Whether you’re flying to the other side of the country or the world, it’s critical to be aware of the best way to transport your landscape photography gear. Otherwise, you might end up at your location with equipment that is broken or missing. The good news is that it doesn’t take much to drastically reduce your odds of dealing with a very unwelcome situation. If you put the following tips into place, you should be able to travel safely with your camera bag.
The first, and arguably most important, rule of flying with camera equipment is to keep as much of it as possible by your side at all times. Your carry-on bag needs to be dedicated to your most expensive and important pieces. In other words, your camera body and the telephoto lens that cost you thousands of dollars should never be transported in checked luggage. It’s best to use your normal camera bag or a dedicated camera rolling carry-on to ensure that everything is properly padded. Remember to check with your airline to make sure that your camera gear fits the airlines size restrictions.
If you don’t already have insurance for your photography equipment, make sure that you purchase some before you begin traveling with it. Hobbyists can usually add a rider to their homeowner’s or renter’s policy that protects against theft or damage from catastrophic events. Professionals typically need to take out a separate policy. Doing this won’t keep the gear you’re traveling with safe, but it will help keep you from losing your investment if something bad happens. Please note that international travel may require a different level of coverage, and many US insurance companies will not insure equipment in some places such as Africa, so always double check your policy to see what and where you are covered, and not. Having trouble getting international coverage? USAA will cover equipment anywhere in the world. So if you’re a vet or related to one, check out this option.
Believe it or not, you can actually be charged taxes on your own gear when you return to the U.S. from an international destination. There are several ways to stop this from happening, so be sure that you take the necessary precautions. The rules state that any photographer who is traveling with equipment that isn’t at least six months old should bring receipts with them to avoid hassles with U.S. customs and border patrol. You can also fill out Form 4457 or a Carnet before leaving to help establish ownership. It also helps to have a typed list of all your equipment with serial numbers. I carry 2 copies: one with my kit and another with my personal travel documents. This not only will help should your equipment get lost or stolen, but you can then quickly whip it out for any troublesome customs agent.
Jim Steinberg has a long and proven history of capturing beauty throughout the world. He offers dynamic workshops and photo tours in the U.S. to help people of all skill levels improve their landscape photography. Sign up for the next workshop today on our homepage!