How to Travel with a Camera, Safely

person looking at map on brown parquet floor

Any serious photographer knows the value of protecting his or her camera when traveling and exploring remote locations, some of which might be unsafe to visit.  I have traveled to several different countries with my camera, and I would be happy to share what I have gathered about keeping camera gear safe. 

Tips for keeping your camera safe

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Use padded cases

If you travel a lot like me, a well-padded bag won’t disappoint you. First, it is comfortable to carry. It is unwise to settle for uncomfortable camera bags. Second, it protects your gear. Generally, most padded cases are waterproof and well made. 

Take everything apart 

Yes, this is very important, especially when you own an expensive camera. For example, leaving the lens on can damage the mounting threads when you are going for a bumpy bus ride or a long flight. And since your camera is made to be taken apart and travels better in separate pieces, consider taking everything apart before traveling. 

Tighten up

Once done taking everything apart, the next step is to make sure every single piece is safe and snug. With a good camera bag, this shouldn’t be a big issue. I prefer to keep all my “non-camera, camera gear” in a separate bag. This helps keep loose items from rattling around and scratching up my expensive lenses. I’m confident you can do this!

Reuse silica gel packs to avoid moisture

As you travel, temperature changes can result in moisture build-up in your bag. Those little silica gel packs will absorb any moisture that may accumulate as you travel. Besides, they don’t add any weight. So be obsessed with adding one or two silica gel packs when traveling.

Shoulder bag

A well-padded shoulder bag is ideal when traveling in busy and crowded places. I use the UNDEFIND One Bag. It is well-padded, has a camera insert, leather cover, and doesn’t look like a camera bag. With this bag, I always got my eyes on my gear.  Not to mention that it can’t be easily opened from behind like a backpack. 

Carry your gear in your hand luggage

This is something I love doing, and very comfortable with that. In fact, most long-haul airlines have no issue with this, especially when they see my camera gear. If your airline is also lenient, also carry your gear in your hand language. 

Remove or hide camera branding

Muggers and thieves like fines things, and if you reveal you have what they need, they will surely come for it. I try my best to conceal anything that may reveal the type of gear I have. This includes hiding any branding on my camera — For example, putting duct tape on the logo. 

Shoot on film

While, this might not be practical these days. I always feel safer shooting on film rather than digital. This is because people look at a film camera differently. It has a very different deemed value and would be much less desirable to a thief who isn’t well conversant about cameras.

Use multiple memory cards 

While memory cards are replaceable, your photos are not. For that reason, it is worth spreading them out over two or three memory cards. To be on the safe side, always make sure to back up your photos in different cards. 

Wire camera strap

The Sun Snipper Strap is a good example. It has a steel wire running all over it. That means if anyone tries to cut it off when you are unaware, they will be met with more resistance. Check out our guide on the best camera strap you can buy.

Clean your camera daily

This is obvious if you want to use your camera for an extended period. Your camera lenses are some of the parts that need to be cleaned often. And remember to use the right cleaning tools!

Insure your gear

No matter how careful you are, sometimes you can’t protect it. It can be stolen, may slip out of your hands, etc. Insuring your gear gives you total peace of mind should the worst happen. 

Can you take a camera in your hand luggage?

Yes, you can carry your cameras in your hand luggage. If carrying any larger electrical items – for example, a laptop – you will need to take them out of your hand luggage before you get to the security search point. This is because they will need extra screening.

Do I have to take out my camera at airport security?

According to the TSA, only electronics larger than a cell phone must be removed from their carrying cases and X-rayed separately. This does include tablets and laptops, but it doesn’t include hair dryers, phones, or electric toothbrushes. TSA PreCheck members don’t have to remove electronics for separate screening.

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