Vacation or Hobby Trip?

Every time I pack for an international trip, the question of whether or not to bring my photography equipment is a fraught one. Cameras are heavy, I strongly prefer to pack light, and I get very nervous about damage to my equipment in flight and inter-city journeys. This past year has been particularly difficult on this front as my trips have all involved some mix of city-time and backpacking time.

If the vacation plan is to go to some far-away city and post up there for a week or more, then bringing the camera and tripod is a no-brainer. But when I’ll be spending part of the time hiking up mountains with all of my stuff or walking from village to village, more equipment is just not worth the weight and hassle.

For this year’s trip to the Iberian peninsula, I talked myself into bringing the camera, but leaving the tripod. I was spending nearly a week doing the Camino de Santiago, so I had to cut back a little or my pack would be way too heavy. In the end, I only picked up my camera twice on the several-week trip. Once in Santiago at the end of the camino and once again in Porto, Portugal before heading home.

Here’s one of the outcomes of my evening photography in Porto. Of course, I can’t help but be dissatisfied with this image. I had to do this hand-held and I desperately wished for my tripod that evening. Ah well… Such is life.

But the whole instance just gets me thinking about my imbalanced desires. I really would love nothing more than to take an international trip with my camera and my tripod and just spend days with photography as my main focus. But on any initial visit to a distant location, my first desire is always to thoroughly explore. I want to see the museums and walk the streets and check out all of the restaurants and spend time with my friends. Taking time to slow my pace and just be with my camera is only something that appeals after I feel like I’ve gotten to know a place at least a little. By that time I’m usually leaving.

Anyway, all of this to say I tend to take vacations, not hobby trips but I hope to take more hobby trips in the future. Tripod and all.

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