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.

Travel Photographer Susan Seubert in the Antarctic

Travel Photographer Susan Seubert in the Antarctic

Skog Bay, Antarctica

The bridge in the early morning hours as we head towards the Antarctic Circle

I recently returned from an epic journey with National Geographic Expeditions where we traveled to the Antarctic Peninsula, the island of South Georgia and the Falkland Islands.  The seas were calm for most of the voyage, making for an excellent experience exploring this remote area of the Earth. As the on-board National Geographic Photography Expert, I have the privilege of leading the photography component of this departure. I lecture on the ships about photography and help people improve their technical and storytelling skills so that they return home with a great collection of images.  Below is a selection of some of my favorite moments from this fantastic adventure.

Please enjoy the pictures and thank you for visiting!

Watching Type A Killer Whales in the Southern Ocean from the National Geographic Explorer, a ship in the Southern Ocean, Antarctica

Watching Type A Killer Whales in the Southern Ocean from the National Geographic Explorer, a ship in the Southern Ocean, Antarctica

Skog Bay, Antarctica

A Crabeater Seal hauled out on the ice in Skog Bay, Antarctica

Skog Bay, Antarctica

A beautiful iceberg in Skog Cove, Antarctica

Skog Bay, Antarctica

A Skua flies through an opening in a large iceberg in Skog Cove, Antarctica

Skog Bay, Antarctica

Sailing through fast ice, Antarctica

Skog Bay, Antarctica

Adventures on the Fast Ice, Antarctica

Booth Island, Antarctica

Sunrise on our way to Booth Island, Antarctica

Booth Island, Antarctica

A Gentoo penguin colony on Booth Island, Antarctica

Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Port Lockroy, Antarctica

Cierva Cove, Antarctica

Two porpoising Gentoo penguins and a humpback whale feeding in Cierva Cove, Antarctica. This is a once in a lifetime image!!

Danco Island, Errera Channel, Antarctica

The remains of whaling at Danco Island, Errera Channel, Antarctica

Cierva Cove, Antarctica

Porpoising Gentoo penguins in Cierva Cove, Antarctica

Point Wild, Antarcica

Point Wild, Antarctica, where Ernest Shackleton’s men spent 137 days awaiting rescue.

Gold Harbour, South Georgia

We had a persistent rainbow at Gold Harbour as seen from our ship, South Georgia

Gold Harbour, South Georgia

A rainbow and King penguins on the beach at Gold Harbour, South Georgia

St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia

Over 500,000 King penguins at St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia

St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia

An illustration of the density of King penguins at St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia

St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia

An Antarctic fur seal pup at St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia

St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia

Molting Elephant seals at St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia

Hercules Bay, South Georgia

A Macaroni penguin shows off its crest at Hercules Bay, South Georgia

Hercules Bay, South Georgia

Dramatic light at Hercules Bay, South Georgia

Maiviken hike to Grytviken, South Georgia

Hiking a scree slope in the snow from Maiviken to Grytviken, South Georgia

Right Whale Bay, South Georgia

A large King penguin colony at Right Whale Bay, South Georgia

Right Whale Bay, South Georgia

Wind gusts up to 80 knots at Right Whale Bay, South Georgia

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The colorful houses in the morning light as we pull in to the harbor at Stanley, Falkland Islands

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The classic whale bone arch in Stanley, Falkland Islands

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The quaint town of Stanley, the capital city of the Falkland Islands

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A sheep herding demonstration at Long Island Farm outside of Stanley, Falkland Islands

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Long Island Farm outside of Stanley, Falkland Islands

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Wool from the farm at Long Island Farm outside of Stanley, Falkland Islands

Carcass Island, Falkland Islands

Carcass Island, Falkland Islands

Carcass Island, Falkland Islands

Magellanic penguins molting on Carcass Island, Falkland Islands

West Point Island, Falkland Islands

A Rockhopper penguin and Black-browed Albatross colony, West Point Island, Falkland Islands

West Point Island, Falkland Islands

Black-browed Albatross chick being fed, West Point Island, Falkland Islands

West Point Island, Falkland Islands

Black-browed Albatross chicks waiting to fledge, West Point Island, Falkland Islands

crew photo NGEX, Ushuaia, ARG

The amazing group of people that I work with on board the National Geographic Explorer on our last night after 3 weeks together exploring the Southern Ocean

Photographer Susan Seubert with National Geographic Expeditions in the Kimberley, Australia

The National Geographic Orion anchored at Prince Frederick Harbour, The Kimberley, Western Australia

The National Geographic Orion anchored at Prince Frederick Harbour, The Kimberley, Western Australia

I recently returned from a month spent in the Kimberley region of Western Australia working on board the National Geographic Orion as the photography representative for the National Geographic Society. This expedition is part of a larger program that National Geographic developed by partnering with Lindblad Expeditions to provide unique travel experiences for the adventuresome. I worked along side biologists, zoologists and geologists who illuminated the journey with their expertise. My contribution was pictures – documenting the trip every day and sharing these images with my fellow travelers. I also taught people how to make great pictures under sometimes challenging conditions.

The Kimberley is one of nine regions of Western Australia. It is in the northern part of the continent and is bordered by the Indian Ocean, the Timor Sea, and two Deserts: the Great Sandy and Tanami. The eastern border is Australia’s Northern Territory.

Because we were exploring by ship, most of our shore excursions involved landing by zodiac. This rugged area is sparsely populated, so there was rarely another soul in sight. The Kimberley embodies the true spirit of the Australian outback where one can observe saltwater crocodiles, dugongs, sharks and sea snakes in the wild. On land, furry animals are rare, but we were lucky enough to see a rock wallaby while exploring the Ord River. The Kimberley supports myriad species of birds, which made the trip that much more exciting.

A gray reef egret takes flight. Prince Fredrick Harbor, Mitchell River National Park, Kimberly Coast, Australia

A gray reef egret takes flight. Prince Fredrick Harbor, Mitchell River National Park, The Kimberley, Australia

At King George Falls, I was part of the expedition team leading a group hike up a 17-degree incline to the top of the falls. Because of the lack of rain during the wet season, there was no water at the top, but the view was worth the hot scramble up the rocky trail. Our group climbed without incident so we were able to have a good amount of time to explore the scrub-land that would be otherwise inaccessible during the wet season.

Me, at the top of twin falls. King George River, Kimberly Coast, Australia. Photo by Adam Cropp

Me, at the top of twin falls. King George River, The Kimberley, Australia. Photo by Adam Cropp

Below is a selection of images from my adventures on board the Orion in The Kimberley. I hope you enjoy them! You can see all of the images from the Kimberley adventure by clicking here.

Our technical stop at Timor Leste, where the local children sold textiles to us tourists on the pier.

Our technical stop at Timor Leste, where the local children sold textiles on the pier.

Vansittart Bay, Kimberley Coast, Australia

Hugging a Boab tree for good luck at Vansittart Bay, The Kimberley, Australia.  Photo by Cristiana Damiano

Man tasting ascorbic acid defensive spray from green weaver ants in the Kimberley, Vansittart Bay, Australia

Photographer and Naturalist David Cothran tasting ascorbic acid defensive spray from green weaver ants in the Kimberley, Vansittart Bay, Australia

B-24 Liberator plane crash site at Vansittart Bay, Kimberley Coast, Australia

C-53 plane crash site at Vansittart Bay, The Kimberley, Australia

Termite mounds, Vansittart Bay, Kimberley Coast, Australia

Termite mounds, Vansittart Bay, The Kimberley, Australia

A traditional owner explains the Wandjina Rock art at Ngumbri, Raft Point, Kimberly Coast, Australia

A traditional owner explains the Wandjina Rock art at Ngumbri, (Raft Point), The Kimberley, Australia

King George River, Kimberly Coast, Australia

The amazing sandstone formations at the King George River, The Kimberley, Australia

King George River, Kimberly Coast, Australia

Climbing up to the top of the waterfalls at King George River, The Kimberley, Australia

King George River, Kimberly Coast, Australia

King George River, The Kimberley, Australia

King George River, Kimberly Coast, Australia

A darter on the King George River, The Kimberley, Australia

Naturalist Anthony Capogreco checks underwater for jellies and crocodiles at Crocodile Creek, The Kimberley, Western Australia

Naturalist Anthony Capogreco checks underwater for jellies and crocodiles at Crocodile Creek, The Kimberley, Australia

Kimberly Coast, Australia, Mitchell River National Park

A venomous sea snake with a fish in its mouth swimming towards us at the mouth of the Hunter River, The Kimberley, Australia

King George River, Kimberly Coast, Australia

A basking saltwater crocodile, King George River, The Kimberley, Australia

Gwion Gwion, or Bradshaw Rock Art, dated to be perhaps 50,000 years old, at Jar Island, Kimberly Coast, Australia

Gwion Gwion, or Bradshaw Rock Art, estimated to be 50,000 years old, at Jar Island, The Kimberley, Australia

Sunset sail away from Slug Island

Sunset sail away from Slug Island, The Kimberley, Australia

Unless otherwise indicated, all of these images are copyright © Susan Seubert and may not be used in any form without express permission from Susan Seubert.  Thank you for respecting the images. 🙂

Beautiful Western Canada for Dutch National Geographic Traveler Magazine

 

The opening spread for Dutch National Geographic Traveler’s story on Western Canada

This post is extremely late as this year has been so full of fun assignments I haven’t had much time to write.  Last September, I worked with the editor of the Dutch edition of National Geographic Traveler on a story about British Columbia and a little bit of Alberta.  It was a marvelous adventure as we spent about two weeks traveling by car across British Columbia to the very western edge of Alberta.  We met in Vancouver, B.C. and parted ways in Calgary, although the adventure really ended in Banff.  It was extraordinarily beautiful!  We spent a good deal of time on Vancouver Island and one of the highlights of the trip was visiting a lodge only accessible by either sea plane or water taxi, the Eagle Nook Resort and Spa.  Here we went sea kayaking, salmon fishing and hiking through some amazing forest and along the rugged coastline.  The editor caught his first wild salmon and the incredible chef at the lodge cooked it up for us two ways that evening:  Sashimi style in elegantly cut thin strips and also as lovely fillets, served with amazing B.C. produce.  This part of the assignment also covered shooting a few whales in the Broken Group Islands through which one must travel via water taxi in order to access the resort.  Our last night at the resort was rewarded Canadian style with a bonfire and great beer!  The next segment of the assignment involved some grueling driving, after which we ended up at another incredible, off-the-beaten-path lodge, Bracewell’s Alpine Wilderness.  Here we went horseback riding and enjoyed the incredible views, went for a canoe paddle where we encountered not another living creature other than a loon and enjoyed the rugged and unobstructed scenery of the Chilcoten.  This place is wide open space and run by a generous and amazing family.  If you’re looking to truly get away from it all, I highly recommend taking a week or two and hanging around Bracewells.    I had my first grizzly bear encounter here and witnessed a spectacular moonset, among other vividly colored moments.  We also visited, among many, many other attractions, Tide Rip Grizzly Tours in Knight Inlet, located on Vancouver Island, Blue River Safari tours, located in one of the only inland temperate rainforests. This is where I saw my first “spirit bear” cub.  We also visited the Strathcona Park Lodge where we spent time hiking and canoeing.  I’m still working on getting all of the photos up on to my stock photography site, so keep visiting for more pix!  Since the story is not published online, if you’d like to read it, it was published in the January 2012 edition of the Dutch language National Geographic Traveler Magazine .  (I think you’d have to order the physical magazine directly from them.)  Thank you for visiting this blog and please feel free to share any thoughts!  More photos on the way…

A favorite double page spread for the story on Western Canada for Dutch National Geographic Traveler Magazine. These two images, like the opening spread, were made at Bracewell’s Alpine WIlderness in Central British Columbia.

The entire assignment was shot using Canon equipment: 2 Canon 5D Mark II, 1 Canon 7D, all the lenses I could carry and my trusty Gitzo tripod and mono-pod.  There were also the occasional iPhone pix, just for fun.  My editor took a nice photo of me with his camera which I love.  I was communing with the horses we were about to take up Potato Mountain.