How to Travel with Camera Kit

Camera equipment travel bags

With the days getting longer as we head towards summer, and the reopening up of society post-lockdown, location shoots are back on the agenda. But travelling with a film camera raises all sorts of issues about keeping it safe, and finding the most convenient way of taking it with you, wherever you’re going.

Here are our tips for how to travel with camera gear.

Choose the Right Bags

For travelling with your camera kit, you’ll need your main bag, for transporting your gear from place to place, but also a day bag, for when you’re out shooting.

Your main bag should, ideally, be of a sturdy backpack design, for easy portability.

It should offer a good degree of padding and weather protection for the kit you’re storing inside it.

But when it comes to your day bag for when you’re out shooting, then a shoulder bag is by far the better choice. A backpack is vulnerable in busy areas since you can’t see what’s going on behind you. Also, you run more risk of bumping into people with your backpack on public transport.

Again, your day bag should be padded, to protect your gear. Choose one that’s purpose-built, and has lots of different zip-up compartments for storing different accessories.

You could choose a neat two-bags-in-one solution, with the F-Stop Shinn Bag. It has an outer bag that offers easy access and protection from the elements.

Then you’ve got an inner compartment designed to house your camera, which is removable for use as a padded camera bag on expedition shoots.

Carry Your Kit as Hand Luggage

If you’re taking a flight, then don’t put your camera kit in the hold. Always take it with you as carry-on hand luggage.

Packing for air travel with camera gear is an art in itself. Obviously, you need compact cameras and accessories in the first place if you’re going to take them as hand luggage.

Fortunately, there’s no better time to take advantage of compact and lightweight, high-performance cameras such as the RED Komodo, or the Sony FX3.

There’s also plenty of lightweight, highly portable tripods, like the Sachtler FSB 8.

Other useful, travel-friendly camera and filmmaking accessories include small, compact LED light kits, and compact lenses.

You can also take full advantage of other portable accessories such as lapel microphones and wireless headphones.

Maximise your carry-on baggage allowance, and if necessary split your camera kit between your overhead locker and going in the space under your seat. 

Pack Carefully and Systematically

If you can’t carry all your items onto the plane with you, and you have to check them in, then you need to pack them with extra attention to care.

You should pack systematically, to offer the best possible protection to more expensive and delicate items.

  • Put tripods and light stands in the bottom of your suitcase. Then add items that come in their own padded cases, including lenses and flashes.
  • Make sure you remove any batteries first – you’re not supposed to pack large lithium-ion batteries in checked-in luggage.
  • Pack your clothing and other soft items on top.

Stay Safe with Your Camera Kit

A major aspect of travelling with camera gear is making sure it, and you, are safe at all times.

One tip is to conceal any branding on your camera kit. The easiest way is to take some black duct tape with you and just use a small bit to cover the branding that might make your kit more attractive for thieves.

Cover the logo on the body of the camera, but consider applying tape to any logos on lenses too.

This might sound a little over-cautious, but depending on where you’re shooting, especially in unfamiliar locations, it’s a precaution worth taking.

You can also get a reinforced camera strap, which conceals a steel wire running its length. No one’s going to cut that off in a hurry.

Another useful tip is to always take multiple memory cards with you. If someone steals your gear, ultimately you can replace it. But you can’t replace the footage you’ve shot.

Basic Camera Maintenance

If you’re travelling with a camera kit, it’s important to keep it in good, workable condition.

When you’re not using lenses, keep them covered. Clean them regularly. The chances are that if you’re travelling and shooting, you’ll be doing some of this in environments that are different to what you’re used to – dustier, or wetter, for example.

Key Points for Travelling with Camera Kit

  • Choose the right gear for the trip – camera, lenses, travel tripod, camera batteries, battery charger, memory cards
  • Know your gear – only take the camera kit with you that you’re completely comfortable using because on-location, your technical support will be limited
  • Carry on what you can – try and avoid checking expensive and delicate kit into the plane’s baggage hold
  • Be prepared and organised – know where you’re going, and what sort of environment you’re going to be shooting in
  • Stay security-conscious – camera gear is expensive, and potentially an attraction for thieves.
  • Keep your camera gear well-maintained on the road.

For any further advice about travelling with gear, feel free to contact us today.