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Flying Incognito With Your Camera Gear

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This post is part of a series called Travel Photography.
Choosing Which Camera Kit to Take on Holiday

The prospect of going on holiday with hundreds or thousands of pounds worth of equipment can be daunting. This quick guide will help you to do it as safely and efficiently as possible. 

An Inauspicious Kit Bag

Once you've decided what to take, you need to decide how you’re going to take it. I advise carrying your gear as hand luggage as then it doesn't ever have to leave your sight. Hand-luggage size trolley cases are the first to be moved to the hold if there’s not enough room, so I suggest using a soft bag. You can get specialist bags like the one I have which has a separate area for your equipment.

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My rucksack which is designed for photographic equipment

This particular bag can fit a DSLR with lens attached, plus one extra lens. Check dimensions before purchasing anything to make sure that your kit will fit.

Drab Bags Travel Safe

As we know, some countries have a higher crime rate than others. Carrying your kit in an obvious camera bag advertises to thieves that you have hundreds/thousands of pounds worth of equipment. A nondescript purpose made rucksack has the advantage of not looking at all like a camera bag, whilst still keeping your kit safely stored from knocks. This one has a regular compartment (non-padded) in the top:

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Top compartment of rucksack

There's also a second opening in the middle of the bag which is padded:

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The middle opening has a padded compartment for your kit

This has the benefit of allowing you to access your camera without having to route through other items you may be carrying and stops anyone dipping their hand into the top of your bag while it’s on your back and stealing any of your stuff. If you don’t have a padded bag then bubble wrap is an effective, cheap alternative

Take Insurance

You should always travel with insurance but it’s especially important that you check your level of coverage when travelling with expensive equipment. Most standard insurance policies will cover your luggage and cancellations, but not the cost of replacing any kit that gets lost or stolen above a certain amount. You can take out a policy specifying your equipment or you can check with your bank or house insurer to see if they can add it on to any insurance policies or credit cards you may have.

In Summary

  • Take your kit as hand luggage where possible
  • Make sure it’s well padded and protected
  • Travel safely, don’t carry it in your hand or an obvious camera bag
  • Insure your equipment in case of theft, accident or loss

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