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LIZ'S TOP PICKS - EQUIPMENT - ELECTRONICS - CLOTHING - PERSONAL CARE - HEALTH - SUPPLIES - LEFT BEHIND

I'm not selling any of these products, this is only a collection of impressions about some of the things I have traveled with, or plan to travel with. As I use them, I will add updates. Remember that not all items are appropriate for all travels, and the importance of packing light cannot be overstated: when in doubt, leave it out! Where practical, I have added links to manufacturers or retailers for anyone who wants more information. Text in GREEN has been added since my latest trip.

 

 
 

Portable Digital Storage

iDrive

Digital cameras are a truly great invention, but what to do with all those picture files? The field of digital image storage devices is expanding and evolving practically daily, so it was difficult to decide which to choose. In the end, I waited too long, and didn't have much choice, since I had to buy something only days before departure. Overall, the iDrive worked pretty well for the needs of my last trip, but has a few major drawbacks that are sending me out on a new search for something better. While it copied all my photo cards, there is no way to confirm successful transfer on the road, and about a dozen images were corrupted, so I was glad to have made back-up transfers to CDs as well. Also, it often turned itself on in my pack, running down the battery and spinning the hard drive while in transit (an invitation to damage the drive).

 
 
 

Calculator

Filofax

Solar-powered and only slightly larger than a credit card, this calculator is small enough to carry around all the time, and very handy for things like dividing the check, figuring out tips, currency exchange, and metric to English measurement conversions.

 
 
 

Battery Charger

PowerEx

The MH-C401FS 100 Minute Cool Charger looks like a winner: can charge AA or AAA NiMH batteries, either quickly (4 in about 100 minutes) or more gently but slowly (about 5 hours). It charges each battery independently, so it will not over-charge any cell. Comes standard with a car charger, and I bought it in a "Worldwide Travel Edition" that includes lightweight auto-switching adapter (100-240V, 47-63HZ). This worked flawlessly for about two months, but then mysteriously starting acting strangely. With a lot of experimentation, I was able to get it to charge again, but only on the "slow" (5 hour+) speed. I will contact the company and see what can be done, because in general I thought this a very good product.

 
 
 

Rechargeable Batteries

PowerEx

High capacity, quality NiMH rechargeable batteries, these MAHA PowerEx 2000mAH AA and 700mAH AAA are rated very high both for the amount of charge they can hold and their battery lifetime (500 charges or more).

 
 
 

Headphones

Philips

Spent a lot of time looking for a pair of headphones to use with the minidisc recorder... they needed to be compact, inconspicuous, durable, and give decent sound. These Nike psa-flight by Philiips were designed for runners, so are sweat-proof and light, with sensitivity rated at 104db, quite good for something under $20.

 
 
 

Film Camera

Olympus

I bought the Olympus Stylus 140 zoom mere days before my big Italian Adventure, and if you want a sample of its output, every Italy picture on that site was taken with this camera. Things I love about it: weather resistance, rigid sliding lens protection, zoom & macro functions, small size and low profile (not a theft magnet). Am considering upgrading to the Olympus 170 which has both active auto focus and more zoom. I did pick up the 170, and I did enjoy the additional zoom (and the quickness of its operation). But the digital camera is just so much more fun to use, and can give me immediate feedback about whether I got the shot or not, so I found myself not using this much afterall. In the future, I will travel only with digital, and not weigh myself down with all those rolls of film, and give up worrying about damage from all those security x-ray machines.

 
 

Camera Case

Eagle Creek

Eagle Creek calls this a "Data Pod" and intends it for use with PDAs, but it fits my little digital camera well, and its padding provides good protection. I ended up using this to store the extra SD cards and the card reader as well.

 
 

Digital Camera

Minolta

The Minolta Diamage F100 features four megapixel resolution and 3x optical zoom, wrapped in a tough, compact all-metal body. It has goodly array of both manual and automatic controls, and can take AA batteries (easy to find just about anywhere). This camera performed like a champ through extremes of temperature and humidity, taking great pictures, especially in low light situations. It is small enough to take everywhere without weighing me down. It goes through batteries pretty quickly, so I plan ahead by carrying 2-4 extra rechargeable AAs. All my Picture of the Day photos are from this camera, so you can judge the quality for yourself. One problem that has just developed recently is that when the batteries are spent, the camera loses any custom settings (including date, time, and picture size/quality) and reverts to the default settings, which is most inconvenient.

 
 

GSM Mobile Phone

Ericsson

 

The R520 phone has many cool features, comes with sim card with worldwide roaming, works in 140 countries, even has built-in modem that can network wirelessly with my Palm Pilot to send email back home, although I never took the time to figure out how all that works. Even so, I found it to be a most convenient device to have along. I saved money by buying new sim cards in each country I stayed in for two weeks or more, so incoming calls were often free for me. The downside of this phone: the battery must be charged nearly everyday, it drains so quickly, even when it's turned off.

 
 
 

Digital Transfer
Device

Zio

This tiny, handy gadget accepts flash memory from my palm pilot or digital camera, and can allow transfer of that data to any Mac or PC with a USB port. No cables or power supplies necessary, it's a simple and efficient solution for moving information. This proved helpful in many countries, though sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't (depending on the cybercafe's system). It was helpful enough of the time to justify its inclusion.

 
 

Data Case

Jansport

A very handy item, it fits my Palm Pilot and its folding keyboard in separate compartments, and there's even a zippered mesh pocket for the Zio, memory card and extra batteries.

 
 
 

MiniDisc Recorder

Sharp

Even though Sharp doesn't make this model anymore, it's still called "one of the most desirable portable MD recorders/players ever produced." Its rugged silver aluminum body features jog dial control, illuminated remote control and a rechargeable lithium ion battery. I first used this two years ago to capture sounds of Italy, and I'm looking forward to collecting lots of exotic new sounds to share on this site.

 
 
 

Mini Discs

TDK

These disks can record 74 minutes of stereo sound or double that for digital mono recording. I'll take some pre-recorded with favorite music, and record over them with sounds collected from the places I visit.

 
 
 

Microphone

Sony

The Sony ECMMS907 microphone offers digital stereo sound, and is made especially for use with minidisc recorders. Powered by a single AA battery, I'm hoping it will prove to be a great tool for collecting both ambient sounds, music and interviews as I travel.

 
 

Travel Pouch

Eagle Creek

A very useful gift from my brother, this travel pouch nicely fits my minidisc recorder, microphone, extra disc and batteries, and has a thin strap (not shown) that allows me to sling it over my neck and shoulder for hands-free operation (a godsend when I want to shoot photos and collect sound simultaneously).

 
 
 

Radio

Mini-radio has AM and FM reception, is powered by 2 AAA batteries.

 
 
 

Headlamp

Princeton Tec

Three white LEDs provide lots of light (300 hours for 3 AAA batteries), and the headband provides hands-free convenience. Plus it's waterproof.

 
 
 

Mini Flashlight

Princeton Tec

I couldn't resist this, it's so tiny (about the size of a US quarter) and light (7 grams) that I'm sure it will come in handy at some time.

 
 

Lithium AA Batteries

Eveready

These batteries are a lot lighter than traditional alkaline ones, and last 3-5x longer. The downside is they cost a lot more, and I imagine they're hard to find off the beaten track. I'll be taking some with me for backup in situations when the rechargeables have been temporarily exhausted.

 
 
 

CR-V3 Lithium Battery

Extra battery for digital camera (which can take AAs, but this lasts a lot longer).
 
 
 

SD Cards

Otherwise known as "digital film" these postage stamp size cards are a miracle of miniaturization, and are a lot easier to transport than the many rolls of film they replace (no worries about x-ray machines, either).

 
 
 

Electrical Adapters

I needed just two for this trip, one three-prong UK and one two round prong for Europe. Because I was often staying in hostels where power was not always easy to come by, it was helpful to have an extra adapter, so I could charge my phone and my camera batteries at the same time.

 
 
 

LIZ'S TOP PICKS - EQUIPMENT - ELECTRONICS - CLOTHING - PERSONAL CARE - HEALTH - SUPPLIES - LEFT BEHIND

 

       

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