We’ve traveled across Asia, Europe and the United States and I have had my camera in tow for all of it. We’re very fortunate to live and vacation abroad, but traveling with expensive photography gear can be stressful (especially when you throw children into the mix).
Read more: Dos and Don’ts of Travel Photography
There are a few things I’ve learned from lugging my gear with me.
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If your gear is not insured, you need to do it right away. Getting extra travelers insurance doesn’t hurt either. Lots of things can happen when you travel besides losing your gear and it’s best to be prepared.
Another tip is to keep your serial numbers somewhere on the cloud so you can access them in case of emergency.
- No.02Travel Light
I will be the first to admit that I love a good prime lens, but I’ve found it isn’t always practical to bring more than one lens with me.
If we’re staying local or repeating a location, I stick with my 35mm. It does what I need it to and it’s light.
If we’re traveling by plane or it’s a big trip, I actually bring this zoom lens. Bringing a solid workhorse that performs as both a portrait and landscape lens is essential for me.
I keep extras to a minimum as well. Besides my camera and a single lens, you can usually find a lenspen and spare battery in my bag.
- No.03Use the Right Bag
I’m going to be brutally honest with you. Traveling with certain styles can be the worst, even when you’re traveling light. Certain styles can become heavy and uncomfortable over time, which is not something you want to deal with if you’re doing a lot of walking between sites.
- Your bag needs to blend in. You don’t want to be an easy target.
- It needs to keep everything safe, not just your camera. Anyone who has traveled by bus or train in Europe can tell you that keeping items in pockets and pouches on the outside of a bag is not always safe.
- It needs to be small. Many airlines (in Europe) are very strict about baggage rules. It’s easier to make sure your stuff stays with you if your camera bag easily passes as a small personal item.
I personally use this backpack and love it. It passes as a regular leather backpack, isn’t boxy and it’s easy to travel with. I’ve traveled with both a messenger style bag, shoulder bag and a larger camera backpack. I personally prefer this over the rest for it’s size and style.
If you need to fly with A LOT of gear, I 100% suggest getting this hard case. I’ve flown cross country and from the US to Europe with it. It’s a fantastic case that doubles as a roller bag and fits in the overhead compartment.
- No.04Invest in a Solid Strap
I have three straps and each has their own purpose. I have a cute strap that’s mostly just for looks. I have a simple hand strap that functions as my everyday strap. And then I have this slash-proof strap for when we’re traveling.
I’ll be honest that it’s mostly for peace of mind, but I do know someone that had their camera straps cut. Bonus points for the fact this strap is well padded, which makes traveling with it comfortable.
- No.05Consider a Mirrorless
If traveling with your DSLR worries you, you might consider a less expensive mirrorless camera. Not only are they lightweight, but they’re less conspicuous and produce excellent images.
I will admit that I had trouble embracing the first mirrorless I purchased. I’m not willing to give up on the search yet, so I want to hear if you have a mirrorless and love it. If I could leave my DSLR at home, I’d be ecstatic!
Bonus safety tips:
- Always keep one hand on your camera, even if it’s hanging from a strap around your neck.
- Put your camera away when you can. If I know we have 15 minutes between sites, I’ll put my camera away. It’s easier to walk and keep eyes on kids if you have one less thing to worry about.
- Make sure you keep your camera bag (and other valuable items) in front of your body in crowded situations.
With all that being said, I have never felt unsafe when traveling with my gear. Keep basic personal safety tips in mind and enjoy your trip!