Travelling with Camera Gear

January 11, 2018 by Mike in Hints and tips 0 comments
Travelling with Camera Gear

These are 7 tips for travelling with camera gear

It seems as thought the airlines are always trying to clamp down on something…..I used to be a professional kitesurfer and travelling with kit in the early 2000 was a pain and there would always be a threat of not getting kit on the plane. Nowadays, it has been scaled all the way down to hand luggage. The annoying thing is that you’re only allowed 7kgs on some airlines but you’re not allowed to purchase any more weight allowance for hand luggage….they’ll just chuck it in the hold…..which is less than practical for camera gear.

Cameras are getting lighter but I usually have about 15kgs on my back….so once agin, like in my old kitesurfing days, its a case of running the gauntlet to get kit through the journey.

I have many different bags, from peli cases through to day bags. Even though the pelican case is rack solid….this always draws a lot of attention…..and always gets weighed. So Ive found there are ways to tip the odds in your favour.

These are 7 ways I get my kit through checkin and onto the plane.

01. Consider taking less and more compact kit

This is the existential bummer as we as camera folk love gear and gadgets, but try to scale your kit down. Even though I have a decent 70-200mm I never take it with me unless its a paid job. I’ve bought the sony rx10iii and this gives me ridiculous zooming abilities. It’s not what I would take on a professional job, but for travel and recreational work, it more than does the job.

02. Camera Straps Biggest cameras on camera straps

When packing, I always put my biggest lenses and cameras together, and then get them on the straps. Then if I’m asked to weigh my kit, I take the cameras out, sling them over my shoulders and then give them my bag.

03. Wear a jacket with big pockets

This is the second line of defence. Have these pouches with batteries in….and shooting with the sony cameras…..I have a lot of batteries! As they ask to weigh your hand luggage, swiftly pull out these pouches and put them in your pockets. Also any extra lenses can go in your pockets too!

04. Have an extra laptop bag

This is not applicable with all airlines, but as business folk tend to have a laptop to work on, they are usually lenient when it comes to laptop bags. Then your laptop can go in this….if you  have a big laptop, this can save a lot of weight in your main travel bag.

05. Pack all the rugged stuff in your checked bag.

Tripods, GoPro mounts, battery chargers, cables, etc. always go in the checked bag. This will cut your carry on bag weight down considerably.

06. Get on the aircraft as early as possible so your kit is directly above you and you get hand luggage space.

Sometimes if you are late for a flight, you might find that all of the other passengers have taken up all of the hand luggage space….The aircrew will try to find a space but sometimes when it is completely full, they will end up checking your bag….especially if it is a big rucksack/roll-on.

To avoid this, be at the gate early and be at the front of the queue.

07. Always get a window seat and have your camera in your lap. (And if you’re travelling alone, don’t leave it on the seat)

This last tip is just about shooting (And if it is a day flight). I always try to get a window seat, infront of the wing if possible, but second best place is behind the wing. Before sitting down, get your camera out….the kit lens is fine….and keep your window blind open. First of all, you see some amazing things from a unique view and if you’ve got your camera to hand, you will be able to capture these moments. I’ve got some great photographs from planes and my friend from the BBC Paul, he motivated me to do this….go check out his instagram feed as he has some amazing photographs from the comfort of his window seat.

Some airlines do have less stringent rules….British airways. Some have bigger checked baggage allowances.

And that’s about it, remember, there are always ways to get your kit with you to the destination…..I’ve seen some photographers with a canon 600mm and a 1dx on their lap…..so persistence and confidence is the key.

If you have any other ways of travelling with camera gear, comment below or drop me an email.

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