It is sometimes a hassle when it comes to traveling with your camera equipment. What to do and what not is often unclear. Your camera gear may include many camera bodies, lenses, flashlights, light stands, tripods etcetera. What I’m trying to say is your camera gear might be worth a lot of money, so you must know how to manage your gear while traveling.
Among all the camera gear, you can stuff most of it in your camera bags. These bags are specially made to carry your equipment. But the real nuisance is carrying a tripod because it is heavy, there is no space for it in your luggage and you might face issues when clearing the customs if you are traveling overseas. So how to travel with a tripod? Keep reading!
WHAT PROBLEMS ONE FACES WHILE TRAVELLING
Whenever you are traveling, there is some doubt left about handling your camera gear. You might encounter problems with packing your equipment, issues at customs or damage due to mishandling. Let me explain some of the most common problems.
- Customs : Believe me, you don’t want to be stopped at customs while traveling overseas with your camera gear. Sometimes, they won’t listen to you unless you provide a solid proof stating that you own all the camera gear and you are not trying to import something illegally. I have faced this problem myself.
Solution : Click a picture with your phone before you leave, make sure the model and the serial number of your camera and lenses are visible clearly. When you return and if you face customs issue, you can always show them these pictures as a proof and you will be good to go.
- Packing : Okay, many of you might think that it is not a problem, you can just stuff your gear here and there in your suitcases but no, you must refrain from doing that. Packing your gear in a hasty way, may cause it to suffer damages while traveling and then you have to go through the hassle of filing a complaint with the airlines, following up on it for compensations and stuff. It is not worth the pain, trust me. It is better to pack everything nice and securely beforehand.
Solution : Always use camera bags with proper padding. These have proper compartments made of foam, to store your lenses, tripods, camera bodies and all the other paraphernalia. Pelican makes special cases for your camera equipment with enough space to accommodate your tripod and camera.
- Heavy Carry-on luggage : Traveling with all that luggage is very troublesome. There is a ton of luggage and no helping hands. Most of your equipment is in carry on luggage and a tripod makes it all the more heavy.
Solution : Instead of putting all of your gear in carry on luggage, you can put the less fragile items like bean bags, memory cards, gorillapods, flashlights, reflectors in you checked in baggage. Cover them in bubble wrap before tucking them in.
HOW TO CARRY YOUR TRIPOD
Tripods are one of the heaviest pieces of equipment in your collection. But, you have to agree that it is one of the most indispensable ones when you are traveling. You have to be extra careful while taking your tripod on a plane. You might be asked to remove your tripod from your carry-on luggage if it doesn’t fit the size requirements or if it exceeds the allowed weight.
For traveling on land, it isn’t that big of a hassle. You just need to be careful about unwanted bumps or mishandling. For that, use a good quality tripod bag.
As you travel more and more try to use these methods for carrying your tripod. These methods will ensure that your tripod remains safe.
- Always use a tripod bag : A good quality tripod bag which is well padded and fits snugly over your tripod is a must-have if you want to protect your tripod from unwanted damages. Using a tripod bag, will not only protect your legs but also your head.
- Use a strap : Special straps made for the sole purpose of carrying your tripod on your shoulder.
- Get a holster : I have never used a holster before, but it can be handy when going on trekking or adventure sports. It is like a gun holster except you put a tripod instead of a gun. It is suitable for light-weight tripods. Gitzo makes them but they are expensive.
- Hand Carry : It is a no-brainer, just carry it around with your hand. The only downside, one of your hands will be busy.
- Pack it : While traveling, put your tripod in the bottle holder of your backpack and carry it inside the cabin. It you are stopped and asked to check it in. Bubble wrap it and put it inside your luggage.
PS : Bubble Wraps are life-saviors when it comes to traveling. Keep them by your side at all times.
TRAVEL TRIPODS TO LOOK FOR
If you are an avid traveler, you might know the pain of carrying extra luggage. It gets very expensive when you have to pay for an extra slab of luggage whenever to board a flight be it domestic or international. You must not miss any opportunity to cut down the costs.
Using a lightweight tripod can easily save you some bucks. Since carbon fiber tripods are only a fraction of what others weigh, having them in your travel kit is definitely a wise choice.
Here are some lightweight tripods, you might wanna look into
- Vanguard VEO 265CB : Carbon Fiber body, extends upto 5 feet, can handle around 17.5lb (8kg), weight- 3.3lb (1.5kg)
- Gitzo Traveler Series 0 GK0545T-82TQD : Extremely expensive, max height 52 inches, max load: 22lb (10kg), weight – 2.8lb (1.3kg).
- Benro Travel Angel FTA28CV1 : Weighs 4lb (1.8kg), max load: 22lb, extends upto 5.5 feet.
SOME ESSENTIAL KEY-POINTS
While traveling with your camera gear it is better to know some nifty tips to avoid problems. I have mentioned some guide-lines for you so that you are well-prepared for your trips.
- If you have a camera bag to store all of your equipment, well and good. But in case you have a large set of gear, get yourself a suitcase and fill it with cubes of foam. You can get the foam from any hardware store or just buy the cubes from a toy store. Now, you can arrange your gear as you wish inside the suitcase without any tension of it getting damaged.
- Never ever keep your camera and lens attached while traveling. It is not at all advisable to do so.
- Buy yourself a roll of bubble wrap and keep it by your side always. Pack your tripods, flashlights, memory cards etc. in bubble wraps before packing it.
- Carry your gear along with you, avoid putting your gear in check in baggage. If you need to shift your gear to the checked in baggage, tuck it in between your clothes after wrapping it with bubble wrap for added safety specially the tripods.
- Make sure your batteries aren’t kept in check in luggage. Check it twice before you leave.
Traveling with so much of gear and getting them back all in one piece is no short of a feat. You have to make some ground rules for yourself and abide by them whenever you are traveling. Having said that, you always learn from your own mistakes so it is okay. Ultimately it’s you who needs to take care of your tripod and your equipment, no one else will.
“How to travel with a tripod” is something which is very easy to get used to. Use a bag, carry it in your hands or strap it, it all depends on your convenience. Once you start exploring more and more you won’t struggle with carrying a tripod with you at all times
If you have any doubts or question please leave them in the comments section and I’ll be more than happy to answer them.
Founder of TripodsforAll