise (it’s rainy and 44 in Skagway as I write this, with snow and lows in the 30’s in the short-term forecast!) it’s not that difficult because we’re pretty organized.
“Pretty organized” may be an understatement.
We haven’t worried about packing because it’s not a big deal. We’ve developed a workbook in Excel that contains checklists for every kind of trip we’ve ever taken. It we did something different, we would probably be able to adapt one or more of our existing lists to make a new one. It’s partly because we’ve traveled a lot and don’t like to reinvent the wheel every time, but it’s also because we try hard to not take too much stuff. It’s a bit of a challenge, but we both try very hard to enjoy coming back from a trip with stuff we didn’t use or clothes we didn’t wear. Especially the latter.
Sherman City Hall-Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Denali National Park, Alaska
Being organized is a real advantage, though. On one hand, we love to be serendipitous. Decide on Thursday night to head for the mountains after work on Friday. Sometimes we do, and we can be packed for a weekend in 30 minutes. On the other hand, we never worry about having what we need because if we’ve needed it before it’s on the list, and if we haven’t needed it before it’s not. So when we need to we can pack in a hurry, and we take comfort in knowing that – ruling out something unexpected – if it’s not on the list, we don’t need it! And THAT allows us to enjoy the journey and not worry about the gear.
Gracious House Lodge and Flying Service, Denali Highway, Cantwell, Alaska
Packing camera gear is a lot like packing shirts. I decide how many I think I need, know that I’ll leave a favorite or two at home, put them in a bag or case, and go. For this upcoming trip I’ve decided to take just 3 lenses. I could take more, but then I would have to take my huge Think Tank roller and I know I’d end up having to check it. Plus, that’s a lot of gear that I just don’t need. So I’ve decided to pare things down to a small backpack that I’m confident will fit under the seat. My current lens choices are the 17-40, 24-105 and 100-400. I keep going back and forth between the 24-105 and the 24-70. It’s tough because the 24-70 is a significantly better lens (to me), but the 24-105 gives me a bit more coverage and I think the IS will come in handy. Handy enough to give up the better lens? That’s the question.
I have the same struggle with the 100-400. My 70-200 is my favorite lens of all, and I hate to leave it at home. But I really think I’m going to want the 400 focal length in Alaska, and while I could get that with the 70-200 and a 2X converter, having the converter is kind of like having another lens, because then I either have a 70-200 or I have a 140-400, and the 100-400 pretty much solves that.
And as I’m so fond of saying – repeat after me – the more lens choices I have the more likely I’ll decide I’ve got the wrong one on the camera.
My next decision involves whether to take a backup body, a point & shoot, or both. There may be a few times when I’ll want to have the 100-400 on one body and a wide-angle on another body. Not too many, but enough that I’m taking the 5D as a second body. It would be a shame to carry all that glass to Alaska and have something happen to the new 5D, so it will be good to have a worthy backup.
Glaciers in College Fjord, Alaska
I originally planned to take along my G12 as a “walking around” camera, but when I really started thinking about it, I had to ask myself how likely it would be that I would leave the 5D Mark III behind anywhere? I’m pretty sure that the new camera will go with me everywhere, and that I’d end up never using the G12. So, as of right this moment it is staying at home.
One of the things I liked about my previous choices of camera bodies was that the 5D, 40D and 20D all use the same battery. The 5D Mark III uses the same battery as the 7D, but alas I didn’t buy that one, so I’ll need to take a separate set of batteries and a charger for the other camera, too. That’s not really a problem, but it is a bit more stuff to pack.
Fog Rising from the Bay, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska
I don’t usually take a computer when we travel these days, but I’m taking one for this trip. I’m taking it mostly because I know I’m going to take a lot of photos, and even though I think I’m taking plenty of cards I want to be able to back them up. And just in case I do run out of empty cards I want to be able to re-use them. So the computer goes with me, along with an external hard drive for backup. And if I get inspired to write a blog post or two, it’s a heck of a lot easier to type on the computer than on the iPad!
Marina, Ketchikan, Alaska
Since this trip involves lots of different destinations with activities in each, with appointments and directions once we get back to California, I’ve added all my maps and documents to my iPad. So in addition to having plenty of things to read I’ve got everything I need to get us where we need to go. Pretty slick!
So, now that I’ve got all the camera gear and computer equipment figured out, the clothes should be a – relatively speaking – piece of cake!