I just came back from a two week trip to China, and I wanted to share with you my thoughts on what worked and what didn’t work in terms of gear that I brought.

What worked

  • Duffle bag used for short overnight trips. The majority of the trip was in Shanghai, but I took two, two-day side trips to Hangzhou and Nanjing. If I were to bring my big suitcase with me, it would have been somewhat of a hassle on the train as the overhead area isn’t that deep.
  • 26” suitcase. I knew I was going to buy things while out there, but I didn’t know how much extra space I needed. The 26” suitcase felt really empty on my way out there, but on the way back it was the perfect size for everything I brought back home. I didn’t extend the suitcase either, so there was still room to spare.
  • Lowepro Versapack 200 AW – I took this bag everywhere with me. The top compartment was large enough to store all the non-camera stuff I needed for that day. It also was able to hold all the various items I bought while on the trip. The bottom section took care of my DSLR and other camera related items. Backpack straps and design made it comfortable to use throughout the trip.
  • R-strap for my DSLR camera. This strap is much more comfortable and easier to use than my op/tech strap.
  • Vitamin C. I took 500mg pills and lots of cough drops with me. Thankfully, I never caught a cold out there.

What didn’t work

  • Bringing smaller US currency. You will ultimately exchange it all, so why bring smaller bills? Maybe a few dollar bills is fine, but no need for $10 or $20s.
  • Original Sonicare toothbrush /w power converter. I love my Sonicare toothbrush, and I brought it with me. The one downside to the original model is that its only rated for 120 watts so I needed a power converter to recharge the device while in China. For whatever reason, it never fully charged which resulted in one session per a several hour charge. This wasn’t a huge failure, but I did have to bring the charging station with me on the side trips. If the device was able to hold a full charge, I would have been one item lighter while on the side trip. I think the only solution here would be to buy the newer model.
  • Wallet designed for US currency. The RMB is a bigger than the USD so my wallet never closed properly.

What I should do or buy for next time

  • Electronic translator. Either a dedicated one, or an ipod touch /w an app. Not being able to speak Chinese in certain areas where nobody speaks English makes things difficult.
  • Emergency items in case I miss a flight. Because of weather issues in Shanghai, I missed my original flight home and ended up staying an additional 10 hours in Hong Kong. Since I already checked my suitcase, I didn’t have much with me so perhaps bring a change of clothes and some various toiletries with me in the case I’m stuck somewhere.
  • Bug spray? I probably got bit over ten times on my body, and I think on my last trip out there, I got bit several times as well.

Overall, I think I did fairly well in terms of gear that I bought on this trip. Next post will have a bunch of pictures from the trip. I just need to process them first.