Tips on Keeping Your Equipment Safe and Secure
This past week I had the pleasure of traveling for work and for fun!! Last December a dear friend and fellow photographer, Emilia, invited me to Chicago to second shoot with her (check out the beautiful wedding here). I was beyond excited because I absolutely LOVE Chicago and have been dying to photograph a wedding there. Our dear friends and family also live in the area I brought the hubs and babe along too.
Since this was a semi work trip it meant that I not only had to bring along luggage and our baby gear, but my photo equipment as well. While this was the first time I've traveled with a baby it wasn't the first time I've traveled for business nor the first time that I've flown with my gear. It can be a bit nerve wracking if you've never flown with your photography gear before so here are some tips to get you from here to there with peace of mind.
Use The Right Bag
If you're going to fly, you're going to need the right bag to transport all of your important gear. My rule of thumb is to have all of my gear, if possible one me at all times. I use the Think Tank Airport International V2 bag for all of my traveling (and on the wedding day). That bag can hold two bodies, all my lenses and flashes as well as all my batteries and any equipment accessories I might need on me like the hyperdrive (Plus I can also shove some flying needs like magazines, water, and an iPad in it too). It's sized to be a carry on bag and has fit in every plane I've flown in. The key to this bag is that it can be used as a carry on meaning that I can have my gear on me and in my sight at all times.
Never Check Your Gear (if you can avoid it)
If you can avoid it, never, ever, check your gear. We all know how baggage handlers throw, crush, and abuse luggage. Can you imagine what would happen to your gear if you checked your bag?! Not to mention it could all be lost! I shudder to think of the thought. Be proactive in helping your gear stay safe and protected and use carry on sized bags that fit either under the seat or above so. And another rule of thumb, place your bag directly above your seat, if you can. Call me obsessive but I like knowing where my gear is at all times.
ANYTHING can happen while traveling. Even if you plan on using your equipment bag as a carry on sometimes it can be checked. For example, the plane might be too small for your bag or the flight might be full and all the space taken. If possible, keep your body, your cards, a spare battery and as many lenses as you can fit, and shove them into another bag you have with you. That way you minimize the amount of gear that will be out of your possession while on the trip. Or if you can gate check the bag, you'll lessen the amount of hands the bag has to go through before it can be back in your care. Additionally, if you can get a seat up near the front, you'll be able to board the plane ahead of other passengers diminishing the likely hood that precious overhead bin space will be taken up by bags. (Or you can travel with a child under two like us and received priority boarding, what what!!) We love flying jetBlue, as they always have lots of space, and the cheapest non-stop flights for this scaredy-cat who hates to fly.
When I can I try to travel with as little as possible. Instead of bringing large light stands with me to Chicago for example, I used these collapsable ones. And instead of bring every lens I owned, I try to pick the most versatile lenses I could. This allowed me to keep everything to one bag and it kept me from killing myself with heavy bags and clumsy accessories. I could move quickly without holding up my husband, the baby or other passengers. If I am traveling VERY lightly I use this Kelly Moore bag which can hold my gear, a laptop, an iPad and any flying needs I may have like water and snacks.
It probably needs to go without saying but if you plan on doing ANY traveling, even just to local weddings, insure your gear. You've spent hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on your equipment, and it's worth the investment to have it insured PROPERLY. Make sure that your equipment coverage is specific and covers you for out of state and out of country travel. Make sure that you understand the ins and outs of your coverage (what is covered, what is not) so that in the case of an emergency you know that you are protected. And as a side note, if for some horrible reason you ever loose your gear or it is stolen, find out where you can rent gear while you are traveling. You never want to have to say to a client that you are unable to work because your gear has been stolen or lost. I love working with Hill & Usher for my business insurance needs and feel safe and secure as I travel.