While you're preparing for your latest travel adventure, don't forget the gear that doesn't attach to your camera. These are still important to ensure your trip's success. To protect your gear, you may want to seriously consider some insurance. Your home owner's insurance may cover some things, but it won't replace your collection. You should probably have a high-value item policy. Give them a list of all your gear, with model and serial numbers, along with each item's value. The insurance isn't as expensive as you think. My policy covers the replacement value of everything, with no deductable, for less than $200 a year. I've never had to use it, but I worry less when I'm on the road because I'm covered.
And speaking of covered, pack one or two of those single-use rain ponchos for inclement weather. They only cost a dollar; weigh nothing; take up very little space in your camera bag; and provide protection for your camera while you're out taking those rain photos.
Besides your laptop for quick editing, you're going to need your card reader to download your photos and portable hard drive to back up them up. A battery charger is required for travel lasting more than a day or two. Do you have the power adapters necessary for foreign power plugs, and do all your devices have the ability to switch to the 220 volts of Europe or the 240 volts of Australia? This is important - the US power grid is different from many other countries. Plugging into a different outlet can destroy your device and start a fire. That kind of thing can sure ruin your adventure.
How about your clothes? I lived in Germany for six years, and I could spot an American at 20 paces. They're wearing jeans, white sneakers, and a t-shirt with some saying or advertisement on it. I have about 50 ball caps (a personal quirk), but they won't be going with me to Europe. I've never worried about my safety in a foreign country, but there is no reason to make it easy for any wandering bad guy to identify me as a "rich American" walking down the alleys with expensive camera gear. Carry a phrase book, too. Americans are notoriously lousy at foreign languages, but at least make an attempt to communicate in the host language. It is appreciated and will usually ensure people are more willing to help you. Please don't personify the "Ugly American" stereotype while you're out there.
The list is as long as you can carry. I usually have maps, a notebook, flashlight, and an iPad/iPhone with apps that tell me the times for sunrise/sunset and lots of ebooks loaded. Is it any wonder I have a really big suitcase?
The more you travel, the easier this gets. Make a packing list, so you don't forget anything important. You'll enjoy the trip more and, therefore, come back with better photos. Have fun.
This Sunday is Mother's Day. Do something nice for your mom. My mother always wants more photos of her descendants, and the ones from our family are the cutest. ;-) So these are for you, Mom. Happy Mother's Day!