Written by: Rachel Durik
I got my first DSLR in a February. By that March, I was taking it to another country, and ever since, my cameras have gone all over with me. In fact, I just did a one month trip around Europe with all my gear in tow. My camera gear and I are regularly checking in at airports, and after a bit of experience, I’ve learned some tricks and tips on how to travel with your gear.
The Right Bag
First, invest in a good travel bag. I’m opposed to spending money, most of the time. I usually prefer a bargain, but if you’ve invested a lot of money in your gear, a few hundred dollars to keep is safe is an even wiser investment! When I was looking for a good travel bag for my gear, I was looking for something that would fit in an overhead compartment on a plane, something that could withstand a little wear and tear, didn’t scream “I’m a camera bag! Steal me!” and something with safety features. (To be honest, I was looking for something pretty and girly, too, but we can’t have everything!) In the end, the best choice for me was the Think Tank Airport International.
Benefits of a good bag: I can fit everything I need in it. I can take this to a wedding, a workshop, a photo session, even around town. It locks on the side and has an extendable lock that you can attach it to. And, if I’m really creative, I can throw a pair of underwear and a dress in it and not have to pay to check a bag. (Really, I did that once! I told you I was cheap.) I can even fit my laptop in it.
The bag counts as one carry-on. You also get a personal item. I always make sure I’m traveling with a big purse. In the worst case scenario, the big purse might have to become your camera bag, so make it a good one.
(Note from I Heart Faces: We highly recommend Epiphanie Bags as a sturdy purse/camera bag option.)
Think Before You Book
Before you book travel, consider how you’re getting there. The first flight I took with my gear, I booked my travel without checking what kind of planes I’d be on. I ended up on a small commuter plane which required your carry-ons to be checked as you boarded. This was a shock – I had the right bag! And now what would I do? Luckily, I had a big purse and managed to put my most expensive things in my purse. From that point on, before I booked a flight, I made sure I was avoiding commuter flights so that my gear could stay safely with me.
Give Yourself Enough Time
Most of the times I go through security, the TSA agents barely look twice at my gear. The first time I went through with it, I was certain it would be a big issue because of how much I had in there. But it rarely has been. In one case though, an agent took out every single tiny thing in the bag, swiped it, and x-rayed it separately. It took nearly an hour by the time it had all gone through and I had put everything back in. Be sure to build in time for that possibility when you go to the airport.
Be a Lurker
Before it’s time to board a plane, you know those people who are lurking around the gate for like an hour before it’s even boarding time? And you’re thinking, “What a bunch of idiots! We’ll all get on the plane!” Well guess what? If you’re traveling with gear, you gotta become a lurker. And get those elbows out. No, I’m kidding, but you do need to be on the plane before it fills up. Why? You want your gear in the overhead compartment near you. With airlines charging for baggage, everyone is carrying their bag on. I don’t want over $5,000 of gear in an overhead compartment that’s not within my site. Or worse, under the plane. You can usually buy advance boarding (I don’t – I’m cheap!), or if you’re a frequent flier, you are usually in an earlier boarding group. But if neither applies to you, you’ll do fine if you lurk. (And above all – don’t annoy the people that work for the airline at the gate. You need them on your side for sure!)
Rachel Durik is a photographer located in Southwest Florida. You can learn more by visiting her photography site, Savor Photography, Naples Wedding Photographer, the Savor Facebook page, or by attending her online Photoshop and Lightroom classes.