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Thread started 06 Nov 2011 (Sunday) 17:25
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Camera gear traveling tips

 
dtli919
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Nov 06, 2011 17:25 |  #1

I'm planning on a trip from Houston to Hong Kong for this coming Dec. Does anyone have any tips on what/how to bring camera gear on board an international flight? I'm planning to bring all my gear listed in my sig.

Also, I heard that a camera bag is considered separately from a laptop bag and a personal bag, so does that mean I can hand carry a total of 3 bags on board a plane?

Any help is appreciated!


Canon 5DMKII || 50mm f/1.2L || 24-70mm f/2.8L || 70-200mm f/2.8L IS V.II || 100mm 2.8L Macro || 430EX II
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Nov 07, 2011 10:04 |  #2

Try carrying a compact camera instead? Much easier to haul...


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irispatch
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Nov 07, 2011 10:42 |  #3

Depends on the airline. see if you can get a duffle that will hold both the camera bag and the laptop.
Plus make sure you fill out forms to document the camera gear that you are talking with you so that you do not get into a hassle trying to get back into tthe US thru customs. Have your purchase documentation ( copies) with you to make fiilling out the forms easier.


Canon 50D, Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS L, Canon 20-35mm f/2.8L, Canon 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS and Kenko 1.4 TC :lol:
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ssim
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Nov 07, 2011 12:31 as a reply to  @ irispatch's post |  #4

The gear you have listed in your signature will fit nicely in a backpack or roller-board camera bag that will fit in the overhead. I travel internationally several times a year and take alot more than what you have.

You have to worry about several sets of rules. You have the airline, the national security agency of the country in question and then the airport's local rules they may apply. Read them all carefully and then pack according to the most restrictive ones. There is nothing on your gear list that would cause problems going through security. They can ask you to open your bag so that they can either manually search or swipe it for traces of prohibited materials, like incendiary devices. I have had both several times and it is not a big deal.

I normally travel with either a Think Tank Airport (external link) rollerboard or a Lowepro AW Trekker backpack (older bag, no link but holds alot). Both of these will fit in the overhead on most large commercial aircraft. I also have a small computer backpack that fits under the seat in front of me that has my laptop, ipad, etc. If I have more than what I can fit in the bag I will pack additional articles in my checked luggage making sure that they are firmly packed and well padded with clothing. The airports do have the right to inspect your checked luggage and it is not always done in front of you. I highly suggest that your checked luggage have a TSA approved lock on it. That way they will open, inspect and re-lock your suitcase. If you have a simple padlock or other type of lock on it they will simply break the lock to gain access and they are not responsible for replacing it.

If you are making connections along your routing make sure to check the various aircraft types that you will be traveling on. Many of the smaller routes will have codeshare agreements between the airlines and while it may look like you are traveling on a major airline you can end up on a smaller regional aircraft which does not have the space to hold what you would take on an overseas or transcon aircraft. On most of these you can put your carry-on onto a cart by the door of the aircraft and they will load these last and have them unloaded and waiting for you at your next stop. I've seen some people put up a fight on giving up their carry-on because they have a camera and associated gear in it. Passenger safety trumps a persons desire to keep their gear close. Make too much of a scene about it and you can easily find yourself watching the aircraft leave without you. I have put my luggage on these carts probably hundreds of times and never have had a problem.

You have both size and weight restrictions to worry about and the airlines are getting very vigilant about both of them. Is it possible to sneak something past them, sometimes but I certainly don't recommend trying it. You have too many spots to get caught. The check in agent, the security checkpoint, the airline agent at the gate and finally the flight attendant as you board the aircraft all of which have the power to challenge you on your carry-on. I've seen too many situations where people argue with the authorities over this and you either relinquish your bag or you don't travel. If they deem your bag too heavy or oversized at the gate they can force you to check it.

Traveling by air certainly has become more complex since 9/11 but the concept has always remained the same. If one simply takes the time to read the websites for the various airlines or airports and follow their guidelines you will be fine. I worked for the airlines for many years and ultimately you will get caught if you try to cheat the system.


My life is like one big RAW file....way too much post processing needed.
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JacobPhoto
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Nov 07, 2011 14:44 as a reply to  @ ssim's post |  #5

I highly highly recommend Pelican cases for flying. They are waterproof and crushproof, and the 1510 series of cases fits perfectly in the overhead. I've used mine for more than 5 years and never had a problem.

I'd also suggest making a list of all your camera gear (including serial numbers) and make 2 copies - 1 for your bag, 1 that you keep with your passport (possibly getting a copy notarized before you leave). This will avoid hassle about paying duty on the camera gear when entering or leaving the country. With the amount of gear you are carrying, it's not likely to be flagged for this, but it couldn't hurt.


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ssim
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Nov 07, 2011 16:06 as a reply to  @ JacobPhoto's post |  #6

In Canada you can take your equipment to a Canada Customs office and register your equipment so that there isn't any issues when you come back into the country. They give you a little credit card sized document listing your gear along with serial numbers. Personally I haven't done this in probably 12 years or more. I have never had a problem with the amount of gear I travel with and just in case I keep a scanned copy of all of the receipts for my gear in my laptop.

No doubt that Pelican cases are some of the best for transporting your gear in. Keep in mind that these cases will probably put you over weight and charged accordingly by the airlines. In some cases airlines will force you to ship your gear as cargo if it is too heavy. I use Samsonite hard sided suitcases and whatever gear I can't fit in the carry-on gets packed with my personal items. These cases have made dozens of trips and I have yet had a problem.

Speaking as an airline employee for a moment (or ex one) you have to realize how many people have access to the baggage makeup areas of an airport. Pelicans scream "steal me" I have something expensive inside of me and that is the reason I have avoided them. Not only baggage handlers but virtually anyone you see at an airport can get into this area and many of them don't even work for the airline themselves. Its a personal choice that I have made based on years of seeing what goes on at some airports. It has gotten harder for theft to happen but there are still some airports that get hit by theft rings that will get themselves jobs for the very reason of stealing baggage. What I do most of the time if I am traveling somewhere to shoot wildlife is ship my gear ahead of me. With the long glass that I have the weight makes it nearly impossible to check as baggage. I usually ship two or three days before I leave.


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SparkyGA
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Nov 07, 2011 19:47 |  #7

Personally if your concerned about max out cabin luggage, just throw the camera bag and laptop case in a cheap backpack and you'll instantly have "less".

You shouldn't have any issues with customs, esp on the Hong Kong side. Worlds simplest border control, they really don't care about much. Canadian side coming back can be a bit more picky. but you still shouldn't have any issues. I had some issues with them coming home. At worst, just get your items documented before you leave.

Oh, once you get out the Hong Kong Airport, buy a train ticket (can't miss it) and head down town. It's pretty cheap, fun and really fast. Public transportation is some of the best in the world there, faster than any taxi you'll ever find.

And bring lots of money to spend. HK can be very cheap for photo gear, one of the cheapest places I've been. CPS has a great store in Kowloon.


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PeaceFire
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Nov 07, 2011 21:21 |  #8

When I travel with my gear I usually carry two sets (since I only take my gear with me when I'm working and always work with two sets). I put one set in my carry-on suitcase and the second set in my backpack. I would not carry on a case that looks too obvious. I want people to think I have clothes and books in my carry-ons, not expensive camera gear.

And no, most airlines only allow passengers two carry-on items. So you can carry on two backpacks or a backpack and laptop bag or a laptop bag and a roller suitcase.


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dtli919
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Nov 08, 2011 07:35 |  #9

Thanks for all the tips guys! :)

SparkyGA wrote in post #13368072 (external link)
Personally if your concerned about max out cabin luggage, just throw the camera bag and laptop case in a cheap backpack and you'll instantly have "less".

You shouldn't have any issues with customs, esp on the Hong Kong side. Worlds simplest border control, they really don't care about much. Canadian side coming back can be a bit more picky. but you still shouldn't have any issues. I had some issues with them coming home. At worst, just get your items documented before you leave.

Oh, once you get out the Hong Kong Airport, buy a train ticket (can't miss it) and head down town. It's pretty cheap, fun and really fast. Public transportation is some of the best in the world there, faster than any taxi you'll ever find.

And bring lots of money to spend. HK can be very cheap for photo gear, one of the cheapest places I've been. CPS has a great store in Kowloon.

I actually grew up in Hong Kong but have always noticed pretty much all electronics sold in HK are more expensive compared to the States (unless they are non-OEM items such as black DVDs, USB thumb drives, etc). However, if lenses are indeed cheaper, I might pick up a 14mm 2.8L lens just for kicks. I've always wanted a UWA :)


Canon 5DMKII || 50mm f/1.2L || 24-70mm f/2.8L || 70-200mm f/2.8L IS V.II || 100mm 2.8L Macro || 430EX II
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