What I Wish I Had During the Trip

March 10, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Striated_heron_Peru_2024_1Striated_heron_Peru_2024_1A silhouette of a striated heron (Butorides striata) looking up towards the sky against a glowing sunset sky in the Amazon Rainforest of Peru. My recent trip to Peru as one of the photo guides with Wildside Nature Tours was the second time I had visited this part of the world. We spent ten days in the Amazon Rainforest and along coastal towns looking for and photographing birds, primates, reptiles, insects and so many other unique animals. 

But it seems like each trip I take, I find something else I wish I had thought of, brought with me or was recommended by one of the other tour participants. This time, one of the most important things I regretted not preparing for was Permethrin. I knew I had some somewhere in the house from last year's trip but just hours before heading to the airport and I still couldn't find it. I relied on long pants and treated clothes, and it wasn't enough.

So, here are a few items that I found helpful to have, wish list items I purchased during the trip, and a few things I picked up after I returned home in preparation for my next trip to an international destination or anywhere I take my camera. 

Chance favors the prepared mind, or traveler, in this case. It is definitely a motto to live by.

Permethrin Insect Spray

The go-to insect repellent over the years has been Deet. I avoid Deet at all costs. I don't feel comfortable using the chemical on my skin, especially in destinations where I use it for multiple days or for multiple applications. It also can cause plastic to deteriorate, and that includes camera gear. Many of the buttons, dials, text and casings on camera gear are made with plastic and can either fade or actually break down when it comes in contact with Deet. 

But when I am in the outdoors, and I am in the outdoors a lot, the mosquitoes in particular jump for joy at my presence. Some of us are just magnets for blood-sucking insects. I am one of them, and I get a pretty bad reaction too. But I am not giving up my time outside – no matter where that is.

Instead, I go with natural solutions. Many natural solutions smell wonderful, avoiding that chemical smell sometimes found with Deet products, and they also usually provide a safer option for you. But many have to be reapplied multiple times.

What I have found works well, both for repelling insects and avoiding any damage to my camera gear is Permethrin. Prior to leaving for a trip, I will spray my clothes with this formula. This includes anything that I will wear outdoors – from my hat to my socks. 

When I am out in the field, I will spray again just to be sure, giving a quick spray over to reinforce that shield. 

I keep larger bottles of Sawyer Permethrin Insect Repellent Spray at home and then travel with smaller bottles of the same product from Sawyer. The larger bottles treat five complete outfits while the smaller ones treat two. The solution will stay on clothes for up to six weeks and six washes.

I put the travel bottles, which are too large to take on a carry-on bag, in a new Ziploc bag and then inside a pocket in my suitcase for travel. Remember to spray this away from people and gear when applying to avoid disturbing others or inadvertently spraying places like glass on lenses or eyeglasses.

Picardin Insect Lotion

For extra protection on areas that are exposed to water, sun or sweat, like hands, feet and neck, I use Sawyer Picardin Insect Lotion. This also travels with me and stays in my bag (inside another new Ziploc bag to avoid issues with leaks) when I am in the field. 

Travel Kit for the Field

This was a new addition for me after my trip to Peru last year. I purchased a small travel toiletry bag and then filled it with essential items to have in the field: money, a credit card, antacid, hand sanitizer, tissues, sunscreen, lip balm, antihistamines, anti-diarrheal and a pain reliever. 

When traveling in a different country, it can be difficult to find exactly what you need, especially if you don't speak the language. Instead, I keep a small supply of those go-to items should my stomach unexpectedly turn sour, I experience some heartburn, or those bug bites get just too numerous to handle (thus the systemic antihistamines – make sure it is non-drowsy). 

Having this in your camera bag gives you just a little insurance policy to have something with you without having to make an emergency stop, something that can be difficult in remote locations.

Please note that I am not a licensed nurse or physician. These are not directives on what to take for different conditions but just a representation of what I have with me in the field.

Passport Holder and Travel Wallet

Over the years, I have seen a lot of people carry these types of wallets. Slightly larger than the size of a passport, they really made a lot of sense. I travel with a small purse that is small enough to put inside of one of my carry-on bags. I had enough, however, on this trip with the keys and other miscellaneous stuff I had in that bag so I bought a passport holder as soon as I returned from Peru. What I found I absolutely love because it matches the lovely new backpack I bought in Peru. 

I mentioned to my fellow guide that I was looking for a backpack with some leather but brightly colored fabric iconic of what you find on woven goods in Peru. I looked all over Lima one afternoon and kept my eye out in other locations but never saw exactly what I had in mind. Then when I was in the Lima airport on my way to buy a drink, there was a shop with exactly what I envisioned. Problem was I had already gone through security and couldn't carry a third bag onto the plane. Never fear, silly me carried my winter coat (remember I live in Colorado and was traveling in winter) all the way to Peru so I had sleeves. Yes, I bought that bag and stuffed it into a sleeve to get it home. 

When I was home, I found a beautiful dark brown leather passport holder and travel wallet. It holds just the right number of cards, my license, money, the passport and has a slot for an Apple AirTag. (I also bought Apple Airtags for all of my bags prior to this trip to Peru. It was fun watching them travel through the airport baggage conveyors.)

Power Strip and Adapters

When traveling internationally, it is always important to have adapters for the outlets.

In the U.S., the outlets use 120 voltage and type A and type B plugs (the flat prongs with or without the ground prong). Every country is different so it is best to check the country where you are traveling. If the voltage is different in another country, like it is in Peru, where they have 110 to 220, you can fry electrical products. (Trust me, I know what happens when you use a curling iron on a different voltage. Not only will the appliance overheat, but your hair gets just a little fried too. Please forgive me; I was in high school at the time, and every teenager knows better, right?)

The plug type can also be different in shape, size and configuration.

I travel internationally with a universal kit. So far it has always had the right plugs but I do run into issues of not having enough adapters in certain situations, like when I am running my laptop, charging my phone and charging my watch. 

I now have an extra set of adapters and added a small power strip to my bag of travel supplies. 

Camera Battery Case

This is something I should have bought years ago. I have for the longest time used a Ziploc bag to hold my extra camera batteries. I change the bag out every once in a while when it gets beat up, doesn't zip or has a hole. I always thought of it as a great way to prevent the batteries from getting wet. 

The problem is that I always put the used batteries in my pocket, hoping to remember to charge them that evening. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. I have lost batteries this way too, a costly $90 mistake. And one time I even discovered a battery in a jacket pocket that I rarely use. It was like finding $90!

Today, however, there are many options for cases to hold batteries. So, when I saw one of the Peru participants have a great little case, I decided to pick up a couple when I returned. This one is the Nomatic Battery Case and it holds three batteries. It also comes with stickers to put on the bottom of each battery. When the battery is used, you place it upside down in the case. Not only does it sitting upside down signify that it is used but the sticker is a reminder that it has been depleted.

We shall see how they work after my next trip to Belize.

I hope these ideas are helpful for you for your future travels. If you are interested in joining me on a future tour, where I photograph from the arctic to the rainforest and everywhere in between, please visit my Photo Tours page on my website. All tours, except in Rocky Mountain National Park, are offered through other tour companies but the list is on that page of where I go. The tours in Rocky Mountain are booked through me, and include some fantastic opportunities like night skies and wildlife.

Please note that I may receive a commission on some products noted on this page at no additional cost to you. 

If you are interested in supporting my business, including giving me the opportunity to provide you with this helpful information, feel free to Buy Me a Coffee. Thank you for the support, and I'll see you on the next trip!


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