Health, Safety & Security
All right, let's talk a little bit about your health and safety for the trip. First off, if you are gonna be traveling abroad, it's probably a good idea to go to a travel medicine clinic. It's a special type of clinic. Some clinics specialize in this, and they deal with where are you going and what sort of shots do you need? And the first time I was going on a trip, I was working for the travel TV show, and I was going to a whole lot of places, and I needed nine shots in one sitting. So I set the record at the University of Washington for the most shots in one sitting, and I survived. Some of you have special medications. Some of you might need a doctor's note. You might need to pick up medications in a foreign country, and that involves things that I'm not real familiar with, but I know you need to have the right paperwork to have all of that in there. And have a list of medications listed with you with anything that's important that you have. You might want to give copies to people t...
hat you are traveling with as well. As I mentioned before, your health and safety is your top priority. And that has changed the way that I travel. You know, before when I was 16 years old, I would just bound across the boulders to get across the river. And then as I got a little bit older, and my bounding ability slowed down a little bit, and then when I carried $2,000, $3,000, $4,000, $5,000 worth of camera on my back, I started going much more slowly, or I started to walk upstream to go to where there's a bridge across the river. You just take less risks. You're like, that's kind of a sketchy part of town. Okay, not gonna go over there. I'm gonna go over here. So there's a lot of ways that that manifests itself. Traveling with a partner is great, especially somebody who is kind of on queue with what you are doing, but they can watch your back. It helps out. Know where you're going, have those maps. That Maps.me app can help there. But you know, what can you expect there? And the last one on there was have communication options. So think about if you need to communicate with your hotel, are you carrying the route, the hotel card for where you're staying so that you can tell the taxi or the Uber driver where your hotel is? How are you gonna call home if you need to? Kinda have all those planned. Best rest you can, what I mean by this is don't spend all night looking at your photos from the previous day. I know we'll talk about downloading and editing, but you do not want to stay up till 1:00 o'clock in the morning editing last night's photos, unless there's something critical, and you need to have 'em done for the next day. Shut 'er down, get your rest. We all have certain limitations. Sometimes they're more serious than others. Sometimes, you know, that just doesn't agree with my body too well. And this is all just being a little bit more preventative. You know, I don't always do well with that type of food. So avoid it. This is not the time to be risking things. Minimize all your risks in every way that you can think of. And have backup plans. What are we gonna do if our driver doesn't meet us here? Oh, well, we can take the train back this direction. And so always be thinking about how to solve these problems that might come up. So you might be also wondering, well, where can I shoot photographs when I'm traveling? And of course, this greatly depends on where you are going and what the local rules are. But as a general sense, what I can say is that it's gonna be allowed in places where the public is allowed, on the streets and sidewalks and markets and parks and things like that. You might need permission if you're going to a private event, you know, a concert or a play. They may not allow photography there. And kind of a cop-out here, but it just varies so much around the world as to what's allowed and what's not. There's a lot of countries that don't want you taking pictures of bridges and the military installation or even the police. And so just be aware of those things depending on the type of place that you are going. One of the restrictions that I think you all need to really be concerned about, first off, there's no flash photography, so let's know how to turn the flash off on our cameras. A lot of times there's no tripods, but the one that I've been running into more and more lately, and this might be more of a European type thing or museum type thing is no large bags. So the type of backpack that I would typically travel with with my camera gear is not gonna allow me in there. I can't even get in there at all. And so having a small bag option is really good. And so sometimes what I'll do is like, well, I want to bring a small bag with me. I'll put all my toiletries and other clothes and my socks in there, so that it doesn't really take up the room of a full bag. I'm filling it with stuff as it's going in my camera bag. A lot of us are gonna have a camera and multiple lenses and so forth. But really have a small, portable system beyond your travel system thought of. And so if you normally take a backpack, what can you do with one or two lenses? And have something ready so that if you are taking a long walk or you're restricted in some manner, what's your full system, what's your mini system that you can use? We tend to have a lot of valuable stuff with us, and so we need to be a little conscious about security. So first thing are these little travel safety locks. And these are the ones that are approved by the TSA, and they're the ones that you can put on your checked luggage or any other luggage. And as I say, it prevents lazy thieves. You know, if somebody really wants to get through this, this is not the biggest lock in the world. But think about it. If you're just a dumb thug looking to steal something, are you gonna go for the bag with a lock or without a lock? Pretty obvious there, and so it's just another way to help you out a little bit. There's a lot of different ways of carrying your money, around your neck and the waist. And frankly, I've never been happy with those. They just make me feel uncomfortable. And what I've found is that what I like to do is to only carry the absolute minimum of what I need. I'm not carrying my library card. There's no Costco card, none of those I'm taking with me to Africa. I'm just gonna put all my money in the smallest possible space so that I have as many different options as to where I put it, probably into a zippered pocket. Obviously, you're probably gonna need your passport if you're traveling internationally. I carry a driver's license as backup. Don't try to copy this and use this. I've changed and photoshopped all the information on my driver's license. I have found that it's very nice to carry extra 2x2 photos of yourself. Why might you need this? Well, I think you need it potentially in adventurous and interesting locations. I needed it in Ethiopia, because we needed a visa, and we suddenly found out on the spot we needed 2x2 photos, and getting them taken was really, really difficult. When I was in Mongolia, I asked my tour guide about getting special access, press credentials to go to an event. And they said, "do you have a 2x2 photo?" Yes, I do. And so that helps those sorts of things along. You never know when it might come in handy. And since you're all photographers, this is kinda easy for us people type to do, do that type of thing. So when it comes to gear safety, I know you get these free straps, and sometimes you get free bags when you buy gear. I try to avoid any sort of logo. There's a whole philosophy. Some people are livin' large, look at me, look at me. And then I like to go on the other extreme, just kind of blend in with the people and the environment. And so something that photographers have been doing for a long time is they have been covering up the logos and any unnecessary text on their camera with a little bit of either black gaffer tape or black electrical tape. I have had some problems in very hot weather, because it then becomes a little bit sticky. So you want to be careful about putting it anyplace that you are grabbing the camera with your hands. So with your gear, just try to take as little as possible. So if you don't really need something, don't bring it along. Open your bag discreetly. So don't just go, all right, let's show you my 20 lenses. And I'm gonna go over here and shoot photos. And so you know, I go in there. I'm not trying to hide it from everybody, but I don't leave it open and try to make a big showcase of it. I have everything documented, the serial numbers, what I'm bringing, with every item on a trip. And then I email myself a copy. In case I physically lose a copy, I can go to my email and just look in my inbox and see where that is. The first photo you take should be of your business card. If people find your camera, I found a camera one time. It was in Zion National Park, and it was fun, investigative work. I was like, okay, this guy is into canyoneering. I think he lives in Montana, but I have no idea who he is. And I gave the camera back to the park rangers. I don't know if it ever got back to him. But I know if it had a business card on there, I would know instantly who it is and how to get ahold of that person. Keep your bag close to you, especially if you're traveling alone. A lot of valuable stuff, it seems obvious, but there are some people who just kinda leave it off in the distance. When you're at a restaurant, you kinda get involved in a lot of different things. I tend to put the bag right between my feet and then squeeze my feet just a little bit. So if anybody had to move my bag, I am physically going to move. Once again, I think this is something that women tend to be better at than men, 'cause they're used to carrying purses around. You can't just hang things over the back of the chair where you're leaning forward, 'cause that can just get lifted off. So wrapping the strap around your feet or just keeping touch with the bag is gonna keep it in close contact. Don't keep all your money in one spot. You can split that up into several different areas. And if you're traveling with a companion, you can make photocopies of your passport, your driver's license and just have them carry it, 'cause it's unlikely that something's gonna happen to both of your separate bags at the same time. And I know a copy of your passport is not the same as your passport, but it's got a lot of information that could help you out in a bad situation. When my gear is in my room, I do not leave it like my luggage exploded and it's a teenager's room, okay? When I'm gonna leave my room, usually towards the middle of the day where there's going to be people cleaning the room, I put my computer or any camera gear that I'm not gonna use, I put it in my luggage. I close my luggage, and I lock it. And it's not because I'm afraid that the people cleaning the room are gonna steal my stuff. That's highly, highly unlikely in any case. What's much more likely is that they're cleaning your room. They're making the bed. Your computer's sitting over here. And somebody happens to be walking down the hall with your door open, and they just see a computer right there. And so somebody who has no association with the hotel at all, maybe not even somebody who's even staying there, just walks by a room and, oh, there's something laying out. And so that's the reason, just be cautious with it. I will leave things out sometimes if I'm just going to dinner, and I'm gonna be back relatively quickly, and there's gonna be nobody in the room. All right, we talked about planning, researching both internet and books, packing light, staying healthy, and don't over plan. You want to have some time to be free and relax so you can go out there and create great photos.