Prep Notes
What do you bring on a trip of this magnitude, you ask? (To see what we actually brought having gone and come back, click here.)

Our main camera will be a 35mm Canon EOS II with a 28-105 lens. We're also bring a point-and-shoot Yashica T4 Super with a Zeiss lens. It's small, light-weight and has a "super scope" viewfinder on the top of the camera so you can shoot discreetly, from the hip. Finally, we'll have the Sony TRV-900 digital video cam which will allow us to capture digital images and publish them to our site.

the big picture
nuts and bolts
prep notes
shout outs
We will be shooting b/w print film and color slide film. After getting all kinds of opinions about what is the right film to bring, I ended up taking the advice of my good friend (and pro photographer), Dave Epperson. Being that my humble goal is merely not to mess up great photo opportunities, it will simplify things with one kind of b/w film—Kodak TMAX 400, and one kind of color slide film—Fuji Provia 100. Both are versatile enough to cover the majority of the situations we encounter for shooting in available light.

How much film to bring? Estimates landed us at 90 rolls b/w and 140 rolls color. We are not bringing all of this with us at once. Color film in particular will degrade the longer you carry it, especially through hot and humid climates. Instead, we'll depart with a third of the film and have two more batches purchased and sent to us closer to when we'll need it.

Once exposed, it's important to process the film asap. Check with your professional photo labs that might offer mail-in services. At the New Lab in San Francisco, we purchased mailing labels which we can slap right on our exposed rolls, and send them directly to the lab for processing. We'll be looking for a FedEx service office just about every month to send film back (we've been told that FedEx does not run their packages through the deadly x-ray machines). Unfortunately we were unable to set up the same system for our b/w film, so we'll have to rely on my sister to run the film in to the lab whenever she gets a shipment from us.

Essential Gear
Backpacks. A good backpack can't be underestimated. A Canadian company called ArcTeryx makes extremely well designed backpacks for men and women, and it comes in "short", "regular" and "tall" sizes. It has all kinds of adjustable and detachable components, including an internal frame that you can slide up and down to optimize fit. As much as we loathed the idea of a "his and hers", we both ended up with the ArcTeryx Bora 80 pack (at least they're different colors!).

Shoes. Tevas and a hearty pair of hiking/walking shoes.

Books. You can get pretty bogged down between guidebooks and reading books, it's likely aong the way to trade with other travellers or ship them home. We'll also have new books sent to us where we have an address.

Water purifier/filter. Clean water is a basic necessity and worth the extra weight. We got the SweetWater Guardian Plus Water Filter—a microfilter offering total protection against bacteria and viruses, including Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

First aid kit: alcohol wipes, band-aids, gauze, wet ones, disposable syringes, sunscreen, chapstick, mosquito repellent, aspirin, antihistamine, prescribed antibiotic, Lomotil (diarrhea medicine), antiseptic, multivitamins.

Miscellany: short wave radio, rain jacket, sleep sheet, swiss army knife, detailed maps, zip lock bags.

Health and Immunizations
Leaving our jobs also left us looking for our own policy. We decided on a high-deductible ($2,000), low-premium (approx. $35-$48) PPO plan with Blue Cross. We figured we could probably afford to cover ourselves in most places, and any truly serious situation would just as soon find us on a plane headed back home.

As for vaccines, between the Center for Disease Control site and Lonely Planet, we figured out what we needed:

  • Boosters for MMR, tetanus and diptheria, polio
  • Cholera
  • Hepatitis A
  • Meninogococcal Meningitis
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow Fever
  • Larium (mefloquine): be sure to check the malarious regions you're visiting first, as P.falciparum has developed resistance to the common drugs (choloquine, mefloquine, Fansidar) in some areas.

Mostly we'll be carrying travellers checks, but our Visa cards will come in handy where we can use ATM machines to withdraw local currency at optimal exchange rates. We've estimated US $12,000 each. A word of advice for anyone anticipating long-term travel and using your credit card: check the expiration date—credit card companies make it impossible to extend the expiration of your card so you might have to apply for a new card while you're still employed.

Evelyn, San Francisco, 3/28/99
© 2007 ~ Sit Tight Ben Hur.