Mes sacs : un gros pour le matériel de plongée et les fringues, un petit pour le matériel photo...
My bags: a big one for diving gear and clothes, a small one for photo equipment ...

What is in my diver's bag?

  Between Two Journeys

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. I apologize for the strange sentences and the funny mistakes that could be generated during the process. If you read French, the original and correct version can be found here

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My diving equipment and my equipment for underwater photography now take up most of my luggage. Impossible for me to travel light as before! But the basic principle remains valid: I must be able to carry all my luggage on my own.

Warning : this is NOT a sponsored article, I am NOT affiliated with ANY of the brands I cite below in this article. I have gradually invested, year after year, particularly in computer, photographic and diving equipment…

Until 2009: my backpacker luggage

Gros sac à dos (vert) + sac de plongée (noir) + petit sac à dos "cabine".
Large backpack (green) + diving bag (black) + small "cabin" backpack.

That was my backpacker-diver package before 2010. I was a backpacker at the time, a backpacker. I had not yet invested in a waterproof case to take my SLR camera underwater (Canon Eos 7D), which today represents quite an additional paraphernalia to transport. I was traveling with the following three pieces of luggage:

  • 1. A large backpack (green stuff) for clothes and the rest (10-12 kg)
  • 2. A bag-pudding with shoulder strap for diving equipment (10-11 kg)
  • 3. A small backpack, my "cabin" baggage, where I stored my compact camera of the time and its small box, the laptop and the fragile and / or precious things (iPhone, papers, money) ...

All of this was therefore roughly within the limitation usually practiced, at the time, in eco class for luggage: around twenty kilos in the hold (my two big bags) + a few kilos in the cabin.

2010-2018: my first wheeled bag

This is the bag that faithfully accompanied me from 2010 to 2018, in all my diving trips: a 90 liter wheeled bag, light and inexpensive, found in a large chain of sports stores (Decathlon), early 2010 (this Newfeel bag is still sold today, with some changes).

Its design in two compartments is very practical. My complete diving equipment is stowed on one side. The clothes and part of my underwater photographer's clothes on the other. I completely revised my luggage logistics from 2010, when I started to carry a little more substantial photo equipment to take pictures underwater. I talk about it in these articles:

→ No more backpacking, long live the wheeled bag!

→ Photo and diving: my equipment

Mes sacs : un gros pour le matériel de plongée et les fringues, un petit pour le matériel photo...
My bags: a big one for diving gear and clothes, a small one for photo equipment…

I reluctantly renounced my status as a “backpacker” carrying all of her belongings on my back / shoulder. It is much less exhausting to be a “rollpacker”… 😂

This compact and discreet wheeled bag attracts far less attention than the bulky diver's travel bags, all of which have a clearly identifiable brand name written on them. It has held up for eight years, at the rate of 3 to 4 trips per year and has often been roughed up! I was very happy, until he let go of me in May 2018, on the return from a trip to the Philippines.

The handle ended up coming out of its rail and the two corners at the bottom at the front are quite worn. However, the closures still hold and the entire canvas is still in good condition. Rather robust, therefore, despite its very low price, a very good investment.

From July 2018 to today

Forced to renew my luggage, I just invested in another wheeled bag, designed in the same way, in two compartments. A discreet bag, from a reputable luggage brand (Eastpack) which guarantees its products for thirty years. Her name : Transver L.

It is less cheap than my previous bag, a little larger (121 liters). I hope it will last even longer!

Voici mes bagages actuels : un gros sac à roulettes Eastpack (à droite), un sac cabine à roulettes Ikea avec partie détachable en sac à dos (à gauche). (Aéroport Charles-de-Gaulle, Roissy, juillet 2018)
Here is my current luggage: a large Eastpack wheeled bag (on the right), an Ikea wheeled cabin bag with a detachable backpack part (on the left). (Charles-de-Gaulle Airport, Roissy, July 2018)

Small underwater photo logistics

This change in logistics and the choice of casters were therefore necessary because of the equipment for underwater photography, to be transported in addition to the rest ... I had to completely review the organization of my luggage!

Because in addition to the SLR camera and its waterproof case, you must convey the heavy paraphernalia that goes with: the plate (support) with its two handles, the flashes and their batteries, the flash arms, the charger for these flashes, the cables , etc. I put you some pictures below, to give you an idea of the bazaar…

Oui, je ne ressemble pas vraiment à une sirène avec tout mon bazar photographique sous l'eau ! (Philippines, mai 2018 - Photo par Steven Weinberg)
Yes, I don't really look like a mermaid with all my photographic bazaar underwater! (Philippines, May 2018 - Photo by Steven Weinberg)
Mon attirail pour la photo sous-marine.
The same paraphernalia, dismantled ...
Et voilà ! L'appareil est prêt à m'accompagner sous l'eau ! (Romblon, Philippines, mars 2017)
My current configuration (since 2016), with two flashes.
Le petit bazar que je me coltine en voyage pour pouvoir faire des photos sous l'eau... À droite, mon appareil avec son nouvel objectif 100mm macro. Seuls les éléments les plus fragiles, à savoir l'appareil photo et les objectifs, son caisson et ses hublots, restent dans mon sac cabine. Je mets tout le reste en soute. (Romblon, Philippines, mars 2017)
The little bazaar that I wear when traveling to be able to take pictures underwater… And again, the dome and the lens for wide-angle pictures are not shown on the photo. Right, my camera with its 100mm macro lens. Only the most fragile elements (camera, lenses, housing and portholes) remain in my cabin bag. I put everything else in the hold. (Romblon, Philippines, March 2017)

For the plane: only one large bag in the hold

So I only put one large rolling bag in the hold. This luggage on wheels, divided into two compartments, therefore contains:

  • on the one hand, my complete diving equipment;
  • on the other side, some clothes and various accessories a little heavy related to the underwater photography that I mentioned above (the flashes and their batteries of a model authorized in the hold, the charger for these batteries, the arms of the flashes and the box plate, among others).

Fortunately it rolls, this bag! The whole thing easily reaches 28-29 kg… 😱

I therefore prefer to travel, for international flights from / to France, on airlines which authorize 30kg in the hold at no additional cost (Emirates Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, etc.).

➡️ Attention on Emirates: During the stopover in Dubai, the company has a policy of once again checking the weight of travelers' hand luggage on most flights. They are waiting for you with a scale, just before entering the departure lounge. Better not to exceed the authorized 7kg, they are very strict, the extra kilo is charged at a high price (and impossible to board without paying). For photographers: I therefore recommend wearing your camera around your neck and putting your lenses in a multi-pocket jacket…

For flights between Asian countries, I often borrow Air Asia which allows to buy at the time of booking, beyond the basic 15kg for checked baggage, additional kilos up to a total of 30kg…

Finally, the costs of being overweight on local companies that I often use (Indonesian, Malaysian, Filipino) are rarely a problem: they are very low compared to Europe. We can either pre-pay them at the time of online booking, otherwise they must be paid at the time of check-in, and are then often billed with a "discount" at the head of the client (and especially of the client, when she gives a big smile at the check-in counter and says hello in the local language)… 😉

The thorny issue of cabin baggage

Besides my wheeled bag, I have with me a "small" cabin bag, now also on wheels, bulky and convertible into a backpack, unearthed in the store of a large Swedish furniture chain (Ikea)...

The advantage is that it is divided into two pieces of luggage thanks to a zip: the rear part, which rolls and which is stacked in the standard cabin size authorized; and the front part, which turns into a small backpack perfect for my MacBook Pro computer and my papers. All zips can be secured with small padlocks.

I distribute in this cabin baggage "two in one" everything that is fragile and / or precious and that I do not want to put in the hold:

  • In the main part of the rolling bag: the Ikelite waterproof case for my 7D and its two portholes (wide angle dome + macro porthole), the Canon Eos 7D and its lenses, fragile electronic equipment (dive computer and backup hard drive), a fleece jacket for transport ( especially in Asia where the air conditioning is often pushed to the limit) and an emergency mini-change (in the case where the checked baggage containing the clothes has not followed, precaution that I have taken since it happened to me in 2015 → Go to an island far from everything).
  • In the small detachable bag: my 15-inch MacBook Pro, my iPhone, money and papers, as well as my plane survival kit (mask, ear plugs, compression socks, toothbrush). In general, I keep this detachable bag with me on the plane, tucked under the seat in front of me, and I place the other in the overhead luggage compartment.

➡️ NB. I have this nifty convertible cabin bag since 2016 (before, I had a stupid little backpack, which weighed a little heavy on my shoulders, with all this bardas, in the airport corridors)… I am delighted with my find, this new small wheeled bag is perfectly suited for air travel!

Clothes: the tropical minimum

And for the rest, what do you put in your luggage for a stay in Southeast Asia or in tropical islands? As little as possible! 😎 🌴 During my travels in Asia, I learned to take only the essentials. I have compiled a short checklist below.

➡️ My usual destinations enjoy the same climate: hot and humid. Long live summer clothes! No need to clutter up: if I miss something, I buy it on the spot (in addition, it's much cheaper than in France). No problem buying thongs, t-shirts or sarongs in Asia!

Clothing: tops

  • some suspenders tops for “seaside” places
  • two T-shirts covering the shoulders and several fine tunics with long sleeves. Both to respect certain places and situations (cities, Muslim countries, temples) and as protection against mosquitoes in the evening. Preferably things that are easy to wash and match with any stocking.
  • a small fleece jacket for all air-conditioned places that are often in “fridge” mode (plane, bus, boats, shopping malls, etc.)

Clothing: stockings

  • cropped trousers
  • long pants (for air travel, and for places and circumstances where it is better not, as a woman, to be bare legs)
  • a skirt and / or a summer dress with straps
  • one or two shorts


  • panties and bras: simple and comfortable
  • enough for one week

At the feet

  • a pair of canvas sneakers that I wear on the plane, which is then used only when you have to walk a little
  • a pair of flip-flops that weighs nothing in the bag and that I have almost permanently on my feet on the spot

➡️ I am not a trekker, so I do not burden myself with heavy hiking shoes or socks…

My indispensable accessories

  • 3 or 4 swimsuits (I am always in the water, I like to change)
  • 2 to 3 sarongs or sarongs (one “clean”, one or two others for the beach and sea trips, I often buy new ones on site)
  • a hammock (one of these light models as found everywhere in Asia)
  • Sun glasses

➡️ I haven't taken a bath towel for a long time, you get it everywhere now.

Toilet stuff

  • Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, toothpaste, moisturizer, sunscreen, etc. Before, I took them in minimal quantities in small bottles for arrival, because I often bought my toiletries on site just to gain weight in the luggage. From now on, I use biodegradable products to pollute as little as possible and since they are not easily found when traveling, I take the necessary quantity with me. I recently went to shampoo in the form of solid soap, very practical.
  • Toothbrush, hairbrush, hair bands, tweezers, razor, etc.

➡️ Special girls: whether you are tampons, cup or towels, it is better to think about taking your hygienic protections, we are not sure to find everywhere, especially tampons ...

Médocs: small pharmacy with sores

My first-aid kit has steadily shrunk over the course of my travels, most often to Asia and the Indo-Pacific archipelagos ... Remember that in tourist spots and big cities, there There is usually medical infrastructure in case of a real problem. Overall, the risk of contracting a serious illness is minimal for a healthy, well-nourished western traveler with up-to-date vaccines. And if that happens, we will not treat ourselves: we will consult a doctor on site or we will call on the services of assistance / insurance for travelers.

So I'm happy here to provide common sense advice, for any small worries while traveling, not for serious situations. This advice is obviously not a substitute for medical advice. But considering the exorbitant price of certain drugs (which very often will not be used), the best is to take with you only enough to treat small troubles and small sores.

The really useful stuff

The problems we are most likely to face: the famous tourist (traveller's diarrhea) and small wounds (bites, scratches, cuts, blisters, which heal poorly in a humid climate and can become infected).

So what's really useful in a travel medicine kit: it's at a minimum anti-diarrheal, as well as bandages sterile and a disinfectant Betadine type (be careful on all the small sores on your feet, since we walk around all the time barefoot, in flip flops, it can get infected very easily). I now also have waterproof dressings with me that are suitable for protecting a wound when I dive, salt water only making the situation worse if not…

Possibly antibiotics, if you know you will be spending time away from any city (where you can find a doctor and / or pharmacy). For example, I have already had to urgently find a pharmacy between two planes in Indonesia, in order to have me deliver antibiotics for three days, just to stop the infection of an ampoule of palms (sic!) Which had degenerate.

For small ordinary ailments, I also take some pills ofParacetamol pain reliever, type Doliprane, Dafalgan or equivalent.

Finally, very useful for the diver that I am: drops to treat otitis externa (caused by poorly rinsed ears after immersion). The most effective for this type of infection, among those that I tested: those which bear the name of Ottopain in Indonesia or Panotile in France.

Mosquitoes and malaria

The malaria (also called malaria) is an infectious disease potentially deadly, caused by parasites like Plasmodium, transmitted by mosquitoes when they bite us.

Malaria does not occur everywhere in the equatorial or tropical regions of the world, nor in the same country considered as malaria. By that I mean: no need to take preventive treatment when you go to Phuket, for example… For malarious areas, it is obviously advised to consult a doctor before leaving. Only he can properly inform you about the risks of contamination where you are going and how best to prevent them.

This is not a question to be taken lightly. As many internet travelers rightly point out, a single bite of a mosquito carrying the parasite is enough to be infected for life…

Mon arme contre les moustiques.For my part, it is rare that I take antimalarial treatment. I am often asked the question and I am always a little annoyed to answer, knowing that it can influence the decision of other people. Now it is a personal choice, of which I assume the risk for myself, knowingly.

My decision can in no way replace medical advice and has no value as a recommendation. Everyone has to take responsibility for their health.

I am generally satisfied with the simplest basic precautions, which have proven themselves: mosquito repellent, long sleeves and pants at nightfall if necessary, careful closing of the net around the bed if there is one and the room is not closed.

I invite you to read this excellent article published by François from the blog Tourdumondiste, which explains everything very well, with serious information (sourced) and wise advice → Should we take malaria medication while traveling?

➡️ Malaria is not the only thing to fear: mosquitoes can also transmit the dengue. Protecting yourself with repellents and long clothes therefore remains a basic precaution in all cases.

Techno: an essential superfluous

There, I admit, I charge a little. I'm addicted to my toys! I have been traveling without a computer for a long time, when I was a real backpacker, but it's over. At that time, to connect to the web and keep this blog up to date during my travels, I spent hours in local internet cafes…

1. Laptop

The first time I decided to go with a laptop, I first opted for a netbook (a laptop) very light and not too expensive, the small Medion Akoya (read here → My technomade mini-computer). But from 2010, when I acquired my Canon 7D SLR camera who is doing HD video, I gave it up: this little computer was not powerful enough…

Instead, I took my old man next time 15-inch MacBook Pro. Only, he frightened me by falling in the harbor, with a beautiful black screen: he did not like the humidity and the heat at all. It came back to life after the return, but this machine was already starting to be obsolete at the time. Technological toys are evolving at full speed! ! !

So, in January 2011, I fell for a 13 inch MacBook Air, one of the first generation, very light, really good. I loved it and I have traveled with many years. But similarly, it ended up no longer being enough for me, with the stock of Raw photos and videos that I accumulated ... Its slowness, faced with new software and ever-larger files, became exasperating.

Mon MacBook Air. Chez Ankermi, à Maumere. Flores, Indonésie, juillet 2011.
My 11-inch MacBook Air at Ankermi Happy Dive in Maumere. (Flores, Indonesia, July 2011)

So, in June 2016, I invested in a new machine, capable of processing large numbers of files without dragging and which should be able to last several years: a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display from mid-2015 (photo below).

Sympa, mon bureau de blogueuse ! (Lembeh, Sulawesi, juillet 2017)
Nice, my office of blogger traveler diver! (Lembeh, Sulawesi, Indonesia, July 2017)

I bought it refurbished (these are computers that were used in store presentation and that were refurbished for sale then, it allows a significant saving, compared to a new model) on the Refurb Store of the apple brand.

I took care to choose a model well inflated in power (16GB of RAM memory + 2,5GHz Intel Core i7 processor) and in storage (1TB of flash memory), in order to be able to process without rowing heavy photo and video files, and in the hope that it will not be obsolete too quickly ...

With the amount of underwater imagery I am doing now, I can no longer imagine traveling without a computer. I can write my texts whenever I want, from my room or my terrace, sort my photos as I go along Lightroom, edit videos and connect to the internet, either using a wifi connection when there is one, or using the shared connection of my iPhone in which I put a local SIM card (not expensive at all in Asia, very practical to connect via the mobile network).

2. Photo and video material

Since January 2010, I travel with a reflex camera which also makes video, the Canon Eos 7D (nothing to do with the small digital compact Canon Powershot A95 who accompanied me before). I am very happy with it, even if it is quite heavy and bulky.

He has never let go of me, he is robust, tolerates the humid conditions that I inflict on him regularly, and is capable of making superb images underwater.

I have not yet renewed this equipment (it represents a substantial budget, especially since it would be necessary to buy a box for a new device, these things are not interchangeable, and a box, it costs roughly the same price as the case 😱).

Before, I also had a compact device in relief, for terrestrial photos, but the iPhone has now become my second camera. In a few years, the quality of the sensor of smartphones has become excellent.

In this month of June 2019, however, I have just acquired a mini-SLR as a secondary camera for terrestrial photography, the Canon Eos 250D. Extremely light, inexpensive, it is considered a reflex for "beginners". But it seems to me to have what it takes to be a practical and versatile travel case. I will talk about it when I have tested it more in the field. It became complicated for me to take the 7D out of the box after each dive when I needed it for photos that I didn't want to take on the iPhone.

For the 7D, I take several 32GB and 16GB memory cards, a spare battery and its charger. For the 250D, I have two SD memory cards, an 8GB inherited from an old device, a 32GB fast speed, suitable for video, as well as a spare battery and charger.

My goals (see here → Photo and diving: my equipment) are interchangeable on the two boxes.

Finally, I also have a 500 GB SSD portable hard drive to backup photos and videos (I unload and store the originals on my MacBook Pro).

For underwater shots, as I explained above, I also carry the Ikelite box for my SLR (as well as its accessories: the flashes and their charger, the flash arms, the cords, the turntable, portholes…).

3. iPhone

I also mentioned it above. I currently have the iPhone X and it really is my second camera now. It allows to to make images without attracting attention, everyone takes out their smartphone to take photos in Asia! We always have it on hand, really practical.

For all that is communications (telephone, SMS, internet), I put it there a local SIM during travel, it allows access to the internet in 3G and 4G when there is a network and it avoids roaming costs. It thus serves as a “modem” to the computer via connection sharing, when there is no wifi available and I only have the local telephone network to connect to the internet.

NB. In this month of June 2019, come to discover with spite that the new iPhone XR and XS recently allow the use of e-SIM, but not the iPhone X that I have… Too bad for me, the e-SIM is virtual, thus making it possible to keep its usual number associated with the iPhone without physical SIM. We can therefore slip a second physical SIM card into the device, for example a local SIM, without missing the first number ... The kind of thing perfect for me!

4. Cables

In modest accommodations, it is rare to have more than one electrical outlet. And it is sometimes installed in bizarre places, high up, or near the door, or in an inaccessible corner behind the bed ... So I take a strip, to connect all this little world more easily. I check before leaving the type of plug of the country to take the adapter which is going well (but if you forget it is there).

I also have a USB key, a memory card reader to download my photos and of course the cable and the socket for iPhone.

  Between Two Journeys