How to Travel with Camera Equipment

Travelling with a camera. Image by Dariusz Sankowski

As a photographer, there are probably very few times you wouldn’t be travelling with a camera in hand! From top landscape locations to the best underwater photography spots, we all have destinations marked out for upcoming photography trips or holidays.

However, travelling with camera equipment can be a daunting task. Whether you are travelling by car, sea or plane, and staying in a hotel or a tent, travelling with expensive and plentiful gear requires a good degree of planning to keep things safe, legal, and as cheap as possible.

But, with the help of this article, travelling with a camera should feel a little less tricky.

Best way to travel with camera gear

Wherever your destination, your journey always starts with some amount of travelling. Whatever mode of transport you take, it’s important to pack camera gear safely to minimise risk of damage to your equipment.

The best way to travel with you camera gear is by having a good camera bag.

There are plenty of options out there, but Pelican cases, like the Pelican 1510, are amongst the best option for transporting your kit safely. They aren’t the most practical to carry around whilst hiking in nature or trekking through jungles, but they are great for long distance travels.

Backpacks like the Think Tank Photo Airport Accelerator are good alternatives for lightweight, spacious bags. Many bags, like the Airport Accelerator, the have the added advantage of adhering to international flight size restrictions. 

How to travel with camera equipment

Backpacks offer protection for your gear whilst also being suited for everyday use. With several interchangeable compartments, most camera bags will allow you to pack one or more camera bodies, lenses, spare batteries, and more. I recommend looking at F-Stop and Think Tank for durable and reliable camera bags.

Read more: How to Safely Carry Your Cameras on Planes

How to travel with a camera on a plane

If you are flying to your destination, there are a few more things to be aware of regarding your camera equipment.

First and foremost is whether to place your camera equipment into the hold, or to take it as carry-on.

Many photographers and film crews pack their gear in the hold, and as long as you pack things well and in a sturdy case, your gear should be fine in the hold. Packing your gear securely into a case like the Pelican will keep things safe and free from impact damage.

If you are carrying your gear in a carry-on case, consider wearing a vest or jacket that has multiple pockets, so that you can store smaller and less valuable items, thus keeping the weight of your bag down.

I advise that you also pack two hard drives with you to backup your photos. On your return journey, you can then place one in the hold, and you can keep one in your carry-on bag to keep it safe, incase any hold items go missing. As an added bonus, you will be safe in the knowledge that your photography will be safely saved on multiple disks.

Air travel regulations have now imposed International laws that prevent you from placing lithium batteries in any hold items. As most camera batteries are lithium-based, you should ensure that you are carrying all batteries in your carry-on luggage. You should also tape up the metal contacts on your batteries, using camera tape.

It’s important to note that you are allowed to fly with 2 large lithium batteries that are between 101 and 150Wh, and an unlimited number of batteries of less than 100Wh.

There will always be worries around security of hold luggage, so if you can, it’s always good to try to either padlock or zip-tie your cases/bags. If you use zip-ties, be sure to leave a few spare ones in your bag so that, on the off chance security cuts through them, they will be able to secure your case for you after.

Read more: How to Fly with Cameras and Batteries

Insurance for camera equipment

It goes without saying that you should absolutely ensure you have the correct travel and medical insurance before going overseas. If something happens and you aren’t covered, you’ll be landed with some extremely expensive bills.

Most holiday insurance covers won’t protect your camera gear, even if you have some form of baggage cover. It’s highly recommended that you properly insure your equipment with its own dedicated insurance. Most insurers will have restrictions on location and types of activity that your kit is joining you on, so make sure you go into detail with your insurer about the cover you are purchasing.

It might seem like a costly addition, but if anything goes wrong insurance could save you from parting with a lot of money. Make sure that you record and photograph all of the serial numbers on your equipment, as well as the condition of each item, should any disputes arise. Without this information, you could run into problems. It’s worth noting that many insurance companies won’t cover you for theft without proof of a break-in, or humidity damage.

Read more: Do You Need Camera Insurance as a Photographer?

Travelling in warm or very cold climates

If you’re travelling to somewhere very warm, very humid, or freezing cold, you need to be aware about how this affects you, your camera and your gear. Depending on your destination, this may mean you end up packing a little more kit, from specialised clothing, to spare parts for your camera.

Read more: Taking Your Camera on Expedition? Here’s Some Crucial Advice

Using a camera in cold weather

If you are shooting in below freezing temperatures, it will be handy to pack spare batteries, as cold weather can seriously shorten battery life. There’s nothing worse that being out on a shoot, when all of a sudden your camera blinks to signal an empty battery far sooner than you anticipated!

Keeping your batteries close to your body will help keep them warm and therefore charged up. If you find yourself waiting for some time in the cold, try to keep your batteries out of your camera and in your hands or inner coat/trouser pockets to keep them warm.

Don’t forget to pack warm gloves; you might be surprised how fast you loose dexterity in extreme colds!

Read more: How to Use Cameras in Extremely Cold Temperatures

Using a camera in humid conditions

If you find yourself in humid conditions, be sure to pack plenty of silica gel packs, some dry-lock bags and water-tight bags too.

Travelling with a camera in tropical, humid environments

These will help your camera adjust to moving from the dry indoors to the humid environment safely, and will help keep moisture away, protecting your equipment

Read more: Using cameras in tropical and cold environments

Travel photography gear checklist

Almost ready to head off on your next adventure? Before you go, double check that you have these top bits of gear packed safely in your carry-on or hold luggage:

  • Spare batteries and memory cards
  • External hard drive for backing up images
  • Lens cleaning wipes
  • Tripod or monopod
  • Waterproof bag cover
  • LED head-torch
  • Bags of silica gel
  • Remote trigger
  • Binoculars

Read more: Travel Checklist for Taking Your Camera Abroad

In conclusion

You’re nearly ready to head off now! Whilst it can be daunting the first few times you travel with your camera gear, you will soon see that it’s easy and usually hassle free. And once you start shooting at your destination, all the planning will be worthwhile!

Let us know what your top travel tips are in the comments bellow!

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