As a retoucher, I travel quite frequently for workshops or events I put on, and there are a few things I consider essentials in my bag. And not surprisingly, people are always curious to see what other people travel with!
My kit always keeps updating based on what I see other people do, or as I find out about better options that are required for each job. I figure this may be of interest to you. If you have any essentials of your own, I’d love to read your comments and see what you take with you too.
Here’s an example of what’s currently in my travel kit. This does not include the obvious like passports, currency, credit card, etc.
I’m going to be doing a creative retreat in Croatia at the end of May (which I’d love for you to be a part of) and this is what I’ll be taking with me, among many other items that change based on the location at hand!
Laptop and Storage
1. I am currently traveling with a 2017 MacBook Pro 15 inch. I use both systems and at home I have a PC as well. One main reason I chose the MacBook Pro for travel was primarily that I am also an educator and most of my students who attend my workshops seem to have MacBooks, which makes it easier for me to teach with. But no matter what you use, a laptop comes in at number one as a retoucher.
2. Samsung T3/T5 Drives – As far as working and backing up on the road, I really like these portable drives. Not only are they compact, but they are also really fast to work with. Being SSD, I can easily work off of them and use a second/third as backups.
I will then get home and put all the data to my backup drives. If the internet speeds are fast enough, I can mirror them with a cloud backup. I know some people who also ship a drive back home after each job is done to ensure the data is absolutely not lost no matter what.
3. HooToo Adapters – Due to a lack of ports on the MacBook Pro, I need an adapter that gives me more options. The reason I chose this adapter is because it has 3 USB 3 ports, one pass through power, an HDMI slot (I use for presentations) and a slot for an SD card. I use every single one of those ports. I also have a backup that I also use for additional ports.
4. SideWinder – Speaking of annoying things, the MacBook Pro charger with the extender cable attached turns into spaghetti in my laptop bag. I recently learned about this little contraption, which makes packing and unpacking the charger so much nicer and compact.
5. Data on the go is such an important thing for me.
I currently have TMobile. As a part of their “One” plan, they give me free (slow) internet globally in most countries. I ask for an upgrade which doubles their speeds but it seems to not be as fast as advertised. It suffices enough to check up on e-mails and messages when people need to get a hold of me. It’s not fast enough to get any real work done though. Another option is just calling your service provider and asking what options they have for international data plans.
If what you do is heavily reliant on a good connection anywhere, I’d recommend checking out SkyRoam. A few friends swear by it and I am about to try it out because I find myself stuck in places with crappy wifi. There are a few options but it acts as a mobile hotspot for up to 5 devices at LTE speeds, for about $10 a day in many countries. You can either rent or buy the device too and you can either pay per day or per gb but I believe per day is better.
6. Intuos Pro (extra pen and cable) – I have to have a tablet when I travel because I can’t retouch without it! I carry the small Intuos Pro, but if size is an issue, I’d recommend getting the “One” or “Intuos” by Wacom as well. The Intuos Pro has a more comfortable pen and has customizable buttons, among a few other differences. But all of them can get the job done just the same if you’re a retoucher. If you like the Cintiq I’d also look at the Mobile Studio Pro, it’s quite fast and takes up less space than a regular Cintiq.
7. Medicine – I’ve learned the hard way that it’s key to carry medicine in my laptop bag. I always take Advil (for fever, body aches, and headaches), Allergy medicine (both drowsy and non-drowsy). The non-drowsy variety is great during the day and the drowsy kind also doubles as a sleep aid (Benadryl). I also carry anti-bacterial cream (a small amount) and bandages. Lastly, I take upset stomach pills because you don’t want to be alone when you get stomach issues without some relief nearby! I’ll always remember being on a train in Italy and getting horribly sick.
8. Energy bars – While I travel I always keep a few of these in my bag. I can’t tell you how many times a shoot has gone too long, a morning has started too early to get breakfast, or transit has taken a few hours longer than expected. They keep my appetite in check and I can easily make it through a day if needed. Travel often comes with a lack of time and having food on hand that isn’t going to cost you an arm and a leg is wonderful. I can’t work as well when I’m starving!
9. Reusable water bottle – Going along with quick food options, always consider carrying an empty water bottle that is very secure and reliable. I love corkcicle bottles because they are really sturdy and they have never leaked either. It also keeps water cold for a long time and comes in really handy on planes!
10. Backup Phone – I can’t live without my phone while I’m traveling. Because of which, I always carry a spare (much older) phone with me. It’s one I used to use before my current one. The reason is in case I do lose mine, I can easily get a sim or connect to sky roam (for example) and access the web again in a hurry. This is something I do out of paranoia but it’s a good safety blanket to have.
About the Author
Pratik Naik is a high-end retoucher, photographer, and retouching teacher under his Solstice Retouch brand, he also runs the successful Retouchist Blog. You can follow Pratik on his Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook