With our next shoot around the corner, we find ourselves travelling to the tip of Scotland. As we prepare ourselves for the project, one aspect that shouldn’t be ignored is travelling with kit. We want to get to our shoot safe and ready to go and we want our kit to do the same. Here are the simple steps that we take when packing and travelling. Give them a read and see if we’ve missed anything off our check list.
First Tip – Travel Light! It’s important to make sure you have the right kit for the job. Due to weight and size limitations it’s important to make sure you don’t over pack. It always tempting to take everything you own, new toys, old toys. But it all takes up room, so if it’s not needed don’t take it. With our shoot we know that DSLRs are the right cameras for the shoot. Even with a spare camera body, we know that using DSLRs mean smaller and lighter accessories such as batteries, tripods and carry bags etc.
Padding – This maybe obvious and painful to hear, but when travelling your kit is likely to be knocked about a bit more than you’d like. Most camera bags come well padded, but any extra padding or bubble wrap can be a simple way to help pad out the kit.
Security – Having a lock does deter people from trying anything and if the bag doesn’t come with one, a padlock is just as good. Although for ultimate security, using a hard case with padlocks is better, as unfortunately zipped bags are easy to get into with just a simple pen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2MUgDeK3SE .
Moving Around – Wheels will help you move your kit around, and save some arm muscle, but this will take up space and make your bag a little heavier. Tripods are always a pain to travel with as they’re long, heavy and just simply awkward. We will only need monopods for our shoot, which fit rather nicely in our suitcase (with wheels), but if we did have to take the big tripod it would be wrapped in bubble wrap and put in a hard case with a padlock.
Baggage Allowance – We all know airlines have limits regarding weight and size, so it’s worth checking with your airline what the limitations are before heading off – http://wikitravel.org/en/Airline_baggage It’s also worth knowing what kit you want with your carry-on and what you want to put in the hold. We would always try to take the camera, lenses and laptops on as carry-on and other items such as tripods, lights and stands in the hold.
Batteries – Some airlines have strict rules about how to travel with them. This is mostly due to the change in pressure when in the air. Some prefer they stay in the hold while others don’t seem to mind. It’s always worth checking with your airline, as a guide you’re generally allowed a couple in the hold and more in the cabin IF packed safely. The table below is from the FAA.gov website and shows how they would like batteries to be packed.
Time – It seems silly and quite often this is a luxury to many productions but, turn up early! The sooner you join the queue – this is always longer than you expected – the sooner you’re checked in! This means more time to do your Carnet; if you have one. (We will go into more details on Carnet’s when we have one coming up) More time to put fragile stickers on the luggage. More time to re-pack your camera bag after security have emptied it! And more time to get to your gate, which always seems to be the other end of the airport! And if you’re really lucky, time for that final pre-flight coffee or beer, depending on the time of day.
– We find it useful to know off by heart how many bags you’re traveling with. You can keep an eye on the numbers as you travel, you will also be constantly asked!
– Remove tools and other dangerous items! We use them all the time so you may forget they’re in your bags, screwdrivers and Leatherman’s won’t get through security.
– Keep your passport safe and be consistent with where you put it. Keeping it in the same pocket means you can quickly gain access to it and check it is still there. Try not to leave your passport with others as without it you’re stuck!
– If in remote locations or dangerous situations, it might be worth keeping a few dollars in your sock. Silly, but not many people will check there!
– Insurance is also pretty important. You’ll be doing long hours and you’ll be in new environments. You never know you may just forget a bag on the way.
– Drives! If you’ve backed footage onto them, make sure they’re stored in separate bags. Just incase one does indeed go missing. At least you’ll have some rushes to work with!
– And finally, having a list of all the kit, with serial numbers, just incase you do think something has gone missing can be helpful. It is also useful to know which bag it was packed in.
Final Thoughts – The key is not to stress too much. It’s going to take time and it will probably be slightly stressful. But that’s part of the excitement, right? Most of all be safe and take lots of pictures, not many people will get the chance to travel like you might, so enjoy it, even if you are working hard. Oh, and if you’re working abroad, take a travel adaptor!
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