Friday, April 25, 2008

Traveling Heavy

I have given up on traveling light. I am used to being ridiculed for all my luggage and carry ons, so I don't really care anymore. The Europeans are particularly amused by all the stuff Olof and I lug around. The only restraints we worry about are the 2 checked bag limit of 50 lbs each, and the carry on size restrictions (but not the weight). I have read that some airlines are going to start charging for the 2nd check bag, which is not good news. One of our blog readers recently asked:

Elizabeth, I'm curious -- how do you carry that much expensive gear to a location which is only accessible by air? I don't imagine you can take it all as carry-on. I'd sure hate to get to my destination only to find an empty camera case sliding down the luggage chute. :^( -- Roger

Well, one thing that helps is traveling with our 8 year old daughter, since she comes with an allowance for 2 extra 50 lb checked bags and 2 extra carry ons, which we use up while only including a few pounds of her stuff. I have found that I usually can take all my photo gear when I use the following:

1. Large tripod and ball head packed in a checked suitcase.

2. Carry-on Camera backpack (Lowe Vertex or Tamrac Expedition 8, which is long but not too thick). In the camera backpack I put the H3D body and 2 lenses, and the D3 body and 1 lens. Long but not too thick makes it easier to fit in overhead bins. It will always fit under the seat in a pinch, but will encroach into the adjacent under seat space.

3. Rolling Pelican case Exec Series wheeled camera attache - carries remaining camera lenses, chargers, etc. This comes with a zip off laptop case, so if I get busted for having 3 carry ons I can always zip the laptop bag to the case as I get on the plane, then unzip it to fit in the overhead bin. It fits better in the bin when unzipped & removed from main case, and I usually put it under my seat so I can work on my laptop during a flight.

We also always try to board the plane as soon as possible so all the overhead bin space does not get taken. I would never put my lenses or cameras in checked luggage, even though they are all insured through NANPA. You do not want to get behind us in the security checkpoint line, it is quite a production. I am rarely hassled about the contents of the camera bags, although Mexican authorities have been known to give us extra scrutiny when we come through.

This system works well for domestic air travel. I do run into problems in international flights where they weigh your carry ons. I had to check some lenses once in a hard sided case so I could get on a flight to Italy, and they arrived safely but I was not happy about it. I am not sure what I will do next time I have to fly overseas, I will probably wear a camera vest and stuff alot in there while they are weighing my carry ons.

1 comment:

  1. Elizabeth,
    Thanks for the thorough response and some excellent suggestions. I too have been caught by the European rules about carry-on weight. I'm headed to Munich in early June, and I'm scratching my head at this point as to what to do. Insurance is all and fine, but if you can't shoot the images you set out to shoot because a lens has gone missing, then what?
    Last year when I was in Death Valley I chatted with a fellow photographer on the dunes who had a conspicuously new-looking tripod -- his tripod had disappeared somwhere between his home in Florida and Las Vegas, and he'd had to buy a new one in Vegas. The bag the tripod was shipped in came through fine, it was empty on arrival.
    -- Roger