My work takes me across Canada and across the border frequently, both by car and by air. I don’t always travel with my DSLR, but when I do, I keep these five tips in mind to make my life easier.
Don’t check your camera.
There are some great baggage handlers out there, and (just like any other profession) there are some bad seeds. I don’t check my bag for two reasons: I don’t want my gear stolen, and I don’t trust anyone but me to treat it the way I want it to be treated. Keep your gear with you.
Most airlines allow one carry-on and one “personal” bag. I am perfectly happy looking straight-faced at any airline employee and calling my camera bag a purse. It’s better than the alternative.
Use a proper gear bag with adequate padding.
Even if you’re hauling your gear with you, you still may find yourself in a situation where it takes a bump. As I mentioned in this blog, I rock a Day Trekker or a Slingshot from LowePro–but any decently padded bag will do.
While it’s important to have the right lens in the right situation, it’s also important to have the energy to take the shot when it comes, and to be able to get to it quickly. By keeping your kit light you can focus (HAH!) on the shots you should be taking, instead of suffering from gear-selection-paralysis.
Charge your batteries before you go.
It’s only happened to me once, but you may be asked to power your camera up by security staff. Rather than get into a debate about security theatre that undoubtable would have made great YouTube fodder, I powered my camera up. They nodded and I walked away.
Make a list and check it twice.
If you’ve ever arrived at a destination with a low battery (didn’t listen to #4, did you?) and reached for your charger only to find it missing… or that you’ve left both battery charger and battery at home (been there, done that, sporting the shirt right now), you’ll know the pain I’m talking about. Make a list, on paper, and check every item off as you pack it. Bring a second battery with you. What, you don’t have a second battery? Get one, along with backup memory cards; they’re the two accessories you’re most likely to lose, forget, or have fail, so be prepared.
So that’s what I keep in mind when I’m traveling here in North America. Going even further abroad? Well, that’s a blog for another day, so stay tuned, because it’s coming up!
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