It never fails. Whenever my wife and I take a beach vacation, I bring much more camera gear than I'll ever possibly use. I go on beach holidays to relax and get away from it all–my days generally involve a crack of dawn swim, lingering over breakfast, relaxing on the beach, going for another swim, a nap, maybe some wine and cheese in the afternoon, and a nice dinner around sunset, repeated for however many days we're away. There may be slight variations during the trip: we may hit a straw market, we might rent jet skis one afternoon, but for the most part, these trips are for rest and relaxation, not serious image-making.
But I am getting smarter about it. I'm travelling lighter. If I'm bringing a tripod, it's a 2.2 pound carbon-fiber Gitzo Traveler. But I've taken to just bringing the traveler's ballhead atop a Manfrotto super clamp on many a trip. On a recent escape to Saint Martin, I packed the super clamp and ballhead, a Pentax K10D, 10-17mm fisheye zoom, and a short stack of Pentax pancake lenses: 15mm, 21mm, and 40mm primes, Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 as the on-land pocket camera, and a Pentax Optio W60 for swimming and jet-skiing shots into my Think Tank Urban Disguise 50. (The 15-inch laptop pocket on this bag doubles nicely as a shoe compartment for flip-flops and topsiders, by the way.)
I went out very early one morning with the K10D and the 15mm and shot a handful of forced perspective/shallow depth of field shots of a cactus on a rock bluff a few meters above above Orient Beach (shown at right), and a shot of a footprint on the sand, but aside from that, this was a pocket camera vacation.
We took a ton of shots and jet-ski HD video in the water with the Pentax Optio W60, and a bunch of snapshots with the TZ3 to document our extraordinary lunches and epic dinners at the cafes and beach bars of this little French outpost in the tropics. These shots won't ever be published anywhere asides from our family album, and that's the whole point. This wasn't a working trip, this was an escape from it all!
I know the thinking behind the logic that leads me to want to haul every single piece of gear with me: I don't want to miss any opportunity because this lens or that accessory was left at home! Is it just me? Or do other photographers find themselves hauling a ton of gear they never end up using on their vacations?