top of page

What's In My Bag? (Traveling Reporter Edition)

For the next 10 days or so I'm going to visit the Philippines. This is going to be the first time in five years and I'm excited to create content from my trip. I feel like it's also a good opportunity to work on my backpack journalism skills.

The term, "backpack journalism" typically refers to a form of journalism that requires a reporter to be a jack-of-all-trades while in the field. In addition to interviewing subjects and writing text articles, reporters are encouraged to shoot photos, video, create Snapchat stories, live-tweet and shoot live video on Periscope or Facebook Live.

I haven't done all of the things listed above at once since there's usually another colleague splitting the work. But Annenberg definitely encourages us to have skills in all aspects of reporting.

Unless something breaking happens while I'm in the Philippines, I don't expect to have to juggle a lot of multimedia stuff. But since I'm going to be moving around a lot, and I have a lot of story ideas already, I thought my trip presents a great challenge. I would would create different types of content using only tools that I can fit into a single backpack (with the exception of my tripod).

There are a lot of things/better products that I'd actually like to have here (like iPhone rigs, lenses and external lights). I am, however, paying for my own textbooks this school year and I need to eat. As such, I opted to buy a few cheap-but-still-works-well items and I'll just have to wait for Christmas for a fish-eye lens.

Without further ado, this is what's in my bag:

  1. iPhone + Earphones

  2. Lavalier mic

  3. Tripod + iPhone tripod mount

  4. Notepad + Pen(s)

  5. Journal

  6. Wallet

  7. Flashdrive port

  8. Laptop + Mouse

  9. External hardrive

  10. External batteries

  11. Chargers + cables

  12. Power converter

  13. Umbrella


iPhone + Earphones

I actually just got this. I used to have a tiny, outdated Android and this summer I got an excuse to upgrade because it was turning on/off. I opted for the iPhone 6s plus with 128 GB memory.

Because of its memory capacity I'm able to have a lot of apps on my phone ranging from social media platforms to photo editors that are useful for producing content. I'm also able to hold plenty of pictures and video interviews. Bonus: there's even more than enough room for a cat app.

Backtracking to photos and videos; I really like the camera. The pictures are clear and it has a great stabilizer for video. I'm still attached to using an actual DSLR for stories but for a person who has a tendency to bump into things/be a little clumsy using an iPhone is better for me because Otterbox.

My iPhone's hotspot will also be useful because I'm not exactly sure when/where I can get wifi. There are Internet cafe's in the provinces, but being able to access the Internet without having to get up is always good in my book.

Sidenote: this isn't exactly part of the phone itself, but my carrier is T-Mobile. I double-checked with a sales rep and it looks like I'll be good in terms of using my data without gathering extra costs.

I also always have two earphones, since I never know if I'll need an extra.

Lavalier Mic

Even though I'd use my iPhone to record non-video interviews, there's a noticeable difference between using the iPhone microphone and an external microphone. Now, when I first started looking for external mics this video told me that I needed an adapter before connecting my mic to my iPhone's headphone jack.

My mic, however, totally works out fine without an adapter. I just plug it into the headphone jack and it works fine.

Tripod + iPhone Tripod Mount

Technically the tripod comes with its own bag, but moving on:

USC Annenberg rented out media kits to students working on stuff for Annenberg Media over the summer. Since I'm really not comfortable taking expensive school equipment out of the country, I got my own tripod.

My tripod is significantly lighter than my Annenberg tripod, which is perfect for me because I don't have a lot of upper body strength. Even though it's great to carry when I'm walking around a lot, I'm not really sure that it's as sturdy as I'd like it to be. So future me will still have to shell out money for a better tripod. Yay.

Future me will also have to shell out money for a good tripod mount for my iPhone. There aren't a lot of cheap tripod mounts for an iPhone 6s Plus. The one I bought barely holds my phone without its case. The base also jiggles just a tiny bit; not enough to make me want to buy another mount, but definitely enough where I added it to my Christmas list.

Notepad + Pens

I still enjoy taking notes on paper: #TeamMoleskine


At this point my journal is my security blanket.


Awesome thing about Visa debit card: I can use it in the Philippines. Not as awesome thing: if I try to use it to withdraw money, there's a 200 PHP fee, and Chase has $5 plus 3% fee on each debit card withdrawal.

As for currency, 1000 Philippine Piso comes out to like $21.27 before exchange fees, and in the Philippines a Venti caffe Latte costs only about a dollar less than in America before sales tax.

Sidenote: I honestly still get confused over Peso vs. Piso because I've heard Filipinos say both. But if the currency says "Piso" on it, it's legit.

Laptop + Mouse

My old friend, full of software that'll help me edit photos, audio and video, all of which is personally easier for me to do with a mouse.

Fun fact: my laptop's language is in half-French and half-English because I can understand French way better than I can understand Tagalog or Bisaya. Because that's not sad.

USB Port

I like charging multiple things at once.

External Hardrive

Hardrives are cheaper than losing memories/content on your phone.

External Batteries

I'm the kind of person who's always afraid of having my phone die on me. These are essential.

Chargers + Cables

Again. Constantly afraid of batteries dying. I bring mine wherever I go.

Power Coverter

Alrighty. So I almost forgot that my stuff might fritz while I'm traveling around the Philippines. In terms of power sockets, the Philippines is the same as North America. But in terms of voltage, it's 220v in the Philippines and 110v in America. So let's hope that my stuff doesn't explode.

Umbrella (and now that I think about it, towel)

This is a half-joke. The rainy season in the Philippines runs like nine months of the year. Also, whether it's raining or not raining, the Philippines is always ridiculously humid. I remember sweating as a kid by just sitting outside in the morning.

And based on past experiences, my hair is going to go haywire while I'm there. Pretty similar to Monica.

One of my favorite professors/editors told me to not put too much pressure on myself creating content while I'm in the Philippines. After all, I'm supposed to actually enjoy my vacation and spend time with family I haven't physically seen in a very, very long time.

Still, I have an opportunity to share aspects of Filipino culture many people don't know about. It's too good to resist.

Here's to adventures, writing and editing.


Connect with me:

© 2017 by Heidi Carreon | Contact: | Proudly created 

  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Pinterest Social Icon
  • Twitter - Grey Circle
  • Instagram - Grey Circle
bottom of page