Friday, March 4, 2011

Ten Biggest Safari Mistakes and Lessons...Number Two

Ten Biggest Mistakes and Lessons…

Number Two:
Traveling with camera equipment can be challenging. It costs a fortune and it's fragile. For that reason, I always try my best to bring my camera equipment on as carry on. I have heard horror stories about airlines losing baggage and have seen their workers throwing around bags as though they are playing some kind of “bag toss game”.

As a photographer, my worst nightmare is discovering that my camera gear has been stolen or damaged en route. Especially if I am going to the safari destination as opposed to coming home.

My first tip is to buy camera bags that are meant for airline travel. I really like think tank bags as they have a line of camera bags that have been specifically designed to fit in over head compartments and underneath seats. The other thing that I like about them is that the main compartment locks the zippers into a combination locking mechanism thus keeping your gear safe. My think tank bag also has a lock on the end of a wire that is hidden away behind a zippered pocket. I love that feature because sometimes I find myself traveling straight for two or three days. I don’t sleep very well on planes, so sometimes in airports I find myself having a difficult time staying awake. If I think I might doze off, I simply take out this cable, lock it around my other camera gear and lock it all to my chair. That way, all my gear is locked and secured together in case I fall asleep for a few minutes.

Sometimes when traveling domestically, you can find yourself on smaller planes and can't carry on any of your equipment with you. Remember this phrase. “May I valet my camera equipment?”  Often the people at the airline counters will say no immediately. It is important to stay calm and explain that you understand that there isn't any room in the over head compartment on this plane, but please could you valet your equipment to the plane so your gear is carefully stored on the plane last. That way, you can see them put it on the plane. This gives me piece of mind regarding how it is handled and I know it is going on the right plane. Secondly, it comes off first, so it is waiting for you right at the door when you get off the plane. This gives me extra piece of mind that it won’t be thrown around by the guys in the back and there is less likelihood of the equipment being damaged or stolen if you are watching them loading and unloading your gear and delivering it to you.

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