I love traveling. I love doing it for work and I love doing it for leisure. Mostly I combine the two. So over the years, I’ve learnt the best ways to travel as a photographer to make my life simple and stress free.
I thought I’d share my top 5 travel tips with you.
Travel light – Camera gear and lighting equipment can be bulky and heavy and will take up most of your luggage. The extra cost of this can mount up. If you can get away with less clothing and more gear, then do it. Another trick is to pay a few dollars more to get the carrier that gives you an extra 5 – 10kg in luggage. It works out cheaper in the long run. Of course not all budding photographers can afford to do that when just starting out, so a cheaper alternative is to use your frequent flyer points. The more you travel, the more points you will earn and the quicker it will be to get that free flight!
Choose your packs and cases well – Use a solid backpack and pack your gear in a hard case. The best backpack for your needs will vary depending on how much tech gear you’re taking with you and how many clothes you like to pack which is why it’s hard to suggest a “one size fits all” recommendation. Here’s what I use: For the backpack, I have the Tamrac 5789 Evolution 9. It has loads of room and is a great carry on. For your gear, I’d probably suggest you try the Pelican range – I have used a few different sized ones throughout my career and you can buy and sell them second hand and avoid spending too much. They are built to last and can carry everything you need for your shoot.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – By that I mean don’t put all your gear in one bag. Luggage can get lost. Always keep your camera and your lenses with you on board with you when you fly. At least if your gear is delayed or lost, you still have something to work with until you are able to either hire some camera gear or retrieve your own gear. It’s also wise to have a separate portable hard drive to keep with you in a separate bag to save your work to. Remember the old saying, ‘back up, back up and back up again!’ Gear can be replaced, but photographs can not.
Get there early – Try to arrange to fly in for a shoot a day or two early. This way, you have time to source the best places for your shoot, check out the local weather and get to your hotel on time. It’s also a big stress reliever if your flight is delayed by a few hours. Even if you arrive at your destination 4 or 5 hours late, you are still there the night before and you can get a good sleep, ready for the next day. By having that extra time up your sleeve, it also helps you acclimatise if you are coming from a cooler temperature to somewhere like Asia which can be very humid in the summer months.
Have insurance – No photographer should be without good insurance. You’ve invested in thousands of dollars’ worth of gear, so a few hundred dollars a year to insure it is not too much in the bigger scheme of things. Despite the obvious reasons, such as theft or damage, the other reason insurance is so important is because of things like location permits. This is usually included in the contracts I take on, but for many freelancers who organise stylists, venues and studios themselves, they will generally be asked to show written proof of insurance. Don’t look at insurance as an added expense. Look at it as an investment.
Remember, not everything goes to plan all the time. The bride’s hair may not be done according to your schedule, the weather may turn bad, and the taxi may not turn up to take you to your shoot on time. Whatever happens, stay calm and keep on shooting!