Traveling with your Camera Gear
Written by: Tiffany Joyce
I have a couple of trips planned for this summer during which I will be, of course, heavily dependent upon my camera gear. One is a ten-day trip to Maine, during which time my husband and I will be sailing, driving up and down the coast, visiting Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, and exploring such landmarks as the Portland Head Light, the Old Port historic district of Portland, the Freeport shopping district, and anything else we can fit into our time there. Then in August we will be spending a long weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway enjoying the MotoGP race (I’m rooting for Ben Spies, though I am also a fan of Nicky Hayden).
For both trips I have the need for my standard zoom lens (a Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM), the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens that I will be renting from Pro Photo Rental, and a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens, which I will also be renting from Pro Photo Rental.
In addition to these three lenses and my camera body, I will be bringing all of the accouterments one would expect. My battery grip and back up batteries with charger, my lens cleaning kit, my external hard drive, a monopod with ball head, and some filters. I will also be bringing my laptop with the necessary power cord and mouse. All the gear, with the exception of the monopod, can all fit in the Lowepro Fastpack 350 that I reviewed here. In addition to that, I will be bringing my Lowepro Topload Zoom 1 Camera Bag, which will come in handy when I just need a single camera/lens combination and don’t want to tote around all of my gear.
This is a lot of stuff to be traveling with, though by no means as much as some professional photographers are known to travel with on a regular basis. Here are a few tips that I myself exercise when traveling with camera gear.
One – Carry it on, if possible. Personally, I am loathe to check my camera gear in with the other baggage. I much prefer to use the carry-on option, just so I know right where my gear is at all times, and just how my gear is being handled at all times. Because let’s face it, more often than not our checked baggage arrives on the carousel of our destination airport in worse condition than it was when we checked it in. However, in order to be able to carry the gear on, it has to fit within the size and weight standards required. So be sure your bag is of the correct size when fully packed, otherwise you will face the need to check it in.
Two – Have the right travel case or pack. Buy something specifically for the storage and transport of camera gear. By doing this you will ensure that it is structurally sound enough and padded well enough to protect your gear from jostling and bumping.
Three – Lock it if you’re checking it. If you have to check your camera baggage, ensure that you have locked it with a TSA Approved Luggage lock. Any other kind of lock will be denied by the airline and they will request that you remove it prior to checking the baggage.
Four – Remove any liquids, such as lens cleaning fluid, from your carry-on and put it in your checked baggage. Likewise, keep the electronics easily accessible as the security check-in will require that you remove the camera and other electronic devices (such as a laptop) for inspection. Once through security, consider locking up the camera bag – even though you’re carrying it with you, it’s easy for an industrious thief to slip open a zipper and make off with your stuff.
Five – Speaking of thievery, make it hard on the thief. Many camera bags are emblazoned with logos and decals that scream, “I’m expensive camera gear! Come steal me!” Try to choose a camera bag that is nondescript enough to pass as a regular backpack or other kind of carry-on. Also, consider permanently labeling the camera gear that you own with your name and contact information – thieves get discouraged and often pass by (or dump, giving you a greater chance for recovery) the gear that they can’t immediately off-load due to clear ownership labeling. If you DO happen to have your gear stolen, make sure you have a detailed list of every item you were traveling with – right down to the serial numbers – to assist with any investigations or insurance claims.
Do you have any tips for traveling with camera gear? Please share your advice in the comments!
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