6 Weeks, 17 Countries, 2 Carryons

Photo © Bob Krist

I’m getting ready to head out for three, back-to-back trips for National Geographic Expeditions, which literally will take me around the world. These are high end educational tours, and I’m one of a bank of speakers the Geographic provides for the guests on the tour.

I also have to photograph the trips for the company,  and give camera advice to the interested parties….yup, it’s a dirty job, but as they say, somebody’s gotta do it!

We travel mostly by charter jet, so the overseas airline carry on /luggage stuff is not a problem (yay!). Otherwise, I’d be rocking in a corner with my thumb in my mouth by now, trying to figure out what airline allows what.

But you still have to plan.

Because we’re going to be moving fast and through a lot of off the beaten track locales, I can’t run out to the camera or computer store if something goes south. So besides the usual stuff illustrated above, and in my computer bag (the contents of which I described here in an earlier post), I’m carrying a couple of spares and extras.

Hit the jump for a list of the extra gear.Since I have to present about a dozen or so illustrated lectures, I’m working from my trusty 13″ black Macbook. But I’m throwing an old G4 iBook in as a backup in case the Macbook packs up.  This along with the usual array of backup harddrives, cords, chargers, convertors, etc. etc. make up the computer bag.

I’m also taking :

  1. A B&W infrared converted Coolpix 8400
  2. A Kodak Zi 8 point and shoot HD video cam with auxiliary mic. Smaller than an iPhone, great for grab HD clips. Not as pretty as DSLR video, but infinitely faster and simpler to set up and grab.
  3. Spare D300s, 17-50mm f/2.8 Tamron, 50-150mm f/2.8 Sigma (if I drop or lose my main glass), an 18-200mm VR Nikkor
  4. And maybe, an as yet-to-be-determined still point and shoot….the Zi8 can grab stills, but I’m still running a test or two to see how they look.

My Amazon Kindle, of course, and that’s about it. A checked bag with clothes for climates ranging from the Himalayas to the Sahara. And a good attitude. Verrrry important, that last one!

I’ll try to post as much as possible from the road, but expect gaps.

I have one more assignment to live through before I leave this weekend, and that’s shooting the NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade for a corporate client. If I survive that, it’s off to the races on Saturday. First stop: Mali, in sub-Saharan Africa.

This Post Has 34 Comments

  1. Bon voyage, Bob! Look forward to pics from the trip.

  2. Bob – I’m assuming that you’re not taking your compact lighting kit on trips like this, right? If so, could you sketch out how you might approach a situation for which you might need a little more than one SB-800 will give you? I have a job on an Egyptian dahabiya (small sail boat) on the Nile in November (a one-week trip), and I’m trying to figure out how to travel light (no pun intended), but make sure that I have what I need to photograph the trip (interiors and exteriors).

    Thanks in advance…


    1. Paul: No room or time to use my compact light kit. I take two SB’s and my Handheld Umbrella bracket. Sometimes, I can recruit a guest as a Voice Actuated Lightstand, but everything is very fast and down and dirty. See the Pages section for the handheld umbrella outfit.

  3. No tripod/monopod?

    Enjoy the trip.


    1. Always! a Gitzo Traveler with the RRS head (forget the number) plus a little table top.

    1. Jack: Wish I could, but you’re not as pretty as Peggy, so she get’s first crack! Bob

  4. Hi Bob, got a left-brain and right-brain question for you:

    1. How do you like the 3rd party lenses and are the fully compatible as far as CLS TTL work?
    2. What books are you reading, any non photo books you find inspirational photography-wise?

    Have fun out there –Skunk

    1. Skunk: I have no problem with 3rd party lenses, if they test out okay. I like the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 alot…sharp and small. The Sigma 50-150mm f.2.8 is another winner as is the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8.

      For reading, I’ve just finished Robert Wright’s Evolution of God, about how monotheism evolved. 1491, a history of the Americas before Columbus, and I just ordered The Big Short, Michael Lewis’ study of the financial meltdown and those who made a fortune from it.

      1. Hi Bob,
        I just got the audiobook of Evolution of God. Really interesting. Wright’s other books sound interesting as well, Nonzero & The Moral Animal.

        1. Hi Dave: Sorry to have missed you at Anne’s memorial. I’m eventually going to try all of Wright’s books. Turns out, he’s one of my brother’s best friends since they aere at Princeton! I still don’t hold that against him. Heading to Bangkok tomorrow. Hope to see you when I get back, Bob

  5. Bob, Sounds like a great trip – particularly the part about a chartered aircraft. Grab the Panasonic GF1, with the 20mm pancake. Hands down better than the P&S crowd and even does decent video. Look forward to your posts along the luxury road. David

    1. David: I’ll giv e it a look at B&H after the parade. 20 on a micro 4/3s is what, a 35mm coverage? Might be wide enough! cheers, Bob

      1. 4/3rds or micro 4/3 is double whatever 35mm equivalent is. So 40mm (and a fantastic lens)

  6. Hi Bob,

    Thanks for posting this – it’s super helpful to us that travel less frequently than you do.

    I’m heading to Namibia, Botswana and Zambia later this year for a month. To me, this looks like a fairly reasonable kit for that adventure as well. Is there anything I’m missing or do you have other suggestions? (FYI: It’s a mix of self-drive and flights, both intra-Africa and from the US to there. Mix of lodgings too – one night in a tent but mostly lodges)



    1. I think this would be a great outfit for the trip. If you’re really a wildlife buff, something that reaches out to 400mm might be better. Bob

      1. I totally agree with Bob. I failed to rent a 400 when I visited Kenya some six years ago….I will never make that mistake again!

  7. Just curious why you don’t carry the 18-200mm VR instead of two bodies?

    1. Mark: Wider range of focal lengths, slightly faster and sharper optics, redundancy, force of 30 year habit….Bob

  8. What a breath of fresh air for small and light!

    I had to teach and shoot at the last gig and the teaching was with not my primary Nikon system, so between the two systems, the lighting, the books, the computer and everything else, I was 80 pounds for the check-in and another 50 for the “carry-on”. Luckily it was just an hour flight and the airline touts no charges for two check-ins!

    Since this was domestic and one-hop, I felt comfortable checking my well-padded and ancient big glass in the lighting bag.

    I hope my next time I can go light and easy! With cards so cheap I may be able to leave the MacBook at home and simply use the iPhone for surfing and email, unless I’ve got to present or train 🙁 Someday…

    With the cameras getting smaller and better, it’s getting pretty tempting to down-size to the smaller combo-cams and DX lenses and go svelte. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Hi Larry: I’m really trying to travel lighter and stick to DX, but with some of the latest FX lenses I’ve been testing lately, it’s hard!

  9. Bob: I just returned from Uganda and took an universal power strip so I could charge multiple items at once using just one outlet. One of the guys had a BlackRapid camera strap that made camera access a snap, esp with a big lens. The camera raincoat really came in handy during a downpour as we stalked the chimps. Your advice is always spot on. Have a great trip.

    1. Mike: Glad to hear it, and glad you’re back okay! Bob

  10. Bob,

    Where can I get a good discussion of mirror lenses vs non? I am looking to buy a “long glass” 500 or 600 lens for my Nikon D40X.

    Keith Smith from your first trip to Tanzania

    1. Keith: Probably nowhere, as mirror lenses are kind of a dead issue anymore. I’d look at one of the Sigma 150-500 zooms. Bob

  11. On a Nikopnian podcast, you mentioned that you maade a list of what you have to shoot on projects. Would you mind sharing that list from your current project



    1. Dave: unfortunately, I don’t have that list with me, but it is in both my books on travel photography (Spirit of Place, and Travel Photography: Documenting the World’s People and Places. And I think I’ve written about the list at least once for my Outdoor Photographer column. So if you don’t mind doing some Googling, I think you’ll find it. IF not please ping me again in early May when I’m back in front of my own computer.

      ciao, Bob

  12. Bob, can you give me a link for universal power strip? also, what should i get for my D300s, a 16-85 or tamy 17-70?
    thank you!

    1. meir: it’s available from Magellans (www.magellans.com). The 16 -85mm is awfully hard to resist. BK

  13. Hi Bob, let me ask you some questions if you do not mind answering them. – You always carry Nikon D90 equipment? -how you find this camera for your job? -wich other camera you think would be good for your trips? Thanks and great trip! Greetings from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    1. Hi Diego: I’m on the road and those are big questions. Please search this blog with those keywords and you’ll get answers to most of your questions. Bob

Leave a Reply

Close Menu