Carrying a Backpack Abroad

What I carry in my backpack will likely be different than others. But if you carry a camera and don’t like to rely on your phone as much while traveling, then let this blog post be your inspiration for packing your bag!


Now you might think “Jacob, that’s a lot of things and a pretty big bag!”. And if you do think that you’re probably better off visiting a different blog post, I’m not sure what you were expecting this is a photographers backpack.

The theme in my packed bag is to get away from using my phone. The reason is three-fold.

  1. I don’t want to spend my entire trip abroad with my face buried in my phone.
  2. Your phone is not reliable, as soon as you need directions somewhere you won’t have service or it will die, etc etc etc
  3. Your phone still isn’t as good as the stand-alone options. (i.e. a proper camera, or even a small notebook to jot things down in)

Let’s start with what we’ve got in the lower left corner of the above photo.

  • Moleskine notebooks of varying sizes (and a writing utensil)
  • A reusable water bottle (everyone has to drink and you should try to be at least a little earth friendly)
  • Paperwork! Maps, train tickets, my passport, room keys, tourism guides, etc.
  • A watch (which goes on your wrist, not in the bag)
  • Cable ties! These lil’ suckers are great for everything. Loose cables? got em’ Hair tie? check.
  • At the top you’ll see a lanyard with a couple of little fobs, the grey one is unimportant (I was too lazy to take it off the keychain), the one underneath as a Tile tracker. This is a great way to prevent theft or loss of your bag and the items in it!



Now on to the camera gear (mostly)!

  • That grey pouch is my bag o’ cables. We’ll get to that later.
  • Pocketable things in the top row:
    • A portable charger for phones and such
    • A tiny toothbrush with an adorable little tube of toothpaste
    • A lighter (bonus, the lighter has a bottle opener at the bottom!)
    • An extra camera battery
  • Zoom H1 audio recorder
  • Rode vid mic pro
  • Small LED video light (Aputure AL-M9)
    • This thing is great. It’s cheap, bright, absolutely tiny, comes with gels and diffusion, has insane battery life, and is super handy.
  • SD Cards (a whole ton of them)
    • Bonus: get a carrying case for your SD cards so you don’t lose them! You can flip the full ones upside down too for organization!


Also, bring a camera! I took this photo with my camera so it’s not in there, but if you plan on using a camera while traveling it is best to bring it with you!

Are we done yet? NOPE

I gotta tell you about this sick bag I use. This is the Peak Design Everyday backpack. It’s a great camera backpack because it doesn’t look like a camera backpack, so when you’re traveling you’re not walking around broadcasting to the world that you have expensive gear on your person. It also has a bunch of added security features like loops to hook your zippers through to deter pick-pockets as well as waist/chest straps for added support.

The inside of the bag is super customizable with tons of ways to lay out the dividers. If you’re interested in that or more about the bag check out Peak Design’s website, they cover everything there!



Alright, last thing, I’ve just got my Bag o’ Cables to talk about!

In my backpack, I have a little grey pouch that holds an assortment of cables for many occasions. Honestly, though, it’s just a glorified sack that holds phone chargers. In the pouch there’s a lightning charger (not because I have any apple products, but because I’m upstanding citizen willing to lend a hand in the case anyone needs an apple charger), a USB-C cable (a really long one), and a micro USB (ya know, if you’re into that sort of thing). There’s also a couple of charging blocks and yet another portable charger.

It may be difficult to tell but the apple cable is actually photoshopped into this photo! I had accidentally left the one I usually have in Dublin when someone borrowed it and did not return it…they know who they are.

Bonus: Bring a rain jacket.

Oh and also your phone.



Carrying a Backpack Abroad – By: Jacob McDowell

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