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What’s In My Camera Bag When I Travel

I’ve had a few questions regarding what’s in my camera bag when I travel, so here it is! I try to pack as lightly as possible and take only things that I know I will use, to avoid carrying around too many “just in case” items.

Computer & Camera Gear

Apple iPhone 5:

I always carry my unlocked iPhone with me when I travel. Depending on the trip, I may get a local SIM card at my destination, or I’ll just rely on local wifi. I use my phone on to check reviews for restaurants, hotels and attractions online or on Trip Advisor. And of course for the more fun stuff like quick happy snaps to post to Instagram or Facebook during the trip.

Apple 13″ Macbook Pro:

Because I do a lot of photography when I travel, I need to download my images on the go. Although I’m drooling over the new MacBook Air, at the moment I’m traveling with my 13″ MacBook Pro. I use an InCase neoprene sleeve, as well as an InCase hardshell casing to protect it from scratches and other potential surface damage. I also use an iSkin ProTouch Keyboard Protector to avoid any unwanted dust or sand (or tiny tropical bugs?) to get in between the keys. And of course I carry the power supply and depending where I’m traveling to, I will also carry the required Apple Travel Adaptors.

External Portable Battery Pack Charger for Smartphones:

If you use your smartphone camera and social media apps as much as I do, your battery probably isn’t going to last as long as you like. So I carry a portable battery charger to recharge my phone on the go, no outlet required.

Nikon D7000 DSLR CameraNikon D7000 16MP Camera:

I recently upgraded from my Nikon D90 to the D7000. Costa Rica was my first trip with this camera and I loved shooting with it. The biggest improvement over the D90 is the low light photography, with the capability to go to 6400 iso, while the D90 was limited to 3200 iso. It shoots amazing HD video as well.

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 Lens:

The 35mm lens is just wide enough to capture environmental shots like landscapes, and have the depth of field needed for portraits and close ups. For travel photography, the fixed focal length forces you to get close to the action, which helps you get over your shyness of shooting in new places. The 1.8 aperture is perfect for catching sharp images in low light conditions. I’ve found that using a prime lens has been great for crafting my photography skills and image framing. I also found, during my travels in Costa Rica, that the 35mm lens was excellent for shooting video.

Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens:

A perfect all-purpose lens. I’ve taken many trips with a downsized kit and  carried only this lens, and have always been happy with its’ versatility. You have the wide angle at 18mm for those landscape shots and then decent zoom ability up to 105mm for those more intimate shots. I love this lens and don’t see it leaving my kit any time soon.

Nikon 70-300mm Zoom Lens:

This is a good lens to have with you if you’re doing nature or sports photography. I used this lens quite a bit while in Costa Rica to shoot wildlife that you either cannot or should not get to close to (eg. crocodiles). I also used this lens a lot during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver to shoot the sporting events and caught some amazing images! If you travel with this lens, I recommend also carrying a tripod or monopod, as the more you zoom, the more camera shake becomes an issue.

Canon Powershot G12Canon Powershot G15 Digital Camera:

I always take a point and shoot camera with me when I travel for those crazy adventures (like zipling) that make it difficult to carry a DLSR. I chose the Canon G12. This camera gives you to shoot on full automatic mode, while also allowing you the option to fully control everything manually. It’s a great camera to have for scuba diving as well, in which case you would need to buy an underwater housing for it.

Western Digital 1TB Portable Hard Drive:

It’s always a good idea to back up your images and other data while traveling. For this reason I carry a portable external hard drive with me when I travel. I shoot in RAW format, so storing them in the cloud is not always ideal with such large files and unreliable internet connections. An external drive is always a good alternative.

32GB USB Flash Drive:

I use this to transfer files and images from people I meet along the way. These days most people travel with a small laptop or an iPad and when you have fun experiences with people, it’s always fun to share the images. A USB stick makes that quick, easy and instant, instead of relying on people to send you the images via email later.

Circular Polarizing Filter:

Polarizing filters increase color saturation and decrease reflections. This is one of the only lens filters that (so far) cannot be replicated using digital photo editing. This filter is an indispensable tool that I always keep in my camera bag. They can get fairly expensive, but they are worth every penny!

Joby GorillaPodJoby GorillaPod:

This is a great alternative to carrying around a big bulky tripod. The legs are designed to wrap around and bend, allowing you to attach the tripod securely to almost any surface. It’s small and compact and will fit into your daypack or shoulder bag.

Sandisk SD Memory Cards:

You can never have too many memory cards. Conveniently, both my DSLR and my G12 use the same type of memory cards. I currently have one 32gb card, two 16gb cards and four 8gb cards. I switch them out and download the images to my external hard drive right away, but then I avoid formatting the cards until I need more space, and then I start with the oldest images first. I mark each memory card with a sticker, so I know which order to use them in. This allows for an additional backup, just in case.

Lens Cleaning Cloth:

This goes without saying, but you should always have a clean lens! Carrying a lens cleaning cloth is always a good idea to avoid wiping your lens with your potentially sunscreen or sweat contaminated clothing, which may leave greasy streaks on your lens.

Lens Cleaning Wipes:

I carry a few of these as an alternative to the lens cleaning cloth. They are moist cloths that help remove any oils you may get on your lens. It’s not a bad idea to keep a few around, they’re small and don’t take up much space. I generally use these after any big day trips to ensure my lenses are clean for the next adventure. If you have any questions, please comment below, or feel free to email me.

What must-haves to you carry in your camera bag when you travel?

The Tropical Hangover

The Tropical Hangover…

I’m feeling it. I’m feeling it baaaaad!

It’s been a week since I spent my last full day in Costa Rica. I started that morning like every other morning: on the beach with a kickass workout. After my workout tho, I had a bit of an emotional moment while cooling off with a swim. I stood there, water waist high, and looked out at the ocean. I closed my eyes, breathed in the tropical air, listened to the waves and tried to imprint that moment into my mind.

I didn’t want to leave.

Costa Rica Sunset in Tamarindo

My time in Costa Rica had an impact on me that I did not expect. I’ve done a good amount of traveling over the years, and of all the places I’ve been, I’ve never felt at home like I did in Costa Rica. It seems I’m not the only one with this feeling. In Tamarindo, where I spent about half of my time, there are a ton of expats. People who have realized that a simpler life is where their happiness lives. Most have sold their homes and possessions and transplanted their lives to this beautiful paradise.

You don’t need much to be happy. This became abundantly clear during my time there. I left Canada with one suitcase and a backpack for my camera gear. I probably only used about half of the stuff I packed. I could have packed carry-on luggage and had everything I needed. This really showed me that I don’t need much to be completely satisfied in life. Some of my must haves: sun, beach, heat, fresh foods, and daily workouts. All of these things are provided by the location and cannot be packed in a suitcase! Everything else can be bought when I get there.

I returned to Vancouver last week to -10 degrees celsius. My body is still in shock a week later. The cold dry air is sucking the tan right out of my skin and has me moisturizing at least twice a day. All I can think about is getting back to that life where I spent my days in shorts and tank top, or some days I wore nothing but my bikini all day! Now, I have to layer up just to take out the garbage. “No me gusta!”

So now my only thought is:

“Get back there as soon as possible!”

Time to get my ducks in a row and make that happen! But first: The Olympics! 

Respect Nature!

Steve the Crocodile

This is Steve. Steve lives in Tamarindo. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him several times, and it blows my mind how stupid some people can be when it comes to viewing and photographing wild animals. There were tourists getting dangerously close, and it makes me wonder:

“Are they aware that Steve is a killing machine???”

I mean seriously! He is a crocodile! In the wild! His brain is the size of a pea! All he knows how to do is kill, eat, sleep and sunbathe! This is not a zoo!!!

Warning CrocodileSo some facts about crocodiles:

  • They are DINOSAURS!
  • They have GIANT TEETH!
  • They are PURE MUSCLE!
  • They eat EVERYTHING!!! (Even you!)
  • The jaw of an 18 foot crocodile is more than 5,000 lbf (pound force). To put this in perspective, a great white shark is 670 lbf (source: Wikipedia)
  • they can run up to 17km/hr in short spurts (that’s faster than you!)
  • They WILL kill you!
  • Then the will EAT you!

I kept my distance and let my zoom lens do the rest. Even this made me nervous, especially after seeing how prehistoric he actually looks!

Nature does not discriminate. If you piss off a crocodile, it will not end well for you. You WILL lose! I could just see some crazy Crocodile Dundee situation happening with some of these other people. Wow. (Scroll to 1:52 in the video below video)

Keep your distance. Don’t be stupid. Respect nature!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MH_MObR3G54

 

My Heart is Heavy As I Leave Costa Rica

Playa Langosta, Costa Rica

My last walk on the beach at Playa Langosta this morning.

My heart is heavy as I sit at the departure gate of the Liberia airport. Costa Rica has captured my heart and made me feel at home. I feel as though I’m leaving a piece of myself behind as I prepare to go from a month straight of 30C in this amazing place back to zero degrees in Vancouver.

I mean seriously, I have to put on PANTS! That is just insanity! I haven’t worn pants in over a month! And socks and shoes? Whaaaat?! No gracias!

My mind, body and soul are all connected to this place and as I get closer to flight time, they are all resisting the reality of leaving.

Yes, I will get on the plane, but I am already planning my return as soon as possible. And if I play things right, it will be more permanent. This place has become home. I have fallen in all-encompassed love with Costa Rica. The culture, the people, the language, the food, the beaches, the lifestyle. I’m in love, Love, LOVE!!!

Pura Vida! It’s go time!

Staying Fit While Traveling

Staying fit while traveling can be a challenge. It can be tough to get into a routine when your location changes often. While in Costa Rica I’m happy to say that I’ve been getting a workout in almost everyday. My favorite has been the beach workouts. I started doing them every morning while in Tamarindo, either with a local personal trainer or self-led HIIT workouts at the water’s edge.

For the personal training sessions, we used Nick Holt Fitness. We did several amazing TRX suspension training workouts with Nick. He tied the TRX to a tree, and with the jungle on one side and the ocean on the other the view was gorgeous, no matter which way we turned.

We worked out barefoot in the sand with the TRX and used a log for ground work and kettle bells for an added challenge. Nick pushed us HARD and our post-workout dip in the ocean was well deserved. I would recommend him to anyone who wants to maintain regular training while in Tamarindo and surrounding area.

Tamarindo Workout

While traveling around Costa Rica, I continued my beach workouts wherever possible. I would do a 35 minute HIIT workout with a different combination of exercises each time. With the heat and humidity I would do half my workout in the water. It was perfect!

What I love about the HIIT workouts is that you don’t need any equipment, and if you’re doing them on the beach, you don’t even need shoes! All you need is a timer of some kind and music to keep you moving. (I use my iPhone for both.)

All exercises are are completed using your body weight. Some examples of some would be:

  • Squats
  • Lunges (walking or stationary alternating or reverse)
  • Pushups
  • Lizard Crawls (these are fun when you do them on the beach when you see your lizard tracks in the sand)
  • Planks (do them in the water and let the waves pull the sand out from under you for added challenge)
  • Single Arm Alternating Planks
  • Site-ups / Crunches
  • V-sits
  • Burpees (the one everyone loves to hate)

I always include squats and planks in my workouts (cuz who doesn’t want a nice beach bum and killer abs?), and then I mix in a bunch of other exercises, depending on which are I want to focus on. I could add many more to the above list, but these are great if you’re just getting started with HIIT.

I drink a protein shake about an hour before I workout and I always ensure that I’m well hydrated. You should always make sure you drink plenty of water but if you’re traveling in the tropics this is especially important. In warmer climates your body loses a lot more water through sweating, so make sure you are drinking LOTS of water throughout the day. This will ensure that you are well hydrated for your workout as well as for general your health.

While in Costa Rica, I have had several days where I’ve missed my beach workouts, but those days are usually spent exploring which involves a lot of walking and/or hiking, so I get my exercise in other ways. When I returned from Central America I was so hooked on the TRX that I bought one to use at home and I love it!

Travel is no excuse to get lazy!

How do you stay fit while traveling? Please share in the comments below.

To give you a little taste of my workouts, this is my gym in Montezuma:

 

What’s Roxie Doing While I’m in Costa Rica?

Many of you have asked me what’s Roxie is doing while I’m in Costa Rica?”

Well…. THIS! : )

Best dog EVER! 🙂

Releasing Baby Turtles in Montezuma

Yesterday I was walking along the beach here, in Montezuma, Costa Rica, and I came upon a turtle hatchery just as they were hatching baby turtles! This was not a tour, or a tourist attraction, just a hatchery doing their conservation work.

There was a handful of people hanging around as they pulled the baby turtles from their sandy birth hole, and we were given the opportunity to hold them.

All I can say is that this was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen and done.

Baby turtles in Montezuma

Baby turtles in Montezuma

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(more images to follow)

10 Days in Tamarindo

I’m in Costa Rica!

I spent my first 10 days in Tamarindo with a friend. I used the time to unwind and release any remaining stresses of city and office life and create a routine to take and appreciate each new day as it comes.

My days have looked like this:

Wake up between 6-6:30am. Get up, drink a cup of coffee and a fruit shake before heading to the gym for a workout.
My gym looks like this:

20131116-160555.jpg

After an amazing HIIT workout (either on our own, or with Nick Holt Fitness) in the sun and sand, take a dip in the ocean to cool off and head home for a shower and tasty breakfast of eggs and bacon, with fresh local fruit and veggies. Then spend the day doing some work, maybe a photowalk, an afternoon snack of tacos and a cerveza (or two?) at Kahiki (total cost $6), or a stop at El Pescador for one (or four?) of their ridiculously delicious piña coladas, or one of the other beach bars for a refreshing glass of sangria.

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Sometimes our friend “Steve” makes an appearance in the estuary next door, we’ve seen him quite a few times. Apparently he has a couple of friends that live there with him as well. Steve looks like this:

20131116-160644.jpg

If we haven’t (accidentally?) been sucked in to the awesomeness of sangria happy hour, we may head home for a dip in the pool and a nap before going to a 5pm Spanish class. After class, its home to cook a deliciously healthy dinner with all fresh ingredients and, of course, a cocktail or two (cuz really, whynot?)

By the time 10pm rolls around there’s not much fuel left in the tank and it’s time for bed.

Sleep. Repeat.

Yup, they were rough days in Tamarindo… I’m dreading my return there toward the end of my trip… ; )

Steve the Crocodile!

Costa Rica has all kinds of wildlife. So far I’ve seen some beautiful birds, howler monkeys, an iguana, squirrels, geckos, all sorts of bugs, and the most amazing thing I’ve seen is a CROCODILE!!!

Before coming here, I had heard that there are crocodiles in the estuary in Tamarindo. There was even an attack in the bay off the beach here last week. But I never thought that it would be so easy to see a crocodile and there we were, taking a stroll on the beach, and as we walked through the small stream from the estuary into the ocean, we looked over and saw this guy:

Costa Rica Crocodile

He was probably about five feet long, nose to tail. I was about 20 feet away when I took this photo, and I was not about to get any closer. Crocodiles can run up to 17km/hour, and you can see here that he’s got some pretty big teeth. I was thinking it might be nice to keep my arms and legs, so I kept my distance. Next time I go for a stroll I’ll be sure to bring along my zoom lens!

My Journey to Costa Rica

A stormy day on BC Ferries

Vancouver Island > Vancouver

I had a long day ahead of me for my journey to Costa Rica. Although my flight out of YVR wasn’t until 5:45pm, I still had to get over to the mainland from the Island. So after hugging Roxie goodbye, I got in the car and headed to the Nanaimo ferry terminal to catch the 10:30am ferry to Vancouver.

When I arrived at the terminal, I bought my ticket and went through, and grabbed a coffee just in time to hear the announcement that due to high winds the ferry would be delayed and possibly cancelled. If the boat didn’t go within the hour, the next sailing wouldn’t be until 3pm! Whaaaaaat??!!!

I was happy that I had given myself lots of extra time, but if 3pm was the next available sailing, I would not make it to the airport in time. So I started stressing. I got my ferry ticket refunded, sat on a bench outside the terminal, and proceeded to call the seaplane company around the corner (weather was preventing them from flying too) and then Air Canada from the Nanaimo airport (the one flight that would get me to YVR on time was already full and the next would be too late). Arg!!

Next, I called the Delta Airlines to see about rerouting my flight. As long as I got to Atlanta to catch the flight to Liberia, I would be fine. The woman presented me with a couple of options for rebooking the flight, but it was going to cost me at least an additional $500! Whaaaaat??!!!

So just as I needed to make a decision about changing the flights, the ferry announcement said they were ready to board! Yay!! (Relief!) So finally an hour and a half late, the ferry was on its way! Crisis averted! I had planned to meet my girls for lunch in Vancouver before heading to the airport, but considering the start to my day, I decided to head straight for the airport.

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A friend picked me up in Horseshoe Bay and as we left the terminal, listening to the traffic report they announced that there was an accident blocking access to the Lions’ Gate Bridge, plus delays on the Granville Street Bridge, and construction on the Burrard Bridge. Awesome. So we went around to the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, which was (thank goodness) clear of issues.

As we walked from the airport parking lot to the departures terminal, I got a phone call and an email saying that my flight would leave an hour earlier. Whaaaaat??! So I went straight to the check-in desk and asked about it and the attendant said the flight would leave at the original scheduled time and that the call and email were some sort of glitch. O…k… Stress diffused.

Relieved, we went for a quick bite, I said goodbye, checked in and went thought customs. My flight was routed from YVR > LAX > ATL > LIR, a 17 hour journey. Considering the way the trip began, I was relieved that I didn’t have any issues with US customs. (Not being Canadian, it can sometimes be a pain in the arse.)

So I ended up at the Canucks Bar & Grill with a Caesar just in time to catch the retiring of Pavel Bure’s jersey and the Canucks vs. Leafs game. Back to happy!

Sunrise at Atlanta AirportYVR > LAX

The next leg of my trip took me to Los Angeles. Not much to report there, but did see fun facts about my two home cities, Vancouver and Amsterdam. (Seems I am the average Dutch girl with a height of 5’8.) The layover here was 2 hours, and my hike from one gate to the next took me only 8 minutes. Perfect. So I had some food and boarded my red eye flight to Atlanta.

LAX > ATL

The flight was quiet and uneventful, and upon arrival in Atlanta (about 4:30am local time), I checked the boards for my next departure gate. It said E35, so I grabbed a tea and a muffin, and headed to the gate. I had 5 hours to kill, so found a corner by the window, watched the sunrise, and then tried to get some sleep.

My flight to Liberia was to leave at 9:45am. When I looked out the window at 9am, there was no plane. Whaaaaat?? So I checked with the woman at the desk and she informed me that they had changed the gate for the flight to E5. Seriously??? So now I’m running across the airport to get to E5, because it was already boarding. So I get there and pretty much walk right onto the plane.

Exploded Pen

ATL > LIR

As I sit down, I’m thinking to myself, “Thank God this is the last leg of the trip! There can’t be much more that can go wrong…” And sure enough, as I go to fill out the customs and immigration paperwork  during the flight, my pen exploded. Ink everywhere. OMG! Seriously, who does that happen to??? Hahaha!

Upon landing in Liberia, customs was quick and easy, and my shuttle driver was there waiting for me. Perfect! I was so happy to be leaving the airport! Only another hour by car, and I was in Tamarindo!

And 29 hours later…

THIS is what made it all worth it!

Playa Tamarindo