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Packing for travel, even before photography, was never overly simple. Back then it was about which shoes, which workout gear, which attire to bring. For business travel, it was also deciding to pack the laptop or iPad or both? Fast forward to today and it's a completely regimen. The destination, photography objectives and method of transportation determines which gear take and more importantly, what and how to pack.
The mainstays for travel include: camera(s), lenses, laptop & power cord, camera/computer cables, batteries and chargers, flash, teleconverter, filters and tripod. Depending on the type of photography and amount of gear needed, packing can range from relatively easy to tricky and a bit weighty.
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Vacation/Business Combination Travel via Airplane
Know the type of aircraft: When traveling by airplane, aircraft size matters and most of us do no want to check our expensive camera gear. When traveling on a larger commercial plane, both the overhead bin and the seat in front of you can hold a good size camera bag plus another camera bag or additional daypack. When traveling on a smaller regional jet, the overhead bins are small and the area underneath the seat is smaller too. The type of camera bags may need to be modified to prevent having to check your camera equipment.
When traveling on smaller planes, I only use long, slenderndaypacks as they fit in the overhead bin and under the seat.
Tip: Pack the tripod in my suitcase with clothing and essentials so that it is checked by the ticket agent. This allows for camera gear and laptop to be carried on the plane. If packing for travel in a lightly padded daypack due to size constraints, wrap or cover gear with bubble wrap. It's cheap and it works great at padding gear without adding any material weight.
TSA rules overall remain the same with a few adjustments from time to time. If you haven't traveled for some time, their site includes a downloadable document with a quick read of tips and rules.
Even thought there's a lot more freedom to packing gear when traveling by car, here's few tips to help speed up from car to shooting, particularly when that moment happens unexpectedly along the way.
- Load the camera bag with opening facing you when you open the car door or trunk to make it easy to access needed gear
- If camera is not in your bag, always secure it in some capacity. This could be holding it while riding in the car or securing with a seatbelt. (My husband learned this the hard way!)
- When traveling with multiple photographers, many bags are similar or the same in appearance. Separate yours by tying a ribbon or colored cord to the handle.
- Even the cleanest cars get dusty and dirty fast. If possible, wait a few minutes after the doors have closed and the air is still before changing lenses in the car. Having caps ready to go before the change process starts is a plus.
Lightweight travel accessories not to leave home without:
- Rainsleeve in the event of rain
- Air bubble blower to remove surface dust before using your lens or blowing dust off the camera
- Lens cleaners
- Extra memory cards
- Remote cable release
- Bubble wrap for packing and protection
- Garbage bag (for you to lay on if the grass/ground is wet
- Allen wrench in case your tripod plate becomes loose
Many of our readers and writers both enjoy travel photography. These previous Light Stalking articles offer additional travel ideas.
10 Things that Should Always be in Your Camera Bag
Packing & Travel Tips by Light Stalking Photographers
Be Sure to Travel with these 9 Photography Accessories
Pack Your Bags We're Going on a Photo Adventure
Pack safe and have fun!