Travelling with your camera gear can be a stressful experience. You want to capture amazing photos of your destination, but you also don’t want to risk losing your precious equipment to thieves, damage, or careless baggage handlers. Here are some tips on how to travel safely with your camera gear and keep it from being broken or stolen.
1. Use a Padded Camera Bag or Case
When it comes to carrying your camera around, it’s best not to cheap out. You want a bag or case that is well-padded, waterproof, durable, and comfortable to wear. A good camera bag or case will protect your gear from bumps, scratches, moisture, dust, and dirt. It will also help you organize your equipment and accessories so that you can access them easily when you need them.
Some camera bags or cases have removable inserts that allow you to customize the space according to your needs. These inserts can also be taken out of the bag or case and used as a personal item on most airlines. This way, you can keep your gear with you even if you have to check in your main bag at the gate.
2. Don’t Check Your Camera Bag at the Airport
One of the worst things you can do is put your camera gear in your checked luggage when you’re flying. Checked luggage is often handled roughly by airport staff who don’t know or care what’s inside it. Your gear could get damaged, lost, delayed, or stolen during transit.
The best way to travel with camera gear is to bring it as carry-on luggage. Most airlines will allow you to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item on board. Make sure your carry-on bag meets the size and weight limits of your airline. If possible, choose a bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag so that it doesn’t attract unwanted attention.
3. Keep Your Equipment Organized
Another tip for travelling safely with camera equipment is to keep your gear organized and tidy. This will help you avoid losing any items or forgetting them in your hotel room or rental car. It will also make it easier for you to go through security checks at the airport.
Use zippered pouches, dividers, labels, straps, cords, etc., to sort out your equipment by type (e.g., cameras, lenses), function (e.g., charging), or frequency of use (e.g., backup). Keep track of what’s in each pouch or compartment by making a list or taking photos of them before you pack them.
4. Always Prepare for the Worst
Even if you follow all the precautions above, there’s still a chance that something could go wrong with your camera equipment while travelling. That’s why it’s important to always prepare for the worst-case scenario.
Before you leave home:
- Make sure your gear is insured against damage, theft, or loss.
- Register your gear with the manufacturer or a third-party service like Lenstag.
- Back up your photos and videos to an external hard drive, a cloud service, or an online platform like Flickr.
- Write down or save the serial numbers, model names, and contact information of all your gear.
- Pack some extra batteries, memory cards, chargers, adapters, etc., in case something runs out or breaks down.
- Keep an eye on your gear at all times. Don’t leave it unattended in public places, in vehicles, or in hotel rooms.
- Use locks, cables, or alarms to secure your gear when not in use.
- Be discreet about using your camera in crowded areas, especially if it’s expensive or flashy.
- Avoid exposing your gear to extreme temperatures, humidity, sand, water, or other elements that could damage it.
- Clean your gear regularly with a soft cloth, a blower brush, or a lens pen.
5. Don’t Bring More Than You Need
We know it’s tempting to pack every lens, flash, tripod, and filter you own, just in case you need them. But trust us, you don’t. The more gear you bring, the more weight you have to carry around, the more space you take up in your luggage, and the more attention you draw from potential thieves. Plus, having too many options can paralyze your creativity and make you miss the shot.
So before you go, think about what kind of photos you want to take and what gear you really need for that. For example, if you’re going on a city break, a wide-angle lens and a fast prime lens might be enough. If you’re going on an outdoor adventure, a zoom lens and a polarizing filter might suffice. And if you’re not sure what to expect, a versatile all-in-one lens might be your best bet.
The concerns above, while valid, can easily be addressed or avoided with the right level of preparation. Don’t let your fear of travelling with camera equipment stop you from capturing the beauty of the world. Sure, you might have to deal with some extra hassle at the airport security, some curious stares from the locals, and some jealous glances from other tourists. But think of all the benefits: you can take stunning photos of exotic places, document your memories in high quality, and impress your friends and family with your artistic skills. Plus, you never know when you might need a camera to snap a picture of a celebrity sighting, a UFO landing, or a Bigfoot encounter. So pack your camera gear and go explore the world with confidence. You don’t have to worry about anything except running out of battery or storage space.