Today I want to discuss tips for traveling with an expensive camera because it’s something that has always made me nervous. I want to get great shots while on vacation, but I also don’t want to lose or damage my gear. Decisions, decisions…
We have a Canon Rebel T2i and a Nikon D600 and even though they both took a while to save up for, the Nikon is obviously the pricier camera. Because traveling with our Nikon used to make us nervous, we would usually leave it at home and grab the Canon. Sure, we could have continued to do this, but I love my Nikon and it takes better shots. By following the tips below, I now feel comfortable traveling with an expensive camera and lenses!
1. Invest in a bag… that doesn’t look like a camera bag
You’re traveling with an expensive DSLR, lenses, lens filters and other equipment. Do you want to advertise this by carrying around a black camera bag with “Canon” or “Nikon” on the side? Probably not. I just purchased an ONA bag for roaming around Boston and even though it holds my big camera and an extra lens or flash, it looks just like a regular purse.
2. Buy a new camera strap
Don’t travel with the strap that comes in the box. Again, you don’t want to advertise which expensive camera model you own, plus these straps are uncomfortable and make exploring difficult. Have fun and personalize your camera by buying a leather strap or something with a little more color. My favorite camera strap is this one from iMo. You can also purchase “sling” camera straps. They allow you to bring your camera from the resting position to the shooting position quickly, plus they’re dreamyyyy. I messed around with one at our local camera shop in Florida and they’re super lightweight and comfortable.
3. Bring only what you need
Speaking of lenses and lens filters, travel with only what you absolutely need to get those amazing shots. Don’t bring your entire arsenal of expensive lenses you’ve worked so hard to purchase — pack a single lens that can do it all, or at most, bring two lenses total. When we’re going somewhere to shoot photographs, I usually pack my 50mm 1.4 and a zoom lens. Photography is an expensive hobby and I can’t afford to get gear stolen.
4. Back up your photos regularly (while on vacation)
It’s bad enough if someone gets their hands on your gear while you’re traveling abroad — but what if you lose all of your memories from that trip, too? We have a couple of cheap external hard drives we bring with us to back up photos, and I also have a habit of popping out my camera’s memory card and having it on my body while riding public transportation. If for some reason my camera bag gets swiped, at least I have all of our photos saved elsewhere. If you don’t want to bring an external hard drive you can also use a separate memory card each day then keep the cards you’ve already used in your room.
We also have a wireless adapter that sends photos to our iPad.
5. Keep an eye (and hand) on your gear
Keep your bag and/or camera in front of you and always have a hand on it. Don’t trust the strap around your body. Our last photography instructor told us that some of his photographer friends had their straps sliced while traveling abroad. When they noticed what was happening, their camera was already gone. Apparently this happens a lot when riding on trains and in other crowded places. When you’re traveling, you’re almost always in a crowded space.
6. Insure your equipment before you leave
Cameras and camera lenses are pricey. Check your homeowners/renters insurance policy because many cover lost or stolen camera equipment, although you’ll be stuck paying your deductible before anything is covered. However, if you’re a professional photographer you won’t be eligible for coverage under these policies and will need to purchase a separate plan.
7. Bring serial numbers with you
If for some reason your camera disappears, you can file a police report with the serial numbers from all your equipment. Store these numbers on your phone, bring your camera and lens paperwork in a suitcase, or write the serial numbers down on a piece of paper in your wallet or purse. It doesn’t matter where — just have this information on hand.
8. Don’t check your gear with an airline
Checking a bag of camera gear is just asking someone to steal your things. And if they’re not getting stolen by baggage handlers, they’re most likely being damaged. Carry your camera in your purse or purchase a carry-on sized camera bag like this Lowepro one we own. It has a padded insert for protection, and space for books and a laptop. By carrying on your equipment, you’ll be able to keep an eye on everything, plus you know your bag won’t be crushed.
Do you have any other tips?
Filed Under: Photography, Travel