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Packing your camera

Travel photography tips before leaving


Here are some tips to be sure your camera and other photo equipment make it there and back in good condition, and are serviceable while you are away:

PACKING

You may find it helpful to print out a packing checklist to ensure that all the right camera gear gets packed.

Ideally, you will have a hard-cover camera bag designed for travel – one that contains cushioning material and separate compartments for your lenses, camera body and accessories. If not, when packing your camera (or separate flash unit) in a suitcase, first make sure it is turned off, then surround it with soft, cushioning material (layers of clothing will do the trick) in a sturdy, hard-sided suitcase where it will be protected from the rough handling that baggage receives. Seal your camera and detachable flash in separate, air-tight plastic bags, each with a pack of moisture-absorbing silica gel to protect it from high humidity. Ensure your lens is protected by keeping either a lens cap or an inexpensive filter attached to it at all times, and be sure your camera’s neck strap is firmly attached.

Most people don't travel with a 3.5-foot long camera case. This case, and smaller ones like it, will definitely protect your equipment. It's got a hard exterior, foam inserts to surround lenses and cameras, and is absolutely waterproof when closed.
Most people don't travel with a 3.5-foot long camera case. This case, and smaller ones like it, will definitely protect your equipment. It's got a hard exterior, foam inserts to surround lenses and cameras, and is absolutely waterproof when closed.

PACK FOR CAMERA CARE ON THE ROAD

Leave room for a camera cleaning kit, especially if you will be camping or traveling in a dusty environment. Pack a non-abrasive cloth made for cleaning lens surfaces, lens-cleaning fluid, a lint-free cloth to clean the exterior of the camera; some Q-tips and rubbing alcohol to clean the interior, a soft brush or air bulb to remove grit and blow dust from the lens and other surfaces, and some sealable plastic baggies to protect your camera while using it or when it is packed. See Handy tools & gadgets.

INCLUDE BATTERIES AND CHARGERS

If your camera or flash has a rechargeable battery, pack your charger(s), too. You may need to purchase an A/C adapter with a special plug to tap into local electrical power. Check with your travel agent or the country’s embassy for specific voltage requirements and electrical outlet design. Many cameras and flash units are designed for use with AA batteries in place of the rechargeable battery. You should bring a supply of fresh batteries with you as a back-up, and don’t forget to pack your camera’s and your flash’s AA battery holder. Other cameras require special batteries – small, circle-shaped cells about the size of a dime, with flat ends – to function. Load fresh ones before leaving, and pack spares. Your particular batteries may be unavailable where you are going.

If your electrical gear runs on 110-volt power, and the country you're visiting has a 220-volt electrical supply, you may need to pack a 220-to-110 transformer.
If your electrical gear runs on 110-volt power, and the country you're visiting has a 220-volt electrical supply, you may need to pack a 220-to-110 transformer.

ENSURE YOUR CAMERA IS IN GOOD, RELIABLE CONDITION

Test your camera before leaving to be sure it is fully-operational. If your camera uses film, purchase a 12-exposure roll of film and get it processed. If you have a digital camera, take some test shots and upload them to your computer to check their quality.

IDENTIFY YOUR EQUIPMENT

It may pay you to have your name, social security number or some other means of positive identification engraved on the base of your camera and on other expensive gear. Be sure your camera bag has a laminated label with your name and address on the outside, including your destination address. You should also place an I.D. card inside your camera bag. A name and address tag can also be attached to your camera neck strap.

AIR TRAVEL & X-RAY INSPECTIONS

Should you be concerned about film being damaged by X-rays used in examining baggage and hand luggage? The answer is yes. See X-rays and film.

 
Further information...
Packing checklist