Advertising and Travel Photographer Susan Seubert Shares Her Packing Tips for Travel

Advertising and Travel Photographer Susan Seubert Shares Her Packing Tips for Travel

Greetings!  I’m packing for my upcoming trip with National Geographic Expeditions to Iceland and I thought it might be useful to share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years about how to make traveling a little more comfortable.  I estimate that I spend about half the year on the road in hotels, airplanes, airports, ships, boats, surfboards, cars, trains and just walking around.  It can be exhilarating and exhausting, so I’ve learned a few things that make everything from camping to glamping a little more pleasant.

  • Stay Organized.  The best thing to do while traveling is to develop good organizational habits.  This makes everything from passing through airport security to checking into hotels, to dealing with lost luggage, a lot easier. I photograph my luggage both inside and out so that in the dreadful event that it’s lost, I have a photo to show the airline and/or insurance company.
  • Packing Cubes Are Your Friend! In March, I had to travel to the East Coast to give a TEDx talk, (you can’t wear black or red for the video), head directly from there to Ireland to photograph a 2 week story in the bitter cold, (picture horizontal rain and blowing snow while carrying a carbon fiber tripod and a heavy camera kit), then head straight to the Caribbean to teach photography on a luxury yacht, (think 90 degree heat and opulent accommodations).  Just trying to work out what shoes to take was a challenge, not to mention having to wear arctic gear for shooting outdoors as well as some nice dresses for dinner on board the SY Sea Cloud.  When I pack my clothes, I separate everything into cubes based on clothing categories: dresses, socks, pajamas, bottoms, etc… Then, using white tape and a sharpie, I label each cube with its contents.  When I’m staying in a different hotel every night, my suitcase is already organized as though it were a closet.  Even if I’m exhausted and in a dark and unfamiliar hotel room, I can always find my clean shirts and my toothbrush.
A few of my packing cubes that will go in the gear bag for padding.
  • Pick Smart Travel Clothing.  Sorry guys, this is a post for the lady travelers 🙂 I wear skirts when I travel.  For one thing, they are much more comfortable for long haul flights, or hiking, than pants. They are also slightly dressier than jeans or sweatpants. I choose the Royal Robbins Cargo Skirt because it is made of stretchy, water-wicking fabric, so if you spill something, it’s easy to clean.  In my skirt pockets I can fit a small wallet, passport, iPhone X, Kleenex, a small bottle of hand sanitizer and some aspirin.  This way, I don’t have to dig around in a bag at security when they ask for my ID, nor do I have to rifle through my purse to find a credit card to buy a sandwich on the plane. I also slip a Shout Wipe into my pocket in case I spill, or am spilled on.  On my last flight to Dublin, I dripped mustard on my skirt.  I used a Shout Wipe on it on the plane, then when I got to my hotel, I just rinsed the skirt in water in the sink.  Not only was it not stained, the skirt looked freshly laundered! I wrote about my favorite travel clothes in a previous blog here, so if you want to read on, there is more info!
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Royal Robbins Women’s Discovery skirt. Great for airline travel!
  • Your Medicine Is the Best Medicine.  There is nothing worse than getting sick when you’re traveling.  When you are staying in a place with limited resources, it pays to pack a few extra things for those “just-in-case” situations.  My favorite cough drops are Ricola Wild Berry and are difficult to find in the best of situations.  I pick up a Family Pack size every so often and pack a snack bag of them in my First Aid kit.  It is nice to have a small comfort like cough drops when you’re feeling miserable.  I also put Wet Ones and some lavender scented organic hand sanitizer into my kit.  In an attempt to avoid getting sick, I use the Wet Ones to wipe down my airplane tray table and I use the lavender hand sanitizer on my hotel pillow, which not only kills germs, the lavender scent is a natural sleep aid. A Benadryl stick comes in handy if you get bitten by just about anything.  It’s small enough to carry and doesn’t leak like a lot of other liquids. Deep Woods OFF! Wipes are not as messy as other insect repellants and are convenient if you really need to use this powerful chemical. A pocket size of Kleenex tissues is handy for just about anything, and don’t forget to floss!
  • Bar Soap. One of the latest trends in hotels is the bulk shampoo/shower gel/body lotion.  I really appreciate the fact that these decrease packaging waste.  The problem for me is that I cannot tolerate lemon scented cleaners and it seems that lemon verbena is the scent du jour.  I always carry a small bar of unscented soap in my toiletries kit when I’m gone for longer than an overnight trip.
  • Sunscreen. SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense Sunscreen is my new go-to sunscreen for the face, neck, ears, etc… It is both broad spectrum and reef safe.  I like the sample size for my kit, and then get the 50ml for everyday use.
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Some of my travel essentials: Kleenex, Dental Floss, Ricola Cough Drops, Bacitracin Antibiotic Ointment in a travel size, Advil Cold &Sinus Medicine, a bar of soap, Benadryl Itch Relief Stick, Lysol Spray, EO Hand Sanitizer, Shout Wipes, Wet Ones and OFF! Deep Woods Wipes.

For those of you who are traveling to some of the cooler places on the planet, the next section is an update on my favorite travel gear.  This may come in handy if you are joining me in my forthcoming trips to Iceland, Antarctica or Alaska.

  • Women’s Patagonia Down Sweater This jacket is lightweight, warm, warm when wet, packable, and provides good color for pictures.  I have two – one with a hood and one without.  You can layer them easily for extra warmth, which is a necessity when in Antarctica.
Here are my Patagonia tops, ready for the suitcase. Lightweight and stuffable!
  • These Boots are Made for Expedition Travelknee high neoprene boots from the MUCK company keep your feet dry, even when you submerge them completely for long periods of time.  They have a fleece lining for extra warmth. However, if you are traveling with Lindblad/National Geographic, you may want to consider renting them.  I tried the rentals out and they are great, plus it means you don’t have to haul them around the world – they can take up the better part of a suitcase. My Ariat Fatbaby Cowboy Boots are also waterproof, have a grippy sole with a wide toe box and are actually cute with a skirt. Keen Hiking Boots  are top notch because although they aren’t as waterproof as the MUCK Boots, they hold up well under wet conditions and are fairly lightweight.  I’ve had mine for years and although they aren’t completely waterproof, they still stay fairly dry.
  • Red Ledge Rain Pants Rock! These lined, waterproof pants are the best. They are warm and unzip down both legs so as you warm up you can cool off as needed. I picked up a pair in Sitka because the ones I had bought for the trip were insufficient for the Alaska deluge. I’ve been using them ever since not only in Alaska but at both poles.
  • Buff Headgearfor Warmth and Style: These are indispensable as I have very sensitive ears.  I wear them all the time in both cold and warm weather as a way to tame my hair in the breeze but also a way to cover my ears without ungainly headwear.  They make them in a light merino wool as well as a cotton/poly blend for warmer climates.  I often wear them surfing or SUPing to protect the top of my head from getting sun.  They are also good to wear when snorkeling to help keep your hair out of your mask.
  • ACCESSORIZE!  I always carry a few carabiners for my water bottle and lens wipes. Drybags are better than ziplocks to keep your gear dry in the rain or while you’re transiting in a zodiac. I carry these 3 for a range of purposes. The ThinkTank Rapid Belt with a Hubba Hubba Hiney and Digital Holster are great for keeping all of your gear on hand but hands free. Each camera bag from ThinkTank also comes with a rain fly which is super handy.  I use the BlackRapid Hybrid Breathe when I’m using a 2 camera setup, and also have leashes for them.
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On assignment for National Geographic Traveler in Canada at Peyto Lake with the Think Tank Camera System and my Canon DSLR cameras.

CAMERA GEAR. What’s the best choice?  This is a question I am asked frequently, and there is no easy answer.  I still carry Canon DSLR cameras.  My brain and body are molded to the form and function of these cameras.  I love the sharp glass, responsiveness of the shutter and the control over everything using external buttons as opposed to having to dig through a menu to find a function.  Even the custom function buttons on some of the newer cameras, which are designed to put those at your fingertips, don’t seem to live up to their promise, for my purposes.  That said, my new favorite travel camera is the Sony RX10 III. (Note: They have since released the RX10 IV). This is a great, all-around travel camera that is fairly compact.  What blows me away is the fact that it has a 24-600mm optical zoom!!!  Seriously.  That’s very cool.  And it’s pretty fast.  The widest aperture is f2.4-4, but what disappoints me is that it switches to f4 maximum pretty quickly, so you can’t exploit the shallow focus once you’ve gone beyond about 35mm.  But for most travel photos, this camera has everything you need to shoot both cityscapes and wildlife.  It has a burst mode, is completely silent and can be controlled remotely with your smartphone.  It’s also very easy to send an image to your phone, thus not having the inconvenience of downloading an image and then transferring it to your iPhoto library.  It doesn’t allow for interchangeable lenses, but who needs anything else with the zoom range on this camera.  And it’s optical!  So for the money, this is my pick.  I found a blog post comparing the Canon 5DMK IV and the Sony RX10IV, and it covers all the things I would cover, so here it is.

Editorial and Commercial Photographer Susan Seubert shoots Branded Content for National Geographic

Editorial and Commercial Photographer Susan Seubert shoots Branded Content for National Geographic

In March I was sent to Ireland to photograph for National Geographic in partnership with Tourism Ireland.  I flew to Dublin where I was met by my fixer and off we went to cover Londonderry/Derry and Belfast.  We spent the first few nights covering the city of Belfast where we photographed everything from the new Titanic Museum to the Michelin starred restaurant, Ox.  The next stop was Londonderry/Derry, the famed walled city about 2 hours by car west of Belfast.  Both cities have a lot to offer in terms of historic architecture, lively music, and delicious food. You can read the story about those cities online here. A must-do in Ireland is to head to a pub and listen to some traditional folk music. In Belfast, The Garrick is a great venue to do just that.  In Derry/Londonderry, head to the Guildhall Taphouse, just outside the historic city walls, grab a pint and see who turns up for a jam session. The second part of the shoot was covering heritage towns of the east.  That story took me to some lovely locations, including Cork, Cobh and Carlingford.  At every stop, there was a mix of modernity and historically significant landmarks. I look forward to my next opportunity to visit Ireland. Go raibh maith agat!

The ruins of the 14th century Carlingford Friary, Carlingford, Ireland

The ruins of the 14th century Carlingford Friary, Carlingford, Ireland

The colorful streets in the Cathedral Quarter in Belfast, Northern Ireland

The Cathedral Quarter at dusk in Belfast, Northern Ireland

OX Restaurant in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Ox Restaurant, a Michelin starred restaurant in Belfast, Northern Ireland

The historic Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast, Northern Ireland

The classic Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Built in 1890, The Guildhall in Derry, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, is a building in which the elected members of Derry and Strabane District Council meet.

The Guildhall and Londonderry Walls, Derry, Ireland

Kilkenny Castle and the River Nore in Kilkenny, Ireland

Buildings lit up at dusk on the River Nore in Kilkenny, Ireland

Cobh, Ireland

The harbor at Cobh, Ireland

Roche's Point Lighthouse, Cork Harbour, Ireland

The lighthouse at Roche’s Point, Cork Harbor, Ireland

Local musicians playing traditional music in The Garrick, a pub in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Local musicians playing traditional music at the Garrick, a pub in Belfast, Northern Ireland

The exterior of the Titanic Museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland

The exterior of the Titanic Museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The Peace Bridge that spans the River Foyle and joins Ebrington, to Derry, (Londonderry), Ireland

The Peace Bridge frames the Guildhall in Londonderry, Ireland

Traditional Irish Music being played by local musicians at the Guildhall Taphouse, located in the Guildhall outside the old walls in Derry, Ireland

Musicians playing in a casual session at the Guildhall Taphouse in Derry, Ireland

 

Travel and Editorial Photographer Susan Seubert shoots PDX for Travel Oregon

For the fourth year in a row, the Portland International Airport (PDX) has been voted the best domestic airport by the readers of Travel and Leisure MagazineTravel Oregon decided to do a story about what makes PDX such a great place for travelers and asked me to go and make photographs to support the narrative.  We featured several businesses that make Portland’s airport unique, like Powell’s Books, Blue Star Dounuts, the Hollywood Theater, and House Spirits, one of Portland’s micro-distilleries.

You can read the whole story online here.

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2017 Branded Content Photographer Susan Seubert shoots Vancouver, B.C. for NationalGeographic.com

2017 Branded Content Photographer Susan Seubert shoots Vancouver, B.C. for NationalGeographic.com

Last September I was assigned to photograph a story about Vancouver, B.C., one of my favorite Canadian cities! This assignment was for NationalGeographic.com, an online-only story about the city and it’s proximity to nature, livability and global cuisine.  The producer and I had a great time shooting for five days in several different neighborhoods. We were blessed with stellar weather for most of the week.  The rain came on the last day of the shoot which was perfect for shooting in the rain forest at Lynn Canyon, a park so close to the city that you can take a bus and hike for what feels like eternity.

You can see the story online here.

Below are some of my favorite images from the shoot.  Thank you for visiting my blog!

Views of Coal Harbor from Stanley Park, a 405 hectare (1001 acre) park, borders downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and is surrounded by the waters of Vancouver Harbor and English Bay.

Coal Harbor at dusk.

The Vancouver Harbor Flight Center and Jack Poole Plaza in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Jack Poole Plaza

Capilano Sky Walk at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Capilano Sky Walk

Grouse Mountain Skyride Surf Adventure is a summer opportunity to ride on top of the Grouse Mountain Gondola viewing platform as you ascend 1610 meters to the top of Grouse Mountain.  On a clear day, you can see for miles and your view will include all of

Grouse Mountain Skyride Surf Adventure

Heritage Asian Eatery, a counter-service restaurant that features a blend of Japanese flavors combined with locally sourced ingredients and modern techniques.  Felix Zhou, is a classically trained chef and runs the bistro on West Pended St. Vancouver, Bri

Heritage Asian Eaterty

Kissa Tanto, an Italian/Asian Fusion restaurant in the Chinatown neighborhood in, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Kissa Tanto

The view of the the Southeast False Creek Olympic Plaza in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  Formerly an industrial site, the Olympic Village is North America's first LEED Platinum community, designed developed and constructed by Peter and Shahram Mal

Olympic Village and Science Center

Tap and Barrel Restaurant on a beautiful evening in Olympic Village, Vancouver, British Columbia.  Olympic Village is located on False Creek near the Science Center.  This particular location of Tap and Barrel offers views of False Creek, downtown Vancouv

Tap and Barrel

Stamps Landing, an aqua-bus stop in False Creek, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, at sunset.  Many locals use this area to sit and watch the sunset on a beautiful day, as well as bike and walk along the seawall.

Bike Riding at Stamps Landing

Tap and Barrel Restaurant on a beautiful evening in Olympic Village, Vancouver, British Columbia.  Olympic Village is located on False Creek near the Science Center.  This particular location of Tap and Barrel offers views of False Creek, downtown Vancouv

Evening brews at Tap and Barrel

49th Parallel Coffee Shop, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

49th Parallel Coffee Shop

49th Parallel Coffee Shop, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

49th Parallel Coffee Shop

Kaykers in False Creek. Views from the water in False Creek, downtown, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Kayaking in False Creek

The view of the skyline and mountains from the Burrard Street Bridge looking out towards Stanley Park, English Bay and sunset beach at dusk.  Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

The view of the skyline and mountains from the Burrard Street Bridge

The rooftop pool of the Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada with views of the mountains.

The rooftop pool of the Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver

Views of the historic Gastown neighborhood in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Views of the historic Gastown neighborhood

Jericho Beach Park, a sandy beach on English Bay, is popular with locals and tourists alike.  There is a pier that is popular for crabbing and fishing, several volleyball courts in the sand, as well as the Jericho Sailing Centre Association. It features s

Crabbing at Jericho Beach Park

The view of the the Southeast False Creek Olympic Plaza in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  Formerly an industrial site, the Olympic Village is North America's first LEED Platinum community, designed developed and constructed by Peter and Shahram Mal

The view of the the Southeast False Creek Olympic Plaza

Tacofino, a California/Mexican inspired taco bar in historic the Gastown neighborhood in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Tacofino, a California/Mexican inspired taco bar

Brassneck Brewery, an artisan brewery, located in the Olympic Village Neighborhood, has a tasting room and a Growler Shop, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Brassneck Brewery

Earnest Ice Cream, a local, home made ice cream scoop shop, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  Pictured here is their location in Olympic Village on Quebec Street.

Earnest Ice Cream

Views of the historic Gastown neighborhood in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

historic Gastown

Lynn Canyon Park in the District of North Vancouver, features a pedestrian suspension bridge which hangs 50 meters above the canyon.  There are extensive hiking trails in the park, which is part of the Baden-Powell Trail.  Entrance to the park is free. Va

Lynn Canyon Park in the District of North Vancouver

Editorial Travel Photographer Susan Seubert shoots Portland, Oregon for Dutch National Geographic Traveler

Editorial Travel Photographer Susan Seubert shoots Portland, Oregon for Dutch National Geographic Traveler

Last summer I had the privilege of photographing an assignment for the Dutch edition of National Geographic Traveler to cover my home town of Portland, Oregon.  It was great fun to explore my own city!  I was able to revisit some of my favorite places such as the Portland Farmers’ Market, Forest Park, and Ned Ludd, but also assigned to shoot new locations like the tiny house Caravan and a wonderful restaurant called Tusk.

Although it’s always exciting to hop on a plane and go to new places, it’s just as fun to discover interesting, (and delicious), places in my own back yard.

Here is a copy of the spread, as it is only available for sale in The Netherlands.

Enjoy and thank you for visiting!

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Multimedia Photographer Susan Seubert at Maine Media Workshops

Multimedia Photographer Susan Seubert at Maine Media Workshops

Last week I had the pleasure of attending Bob Sacha‘s class, “New Media, New World,” at the Maine Media Workshops.  The goal of the class was to produce a one minute multimedia piece.  In today’s world, it’s important to understand how to distill a lot of information into a small amount of time and space.  Working with my Canon 5D Mark IV, a shotgun microphone and a Zoom audio recorder, I had one day and two meetings with my subject to capture enough audio and video to create an interesting piece.  It was fast paced and crazy.  My subject was a recovering alcoholic who runs a dog-sledding business in the winter on the central coast of Maine, and here it was, the middle of August. It took 4 days, but I was able to complete my mini-documentary!  It’s slightly over one minute, but Bob granted us all a few seconds grace period if it would finish the piece nicely.  Below is the result.  I’m working on two other projects, and look forward to getting those finished and uploaded. However, I’ll likely be a bit behind schedule as this weekend I am headed to Wales and England for National Geographic Expeditions to teach photography on their ships.  Follow me on Instagram for images from the Expedition, or better yet, jump on a plane and join us!  Thanks for visiting.