How to Travel With Your Camera


Getting away was supposed to be a way to relax and recuperate, time away from the stresses of modern day living. The problem is, that whilst the end location might be idyllic, getting there is often fraught with stress inducing pitfalls that can put a dampener on your holiday. Us photographers, have the added stress and worry about what camera equipment to take and how to carry it. Today we are going to look at reducing that stress with a little pre-planning.

Manage your Expectations

The first and most important thing you need to consider when planning your holiday or photographic trip is what you want to achieve from the trip. Decide whether you are going on holiday and would like to take photos or you are going to a location with the express purpose of taking photos. If it’s the former, then focus your mind on enjoying the holiday and taking photos as and when the opportunity arises. If it’s the later, sit down and plan what you wish to photograph and do your research on it. 

This first step is important because by managing your expectations, you are free to do what you set out to do. A holiday should be just that, an escape from everyday life where you can take photos when you feel the need, a photographic trip should be approached more professionally and should not attempt to incorporate the holiday aspect into it.
Manage your expectations – what do you need to take? ] by jwinfred, on Flickr

What to Take

Setting our minds on what we want to achieve from the trip, allows us to focus more easily on what to take. If we are going on holiday, do we really need to take all of our equipment? Consider leaving stuff at home, for example your tripod, which is a dead weight that may not be used. Maybe take one useful lens such as a standard zoom and drop the other lenses, carrying a decent compact instead. A good compact will cover most of the range that your other lenses cover anyway. 

As a photographic journey, pre-planning is vital. Look in depth at your locations, Google Earth is great for this, look at photos in and around the locations your wish to visit and select your equipment accordingly. Again a high quality compact may well be able to replace one of your lenses and will be smaller and lighter.

Mom's new camera

A good compact can be a substitute to multiple lenses by Ginny, on Flickr

Getting There: Air Travel Considerations

Most of us going away, will do so by plane. It’s a sad fact that in this day and age, air travel has become very restrictive. When planning your trip, choosing the airline is a big consideration. Whilst the budget airlines may offer incredible deals, you may roll up at your local airport, only to find that your chosen airline will not accept your bulky camera bag as hand baggage. Some airlines restrict size, some weight but either way, you should never check your camera equipment into the hold. With a little research you will find airlines, usually the mainstream carriers, that have more flexible hand luggage rules. If in doubt, call them to find out. Also be aware that whilst your international flight may give generous hand baggage allowances, connecting flights often do not. 

As we said, never check your equipment into the hold, but if your destination is a major city with good access to photographic suppliers, you can consider moving some of your ancillary equipment such as filters and battery chargers into checked luggage in order to reduce your hand baggage weight. One trick that sometimes works is to be amongst the  first to check into a flight, this is because the check-in staff tend to be a little more lenient on weight before the flight begins to fill up.
Hand baggage limit vary wildly by gruntzooki, on Flickr

Traveling By Car

If you are traveling by car, rented or your own, never leave your equipment in your car even if it’s not on show. Thieves have a six sense for the contents of cars as I have found to my own cost. When planning, check how accessible your planned locations are by car and how easy it is to park. You don’t want to get close to your location only to find you will need to carry your equipment on foot or by public transport. 

Lastly, research the dangers and annoyances of your location. There are many different scams out there but very often certain locations stick to certain techniques. Learn what these are, so that in the unlikely event that you are targeted you will understand what is happening and prevent any loss.

By setting photographic goals for your trip and doing plenty of pre-planning, you can greatly reduce the stress of carrying your equipment, hopefully arriving at your location relaxed, and as we all know, being relaxed is one of the best drivers of creativity.

About Author

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here.

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