I just finished the first week of a three-week trip to Southeast Asia where I am traveling to Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. This trip is primarily for me to make photographs and videos to add to my Stocksy portfolio, create content for my business, and also to explore, become inspired, and do some writing. I may even be able to sneak in some down-time while I’m there. I’m traveling with a small group, but while it’s not a “photography-themed” group I should have a lot of freedom to explore and create my own experiences.

This will be my first big trip with my Shimoda Explore 40 so I’m excited to put it through its paces. (Full disclosure: I was given this bag for free from Shimoda Designs.) I’ve used it many times on local outings and trips, but never internationally. So far I LOVE this bag and can say that this is the best adventure-style camera bag I have owned. It’s comfortable, the design is well thought out, and they even make it work well people of all shapes, sizes, and genders.

Overall, I packed fairly light. I’m traveling carry-on only, and for camera gear I decided to go with mostly small lenses for this trip, aside from the FUJINON 55–200mm that I have on loan from FUJIFILM. With that said, I still have a fair amount of gear, but I was easily able to pack it into my Shimoda bag.

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Camera Gear

My camera gear for this trip.

Here’s all the gear I’m carrying in my Shimoda bag with some more details of my packing setup below.

Cameras & Lenses:

Camera & Travel Accessories:

Other items:

  • Collapsible backpack
  • Knitting project (I always knit when I travel!)

Many of the camera accessories I’m bringing along on this trip.

Camera Bag Strategy

The Shimoda Explore 40 is my main camera bag. I will use it to carry all of my camera gear on airplanes, from city to city, and may also use it for short overnight adventures. Here I have a medium and small core unit inside to hold all of my camera gear, and I also placed the small accessory case at the top zipper area to hold my charging cables and other small accessories (the accessory case is not shown in these photos).

When traveling to urban destinations where there will be cities and villages, it’s always ideal to have a small camera bag to carry around town, such as a messenger or similar style. Larger camera bags are great for hiking and adventuring, but they can be cumbersome in crowded city environments. For this trip, because I am traveling with all carry-on luggage, I didn’t have room for a separate messenger bag, or even a smaller camera backpack.

So I decided to get creative.

I found a small “collapsible” backpack, an Eddie Bauer Stowaway 30L, and when unfolded, fits the small Shimoda core unit at the bottom of the backpack perfectly. I decided to use this setup as my walk-around backpack where I can carry an extra lens or two, or even stash the camera away altogether. Plus I can stuff other items on top of it if needed (jacket, scarf, etc). This allows me to comfortably carry a small kit and also keep the gear protected inside of the core unit. Plus, it doesn’t look like a camera bag, and is super lightweight. It also gives me an “extra” bag to carry on the plane if I choose to check my luggage on my return flight home.

This bag has been working perfectly and is a good alternative when you don’t have a lot of room or extra bags you can travel with. It’s not the best solution for walking around all day with heavy camera gear (there’s not a lot of padding so it’s not good if it’s overloaded), but it has been nice to stash an extra lens or my camera, along with a few essentials (lightweight scarf, money, phone, water, etc.).

iPad-only travel

For this trip I decided to skip the laptop and only carry my iPad. I recently upgraded to the new 12.9″ iPad Pro with both keyboard case and Apple Pencil, and will be importing my photos directly to my iPad instead of using a laptop. I’m using Lightroom CC for this trip, and will then migrate those photos to Lightroom Classic CC on my desktop once I return home. I expect to share more details on this experience, as it will be the first time I’ve traveled without a laptop and the longest I will go without using a “normal” computer in quite some time. So far, however, I LOVE it. It’s incredibly liberating to not carry around a heavy laptop, and working with my photos in Lightroom CC has been wonderful. I feel like I’m more in-tune with my images, and I have been enjoying editing and sorting my photos in my free time! (Disclaimer: Adobe has provided 10 TB of free storage space to use on my devices.)

Lightroom CC on the iPad Pro.

Follow my adventures

If you’d like to follow my adventures to see what I’ve been up to during my travels, please check out my Instagram account, @nicolesy, where I will be sharing both still images and IG stories.