Top 10 Best Travel Tips for Photographers

By Kyle Wilson

Traveling with photography gear introduces unique challenges that can quickly turn an adventure into a stressful ordeal if not navigated wisely. We've curated a list of the top 10 travel tips for photographers so you can focus on capturing breathtaking images and avoid stressing about logistics. 

From safeguarding your equipment to streamlining your travel plans, these tips are tailored to help make traveling with photography gear a breeze. Read on so you can arrive ready to unleash your creativity - not your sleep-deprived, stressed-out alter ego.

10 Best Travel Tips for Photographers

1. Prioritize Insurance 

When traveling to a shoot, your gear is the most important thing. Number one on the list is having insurance. Check your policy before you travel to make sure your gear is covered. Keep your purchase receipts and catalog the serial numbers of every piece of gear. In the U.S., mariners insurance is a good option for photographers as it covers gear that gets broken or stolen away from your business address. Being insured is the #1 priority to alleviate financial stress in case of mishaps.

2. Optimize Travel Arrangements

Keep it simple at every step to give yourself the least chance of things going wrong. Book nonstop flights when possible to reduce unnecessary luggage handling to reduce the chances it will get lost. Only check bags when absolutely necessary to reduce the risk of loss and delays. 

3. Streamline Airport Time

  • Pick an airline and be loyal to it to gain tier status benefits such as priority boarding and less hassle when carrying camera gear.
  • In the States, signing up for TSA PreCheck will minimize time spent at security checkpoints. You won't have to remove your shoes, belts, laptops, and gear. 
  • When traveling to foreign countries, familiarize yourself with the security protocols for carrying dense equipment like cameras through customs so you can breeze through. 

4. Be Selective with Gear 

Travel light by only bringing essential gear. Use a rolling hard case like the Pelican 1510 for your camera gear, which fits in overhead compartments and is easily identifiable (pick an unusual color to stand out). Organize your gear smartly, with one bag for essential gear (chargers, lenses, cables, etc) and another for personal items. Pack an extra camera bag with clothing inside your personal bag to save space.

5. Give Yourself Ample Time

Fly in a day early for domestic jobs, two days for international work to give yourself plenty of time. Booking the last Friday night flight for an event on Saturday creates unnecessary stress and opens the door to mishaps. Having the cushion of time reduces the number of potentially disastrous variables, whether it be canceled flights, baggage delays, problems with your accommodation, or getting lost in a new city.

6. Secure Your Gear 

Always keep your gear within your range of sight, especially in airports and on planes. Load your camera gear in the overhead compartment across the aisle—not above your head or anywhere behind you—so you can see if anyone gets into it (whether by mistake or not). Use AirTags to know where your bags are at all times.

7. Understand Regulations for International Travel 

Research local permits, laws, and customs regulations. Allow extra time because you are more likely to be picked for a security check when traveling with photography gear. Items like prisms and dense gear like Leicas will likely flag you for a check. Limiting your luggage to one or two bags will save you time. Clean your bags thoroughly before traveling.

8. Have a Robust Data Backup Strategy 

After the shoot, securing your images and data becomes your number one priority. Implement a robust data backup strategy that includes remote backup and multiple storage devices in separate locations. When packing for the return trip, put your hard drive in a separate bag from your camera and keep your memory cards on your person. 

9. Prepare for Emergencies 

Ever wondered what you'd do if your gear failed while in the middle of nowhere? Have a plan for equipment failure or loss. Ideally you will travel with backup gear, not just a single camera. But if you lose equipment or something breaks, what do you do?

  • Have emergency funds available, like a credit card 
  • Search camera shops where you can buy or rent gear
  • Jump on the web to sites like 
  • Ask the locals via Facebook groups like classifieds or photography groups
  • If you’re going somewhere remote, pack a third set of backup gear and an extra clean shirt

10. Communicate With Professionalism 

Keep your clients informed of your travel plans, including your arrival days, to reassure them that you’ll be there in plenty of time. Showcasing your travel dates and experiences on your website can also reassure clients of your professionalism and preparedness. For a client who doesn’t travel often, knowing that you do it regularly can relieve any concerns they may have about your travel. 

Additional Tips for Traveling with Photography Gear

These tips are common sense but worth mentioning:

  • Pack the day before and double-check your gear list to ensure you don't forget anything crucial.
  • Always triple-check your belongings, especially in rental cars or public areas, to ensure nothing gets left behind.
  • Remember that you're there for work first and foremost. If you plan to do fun stuff on your trip, do it after the shoot. 

By following these travel tips for photographers, you can have a smoother, more enjoyable travel experience while keeping your precious gear safe and your professional commitments on track.

When you return from your travels with thousands of photos, let Narrative Select transform your post-travel workflow into a seamless journey. Join our vibrant community of photographers who have already elevated their storytelling by cutting down culling time and focusing on what truly matters—bringing narratives to life. Our AI-driven software will give you the freedom to create more and cull less. Try it for free today.