How to Travel with Photography Gear

So traveling is expensive gear is always changing and fraught with anxiety. I should know I just got back from a trip to Alaska where my nerves were more on going through airport security than anywhere else.

I mean how are we suppose to trust strangers to handle our precious babies when it isn’t their livelihood and they are personally invested???????

Truthfully we are not expected too. I find the best solution is knowing all the information needed to make the process easier on those maintaining security than for ourselves. Yes in an ideal world we want things to be easy for ourselves and for that to work you find out what the people keeping you safe, working in the travel industry, or countries you are visiting require of you.

You life gets easier when you make their life easier. End. Of. Story.

That means learning photography laws for countries you are visiting, respecting customs. That means taking all your lens and bodies out and separating them in the airports. That means answering questions respectfully and not throwing a fit if they need to swab your lens for explosive residue in the air port.

Travel isn’t always an easy, fun experience every moment. I get what a pain it is to unpack and repack your travel bags but in this world this is done for safety. There are of course ways to by-pass in air ports priority check being the main but is it worth it if you do not fly often???

For me the simple answer so no. I tend to sail or drive more than I fly so I respect flying rules and accommodate their needs. That often means I travel with essential lens and not my entire kit. I traveled the world with two kit plastic lens and a body when I was starting out surely I can make do and be just as creative and effective with 2-4 lens and one body now.

In fact for Alaska I took a wide angle prime, two portrait lens, a mid and zoom to make work for the entire trip, I down sized my camera bag a lot for travel— it was more like a personal satchel than camera bag. It was effective, I had my lens off and body separated before arrive at the air port, I put the photography equipment in its own bin, I did everything in my power to make those TSA agents jobs easier.

My thanks?

Well for one I was through security and under five minutes. I was thanked by the TSA agents both leaving and on return because I knew what was up and didn’t stop ask questions, have to go back, question them. I am sure they appreciated it just like I appreciated their respect for my equipment.

Things can get hard with travel if we let them. The first step to an easy journey is education and research. Do not start any trip not knowing how cameras will travel, what countries policies are on photography. Do not be that insensitive photographer, be the photographer that cares enough to learn and make someone else job easier. I promise it is worth it.