Packing for Vegas

My wife and I are heading down to Las Vegas for a quick weekend getaway with some friends of ours for some fun and relaxation. Even on these short trips I like to bring my camera and photograph the journey. I wanted to show my thought process for packing my gear.

My philosophy on airline travel

When I travel via air my goal is to be light and nimble. On domestic flights my wife and I very rarely ever check bags, we always try to pack everything so it can fit in our carry-on luggage. Also note, when I say carry-on luggage I mean bags that easily fit inside a overhead bin, and not the over-sized gorrilla bags I see some travelers try to smash into the bins. The gorilla bag people really make me mad – they waste so much time hassling with their bags and panicking when they don’t fit that it causes the people around them to be anxious and frustrated and it also causes the plane to wait longer to get going. That is why we always try to pack within our carry-on bag limits! Plus, it also saves a bunch of time at the airport because you don’t have to wait for checked bags!

Now that you know my philosophy on air travel let’s figure out what gear to bring:

First, I always take my full sized SLR camera on trips. I have the “big” camera because I want the extra control and image quality in my photographs. Therefore it wouldn’t do me any good leaving it at home for the entire trip. In my case I’m going to be bring a 5D Mark II. The next question is, what lenses and accessories should I bring? Well that all depends on what I plan on shooting. I plan on shooting a lot of variety during this trip so to cover all the basis points I’m going to bring 3 lenses: My 50 f1.8, 70-200 f4, and a 17-40mm f4.

      • The 50mm: I used to travel more with my 85mm F1.2 for portraits, but am leaning more and more to the 50mm. First, at f1.8 it’s fast enough for a lot of light situations and capable of getting that shallow depth of field. Second, it’s so small and light! This is important because I can keep this lens on my camera in my carry-on – the small profile allows me to pull it in and out of the bag quickly with ease when I want to take a photo. The last thing I will say is it’s so cheap! At around $100 I don’t worry about it getting damaged to much because I know it’s a cheap replacement (that’s not to say I don’t take care of it – but rather I don’t worry about it if disaster strikes!)
      • The 70-200: is a great lens and will let me get the reach when I need it and also compress the scene
      • The 17-40mm: the wide angle will be good for landscape and scene setting shots


So now that I have my lens choices made – what accessories?

I always like to take a shutter release, my 10-stop neutral density filter, and a gorilla pod for long exposures. The first two items are small and don’t take up much space and the gorilla pod has come in handy too many times to not try and fit it in my bag. The rest of my camera gear is pretty standard: extra batteries, memory cards, and a lens pen. As far as computer related consumption goes I’ll just have my iPad. I like to go iPad only because it is small and light, has great battery life, can accomplish 90% of the tasks I do with my computer, and doesn’t need to be taken out of my bag at the security checkpoints at airports (time savings!).

Accessories - Cards, Batteries, Releases, Filters, and Strap....

Now that we know what I’m bringing – here’s how I’m going to pack it:

For this trip my wife and I are sharing a small hard-cased roller carry-on for our clothes. She get’s one side, I get one side (approximately). This bag is mostly for clothes but I also stick my Gorilla pod underneath the clothes as it fits extremely well between some of the bars that make up the structure of the bag. The clothes bag gets classified as Casey’s carry-on. My carry-on is a small overnight duffle that I am sticking my gear in. I recently found a great little hanging toiletries bag at Target for $20 that I am going to use as a lens bag. This bag has a big main compartment that will fit the lenses snugly and numerous small zipper compartments for the other accessories. This lens bag will go into the duffle with my toiletries pouch, iPad and actual camera body. I keep the camera on top of everything with the 50mm lens attached to it, I can easily pull it in and out on the and be ready to go on the fly.

Overnight Duffle

Final Thoughts:

So there you go, my thought process for packing my gear for this trip. Casey and I have started traveling quite a bit and I hope seeing my thought process may help make your next trip a little more streamlined during the travel process. If you have any comments or suggestions for travel packing I would love to hear them.

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