Greg Beadle answers a Facebook fan’s questions regarding flying with photographic equipment.

By Greg Beadle.

Juanita asked:

Hi there, I was wondering if you could help me with some traveling tips please?

We are planning to do a photographic holiday soon and will be flying locally to some African holiday destinations (like Zanzibar, Livingstone, etc). With regards to flying with your camera gear, do you have any tips that you could share with me please?

Is there some sort of concession that one gets if you are deemed to be a professional photographer? Ideally, we dont want to pay for extra weight, and ideally we don’t want to check our gear in.

I was thinking of packing some lenses in our (large) jacket pockets and carrying our camera around our necks, while checking in.

Is there such a thing as a professional photographers card that could assist the process of traveling by plane?

Greg Beadle’s advice:

Dear Juanita

I am not aware of any concessions for professional photographers or extra weight allowances. You will need to contact each airline in advance of flying to check, but I feel that my suggestions below may negate this schlep.

The first rule is simple, never leave your gear out of your sight!

The second rule is only take less essential equipment. Usually less than you think you need. I choose telephoto zooms over prime lenses, saving weight, space and energy.

The third rule is pick a camera bag that will hold your essential gear whilst being comfortable and well-balanced. You can choose a back, shoulder or ways pack. ThinkTank have a wide range and is my brand of choice. Particularly the Streetwalker or Streetwalker Pro, which are both comfortable if you are spending a lot of time on your feet. [It’s also a good idea to separate your camera bodies and lenses when travelling. We’ve read some horror stories where bags fall off trolleys and break the lens mounts. – Ed]

When it comes to airlines, take your gear as cabin baggage. My gear weighed around 30kgs when traveling to shoot Tour de France this year and I always managed to get my ThinkTank Airport Security 2.0 on as cabin baggage. Some airlines take more time to negotiate but there is no way I will check-in my equipment. Travelling internationally you will need to declare all your lenses, bodies and flashes at customs before leaving SA. Make time for this as they need to document all serial numbers manually.

Trust this helps and enjoy your travels!

Posted by Greg Beadle. Image credit: Greg Beadle.



Traveling & Flying Advice For Photographers

  1. Always try to get onto the plane first, so that there is still plenty of space in the overhead locker for your bag. There is nothing more embarrassing than having a cabin crew member helping you stow your bag when they discover that it weighs 25kg.

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