How to Travel with Photography Gear

After spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on cameras, lenses, and equipment, you probably get a little nervous taking it all on a plane! How will you travel with photography gear that cost a lot of money and makes you your living? This is a quick guide to traveling with your photography equipment and keeping it safe!

Use a Lot of Padding

One of the biggest dangers to cameras and lenses is getting smashed against other equipment, or against a hard surface. The last thing you want is to open your luggage and find your lenses cracked. At the most basic, you can wrap your fragile gear in several layers of clothing inside your luggage. Even better, a camera bag that has compartments and lots of padding along the sides will keep your gear safe even from being tossed around when loaded into a plane.

You’ll also want a nice padded backpack when walking around. Whether you’re in city streets or climbing a mountain, there is plenty for you to accidentally slam your camera into, and any extra padding will go a long way. Bonus points for the bag being waterproof so your electronics stay safe during an unexpected downpour!

Put Your Gear in Your Carry-on

The best way to protect your gear is to put as much of it as possible into your carry-on bags. That way, you have it all with you and have more control over where it will be (and you probably won’t toss it around so carelessly!). It’s not always possible to carry all of your gear with you, but this can mitigate some of the worries.

Be Mindful of Logos

It’s crazy what a logo can do. But when your Canon or Nikon logo is loudly declaring itself to everyone around you, you could fall prey to thieves. The perceived value might be higher when they can see the logo. So before you travel, try putting some black duct tape over any prominent logos on your camera and lenses. And be sure to change out that stock strap that has the logo plastered all over it! You already might stick out like a tourist if you’re traveling abroad, so anything to lessen your risk of getting items stolen is a good move.

Back Up Your Photos

Whether it’s thieves, lost luggage, broken equipment, or just plain forgetfulness, there is always a chance you’ll lose your precious photos. At least once a day, be sure to back up your photos in some way. Here are a few suggestions:

Get Insurance on Your Gear

Even if you do everything right, you could still end up with your equipment stolen or broken. So it’s important to get insurance on all of your expensive cameras and accessories. Note down serial numbers to give to police, and make sure your gear is registered with the manufacturer. This will all make the process easier and less painful on your wallet.

Create a Checklist of Easy-to-Forget Gear

When you’re in a rush it’s easy to forget small items like extra memory cards. So, it’s important to make a system or a checklist for yourself. It doesn’t matter what form the checklist takes – paper, digital, whiteboard, etc – as long as it exists and you make it part of your travel routine.

Be Mindful of Restricted Items

Cameras and other photography equipment generally use Lithium-Ion batteries. Be aware of the current TSA policies on batteries when traveling by air. Currently, uninstalled lithium-ion batteries with 100 watt hours or less must be carried in your carry-on. This covers most consumer batteries. For larger than 100 watt hours, you are only allowed to carry two spare batteries per person, and they must be in your carry-on. There are additional FAA regulations for batteries that are installed in a device.

Be aware of other potentially restricted items such as pocket knives or multi-tools that contain a knife blade, and alcohol-based cleaning solutions.

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