Traveling with photography gear

In Travelby Patrick

There are a lot of good articles out there on how to prepare, pack and protect your gear when traveling abroad. All of the articles that I have read offered good advice and tips on getting the gear ready to go, and all of them have certain things in common. I thought I would try to summarize what I found valuable in each and maybe this will help someone when they are getting ready for their trip.

Carry on or Check

In most of the articles that I read from well know photographers who spend the majority of time in the air getting from job to job, they all have said that you should carry on the equipment you need to get the job done. This includes camera bodies, lenses, spare batteries and chargers. Things like flashes can be checked because if push came to shove you could always use ambient light. If you have room for a speedlight, great, but generally check stuff like that. I use the MP-1 V2 for my carry on by Mindshift gear.

For items like strobes, the batteries, light modifiers, stands and cables, additional lenses and odds and ends, all that can travel in a hard sided case like those offered by Pelican. This can provide peace of mind that even while in the belly of the beast (plane), the gear is protected. One thing that was universally mentioned was to pack the gear in your own protection inside the Pelican case like these. It just affords more piece of mind the gear is safe.

Personal Items

Check with your airline before you fly, but most will allow you to take one carry on bag and one personal item which can be a laptop bag. This can allow for even more gear to be transported if necessary for the shoot. Personally I have several depending on the type of job that I am going to do. Here are my choices:

Think Thank Shape Shifter

Think Tank Airport Airstream

Peak Design Messenger Bag

Each of these bags can fit under the seat or between your feet if need be. Preparing by doing some research of what the TSA allows and doesn’t allow will pay off. Here are some helpful links that may make your travel and trip easier:

Carry on restrictions by Airline

This is not an all inclusive list, but primarily the ones that I have dealt with. Each airline website has their own page dedicated to carry on restrictions and regulations. Be sure to check before traveling as it will save a lot of time. Another tip if you are not sure of your airline is to check a phone app called Seat Guru or go to their website. This allows you to view the seating chart of the aircraft and gives you the status of booked seats.

Transportation of Batteries

This may be something that you do not think about readily. I know I sure didn’t, but this was one of the best things I learned from the articles. There may be restrictions and certainly having the TSA see batteries in the luggage, carry on or check can be a red flag. Here is an account by one photographer with TSA.

Here are the links to the common battery packs uses by most photographers. Here you can download the battery certificates to carry with you. It sounds like this will save you a whole lot of hassle if you happened to get detained with the TSA.

  • Profoto B1 and B2
  • Elinchrom Ranger Quadra-Hybrid Li-Ion certification
  • Elinchrom Quadra/ ELB400 test certificates
  • Insure, Insure, Insure

    This pretty much goes without saying, but make sure that you have your gear insured when traveling abroad and even in the US. Use whatever company you want. As of the writing of the article, Google queried 357,000 different agencies that offer photographers insurance.

    Credits
    Special thanks goes to Shutter Muse and Dan Carr who assembled much of this information.

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