10 Indispensible Travel Accessories

Holidays are over us these days, which for many of us means travelling – to foreign countries or maybe merely to our neighbour city. However we go adventures are awaiting many of us one way or another. And no matter how far or how long we travel, we all have our list of indispensable travel accessories we bring along. I bet photographers have more than most, but I also bet many of those photographers will not necessarily need all that equipment they carry around.

I do my fair amount of travelling throughout the year, since travelling is part of my work. Thus I give the things I bring along some serious considerations. I probably travel lighter than most – both when it comes to photo equipment, as well as personal belongings. When I can bring a small photo bag and just a carry-on; that’s when I am most happy – even when I go long-distance travelling. Here is my list of 10 indispensable accessories (with a bonus item thrown in at the end) I will bring along on most of my trips. It’s not about photo equipment – well mostly not, that you can figure out yourself I believe. And to be honest it’s not really indispensable accessories, I hardly bring everything along on all my trips. But it makes for a good header for the post, doesn’t it?

Tamrac bag● Tamrac Aero 80 Photo/Laptop Backpack. Let me start out with what I carry my photo equipment in. I have had my Tamrac for quite some time already and I have been very happy with it. It has three main compartments; one in the lower part for photo equipment, one in the upper part for personal belongings – a book, some food, a sweater for a long distance flight for instance or rain gear when I am out in the field, and finally one compartment in the back for a laptop. The construction is well done and mostly keeps the rain out – at least when it’s not raining cats and dogs. It will house a camera, a couple of lenses, a flash, and other photo accessories I may need. The only negative experience I have had with the Tamrac is the zipper for the laptop compartment which doesn’t always zip properly. It’s not big enough for all professional jobs, but then I bring a Gura Gear Kiboko 22L+ backpack instead. That pack carries more photo equipment than I need.

Asus Eee● Asus Eee PC 8.9 inch netbook. Some people like to bring a tablet when they travel, but I really prefer to have a keyboard with my computer. For that my little netbook from Asus is just perfect. I know you can get keyboards for iPads and the likes, but my netbook is a full-blooded PC, and even though it’s not meant for photo editing, I have installed both Lightroom and Photoshop, which function if I need to do some photo editing and processing – I just have to be a bit of patient. The best part of my Asus is its battery capacity. It has a little thicker battery than usual, which is suppose to give me 14 hours of computer time, but these days it’s more down to 8 or 9 hours. That’s still good for most flights to anywhere in the world. One more thing; I bought my Asus at the time of Windows 7, which I am really glad for since like so many others I think Windows 8 sucks. Why is it that every second instalment of the Microsoft operating system is nothing but a pain in the butt? Some of you may ask why I don’t go for Apple instead. I don’t like proprietary systems. More than anything I dislike being controlled by one company. If you buy Apple, everything has to be Apple. At least with Microsoft I don’t have to buy their hardware as well. By the way, when I travel for work I bring a 15 inch Asus. It’s a monster compared to the netbook, both when it comes to size and performance.

Lumix LX7● Panasonic Lumix LX7. It’s really not correct to call this a travel accessory for me; I don’t leave bed without it, whether I travel or not. I know most of us bring phones with cameras that functions well when something suddenly happens that is worth photographing (in fact they are good for more than emergencies). But while I might leave my phone behind now and then, I will always bring my Lumix. It stays clipped to my belt, so the only places I don’t bring it is in bed and wherever I go without trousers… The Lumix is a high end point-and-shoot camera. It captures excellent images, it’s very responsive, it gives me RAW and the all settings I may fancy. And most importantly it zooms down to the equivalent of a 24 mm wide-angle – not many point-and-shoot cameras do that. Anyone who has followed my blog knows how addicted to wide-angle I am – can’t go long without one. My Lumix also functions as an underwater camera whenever I go diving or do water sports. An underwater house from Ikelite is made specifically for the Lumix LX7.

Bose-IE2-Headphones● Bose IE2 Headphones. Another thing I am addicted to is music. I can fly to the end of the earth without getting bored as long as I have my music. The Bose ear buds (they are really not headphones despite the name) bring out excellent sound, isolate enough to keep outside sound outside where it belongs and they are lightweight, small, fit perfectly and they come in a practical, little box. I have long craved for the big Bose noise-cancelling headphones, but they are just too big to bring along. I discovered the Bose IE2 Headphones thanks to a recommendation by David duChemin on his blog some time ago. They are not the cheapest, but I can very well extend that recommendation.

Money Belt● Lowe Alpine TT Dryzone money belt. Not a big thing, but it keeps passport, credit cards and money in the safest place when you travel. It’s not very comfortable to have a money belt stuck inside the trousers, but it’s sometimes worth it. I won’t bring it to what I regard as safer countries and when everything is mostly arranged beforehand. But when I go to Congo or Somalia, I certainly do. And I do use it when I go to places where you can’t really use credit cards. For those places I may have a stack of thousands of dollars – often in small denominations because big bills will not be accepted either in those places. I really wouldn’t like to have a wad of thousand dollars in my pockets. By the way, I always spread the risk. Most of the valuables go in the money belt, but I put some money in my trousers and some in my breast pocket. If I get mugged that will redirect the attention away from the big stack in the money belt. As to this money belt from Lowe Alpine, it keeps the content dry. If you ever have travelled in Sahara with a money belt inside your trouser, you know how wet everything is going to be from sweat. It’s nice not to have to wring the passport dry after a day in the sun.

Maglite● Mini Maglite Led. Again; most cell phones perform as torches as well. But I still like to bring dependable light that you know will keep going for hours as long as the batteries are new. How often haven’t we found ourselves with a cell phone that is running out of batteries with no place to recharge it? The Maglite is small, it has a bright light and it lasts for a long time thanks to LED-technology. In addition you can turn it into a candle, by unscrewing the reflector around the bulb. Comes in very handy when you are inside a place with no electricity.

Teva Flip Flops● Teva flips flops. If you travel light, shoes take a lot of space. I usually make do with the pair of shoes I travel in and then a pair of flip flops in my bag. If you are not travelling to Antarctica or some winter destination, they are really practical. They are airy, good to walk in and they can be used at the hotel after a long day of walking, at the beach and the pool, and even throughout the day for normal walking. I prefer flip flops of a little higher quality by brands such as Teva.

Golite Virga● GoLite Virga jacket. Another no-brainer for those who travel light. This jacket doesn’t take any space at all and can be stashed away anywhere. In addition the GoLite is, yes, very light, only 8 oz or a couple of hundred grams. It’s perfect for sudden rainfall, and even though it will not keep water out through a whole day of rain, it works perfectly for emergency situations – and some more. The GoLite Virga is not breathing, which means condensation will build up inside when I wear it. But I prefer that to getting soaked because the high-tech breathing material doesn’t work as it is supposed to do. I am simply sick and tired of Goretex and the likes that let water through with the slightest amount of stress on the material. Then I’d rather get moist from the inside; after all my sweat is warm whereas rain normally is cold. By the way the Virga jacket has been discontinued, but other jackets by GoLite has replaced it.

Field Bag● Rapiddominance Heavy Weight Field Bag. When I travel I often leave my photo bag at the hotel. A lot of the equipment I don’t need out in the field, such as chargers and laptop, and some equipment I might not need on a specific day. That’s when a daypack comes in handy. This shoulder bag from Rapiddominance is my perfect daypack. It’s small and inconspicuous. And it’s tough – made of canvas. It may hold a notebook, some drinks and the before mentioned GoLite jacket. Or I may leave a couple of lenses in it, while having my camera hanging over the other shoulder. In that case I stick a compartment insert from Domke in it to protect the lenses. When I don’t use it, it folds into my main pack and doesn’t take much space.

Tripod● 3 Legged Thing X1.1 Brian Evolution 2 with AirHed 1 Ballhead. Yes, I know, this is photo equipment. But since I absolutely dislike using a tripod, I’ll regard it as not. But I do need it from time to time and the 3 Legged Thing (which is really the name of the tripod) is the best I have ever come across. It’s light but still sturdy enough, and it folds into a compact unit I can easily pack inside my bag. It’s not the cheapest, since it’s made of carbon fibres, but man, I might actually one day enjoy using it. Particularly these days with more and more video shooting it’s imperative to have a steady camera. Nothing makes you sicker than watching a video where the camera is shaking and moving in all kinds of unwanted directions.

Finally we have come to my bonus accessory:
Rubber sink stopper● Rubber sink stopper. If all the other suggested travel accessories are not really indispensable (or most of them), this one really is. You know, if you only travel to first class hotels you will never need it, but if you happen to come by a rundown hole of what only in name resembles anything of a hotel, the rubber sink stopper will be a life saver. How would you otherwise be able to wash you clothes (remember a hole doesn’t offer laundry service and I travel lightweight and need to get my clothes cleaned from time to time) or shave – whether we talk face or legs? I don’t leave home without a rubber sink stopper. Period. It fits any sink and will make the sink into a usable sink when no stopper is included in the hotel price.

This list of items I take along when I go travelling has come to what it is after many years of travelling and experimenting. There is one more thing that is indispensable when travelling to foreign countries and that is some plug adaptors. Unfortunately I haven’t found anything worth recommending. Either they come in an assortment of small plugs that are so ill-fitted that my plugs always fall out of them or they are the universal big round ones that are so heavy they fall out of the wall. Maybe you have come over plug adaptors you can recommend? Besides plug adaptors, have you got something you won’t travel without? Leave a comment and let us know!

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About Otto von Münchow

Photographer based in Norway
This entry was posted in Photography, Travel Photography and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

86 Responses to 10 Indispensible Travel Accessories

  1. The rubber stopper is a fantastic idea! Thanks!

  2. YellowCable says:

    Thank you for your traveling accessory tips.

    I completely agreed with the small compact (P&S). I do the same while travelling. It can also be a complementary to the big brother sometime. I recently try to avoid laptop PC and use tablet just to get more compact and light. I know the hard part is missing keyboard. I only use it for getting than producing information (get information, news only).

    The plug is very good idea!

    • I do the same with my point-and-shoot. It ‘s literal always with me, even when I bring all my big cameras. I have tried to avoid laptops a couple of times, but the tablets are only good for reading or some email – in my opinion…

  3. themofman says:

    I’m in line for the first two items, please!

  4. Vicki says:

    I don’t travel overseas and haven’t for 35 years, but I have a mini maglite LED attached to my keyring as I’ve tripped over tree roots in the dark when walking home from an afternoon photography excursion and NEVER go out outdoors without it now. I also carry a tiny screwdriver, pocket knife, a spare pair of shoe laces for my walking shoes, some toilet paper and anti-bacterial hand wipes (as well as a bottle of water). 99% of the time I have a very small folding umbrella for rain, bright sun and have even used it for shade/shelter over a flower/plant being photographed.

    Even suburban/city living has some requirements for afternoon photography outings when you don’t have a car and always use public transport.

    (When I DID travel a lot overseas in my youth, I always carried a couple of universal power adapters too……mine fitted the UK, Asia & a smaller one for Europe, as Australia where I live, has different ones). I’m one of those people who always has a couple of safety pins, a few first aid items, a plastic bag for rubbish (or to keep something dry or carry something wet), a needle & thread and a few other little odds & ends in my backpack/shoulder bag too.

    If I ever went overseas again, I’d only have a couple of changes of clothes, but plenty of underwear & socks. Remember that people you meet don’t know you’re wearing the same clothes most of the time. I worked with a lady once, who took 12 pairs of slacks on a 6 week trip to Europe – I mean to say, how ridiculous is that.

    • You really only need two pairs of trousers don’t you?! One to wear and one that’s in for washing. Otherwise I used to bring a Swiss army knife or a Leatherman Tool, but I don’t know how many have been confiscated before I got it, that I can’t bring those items on a flight. Thanks for sharing your list of indispensable items to bring along whether travelling overseas or in the city, Vicki.

  5. cuervo says:

    My travels generally have been along the edges of civilization here in the United States, remote duty stations as a wildland firefighter and trail maintenance crew leader. My Asus Eee 11″ notebook computer has been an essential communication link for going on 5 years now. Various bits of hardware, signal boosters, extra memory and external monitor for photo work, all running off a solar powered 12 volt system. It got soaked once in an extended storm… I let it dry for a couple of days, opened it up, wiped a little bit of green corrosion off the heat sink and it fired up like nothing ever happened.
    The rubber stopper is replaced in my travel kit with a 16 oz. titanium cup. I can eat, wash and shower; all with this same vessel.

  6. Very informative. I will have to check some of these out!

  7. Angeline M says:

    Your Asus netbook sounds very enticing. I hate lugging my laptop with me. I squeeze by with my Nook, but it is not good for photos, and no keyboard available like for an iPad (that I know of). I like to carry a shawl to keep warm with on the plane, and it takes up minimal space in my purse or carry on bag.

    • Of course in the question of netbook or tablet there is no right answer – and not really a perfect solution; it all comes down to compromises and individual taste. Thanks for your comment, Angeline.

  8. sheketechad says:

    These days when I travel it is only to primitive camp inside the States. I don’t go without my camp percolator and Coleman’s new non-DEET tick spray 🙂 But you’ve given me a new ‘wish list’, particularly the pack. I carry my antiquated Nikon over my messenger day pack, and it’s kludgy.

    Had a chuckle on the drain stopper, I’ve used plastic hotel cups in lieu of 🙂

    Nice share of helpful information.

  9. marymcavoy says:

    Hi Otto,
    Fantastic post – thanks so much.
    And, yes, exceptional header!
    Biggest help to me is your tripod tip. I rarely use a tripod. I just don’t like being stationary. But when I need one, I need one! I’ve just looked into the one you recommend, and I love the versatility. I think that’s what I’ll buy.
    Like you, after a while I NEED a wide-angle lens! Enough of the zoom already! It’s as if I need fresh air and a deep breath! I carry a wide-angle lens with me as much as I can. When I switch to it, it’s as if the heavens have opened! I was just talking to my brother today about his Lumix. He loves it. It’s on my wish list. That could address my wide-angle necessity in one package when I’m traveling light!
    I have an Asus that I bought a few years ago to use as a lightweight and easily portable writing device. I never thought of using it for my photography. Duh! I’m sure I can install my Lightroom on it since I’m still the only user of the software. Thanks for nudging me in this direction!
    Again, thanks for this helpful post. Every suggestion is great.
    Mary

    • I am very happy if some of my suggestions could be of some use for you. I wholeheartedly recommend both the tripod and the Lumix camera. I often go out with nothing but my Lumix.

  10. leecleland says:

    Thanks Otto for a great list, very worthwhile with brand names so I could look them up and see if I thought they could be something to replace my things with in time. The only query I have is how you go about carrying a tripod on a flight as on-board luggage. At around 50cm for the 3-legged thing (Brian) it wouldn’t fit in my carry-on luggage. I also thought they weren’t allowed as carry-on, but I haven’t checked that one recently.

    • So far I haven’t had any problems. I use a soft bag, that easily takes the tripod. As for security I have not had any problems, but I understand I can be, so maybe I will have to start checking in luggage if I want to bring a tripod. Hope not, though.

  11. autopict says:

    Yes, i lob my tamrac 80 in same colors. It’s perfect for a whole day.

  12. Thank you for the tip Otto! The rubber stopper is great idea!
    Additionally I always bring travel plug sockets (with three sockets) – just in case if there is not enough electricity sockets in the places I visited. Some areas I visited are quite remote that the accommodation we stayed have very limited electricity sockets..

  13. All useful info, but I think I like the sink stopper best 🙂

  14. lumar1298 says:

    Never thought to bring a rubber stopper… Thanks for sharing valuable info…

  15. Mary says:

    That’s a great list. i like the shoulder bag especially. Since we take the house wherever we go, I have most everything I need close at hand.

  16. lauramacky says:

    the sink stopper cracked me up. I would’ve thought it was handy back in the days before I had Lasik and wore contact lenses, but now we just go to the laundromat or have our clothes cleaned at a hotel lol. I’m too old for hand washing hahahaha… 😛

  17. disperser says:

    Nice tips . . . but I don’t see the snacks/

  18. Lisa Gordon says:

    Thank you so much for this information, Otto.
    It is truly very helpful!

  19. Gertie says:

    Ja du Otto, du är helt otrolig…vilken energi, vilken lust och vilket engagemang:)
    Dina semestertips borde väcka nyfikenhet och habegär hos de flesta…hoppas de gör så:)

    Och DU, jag hoppas verkligen att även du får/tar dig en ordentlig semester, någonstans på vår planet där du finner lugnet, ron och möjligheten att ladda batterierna, de allestädes nödvändiga och närvarande.
    Jag vet…jaja…jag har heller aldrig semester…men lite avstånd och självpåtagen ensamhet är bra det med…
    Tack för dina vänliga ord förresten…det var tydligen inte så populärt med måleri på en så kallad “fotoblogg”…jag blir såååå trött:):)
    Återigen så önskar jag dig en fantastisk sommar…where ever You are…
    Jag är åter i mitt stockholmsskärgårdshem för några veckor…rätt bra det med:)

    Semester…vilket underbart ord…eller?

    • Hva skal man med semester – eller ferie som vi sier på andre siden av kjølen – når livet er en eneste semester. Ha, ha, jeg jeg visste selvsagt at du aldri ville bite på en slik klisjé. Så, ja, jeg skal ha litt tid borte fra det hele, 10 dager i Holland og Paris med guttene mine, og dessuten noen turer i fjellet med ryggsekk og ingenting annet. Jeg ønsker alt det beste.

  20. Patrizia M. says:

    Sempre preziosi i tuoi consigli, ma quello del tappo di gomma li batte davvero tutti, non ci avrei mai pensato!!
    Un caro saluto, Pat

  21. What a fun and informative post, Otto. I agree 100% about the maglite. Even with a iPhone, I carry one in my bag. The flip-flops and stopper. So smart. I’m bookmarking this post.

  22. ninagrandiose says:

    OMG, Otto, what are you doing to us? Turning us into drooling consumers! I want one of everything, please…though I already have more pairs of flip flops than I care to admit.

  23. Reblogged this on The Man of Letters and commented:
    Very useful tips…

  24. Helen C says:

    Very useful information! I have everything on my wish list (Christmas list) now including the sink stopper 😉 I wish I read this earlier; I just bought a backpack (not for camera) and the one you listed here is more friendly for storing camera.
    We have a Lumix F28. I like the way that I could tilt/twist the LCD, and I also like the zoom power. But other than that LX7 shall sound better. I have a feeling that LX7 would be great for street photographing… yes?
    I often have a problem to decide which camera to take with me. It seems like whenever I brought D7000, at one point, I would miss F28, and vice versa. And I don’t like to bring both. Hopefully I will have a better sense as time goes.
    Thanks for a wonderful post.

    • I am sure the F28 is more than good enough – no need to chance to an LX7. As to pick the right camera, it’s not always easy, is it. But when you have chosen one, just go with it and don’t worry that maybe the other might have been better.

  25. Thanks for the variety of accessories that are your necessities on any photo shoot.

  26. Perfect timing, Otto. Planning two rather lengthy trips for the fall and have decided I will need a smaller laptop, but still a full computer with keyboard. You always seem to be a step ahead of me and have great advice. I’ll be looking into this one.

  27. Sudarshan Mondal says:

    Rightly pointed out the items that need to be checked before a photo travel, I have almost all except rain jacket and torch 🙂

  28. I love to travel. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to for a couple of years (beyond a weekend at the beach with girlfriends!) but I loved reading through your list. One day…

  29. My most indispensable travel accessories are my motorbike and a smile!! 😀

  30. sb2711 says:

    Good one Otto! Glad to have come across this post 🙂

  31. This is a really helpful list, Otto.
    Although I do own a MAC, I agree with you on the proprietary issue. The computer was a must have for some publishing I was doing but I would never buy an ipad or iphone.

  32. Otto – Thank you for the tip on the Lumix LX7. I was looking for something more compact for an upcoming cycling trip. The dSLR is just too bulky and won’t make it out of my bag often enough. After comparing this to some of the mirrorless cameras I was considering ($$$), the Lumix seemed the best option.

  33. Pingback: 10 Tips for Better Travel Photography | In Flow

  34. Patti Kuche says:

    So good to get your inside perspective Otto. My policy is that if it doesn’t go in the overhead cabin it doesn’t come with me. That includes the DSLR, wrapped in a scarf in the small suitcase because I don’t have a camera bag, and the laptop. Otherwise a toothbrush, hairbrush and lipstick take care of everything else but am certainly going to include a stopper in the kit!

  35. For my future travelling adventure I have decided to pack as a minimalist. Your list is indeed very practical, I will definitely bring along most of the things you suggested. Mostly I was struggling with picturing myself packing only few pieces of clothes – I am a woman in the end, it is hard for me to leave vast majority of my summer dresses in the closet. But your tip with the sink stopper actually made it a little easier for me! Thanks!

  36. rangewriter says:

    Good question re: MS OS. I’m stuck with W8. grrrrrr says it all. Same thing for plug adapters. Why in the world can’t someone come up with something that actually works? Sink Stopper! I’d never thought of that, but it’s a splendid idea.

  37. Andrew says:

    A really interesting read, Otto — and the comments so far are, too. That netbook of yours looks very good for travelling. Since 2012, I’ve been taking my 11.6″ Windows 7 Samsung touch screen/digitizer pen computer and Bluetooth keyboard with me on trips. I carry these in a very small laptop bag, along with a couple of extremely small 1TB hard drives and other basic accessories. And from earlier this year, I’ve only been carrying my Fujifilm X100s, which when not in my hand, is inside a small shoulder bag. I’ll soon be complementing that with another Fujifilm X Series camera with a small zoom. Can’t travel without a backup camera, in any case, and I’m not carrying anything heavier any more. Of course, this setup would not suit those with more varied shooting needs than I have.

    • We all need to find what is the right equipment for us, don’t we? I have a Fuji X10 and love – it’s perfect for street photography. Thanks for sharing your experience, Andrew. Much appreciated.

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