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30-December-2007 : Some Items That Make Traveling Just A Bit Easier
This post is a following up to my post on my “Staying Organized………Three Essential Items.” This post is not essential items, it is simply about some things I travel with that make my life a little bit easier on the road.
I like gadgets as much as the next person. I like to play with gadgets, new toys and things that light up for no reason, but when I pack, I pack for efficiency, size and weight. If it’s cool but does not have a practical purpose and just takes up space it’s out.
The following are a few items which often seem to find their way into my bag when I’m on the road.
1) Who needs a travel clock? Not me. For years I have been using a small, light, always reliable Motorola Advisor Elite pager as my travel alarm-clock. My pager has not had wireless service for years, but I tend to prefer this over my mobile phone when on the road. Most of the the time I keep my mobile phone set to my “home” rather than resetting it to local time. Since I do not reset my phone, I have no problem resetting my pager to local time. More important to me is the alarm on the Motorola Advisor Elite, it is loud and can wake the dead. Now when you are jet lagged, dead tired and have to be up 3 hours after you land what do you want? You guessed it, an alarm that can wake the dead. You can often find a Motorola Advisor Elite on eBay for less than $10.
2) When packing my bags I have always had trouble keeping my cords and small items organized. I have tried ZipLock bags, but they rip. I have tried small pouches, but often airport security makes me open them and empty them and then it’s just a waste of my time. My solution to this was to purchase the Think Tank Cable Management 10 case (http://thinktankphoto.com/ttp_product_CblMngmnt.php). The Cable Management 10 usually holds my CF card reader, iPod, USB cords, iPod charging cord, power supply for an Apple MacBook or PowerBook, international power conversion tips and other random small items. The case comes with elastic zip-ties to keep your cables together, it is make of a durable, flexible and clear plastic that will take the abuse of travel and still allow airport security to see through the case so they don’t ask you to open it. At under US$15.00 it’s a great tool for packing more effectively.
3) Don’t like the paper thin pillows on the plane? What’s that, your airline no longer has pillows? Yep, some of my preferred airlines got rid of pillows too! While browsing a Brookstone store a few years ago I stumbled upon the Tempur-Pedic 3-in-1 Travel Neck Pillow (http://3in1pillow.notlong.com ) and found it to be an amazing travel companion. This pillow is incredibly comfortable and durable. Once rolled up in it’s travel case it fits into my backpack, usually stuffed just on top of my Canon 70-200f2.8. Because it is Tempur-Pedic pillow it can be crushed, rolled, squeezed and shoved into almost any carry on bag with very little space. The pillow is well worth the US$80.00 and can save you a lot of neck and back pain when your cramped into your airline seat for a long flight or while taking a nap on the airport floor when you’re delayed.
4) I am not a huge tripod fan. Let’s face it tripods are impossible to pack for carry on, and awkward to walk around with. I use a tripod when I need a tripod, but often they are left behind and I am left wishing I had a tripod. My solution to this problem was the Gitzo Gitzo 0012 Compact Tripod with Gitzo G1277M compact ball head. While the Gitzo 0012 was replaced with the GT-0530, I still prefer the 0012. The 0012 is more compact and easier to pack. The Gitzo G1277M head is still available and a great head on a compact tripod or a standard tripod. If you can find the 0012 Compact Tripod, pick one up (the replacement tripod is around US$370 with no head!). I am exploring a few ultra-compact tripods, but for now I have enjoyed this tripod for general landscapes, night time long exposures and even with tilt-shift lenses when shooting architecture. I generally stick this tripod in my Pelican 1514 case and then attach it to my Mountainsmith Tour pack as I shoot.
5) We all wish we had a macro lens at times, but many photogs don’t carry them in their bags to save space or weight. For a long time I gave up my macro because I figured I really didn’t have a use for one. Not to long ago I became annoyed with myself and my lack of a macro lens on a few shoots. My solution was purchasing two Canon EF12/EF12II Extension Tubes. The 12mm Tube (Canon EF12) is for wide angle lenses while the 25mm tube (EF25) is for lenses longer than 50mm. To avoid having one long tube and one short tube , I made my own all purpose kit and just travel with two Canon EF12 tubes stacked. If I am using a wider lens I use one EF12 tube, if I am using a longer lens I use both tubes stacked together. This was not only more cost effective, but it takes up less space in my bag and makes my set up more versatile for my shooting set up and style. At US$80 for the EF12 (and US$130 for the EF25) it is a very cost effective and space effective way to always keep a macro on you
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