with Courtney Slazinik
5 Tips for Traveling with Photography Gear

I just came back from a month long trip to the States and it got me thinking. Why not give some tips for traveling with all your gear? If you are like me, you make sure you have everything for the kids, your gear, and then next your clothes, etc. I have even gone so far as to wrap my lenses in diapers to save room in my carry on and protect my gear. Don’t do that :O)

5 Tips for Traveling with Photography Gear
Yes, I dress my kids alike when we travel. I do this on purpose because it’s easier to spot them and Heaven forbid I loose sight of them, I can show people EXACTLY what they were wearing by pointing to their sister. I know, I’m a weirdo :O)

1. Get a great travel bag. Like I said earlier, I have traveled with my gear in a regular backpack wrapped in diapers. I can’t believe I did that for a trip from Japan to the US but I didn’t have a good bag. However, before our last trip, I used my Heirloom by SHUTTER|bag. Don’t let the price of a high-quality bag scare you. Think about how expensive your gear is. You should put it in something that is durable and will keep it safe.

This is such a wonderful travel bag. First off, it doesn’t scream “camera bag, please come rob me!” which is a plus. It is a seriously beautiful bag. It’s a fantastic travel bag. Just don’t overload it. When looking for a travel bag make sure you find something that has lots of padding, separate compartments for things and a top that zips so if it lays sideways nothing falls out.

2. Insure your gear before you leave. You never know what will happen when you travel. You may drop your bag and something could break or heaven forbid someone might steal your bag. Better to be safe than sorry. I wrote a post a while back – Insure your camera. You would be surprised at how easy, inexpensive, and what it covers. One girlfriend told me after the post she dropped her camera in a river and the insurance company was buying a new one. Don’t travel without insuring it!

3. Carry your gear with you. Personally, I would not pack my gear in my checked luggage. You never know who is going to be throwing your suitcase around and they might not take great care to make sure your lenses don’t break. Be on the safe side and don’t let it leave your sight.

4. Don’t take every lens with you. I know I said I took 3 lenses but I went with only 50mm 1.8 and 20mm 2.8 and received my Tamron 18-270mm while I was on my trip. If you have a great zoom, you really could leave everything else at home. I know when we went to Tokyo last year I only traveled with my Tamron 28-75mm to save myself the headache of choosing which lens I wanted to take out that day.

5. Try to be one of the first to board. It seems like everyone these days has a huge carry on and the plane quickly runs out of space. Luckily for me, Heirloom can fit under the seat in front of me. I really like this because 1. I have short legs so don’t mind the lack of leg room and 2. I want to keep an eye on my gear at all time. I’m paranoid like that :O) However, if your bag does need to go in the overhead compartment you want to make sure you get on when there is still space available. You don’t want them to have to check it at the gate and throw it under the plane. Yikes!

Are you traveling this holiday season?? If so, can you think of any other tips I’m missing?? What tips do you have from your own experience of traveling with your gear?

  • December 16, 2011 at 9:37 AM

    Great post! I did all of this with my three trips this year and it was smooth sailing. It’s so important to keep gear safe when traveling.

  • Beth
    December 16, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    Great tips! We are going to Seattle in May (from Minnesota) and I’m already worried about my camera. I only have a 35mm (and the kit lens) but am thinking of renting a wide angle just for the trip.

    I have also looked at the Libby bag. I almost have my husband convinced!

  • December 16, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    Great post!! Definitely taking some of these tips for now and at travel time! Thanks!

  • December 16, 2011 at 10:13 PM

    Great tips! I’m glad I read this! Thanks!

  • December 16, 2011 at 11:44 PM

    This was very helpful. We are traveling for the holidays and I have a camera bag (I got a Ketti for my birthday…wooohooo!) But here is a question I have, do you take a laptop or anything to process your images or do you just take multiple memory cards? We will be gone for 10 days and it seems overwhelming to me to process a bazillion images when I get home. But, it also doesn’t seem too appealing to take my laptop, external drive and all the stuff that goes with it. Any thoughts?

    • December 17, 2011 at 9:12 AM

      Yes, I take my laptop which has Lightroom on it so I can edit while I’m there. Of course, I slacked off this time I was home and didn’t really edit but it’s nice to have the option. Last time I went home for 3 weeks, I took my laptop and my external hard drive. I needed all my pictures since I wasn’t taking a break from my blog. However, if you do decide to take an external hard drive make sure it isn’t your main one and you do have a back up at home just incase something happens to the one you are traveling with. Personally, I like having the laptop and the option to keep up with my photos while I’m there. If only to upload them each day so I don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on memory cards :O) Have a fun trip!!!

  • Kat
    December 17, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    I spent three weeks in the States in September. My only lenses were my 18-135 IS, and my 50mm f/1.8. This was more than adequate.

    And rather than bringing my laptop, I just kept buying more memory cards. They aren’t that expensive, and take up zero space.

    I hope that helps someone travel lighter!

    • December 19, 2011 at 11:05 AM

      This isn’t terribly related, but I saw that you have the 18-135, and I was just looking at that lens (online) while trying to decide between some different options. I’m looking for a lens that covers a wide enough range that I can travel with only it (family tourism trips). How do you like it? Thanks!

      • Kat
        December 19, 2011 at 2:22 PM

        Well, it’s perfect for me when I travel. It covers a range that means I don’t feel the need to carry an extra lens. It’s reasonably light. The IS means that it works a bit better in low light… and I certainly came away from my trip with some photos to be proud of.

        So, I can’t think of any reason *not* to recommend it! Hope this helps :-)

  • So very true. I have my Kelly Moore bag all picked out for my future travel!!!

  • December 19, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    I love that you dress the girls alike for travelling! Great idea! (I’m sort of paranoid like that too.)

  • December 21, 2011 at 3:33 AM

    Great post! When we went to England I used a Lululemon triumphant tote to carry all my stuff. It’s not a “camera bag” but it works awesome as a travel bag. It can carry up to 50lbs, is really lightweight, has a padded pocket for a laptop, and tons of pockets. i was able to carry my iPad, camera, 2 lenses, toys, and extra clothes with room for more stuff. and it fit under the seat in front of me. haha can you tell I LOVE this bag? On a side note, I really really wish I had a good wide angle lens. Are you still loving the 20mm and would you recommend it?

  • December 22, 2011 at 5:00 AM

    Great tips! My brother had a camera go missing once, by foolishly packing it in his suitcase when he went on vacation, never again.

  • Sara
    February 7, 2012 at 7:49 AM

    What lens would you recommend for a wedding? I will be traveling from Texas to Vegas and it makes me uneasy not taking all my lens. I know that sounds crazy but I would hate to get there and have left one at home and not have the option of using it. I would LOVE to take 1 maybe 2 for the time that I will be there.

    • February 7, 2012 at 2:50 PM

      Oh, that is a tough one. Are you the paid wedding photographer? If so, I’m tempted to say bring them all :O) However, if you are going as a guest, I’d say take your favorite zoom. What lenses do you have??

    • February 7, 2012 at 2:51 PM

      Or…have you thought about renting the lenses you don’t want to travel with?

  • July 20, 2013 at 6:16 AM

    thank you for that info re traveling with camera. i am a beginner in photography and would now be one of your regular followers…

    • Courtney Slazinik
      August 7, 2013 at 1:37 PM

      Welcome! Let us know if you have any questions :)

  • December 4, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Great post! I’m going to be taking my gear with me this holiday season. Hopefully no problems!

  • December 14, 2013 at 5:44 AM

    Great tips! I always shudder when I see the way some of the handlers hurl cases on to the trolley!

  • January 5, 2014 at 9:02 PM

    Any recommendations for a good travel tripod? I shoot with an Olympus e30 and usually bring my 12-60mm and my 50-200mm on my photo trips .

  • Melinda
    January 19, 2014 at 9:00 PM

    I have a couple concerns with taking my camera – although I ultimately want awesome pics: 1) We plan on going on vacation this summer and I don’t want to get sand in my camera. 2) I feel like I won’t be free to go swimming and have fun in the ocean if I have to keep an eye on my camera at all times. 3) I don’t want to be that annoying person in the group who is always lugging around my big camera and searching out shots when everyone else just wants to move on. Any suggestions?

    • Tho
      January 22, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      Ha ha Melinda, you can’t have the cake and eat it too. The shutterbugs definitely make others scream on these family trips!! My family accommodates my request for stopping for that gorgeous sunset, then for the wonderful cloud formation, etc, with barely concealed boredom! It’s a sacrifice for them! And I feel bad…. So if you want to do serious photography take time off, go out alone, plan the moves, execute them, review and publish and be happy!

    • January 23, 2014 at 4:43 PM

      That is tough. Maybe you could take a point and shoot with you instead. When I go to the beach I put my camera in a huge zip lock bag and hide it at the bottom of my bag. It is a risk you take if you take your camera to the beach. As for being the annoying person, well that is always me. I just tell everyone to not wait for me :) Enjoy your vacation!

  • Brent
    January 26, 2014 at 1:17 PM

    In these posts on traveling with your gear, I keep seeing people post that they take their laptop so they don’t have to pack multiple memory cards with them. I can only assume that means you are uploading photos to your laptop drive as your memory card gets full and then reusing the memory card for new photos. While I have done a lot of professional photography over the years, my main profession is in IT. As such I can tell you it’s not a matter of if a hard drive may fail, it’s a matter of when as all hard drives will fail at some time. This usually happens at the worst time like when you have it loaded with photos from a once in a lifetime trip for which you have no backup. I’ve had several friends that had all of the photos from a trip uploaded to a laptop hard drive (with no backup) only to find those photos gone since the drive was damaged on the trip home. Even if you are bringing a laptop with you, it is best to also bring enough memory cards with you to hold all of the photos from your trip and only clear them once you are back at home and have had a chance to backup those photos files to either multiple hard drives or to optical media. Only then should you delete the photos from the memory cards. Having all your photos on multiple memory cards until you arrive home (even if you upload to your laptop during the trip) is cheap insurance to safeguard those once in a lifetime photos you may have taken.

    • January 27, 2014 at 2:23 PM

      Something to keep in mind. Thanks!

  • Britney
    June 2, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    I cant tell you how grateful I am for you to post this right now. I am leaving next week for two weeks and I seriously was considering bringing EVERY LENS! I love the look of the shutter-bag but do cringe on the price. Yes, I’m sure its worth it in the end to get….maybe that will be my next purchase :)
    As for insuring it, you just called your personal insurance company? I’m considering insuraning my lenses!!

    • June 3, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      I’m guilty of wanting to bring all my lenses too but force yourself to narrow it down :) Also, you can use the code: CLICKITUP to get $25 off a SHUTTER|bag if you decide that it is your next purchase. Yes, you can call your personal insurance company, the one that does your home owners or rental insurance.

  • Lynda
    June 2, 2014 at 11:39 PM

    We traveled two and a half years ago to Hawaii for my daughter’s wedding. The pro photographer she hired also traveled for the wedding. He made a point of telling me he always travels with copies of his receipts for his camera equipment so he can prove – if necessary – that it wasn’t purchased while out of the country – so he wouldn’t be charged customs fees on his return. Since then, I have made it a point to just take a quick photocopy of my receipt and tuck it into my camera bag. That way, it’s always there and I don’t have to think about it.

    • June 3, 2014 at 1:53 PM

      What a smart idea! I hadn’t heard of that. Now, off to find my receipts!

  • Tanya Monroe
    June 3, 2014 at 3:39 AM

    This has been an awesome post for me thank you…I have a few trips coming up. Also it’s my first ones with a good camera!!

  • Sara
    September 14, 2014 at 9:32 PM

    Love your camera tips and tricks! Enjoyed the tip of dressing your daughters in same outfits while travelling! Good idea :)

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