Old Aug 11th, 2003, 02:24 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 116

I notice that many people advise using soft-sided duffle bags to pack. Any particular reason? I ask because as someone who takes public transportation to the airport and who totes her own bags through terminals, my carry-on sized bag on wheels has been a godsend.

Also, what have y'all found best for packing camera and equipment? I don't know whether to buy a case just big enough for camera and film and then pack that into my carry-on or to buy a bigger case that will allow more padding around the camera.

Thanks for your help.
star55 is offline  
Old Aug 11th, 2003, 02:39 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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The main reason is that the really tiny charter planes, usually little Cessnas, have very limited luggage space and often the pilots have to squeeze the luggage into the space.
A soft sided bag makes this feasible.
Even for trips where you aren't taking this type of transport, it might be worth thinking about - if you'll be travelling on trains or buses with limited luggage space the soft side may be more flexible. That said a hard sided case can be more secure so it really does depend on where/ what kind of trip you're planning!

Re camera: I have two camera bags. The one I used for my safari was the large one which had space for camera, both lenses, lots of film and all the stuff I'd have in my handbag - tissues, medicines, sunglasses etc. (Mind you I don't have a huge hand bag). So I just combined all contents into that. But I didn't have to carry the bag much as I was doing lots of game drives and transfers were easy.

For trips where we're doing our own thing and walking a lot more I take a smaller camera bag, which has much less room but which I can carry around on foot without passing out.

I always combine my handbag contents into the camera bag and have that as hand luggage.
Kavey is offline  
Old Aug 11th, 2003, 05:58 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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You and I think alike with our luggage. However I have been looking into a duffel which would take the place of two bags and find there are now wheeled duffels with handles. I am debating what to do on this score. The weight of the wheeled duffels is often 10 - 12 lbs so I don't think I would save much in weight even if I have only one duffel.

In the past I have packed my two empty smaller camera bags in my checked luggage, and wrapped my camera and video camera along with the separate lenses in bubble wrap and then put them on the bottom of my backpack. Then the lead-lined film bag will fit in the backpack along with a jacket, books or magazines and a Ziploc bag with medications.

When I get to my safari destination I take out the two smaller camera bags and insert camera equipment in them. Since most international flights now allow you only one carry on, this is the way I have gotten around it. For me it is easier to manage one backpack and check anything else.

JanGoss is offline  
Old Aug 11th, 2003, 06:15 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 328
Star55, et. al.

Also, on many of the safaris there is a weight restriction on what you can bring (usually in the 20-30lbs range), with a hardsided wheeling suitcase coming in at 8-10lbs vs 2-4 lbs for a good duffle bag with similar/greater capacity you can bring more 'stuff' to use rather than wasting weight with the luggage.


TravelMaster is offline  
Old Aug 11th, 2003, 10:22 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
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Travelmaster, great point. Star, what Kavey says is true. When you see them struggle to push the bags to fit you realize why in Botswana soft-sided bags are required. What they can't fit underneath, they can put on the back seat if it's not being used (on a 6-seater). Some of these planes are so tiny, you really all suffer if someone doesn't follow instructions from their travel agent about the regulations. I saw a pilot make a girl leave a bag behind because it was both over-sized and not completely soft-sided. On a Botswana safari, don't think airports so much as airstrips. When we first arrived in Africa, our greeter asked to see our luggage to make sure we would be within regulations when we got to Botswana. I think if it wasn't right he was going to take us somewhere to purchase duffle bags. If you are chartering your own planes, as some people do, then you can bring whatever you want.

Jan, I would not waste the weight on wheels. There were wheeled carts in the larger airports and the rest of time others will carry your bags.

Star, if you are also going to South Africa, they allow twice the weight and two bags instead of just one. But it was still nice to have the soft-sided duffles packed with everyone we needed.
Clematis is offline  
Old Aug 12th, 2003, 06:19 AM
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Star -

I've been using soft-side luggage for years even before wheels came on the scene and used carts once at my destination. Then when wheels were put on everything, started with a very good TravelPro bag. However, even empty that bag weighed 7-lbs. which was fine on my first safari as someone was always handling it for me.

The next year I found a 26" rolling duffle which holds as much as the 26" TravelPro and that's the one I use most these days. While most rolling duffles do have a flat hard bottom, the rest is soft and can be manipulated into all kinds of spaces.

For camera equipment & film I use those rolling backpacks that the kids use for their school books. They come is three sizes - I use the medium. In this, besides cameras & films goes the rest of whatever I need to take on the plane with me. Surprisingly this medium size serves well for a 2-to 3-day side-trip.

My personal papers tickets, passport, money, meds, etc. go in a small backpack. I also always pack a folding bag for souvenirs purchased along the way.

Since many people traveling in Africa are going to various environments (safari, city etc) and take all their luggage with them, but are limited for their time in the Delta (Botswana), some friends have been able to store their larger pieces in Maun and retrieve these when their time in the Delta is finished - but that's good only if you're returning to Maun and not, instead, going to say Victoria Falls (different direction).

My ideal bag is a 28" rolling duffle which is never near fully packed, but leaves plenty of room for souvenirs bought along the way, though I wouldn't take this if I would be flying on small charter planes.

A friend recently returned from one of the fly-in Namibia safaris and advised that some passengers had all their luggage, more than the weight limits and the pilot just asked what they had to have with them immediately, to leave the rest behind and it would be delivered to them by the time their fly-in was completed (8-days later) maybe the next day when another larger plane had some room.

The rolling duffles are perfect for just about any type of travel - except maybe for "evening wear" which I doubt you'll need. Check them out and you don't have to spend a lot of $$$, way less than $100 - and they hold up.
Old Aug 15th, 2003, 07:07 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 116

Thanks for all of your input. Since I'm not taking any flights internally in Tanzania and Kenya, perhaps I can take my wheeled bag and another smaller bag. I am wondering if I can manage to pack for two weeks with the wheeled bag, which is carry-on sized, and my backpack, which I use as a purse anyway, and not check any luggage!
star55 is offline  
Old Aug 15th, 2003, 03:52 PM
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Star -

If you can fit 2-wks clothing into a carryon bag, and your camera equipment as well in your other bag - go for it.

What you don't mention is time or year you'll be traveling to East Africa - sometimes it's quite chilly in morning and evenings and a sweather of fleece jacket serves well. And then there is the long rains or short rains season. So a slicker or umbrella is a good idea. Also to have a thermal or two and socks.

Everyone is different - I couldn't do 2-wks with only a carryon. If you can, go for it!
Old Aug 16th, 2003, 07:07 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 592

I wonder if you would be willing to share the brand name of your favorite 28" rolling duffel. I have been looking at duffels on all the websites and I am more confused than before. It would be nice to have the name of one you have had success with. My main criteria is that all zippers be lockable and that the material be heavy enough it is not easily torn or cut into.

JanGoss is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2003, 11:26 AM
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Jan -

Now don't get excited, it's not a Brand name, rather made by some company overseas (I think Asia) - are you ready?

J World Sports - very inexpensive. The bag I have has two outside pockets which you can lock with a individual locks. Personally, I don't like any outside pockets and almost didn't buy this because of the pockets. Whether locked or not, you never know, depending on country, a lock can be broken and some "contraband" comes back home with you!!!

But this bag has pockets and I keep them locked and never place anything inside - they go unused.

And the best thing - cost $50.

This bag has gone with me to SEAsia and Southern Africa and has held up just fine - it still looks new. Granted it's only been two trips, but has be on and off more than 12 flights in that time.

Didn't find it in a department or major luggage store, rather a local store that sells relatively inexpensive backpacks, rolling duffles, suitecases, small backpack rollies (cost about $20), etc. One of my friends has a 30" by the same manufacturer for over 5-years now and travels regularly - it still looks new. So at these prices I'd have no problem replacing it as the need arose.
Old Aug 16th, 2003, 01:48 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 592

Thanks so much for the info. I'll get on the web tonight and search as to who might carry it.

Really appreciate the help.

JanGoss is offline  
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