Packing for a road trip to cover off a much needed vacation – travelling with wife and 3 year old daughter, combined with professional photography needs all in a VW GTI… will this be possible with no roof rack? I think so yes, the biggest thing in packing (learned from several adventures around the globe), is keeping things simple and editing your pack.
To edit your packing there are some simple questions you can ask:
• Are there items you can simply buy when you get to your destination?
Small toiletries - this is even better if you’re flying and don’t need to take the bag out while going through security for scanning because of no liquids.
• What activities are you doing while travelling?
Can you pack multipurpose attire - I find casual hiking attire to be the best option, it is super light weight, rolls up nicely and suits lots of various venues - usually in black or grey for the trousers and simple tops - button downs or layered items for colder climates. If you get into high end technical gear, it typically looks a more hiking/climbing specific.
If you’re flying, you can wear your layers on the plane to keep the bag reduced. For our travel packs, we’ve updated from our awesome Deuter packs to 40L travel backpacks from TOPO Designs that really help keep our stuff organized and accessible. Our daughter luckily doesn’t need the same level of stuff we took for 3 weeks in Europe, making her packing a bit lighter and easier - thank goodness no stroller!
• For photography… Do you need all your lenses, lights, stands etc - or can you rent at the location or simply force yourself to use less?
I used to travel with more, but I opt for the later part of the question and force myself to work with less. The challenge gets you moving and thinking differently. For this trip, I will take a bit more than I would for a flying holiday, but that is because I have the luxury of driving (yeah - some luxury of 15 hours driving a single direction). I will still edit down what I would do for a local production and use a smaller light kit (Profoto B2, with a 3’ octa and a small light stand), my camera will be my trusty old 5diii with a 50mm 1.2 and 85mm 1.2 (portrait focus photography work), chargers, light trigger, tether kit and my 13” macbook pro for editing… It all fits into a single small backpack (except the stand and the octa). I’ll also have my pocket camera the Ricoh GRIII on hand for when we’re just enjoying our days with no photo obligations.
So when you’re packing for a vacation with a few photography obligations, there are several ways to go for various needs (ensure you can deliver on the photography needs but don’t overthink it). Over the years simple is better - less lugging & less worry but a lot more enjoyment and getting creative.