One thing I always wish is that I had a Mary Poppins Camera Bag, anyone else on the same page? A bag that fits endless amount of gear, is super light to carry no matter what you have inside and you can just throw it all in without a worry in the world about airline carry-on limits. Ah, wouldn’t that be just perfection!
Well, it unfortunately doesn’t exist and is the reason why I get so many questions about what’s in my bag when photographing on the road.
We’ve all been there before, you arrive at the check-in desk thinking you’ve totally got it sorted this time, your luggage will meet all the requirements and your camera gear is nice and snug, safe for the journey ahead. Then they weigh it and it’s been eating a little too much cake. You have to either pay for extra luggage allowance or shuffle the gear around in front of everyone wrapping lenses into your underpants to ensure they are safely packed now they can’t travel with you on board.
I’ve just made the switch to mirrorless which means less weight and more gear! I took my first trip to Iceland with the Olympus gear listed below and am so amazed at what a difference lighter equipment makes. Not only did I not have one back ache the entire trip (usually something that happens without fail after an hour of taking photos), but it all fits in my bag and I can take every lens with me for a hike!
When travelling overseas for a week or two I like to plan ahead and think of what I’ll be doing during the trip to decide upon which gear I take with me. More often than not for a city trip or if you’re planning to document something cultural with monuments and people I’ll pack my 25mm or standard zoom lens. I find for exploring cities this is the perfect amount of gear. For landscape shots I like to have my wide angle lens along with a zoom in my bag, especially if I’m doing a hike or visiting scenery for the specific purpose of shooting large vistas.
Getting back to packing for a flight, I’ve had a snazzy little Lowepro Pro Roller Lite 150AW wheelie bag for the past three years. It fits all of my essentials, weighs around 7kg (feels like 12kg) when full to meet carry-on restrictions and everything is super safe and snug inside the bag. Having wheels just makes life at the airport super breezy too!
Any extra items I want to take with me I just wrap up and pop into my main luggage. Lately I’ve been packing my Underwater Housing as I’m a bit obsessed with shooting split-level landscape shots in lakes, rivers and the ocean. The housing is too large for the Pro Roller bag but it’s super sturdy so I just ensure the glass lens hoods are with me on board and the rest will be fine inside my suitcase.
For day wanderings I then break my gear down so I’m simply carrying around one camera with my 25mm lens and have my other lens in the bag so it’s there if I need it. The rest I leave in my hotel. I fell in love with a camera bag online from JoTotes a few months ago, purchased it on a whim and am SO happy I did…I’ve used it every single day as either a camera bag or handbag and it’s still going strong.
Here’s a little list of what’s in my bag for a trip…
City/Handbag Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II (details)
Action Camera: Olympus TG-Tracker
25mm f1.8 Lens
14-150mm II Lens
7-14mm f2.8 PRO Black
12-40mm f2.8 PRO Black
40-150mm f2.8 PRO Black
PT-EP14 Underwater Housing for E-M1 Mark II
Lexar PRO SDXC 64GB 2000x SD Cards
Two external portable hard drive (always back up your images in at least two places!)
Power plug adaptors (relevant to destination)
Asus Laptop – that’s got a few bumps and bruises but still works surprisingly!
I would love to hear what you take with you in your bag abroad or on photography day trips! If you have any questions or would love to share what’s in your bag let me know below in the comments section…
Hello! I’m the founder and photographer behind The Wandering Lens. With 14+yrs experience as a professional travel and landscape photographer, all advice found on this site is from my personal experience on the road. I hope it’s useful for your own travels and would love to hear in the comments about your trips and experiences around the world.
I'm Lisa Michele Burns, a professional photographer and founder of The Wandering Lens from Australia. Welcome to your guide to photographing the world, improving your photography and scouting unique and inspiring places to experience with your camera. Click here to start exploring popular guides + articles. After four years online, The Wandering Lens has turned into the leading publisher of photography focused travel guides!