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It seems kind of silly to talk about airline travel being tiring when I've just been sitting all day, but I'm exhausted. It's tiring getting your stuff to the airport and dealing with security and then sitting on the plane for hours and hours and hours. But there are some things you can do to make it a little less stressful. As photographers, of course, we have the extra stress of carrying all this expensive, fragile photo gear, and we want to be sure it gets to where we're going and we want to be sure it gets there in one piece, and that of course comes down to smart packing. You want to carry on your expensive fragile photo gear and check your clothes and all the other stuff that can withstand being tossed around a little bit.
That said, I still pack a fair amount of photo gear in my checked baggage. I'll put my tripod, flash diffusers, battery chargers, things like that that can really stand a beating. Those I will put in my checked baggage, and a lot of that stuff, it's not so expensive if I end up having to replace it. You may be thinking, yeah, but if I carry on my camera gear, that's less stuff that I can carry with me because I'm only allowed one bag and one personal item. So, what about the stuff that I want on my plane, particularly if it's a long flight? Check this out. If you go to the TSA website, you'll find this: "You may carry one (1) bag of photographic equipment in addition to one (1) carry-on and one (1) personal items through the screening checkpoint." In other words as photographers, we get to carry an extra bag, maybe.
If you look a little further, it says, "Air carriers may or may not allow the additional carry-on item on their aircraft. Please check with your air carrier prior to arriving at the airport." So, just because you can get it through the security checkpoint, doesn't mean you can actually get it on the airplane; be sure that you do check with your carrier before you back with this strategy. Now, that said, you still may not be able to get it through security, because just because this is in the rules, doesn't mean that the agent you're dealing with actually knows that. So it's not a bad idea to print out this page and carry it with you. If they hassle with you, if they say "you're carrying too many bags," you can pull this out and say "actually, I'm allowed to do this.
This is a bag of photo gear." If you're polite about it and friendly, that'll almost always let you get through. If you're traveling domestically here in the States, you really don't need to worry about stuff being stolen out of your bag. I say knock on wood. It has never happened to me. It's actually never happened to me internationally, and that's even traveling to some countries that are maybe a little rougher. Nevertheless, you do want to be sure that you're insured for theft and disappearing bags and that kind of thing, if it does happen. So, those are a couple to tips to make it a little bit easier going through the airport.
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