Even if traveling with a camera is challenging, you cannot skip it if you are a photographer. From catching a flight to staying in a hotel, if you have an expensive camera along with you, you need to ensure its safety and make the task less daunting for yourself.
As a photographer, I have always been planning different photography trips to visit top landscape destinations and capture breathtaking shots. But there is no doubt in the view that you require a lot of planning for the perfect execution of things.
It is normal for you to feel overwhelmed while traveling with your camera and trying to protect it. But if you want the entire experience to be less daunting, keep reading this guide, as I will walk you through some of the best guidelines to follow if you are traveling with camera gear.
Is Traveling with Camera gear difficult?
No matter the number of times you have traveled with your camera gear, it can be a little tricky because of how fragile your equipment is. Your cameras and lenses won’t possibly be able to take knocks while you travel.
Due to how fragile and delicate your cameras and lenses are, they are susceptible to damage. Furthermore, camera gears are usually on the heavier side, and you cannot expect them to offer you portability.
As a result, you may face difficulties while carrying them around on your trips. Another thing to be concerned about is the security of your camera gear. Because of how expensive and useful cameras are, cameras are susceptible to getting stolen.
Apart from all these existing difficulties, you may also be required to adhere to custom regulations, which are different for different countries. Furthermore, it is essential for you to also keep the airline restrictions in mind as they might limit your options due to the weight and size restrictions.
Due to all these reasons, you may find it challenging to take a camera along while traveling. However, through proper planning and usage of protective cases, you can surely make it easier to travel with a camera gear while abiding by the airline guidelines.
8 Tips to Travel with Camera Gear
Even though it is tricky to travel with expensive camera gear, you cannot miss it if you are a photographer. The good part is that just by following a few tips, you can simplify the entire experience for yourself. If you are looking to travel with your camera gear, it will be better for you to keep the following tips in mind:
1. Travel insurance
Although there are various steps that you can take to protect your camera gear, travel insurance is a step that you simply cannot miss out on. Even after all your efforts, what if your camera gear ends up being stolen by someone?
When I was traveling with my camera gear for the first time, this was the one question that I constantly had in mind. One thing I knew for sure was that I wouldn’t be able to afford another one. So insurance was something that naturally occurred to me.
It covered my camera gear and gave me the peace of mind I was looking for. However, make sure to be aware of what your travel insurance covers and what it leaves out.
Be hopeful that your camera gear will not be stolen or damaged while traveling but make sure to prepare for the worst-case scenario and get your camera gear insured in case it comes down to it. We can never be sure of the mishappening that may happen while traveling. But we can surely take steps to minimize the damage they might cause.
2. Extra memory cards
Imagine being on a photography trip and you run out of storage space. It will be frustrating, right? To ensure that it does not happen, you should carry extra memory cards for emergency situations like these.
The same can happen with your battery power as well, but you can easily avoid it by keeping extra batteries along with you. If you have planned an international trip, there is another thing that you need to take care of. Make sure to carry a charger or a power adapter that can be used with the local electrical outlets of the place you are traveling to.
Furthermore, you need to be extra protective about the pictures you click. Because even in the worst case scenario, you will be able to replace your camera but not your photographs. Therefore, it will be excellent to spread your pictures across 2-3 memory cards.
3. Cover up the camera branding
The more visible your branding is, the more likely your camera is to get stolen. So while you travel, make sure to cover or remove your camera branding. This will definitely protect your camera as, just like us, thieves prefer shiny, brand-new camera gear too.
You can probably take a piece of duct tape and cover up any branding that you spot on your camera. Put the tape over any logo you see on the body and remove the manufacturer’s strap.
4. Keep your gear with you
No matter where you go, try to keep your camera gear with you all the time. You can carry it in hand luggage and abstain from handing it over to baggage handlers to ensure extra safety.
Even if you are traveling on a plane, most airlines tend to understand your concern and let you keep the bag with you even when it goes beyond the weight limit. So try keeping the bag of your camera gear with you at all times.
5. Careful packing
This is one of the most important things to take care of. In fact, this is something you should ensure even before you think about travel insurance. When I travel with camera gear, I make sure to use a padded case or bag to give an extra layer of protection to my camera.
If your bag or case is not heavily padded, your camera is at risk of damage, and you may even feel uncomfortable holding the bag if the quality is cheap. So make sure that your bag is heavily padded and sufficient for protecting your camera gear.
Mostly, such padded bags are also waterproof to keep your camera protected from all possible scenarios. Rough handling may pose damage to your camera or additional accessories like lenses and other items. To avoid this, a sufficiently-padded carry-on bag becomes quite important.
6. Size restrictions
The restrictions related to the weight and size of your luggage may vary depending upon the airline you are travelling in. Make sure to check the rules and specific restrictions put forward by your airlines and pack accordingly. In case your luggage or camera gear goes beyond the limits set by your airlines, you may be required to pay extra or get the camera gear shipped separately.
In order to come to that, it is very important to be well-worn with your airline’s restrictions. At the same time, make sure not to unnecessarily pack extra weight like additional lenses. This will only make things more complicated for you.
7. Get your camera gear registered
An important step that you can take for the protection of your camera gear while traveling is to get it registered. Make sure to use luggage tags and label your gear case with your name, address, and mobile number.
Adding your contact information on your luggage bags is the least you can do to ensure their safety. Apart from that, it is also important to be prepared in case you lose your camera gear. In order to locate it after your camera gear is stolen, you can register it with third-party services like CameraTrace and Lenstag that help you track your equipment.
8. Security lock
If you are planning to travel to a crowded area, the risk of theft will only increase. And to safeguard valuable equipment like camera gear, I would suggest you use security locks or cables. In touristy locations, such locks are usually enough to deter those who are planning to steal your camera gear.
You can simply secure your camera gear case to a fixed object with the help of a security cable, and you will be all set to go. If you want, you can also carry a regular backpack and put your camera gear inside to give the impression that you are not carrying camera gear at all.
Traveling With Camera Gear on A Plane
If you are all set to board a flight with your camera gear, there are a few TSA guidelines that you should be well aware of. Whether you are going to carry a digital camera, film, tripod, batteries, or a selfie stick, it will be good to know specific airline restrictions put on them. In this section, I will walk you through all these guidelines of the Transportation Security Administration.
As per the guidelines of TSA, you are allowed to transport your digital cameras in either carry-on luggage or checked luggage. I have always been more comfortable with transporting them in carry-on luggage. Since camera gears are fragile and susceptible to damage while traveling, it is probably the safest option to go ahead with.
Your checked luggage is likely to go through rough handling while in transit. And you surely would not want the same with your expensive gear. So I will suggest you pack your camera in carry-on luggage too. TSA recommends putting your camera gear in your carry-on bags too.
The restrictions put forward in traveling with batteries could vary as per the airline you are traveling in. Some airlines have specific regulations regarding batteries, and you need to keep a check on them. Who would want their batteries to get confiscated?
So in order to avoid that, you should abide by the specific rules put forward by your airlines. According to TSA, there are some limits put on lithium batteries. You cannot carry them in your checked luggage.
However, you are allowed to keep them in your carry-on baggage. While packing, make sure to keep your batteries separate and away from each other, as two batteries coming in contact with each other can lead to a fire hazard.
If you are going to board a flight with your film, it is apparent that you are worried about your film getting damaged due to the x-ray machines meant for security. As per TSA, films under 800 ISO will remain safe even through the x-rays present in airport security.
But make sure to keep your film in your handbag instead of checked luggage because it has to get through high-energy x-rays. In some cases, you might even be allowed to be hand-inspected if you don’t want your film to pass through the x-ray.
Now that you know about traveling with a digital camera, film, and batteries, you might wonder what the guidelines of TSA say about additional accessories like selfie sticks and tripods.
Well, as per TSA, you are allowed to travel with a selfie stick, and you can keep it in both checked luggage and carry-on luggage. The same goes for a tripod. You can transport it through checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
However, it should be able to fit inside of your luggage easily. When I travel with a tripod, I prefer keeping it in my checked luggage as it is not fragile like an expensive camera. Furthermore, I would not want it to consume all the space left in my carry-on bag.
If you are traveling with a drone camera, TSA allows you to keep it in both your carry-on bags and checked luggage. However, you must remove the batteries of your drone and place them with you in your carry-on luggage.
Is DSLR allowed in checked baggage?
Yes, DSLRs are allowed to be kept in both carry-on bags and checked bags. However, airlines recommend against transporting your valuables like DSLRs in checked bags as they are susceptible to rough handling and damage.
Can we carry camera in luggage?
Whether it is checked luggage or carry-on bags, you can carry your camera in your luggage. However, you should carry it in cabin baggage as checked luggage is often subject to rough handling, which can be damaging to your camera. Furthermore, you should also check with the specific rules of the airline before boarding with a camera.
Can camera batteries go in hand luggage?
Yes, you can carry camera batteries in your hand luggage. In fact, TSA prohibits you from traveling with lithium batteries in your checked luggage as they can cause short circuits and fire when exposed to high temperatures. In your hand luggage, you can keep them in control and minimize those risks.
Is camera Film safe in checked luggage?
No, you should never keep your film in your checked baggage. This is due to the fact that x-ray machines and scanners used in checking your checked luggage are much more powerful than scanners for carry-on luggage. They can cause damage to your film, which is why you should refrain from putting your film in checked luggage.