We travel internationally every year, and have done so for the last 18 years or more. I’ve always taken my photographic gear with me.
I’ve checked video and film equipment into the hold as luggage with only minor incident. I use Pelican cases because they are rigid and have good foam protection for the contents. Here are a few tips based on my own experiences:
- When traveling from, or within, the USA you should expect your luggage to be opened and searched. Secure checked baggage with plastic zip ties that can be easily cut for security inspection, and include a couple of spares inside the case on top of everything – I usually leave a note asking that the case be secured again and have never been disappointed.
- If your case has a very good seal, as the Pelican cases do, it will often have a pressure relief valve to admit/exhaust air. Leave this open why checking the bags as otherwise air will escape past the seals, but not leak back in again. You’ll land with “sucked in” cases as a result of the lower pressure at altitude.
- Don’t pack batteries – there are fire risks with some battery chemistries and they should only go in carry on
Carry on luggage
Make a point of reading your airlines restrictions carefully before traveling; learning something for the first time at check-in doesn’t give you many options. It’s not the gate agents fault that you didn’t read their rules regarding carry on luggage.
I’ve been caught out by weight restrictions once on BA. On a flight from the US to the UK there was no mention of a weight restriction for carry on, but the leg from the UK to the US they weighed my carry ons. At that time the limit was around 6kg or 13 lbs per bag.
Things I pack
I use a camera back-pack as my carry on, a Canon 200EG. It’s cheap, provides good protection, and the one I have at the moment has been going strong for over 5 years. In it I have:
- Camera body, lenses, battery charger, spare battery
- GPS data logger
- Kindle; much less weight and space than a bunch of books to pass the time
- Tom Tom GPS/SatNav preloaded with maps for where ever I’m going. Also packed is the windshield mount and in car power cord. Getting where you’re going from the rental counter is never difficult again
- USB charging blocks, 13 pin adapter
- Travel papers/documents. In the days of COVID travel when you may find yourself needing to present passenger locator or attestation forms, I find it makes life much easier if these are in clear plastic sleeves to keep them together.
Once settled at our destination I remove the chargers and extra batteries, along with SatNav and travel papers.