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How to Protect Your Camera When Traveling

430193_265205596891730_2124481245_nOne of the challenges you need to deal with when you are traveling is how to protect your camera.  In this post, you will find out a few different ways in which you can approach keeping them safe from both damage and theft.

1. Travel Cases: A great way to keep your equipment safe is by using hard travel cases.  Most of my equipment is kept in Pelican cases as they protect against the harshness of the film environment and can withstand the wear and tear that occurs when traveling.  I highly recommend purchasing cases that have the wheels built in.

2. Carry-on: When I travel, I always have my drives/media and cameras with me as a carry on.  I do this for two reasons.  First off, it ensures both stay safe and in perfect working order. The second reason is that if my luggage gets lost, I am still able to perform the job I was hired to do.  Typically, it is a lot easier to find support gear than it is a specific camera/lens/media/etc.

3. Wrap in Clothes: Another great way to keep your camera safe is to wrap it in your clothes and then place in your suitcase. One of the advantages of going this route is that it conceals your equipment so people are less tempted to steal it. Make sure there are no hard objects that could come in contact with your equipment if your bags are dropped.

4. Insurance: The most important thing you will want to do if you own gear is get insurance. When looking for policy packages, look for ones that cover accidental damages and theft as it will save you. It’s not IF, it’s WHEN.

When traveling, I also highly recommend buying locks for your cases (the ones that have the ability to be opened by airport security officers).  I have never ran into issues when I haven’t used them but it is another step you can take to ensure your gear stays safe.

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What I have found when traveling with gear is the inconsistencies in airport security officers and standards at airports. When carrying your camera gear on board, be prepared to take all the items out of the bag and send through the scanners individually as I have been asked to do this on occasion. It doesn’t always happen but depending on how full your bag is, it could happen. It is extremely frustrating but a reality when you are traveling with gear.

There are a few things you will want to also make sure to do before traveling as well:

  1. Check Your Gear: Before traveling with your gear, make sure it is in perfect working order, the lenses/sensors are clean and that you have all the accessories you need to operate the camera with you.  If you are shooting with a DSLR, make sure to take your lenses off the body and pack safely. Typically when I travel with DSLR’s, I carry my cameras/lenses in the Lowepro Pro Trekker.  Another option I have used is the Pelican 1510.
  2. Document all the Contents: Ensure that you have documented everything that you are taking with you.  Typically, I keep sheets in all cases including a list of the contents and a master list as well. By doing this, you are able to keep kits together. They are also great references when you have others that are packing up gear for you.
  3. Proof of Purchase: When you are traveling between countries, make sure that all equipment that looks new has proof of purchase documents. Another option is to get a Carnet. This is important for when you both enter a country and come home from a trip. It makes the process much simpler if the security officers know you are prepared and are not trying to hide anything from them.
  4. Prepare for Back-ups: When I am out shooting away from home, I find myself changing out cards on a more regular basis.  You never know if you will either lose your camera, damage it or have it stolen. Make sure to switch cards on a regular basis.  Further to this, you will want to make sure to create back-ups of all your work.  Depending on the job, sometimes I find myself mailing drives home and carrying the back-up with me on the plane.

No matter how prepared you are, there is still a chance that your luggage will get lost and I am sure that this has happened to virtually everyone that has traveled with luggage/gear. It is the nature of the beast and when this does happen to you, you learn quick what gear you SHOULD have had with you.