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What You Take, When You Go Where You Go

Tokyo: Mt Fuji views from the office

There is s a corner of the office that is forever collecting materials for the next field study. The process of piling things up starts anywhere from 3 weeks before departure and usually reaches its conclusion the eve before heading out. Making sure everyone brings the equipment they are supposed to is not especially difficult, but neither is it straight forward given that team members arrive from different home cities.

So what to bring and what to leave?

The minimal kit is a decent camera, three fully charged batteries (doing away with the need for a bulky charger), spare memory, a paper notebook and a wad of cash.

The maximal kit includes: printers + inks; diary kits (cameras, chargers, spare batteries); a wide variety of camera, video and audio bits and pieces; spare laptops for secure data entry (e.g. hiring students in China) or for running specialist software; print-outs of all forms needed for the first few days; and a med kit. Some things like white boards & bicycles are bought on arrival but when time is tight, and it often is, it is easier to bring most things oneself. (Yes the running of the whole study can and frequently is subcontracted, but the pros and cons of subcontracting are another issue).

Shipping everything in advance? It’s sometimes feasible when there are no international customs for packages to get stopped at: too many times electronics-heavy research kit is held up in customs or heavily taxed or both. It’s funny how importing 6 identical cameras (for user diaries) can be considered suspect. Even with customs out of the equation and regardless of what the courier companies want you to believe, if it absolutely, definitely has to get there on time you need to take it yourself.

Off on another study next week with a research team arriving from different corners of the globe. Will they bring everything? Let’s see.