Wanderer

Why my perspective towards RTW packing changed overnight…

I have 9 days left in England, and so I’m already well into the throws of packing, storing and selling my possessions. The memories of my aching back from last summer convinced me to buy a lovely little 1.6KG 55x40x20 suitcase to replace my quaint little 46x32x15 canvas pinstriped backpack. The only reason I upgraded in size was because I can stuff so much more into a backpack than a suitcase – do you find the same? I began by buying a suitcase that was almost identical in measurements as the backpack thinking, ‘ok, same size, just on wheels. Lovely.’ This suitcase, in fact.

Well the suitcase was almost fine, it easily fit my laptop (case and charger), my camera (lenses, cases and charger), about three outfits… and not much else.

So I went and bought the larger (but still suitable for a Ryanair flight) suitcase, and said to myself that it doesn’t matter if the case is bigger, I’ll still pack exactly what I packed last summer; as little as possible.

That was a week ago. Things have changed a little since then; I’ve realised a few things. I’ve always been a big believer that if you are travelling for three weeks, three months or three years, there is very little difference in how much you need to pack. I’ve never understood people who say ‘well I’m travelling for a whole summer, so I need 200 outfits. But then I started packing… and I realised, as much as I love backpacking, and I’ve always loved having just a tiny backpack (except for the backache) to carry all I need for a few months, I don’t want to do that for longer than a summer. I want to live out of a suitcase.

This realisation started with a skirt. This skirt, actually:

Image from here.

This is my absolute favourite skirt, bought at H&M about a year and a half ago. Every time I travel, it gets left behind simply because it’s made of 10000 layers and would take up half of my backpack. I can deal with that, it’s only a skirt, it just means I wear it as much as possibly for a few months when I come back to England to make up for it. Except that this time, it managed to sneak into my suitcase… closely followed by a pair of black kitten heels. I bought them back in March, broke my foot in April, and so I’ve never worn them besides a few times to break them in around my apartment. And they are just too beautiful to be a waste of £20. And besides, I plan to stop and teach English when I start to run out of money.. I need a suitable outfit for work.

I do need to watch myself though; it’s easy to get carried away and start finding any excuse to justify everything in my wardrobe. A New Look LBD is trying to sneak it’s way in under the same excuse as the kitten heels; work clothes, but so far I’ve been stern and said no; a LBD can be bought anywhere if necessary.

I think my suitcase wardrobe is fairly finalised.

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  1. Pink Midi Dress. H&M A/W 2011. £20
  2. Green Skater Dress. Primark. £10
  3. A trusty black tank top (with lace trim)
  4. Satin cream 3/4 blouse. New Look. £16.99
  5. Nautical Striped top (mine is 3/4 and backless)
  6. Roll sleeved dusky blue t-shirt. New Look. £4.99 (I’ve ripped up the back of mine)
  7. Baggy waterfall pink thin jumper. Vera Moda. £18
  8. White 3/4 Cardigan. H&M £6.99
  9. Black floral bralet.
  10. Brown tweed shorts.
  11. Black suede kitten heels. New Look. £6
  12. Cream/black pointed flats.
  13. Black brogues.
  14. Black waist belt.
  15. Pink scarf. New Look. £7.99

It’s all a bit more chic than my usual backpacking wardrobe, which consists of summer tea-dresses, gladiator sandals and short shorts. But then again, I’m not backpacking this time, I’ve living out of a suitcase, and so why can’t I bring one or two luxuries?

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Wanderer

Travel Gadgets…

As a photographer, I can’t travel gadget-free, as much as sometimes wish I could. I need my camera, and therefore lenses, memory cards, card reader, laptop, hard drives, chargers for everything… blah blah blah.

In the past I have always left my laptop at home, which has never been a problem. I can always find somewhere to empty out memory cards onto online storage and the external hard drive that I always take with me, and last summer I purchased an IPad 2, which has gotten me out of quite a few jams this past year (I’ve lost count of how many times I have found myself stranded at 1am and the IPad has helped me find a bed for the night).

However, as this time I won’t be coming home for uni in September, the IPad is going, and the laptop is coming with me.

So.. my gadget essentials:

  • Product Image I’ll have to sell both of my laptops (I never did find time to sell my old one…) and my IPad and buy myself a new laptop. Mine is brilliant but so bulky, with a 15in screen, and so heavy, its just not practical for travelling. I’m a little torn… do I finally give in and switch to Mac and go for a teeny tiny 11in Macbook Air, or stick with PC and buy a 13in Dell XPS13? image To be fair, they’re pretty much identical, the XPS13 is definitely a Macbook Air clone.. but do I go Mac or PC? 11in or 13in? 1.08kg or 1.36kg? Decisions, decisions…
  • My Canon 5D Mark II. The most important thing in my suitcase (as well as the lenses that go with it, of course!) For months I wondered if I should upgrade to the Mark III.. but no, I decided that I’ve been perfectly happy with my Mark II for two and a half years now, and it has never given me any trouble (touch wood), so why upgrade just because everyone else is? For tech geeks.. you probably already know everything there is to know about it as its now oh-so-vintage. 21.1MP, 3.9 frames per second, ISO range to 6400 (expandable to) 25600)… etc etc. I love it.image
  • Lenses.. I only take two with me now days, as I find any others just sit in my bag… and I’m just such a minimalist when it comes to photography. image 50mm f1.8 Canon lens. Prime lens. So teeny tiny and uber light so perfect for travelling. It’s rare that I push the f/stop above 1.8, as I’m way too obsessed with dreamy, blurry backgrounds. I solely use it for portraiture and fashion. image 24-105mm f4 Canon lens. Much bulkier, bigger and heavier than the 50mm, but basically its my ‘for everything that the 50mm can’t do’ lens. Eventually I’ll switch it for the 24-70 f2.8, but right now I’d rather spend my money on making memories to photograph rather than on the equipment used to capture it (I mean, we’re talking about £820 for the 24-105mm compared to £1800 for the 24-70mm.. that’s £1000 difference!!). I can think of several photography friends of mine who will read that with disgust, so I’m sorry!
  • The little thought of stuff that comes with my Canon. Charger.. battery.. spare battery (I only ever use Canon batteries).. several memory cards. Personally, mine are never bigger than 4GB; I like to spread my images out across dozens of memory cards and have to switch card every half an hour. As mildly irritating as that can be at times, I’d rather do that than risk losing more than 100-150 RAW files if something happens to one card. And I only ever use Sandisk Compact Flash Cards. I used to carry around a memory card reader, but now I have a multi-charger pack which also fits my camera-to-laptop perfectly.
  • image I always take one of these, A Yoobao 11200mA portable battery pack, just because I tend to wander for a few days off the beaten track and then find myself needing to charge my laptop so that I can get onto the Couchsurfing website, or whatever. £20 on Amazon, so definitely worth it.
  • Worldwide plug adaptor. Because it’s just so much more practical buying one plug that can work in any country rather than collecting various adaptors as I travel around the world. Personally I use the Micropix Worldwide USB travel adaptor, which is designed to work in over 175 countries. image which cost me about £4 on Amazon. Most of my hitchhiking friends have instead spent more and bought either the £9 Swiss travel adapter or £16 Skross travel adapter, but after two years, my Micropix is still working fine for me.
  • External hard drives.. these are really as important as my laptop and camera. I’ve tried dozens of portable hard drives over the years, and there are only two that I would trust to take travelling with me: image Toshiba STOR.E Basics 1TB portable hard drive. They’ve never yet let me down (touch wood), though I make sure that when travelling I carry it carefully in a very padded case.. you can never be too careful. At the moment its about £70-80 for a 1TB, or £45 for 500GB. Worth it. image     Or, I use LaCie Rugged Hard drives, which seem to be a favourite with many travel/travelling photographers. They already come with their own casing, so that’s one less thing for me to think about, though I just use the HDD Hard case recommended for LaCie hard drives for my Toshiba imageFor long, long travels like this one, I take two 1TB hard drives, and I use online storage too… I’m a little paranoid about losing images to say the least.

And that’s it.. no teeny tiny hair dryers or straighteners or ridiculously small and useless irons. This lot already takes up enough space in my bag, thank you very much!

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