A Chronicle of Amy and Sean's World Travels

Electronic gear

  • Canon xsi/450D SLR camera

Some people question whether to bring an expensive camera along.  I say, if you have any interest in photography, don’t hesitate to do it.  I am by no means a professional, or have any idea what I’m doing, really – I still shoot on automatic most of the time – but there are many fascinating things to take pictures of in this world.  It is a pain in the butt lugging this camera around all of the time – with the lens, it is heavy – but for me, it is worth it for the great photos and creative touches I can employ.  Some people worry about having attention drawn to yourself.  While it is true that it makes you more conspicuous, most of the time it is obvious that you are a tourist anyway.  It is true that I am constantly worried about making sure that it doesn’t get broken or stolen.  Truth be told, both of those things happened to us.  Our camera was stolen from a trolley in Lisbon, and I shattered the lens filter and dented the lens case when my camera bag fell off a hook in the bathroom of the Dublin airport.  But our renter’s insurance at home covered virtually our entire loss, and a camera shop in Dublin repaired the camera for me for free.  For me, the benefits of developing a hobby of photography far outweigh the cons.  This camera – the xsi in the States  - takes good photos, is intuitive to use, and is not huge.  I liked it so much that I replaced it with the European equivalent 450D model in Spain after it was stolen.

  • (2) SLR batteries

We always carry an extra battery to always make sure one is charged.

  • SLR charger
  • 18-200 SLR lens

I would love to carry my prime lens for food photos and close-ups, a wide angle lens for landscapes, and an even bigger zoom, but that would be heavy and cumbersome.  As a compromise, I carry this one that has a relatively wide range at the one end and close zoom at the other.  The zoom is nice to get unsuspecting paparazzi photos from afar, and worked out decently on our safari.  It takes in much more of the landscape than our point and shoot.  It is not ideal, but it is a good lens.  The lens alone weighs a good 21 ounces though!

  • Lens hood

We picked this up in Spain because we constantly are shooting in less than ideal bright light.  This cuts down on sun spots.

  • UV filter

Absolutely, positively, get a filter to protect your lens.  The repairman at the camera shop in Dublin who fixed my lens when I dropped it said he wishes he had a video of all the mangled cameras he sees, like mine, that are spared major damage from using a filter.  He said he would show it to all of the people who are too cheap to spend $35 or so on a filter to protect their lens, which are worth hundreds of dollars.

  • SLR case

See the Crumpler description under gear.

  • point & shoot camera  threw away after it stopped working when I dropped it in the sand and didn’t replace

I have a little tiny Canon Power Shot that Sean bought for me when digital cameras came on the scene.  It is good as a back-up for the SLR.  I use it primarily at night or when I want to be more inconspicuous.  It is a good, light, convenient camera to carry, but the pictures don’t compare to the SLR.

  • (2) point & shoot batteries
  • point & shoot charger
  • point & shoot case
  • Gateway Netbook laptop

This computer is tiny.  At home, next to our big monitor and keyboard, we thought we would never get used to the small screen and tiny keyboard, but it is second nature now.  This computer is super light and was only $220.  The battery life is great – it lasts up to 6 hours.  It occasionally has trouble picking up wireless signals, but mostly has been good.  We use it to process photos, call home, research and plans, mindless internet surfing, keeping in touch, writing the blog, and watching TV shows we’ve downloaded.  It is an indispensable item.  The computer lags when using heavy applications like Skype or Picassa.  It probably would have been worth investing a little more to find something that can carry the load a little better, but at least it lightens our load.

  • netbook charger
  • netbook case
  • Thumbdrive

This is a handy item to have.  We’ve used it a few times to transfer information to print our boarding passes and the like.

  • external hardrive

This is what we use to back up our pictures.  Whatever kind you get, make sure it is rugged.

  • external hardrive cable
  • Ipod Touch

We picked this up in Spain.  It is a handy item to have.  Sean uses it to listen to music, of course, but we also use it as a calculator, calendar, for web surfing when the other one is on the computer or on the go, to track our budget, to keep notes, and lots of other uses.

  • Amy’s old school video Ipod
  • Ipod cable
  • Sean’s and Amy’s headphones

We both invested in clear sounding noise cancelling headphones, which come in handy on noisy planes or buses.

  • Extra ear buds for our headphones
  • headphone splitter

We mostly use this to watch television shows together that we’ve downloaded.  It is handy.

  • Airplane headphone adapters

We have one that minimizes the loudness from announcements when the pilot unexpectedly interrupts your movie in flight, but this hasn’t been an issue on any other airline since our first JetBlue flight to New York.  We recently picked up two adapters that adapt your own one prong headphone connector to the two prong connectors used by airlines.  It is great to use our own noise cancelling headphones instead of the airline ones, which never fit right.

  • Kindle

I love, love, love my Kindle.  I have rediscovered my love of reading on this trip, and the Kindle gives me access to a steady stream of good books in one lightweight item.  The only downside is the expense.  I read very fast – sometimes reading a book cover to cover on a travel day – and most books are in the $10 range.  To avoid the $1.99 upcharge to download books wirelessly abroad, I download them to our computer and transfer them to the Kindle using the cable.  One thing I didn’t realize about the Kindle before I got it was that it has very primitive 3G internet capabilities.   As of right now, they don’t charge you to use it internationally.  It is not great, but it works to check our email or read the newspaper in a pinch.  I have the second edition, and I believe they have improved the wireless feature on the new Kindles.

  • M-Edge green leather kindle cover

I fell in love with this cover when I saw it on The Road Forks’ packing list.  It is made of gorgeous, soft leather and looks like you are carrying a journal instead of an expensive electronic device.  I was worried it wouldn’t provide enough protection, but so far it, and the Kindle, have held up quite well.

  • e-Luminator2 Kindle Booklight

This light is made to fit neatly into the m-Edge Prodigy cover, and flip up when in use.  I loved this booklight, but sadly, it is no longer of use to me.  The bottom part that connects the battery came off, and even though Sean and I both picked up the piece in our hostel in South Africa and said, hmm, what is this?, neither of us made the connection that it was a vital part of the booklight until after we changed rooms and the staff threw it away.

  • International plug converters

Invest in a sturdy set, because this is an item you will use everyday.  We bought some from REI, and the European one became loose after a lot of use.  We bought a new one in South Africa that converts any country to any other country, because we bought a South African cell phone that would need to be converted to Asian and Australian plugs in the future.  Our new one also allowed us to ditch our American 3 prong to 2 prong adapter we previously needed for our computer plug.

  • ethernet cable

This probably is not needed.  On the few occasions that we have had a hard connection instead of wireless, a cable is usually provided.

  • earphone buds
  • cell phone

We went without one for over four months.  While it was nice to detach a bit, there were many times when we got frustrated and said we wished we had one.  It is nice to have one when you are walking or driving around, trying to find accommodations.  When we have internet, we can make local calls on Skype for a fee, but often it is bad connection.  Pay phones can get complicated because you often need a calling card to make a call.  We managed to get by and just found free phones, borrowed cell phones, called from our room, or used Skype, but it is nice to carry a cell phone.  It is not a necessity, especially since calls are few and far between, but in the end, we picked up a $30 phone in South Africa.  We will buy new sim cards in new countries and put a couple of dollars on them.

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