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Friday, December 1, 2006

Travel And The Photographer

Use preparation and common sense to negotiate today's heightened security concerns

Checked Baggage

In my suitcase, I carry a tripod with the head detached, battery chargers, wires and cords, some filters and smaller miscellaneous items. I protect them by padding them with clothing. I try to ensure that breakables are placed in the center of my luggage.

In the event that my carry-on allowance will be really limited, my strategy changes, and I'll use a large Pelican case with the understanding that my gear will likely have to be checked. These are large, black and almost indestructible cases that can take the pounding of the luggage handlers. The downside to the Pelican case is that all that protection can weigh a lot, so you may have to check your case into oversized luggage. Finally, if you do take a small carry-on, know that restrictions seem to change daily regarding liquids. For instance, you should be able to carry on lens cleaner, but check with your airline before leaving home. If you have small tools to tighten screws on your gear, leave them in your checked luggage. For the most part, it's still okay to bring camera equipment on board a plane, but be prepared to turn it on in front of security so they know that it's a functioning piece of gear.

Hot Travel Tips
Keep a list of all your equipment, including serial numbers. This helps in case you get separated from gear you need to check.
2) Make your checked luggage look as inconspicuous as possible. Cool-looking stickers that say "Handle With Care—Photographic Equipment" only serve to alert potential thieves.
3) Make sure your checked luggage is clearly marked with your name, address and phone number—at home and at your destination. Know the brand, color and dimensions of your luggage in case you need to file a report.
4) Use TSA locks when you can. They can be opened by security personnel and act as a deterrent to would-be thieves.
5) Use a photographer's vest to carry pieces of equipment that won't fit in your carry-on camera bag.
6) Some photographers use FedEx to transport their gear to destinations. On the upside, FedEx has never let me down with a delivery. On the downside, you better know who will sign for your gear and where it will be stored.
7) Business class and first class seats come at a hefty price, but they also come with a greater baggage allowance and more room in the cabin.
8) When on the ground, if I need to leave gear in my hotel room while I'm out, I close the curtains, turn on the TV so that it easily can be heard and place the "do not clean/disturb" sign on the door. I'd rather have nobody go into my room and make the bed myself.


U.S. Dept. of Transportation (carry-on allowances):
Transport Canada Baggage Regulations: www.tc.gc.ca
Pelican: www.pelican.com
Tamrac: www.tamrac.com
Think Tank Photo: www.thinktankphoto.com



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