Travel Tips for Photographers


Traveling is a balancing act between having what you need and what you think you might need with light weight, portability, access and ease of use. The older and wiser I get the less I need and the less I want to carry around.


– Bring your camera bag and laptop as a carry on. Never check them as luggage.

– When traveling with film always bring it in your carry on bag. 

­– Do not put film in your checked luggage, as that receives much higher doses of x-rays.

Choosing a camera bag:

– A backpack style camera bag is easier to carry but harder to work out of

– An over-shoulder type bag is easier to work out of on the street.

– A bag with wheels is easier to bring thru airports but heavier and harder to use on rough terrain. –The wheels can also be uncomfortable if also using as a backpack.

– An old, worn camera bag or case is less tempting for thieves.

– Or use one that doesn’t look like a camera bag.

– Good luck finding one bag that has it all! I have many different bags for different types of trips and different ways of working.

What to pack in your camera bag:

– Keep a notebook, pen and Sharpie in your camera bag.

– If you have them, put a couple small promo pieces or postcards with your photos. Remember to include your name and email address on the piece.

– Put some business cards with your address and e-mail in your camera bag to give to subjects to contact you to receive prints. It also puts the responsibility on them to initiate contact.

– Always keep a fully charged extra camera battery and memory card in your camera bag.

– Hide a business card or card with your name, email and phone number well hidden under the bottom padding of your camera bag. If stolen and recovered you can quickly prove it’s yours.

– Keep a small ‘hot list’ of frequently used or emergency phone numbers or contact info in your camera bag. You may not have your cell phone available and most of us don’t remember frequently called phone numbers any more!

– A jeweler’s screwdriver is a helpful accessory. So is a leatherman tool, but travel with it in your checked luggage (so it is not confiscated by airport security).

– It may be helpful to bring a small portfolio or Blub type book of your images to keep in your camera bag to show potential subjects the style of photography that you do.

– Bring a plastic bag to protect camera bag contents in a rain or dust storm.


– I bring Red and Yellow filters for B&W film. For color or digital a circular polarizing filter.

– I normally don’t put a filter on my lens unless necessary, but sometimes use UV filters when traveling to protect the lens.

– Use a dedicated lens hood for every lens. Put it on facing out every time you use the lens.

– If you have multiple lenses, mark the rear body cap with a special Sharpie (made for marking plastic) showing the focal length of the lens to make it easy to quickly distinguish which lens is which.

– Leave big, heavy or long lenses at home unless you are on a bird-watching expedition or wildlife safari. They will get in your way in making intimate portraits and will make you tired and sore from carrying all that extra weight around.


– Again, do not put new or shot film in your checked luggage when going thru airports!

– Bring small zip lock plastic bags to put shot film in, to protect from moisture and dust.

– You can Fed Ex shot film to and from home as they do not x-ray Fed Ex packages. If you have a lot of shot film it is best to separate every other roll into two packages and send on two separate days.



– You can download images to a portable hard drive or viewer like the Epson 7000 if you don’t want to bring a laptop computer.

– Keep full memory cards in a separate place from computer, but not in your camera bag, as a back up if your camera is lost or stolen.

– Don’t forget power cords, battery chargers and all associated cables.

Luggage, etc:

– Write down your camera and lens serial numbers and keep in a separate place from your camera bag.

– Also keep a copy of serial numbers on an iDisk or server that is internet accessible.

– Write down all your credit card numbers (you can devise your own code to scramble the numbers) and phone numbers of credit card companies and put in a separate place in case they are lost or stolen.

– Remove all unnecessary credit cards from your wallet before you travel.

– Make a digital scan of your passport and e-mail to yourself so you have access to it. Keep a copy on your hard drive.

– Make 2 photocopies or digital prints from the scan of your passport and keep one in your camera bag and one in your luggage.



– When all is going wrong, a sense of humor can be essential!

– Patience, practiced and applied as necessary will go a long ways to keeping your trip enjoyable.

– Tolerance for others, both in your group and those encountered along the way is a big virtue.

– Travel is an opportunity to try and leave your ego behind. It will be ready and waiting at home for your return!

                         “No matter where you go, there you are!” -Jon Kabat Zin

“There is only one journey, going inside yourself.” -Rainier Maria Rilke

©Douglas Beasley 2013