WHAT TO DO, GET AND BRING:
What to do before you leave: Research, research & more research. Be open to exploring new threads and possibilities as things present themselves when you hit the ground. If you have specific assignments try to give yourself some time to explore your own ideas.
We try to travel as light as possible. Priority is always given to gear, not clothes or accesories. You'll never have everything you want on you...its a struggle between running light and being prepared. Here are out suggestions for hardware:
Camera Equipment. Bring two bodies if you have them. Lenses. We recommend something in the 16-35mm range and something in the 24-70mm range. We usually bring our 70-200mm but end up leaving this in the place we stay when we go out most days. We do bring a flash, but this, too, ends up tucked away in a bag back at the hotel.
Batteries. Please go out and get several so you can have at least two on your person each day and another charging back at your hotel.
Don't bother with a tripod. It is too heavy and you will never use it.
Audio Equipment. This is optional, but very helpful when putting together an essay. We use the M-Audio recorder but any digital audio recorder will work. Also recommended are the Zoom H2 or H4. Remember to bring plenty of AA batteries for these devices. If using the M-Audio (internal battery) I'd recommend purchasing an emergency cell phone charger (~$20 from Home Depot). This device is small and takes AA batteries perfect for recharging your audio equip with internal batteries or even your cell phone. Make sure you have all the proper mics and cords necessary since this stuff is impossible to find when you don't have it.
Laptop. Back-up your work daily on dvd, cd or portable drives. If we are going on a relatively short trip we back up our images on an iPod. Also...We have backup copies of Photomechanic, Adobe PS, Sound Slides and other valuable software on our iPods should something bad happen.
Power strip and converters. Find out what, if any, converters are needed where you'll be working. You can find packages of the most widely used converters from most travel stores. Power strips are very handy as you'll be charging batteries, laptops etc and we've found some rooms only have one outlet.
CF Cards. Things happen...cards die. Bring back ups of these.
Mobile phones. Depending on where you are it is usually cheaper just to buy a local cell phone and calling cards (WE WILL GIVE YOU ALL $15 TOWARDS A CELL PHONE. Cheapies are about $20).
However...if you prefer to use your own phone, most can be fitted with a card to access the local network, but they usually need to be unlocked prior so check with your brand.
Canned air. (Your laptop and cameras will get pretty filthy. Keep things clean.)
Travel Books. (The Lonely Planet Guides are recommended as well as the Moon series.)
Visit your doctor or travel clinic. In the Boston area Mt Auburn has a great travel clinic as does Mass General. Get your shots well in advance.
Malaria zone? Talk to your doctor about anti-malarials.
Bugs? Take Deet or some kind of repellent.
Medical kit. We always have a small med kit with plenty of iodine, anti-bacterial, and lots of bandages. Please see your medical professional for advice on taking along any antibiotics or other medicines.
Sunscreen. If it's hot and your out all day you'll need it.
Cash. Small US bills are best but try to limit bills over a US $20. Make sure you change some small bills into the local currency when you get there. Always change money at a bank or other certified exchange center. I find the airport to be the best, easiest and safest place to exchange money.
Have a copy of your passport, credit cards etc. on your laptop should you lose them.
Dress. Personal choice...but we never wear a watch, jewelry or anything else that might get in the way of interacting in the developing world. We don't like to wear sunglasses for this reason, also.
Bags. We don't like the "photoJ" or camera bags very much (they often scream 'I'm a photographer...take my stuff') but prefer a small backpack or a very small lens pouch on our belts.
Notebooks, pens. and Business Cards. You should be meeting a lot of people and making a lot of connections. There will be plenty of times when you need to jot something down to jar your memory later. Make it easy for people to stay connected to you and print up (on your own) a bunch of cards with your name, # of the place you are staying or cell # and email address.
Useful travel links:
Also, if you don't own it yet, please look into camera insurance. The NPPA offers a great insurance plan through Hays: Click Here for details.
TRAVELING: We travel (plane etc) with our cameras and laptop on your person. Should checked luggage not find its way to us we have everything needed to work.
If it can go wrong...it will. So try to be prepared.