Traveling light with your camera equipment

by Earl J Posted on May 05, 2010

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You don’t have to compromise your photography when, for some reason, you are forced to “Travel Light”.  I actually prefer traveling light, because it helps me avoid the hassle, expense and long lines for checking bags.

I’ve a friend who can’t believe all the stuff that I don’t take on a trip, whether it’s for a week or a month. I’ve talked with gate agents who also can’t believe how little I carry on a trip. But guess what – it works out fine for me, because I don’t mind a little hand washing every few days.

How does this philosophy apply when a goal of the trip is to get some great photographs?

When traveling by most anything other than by air, there’s usually plenty of room for a camera bag, extra lenses, extra lighting and a tripod.  But here’s a plan for when you’re flying and you want to take only carry-on luggage on the plane.

On the right you’ll see my camera, filters, cleaning cloth and extra battery and memory card. On the left is my “Travel Light” camera case, actually an old and faded airline amenity kit bag.

This is the filled bag with everything inside and protected. It can be worn around the neck or tied around the wrist and what is inside remains my secret.  Would you guess that this could be my camera bag?

OK, I do own the camera bag shown above too, with a lot more capacity for extra lenses and accessories. But even here I feel I’ve picked a design that doesn’t shout “Wow, look at the camera stuff I’m carrying”.

These ideas have worked for me on many trips and I hope they can help you as well.

Earl

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  1. Joey Says:

    Earl, this is a great article and one i have been wondering about because if i fly, i usually check my bag – but with my new camera, I’d want to carry it on. I need to know your secret for keeping your camera equiptment safe in the blue bag. It doesn’t look like its ‘strong’ enough. There must be a secret. I do like it though. I love your sporty camera bag above. Very nice – Do you take everything apart when you put your camera in your bag/s? Or do you leave a lens attatched? Do you use one lens more than another when traveling?

    Great article and love the nifty bags. :)

  2. Debbie Speed Says:

    Earl, I also travel light even if it is around the home area! I take my zoom lens, and my Macro lens, and I’m good to go! I do take an extra battery with, just in case, and an extra card, a cleaning cloth, and polarizer filter, and that is it! It all fits into a neat little bag with my camera too! I don’t even take a tripod, I just improvise if needed! I hate to be hindered with a lot of baggage when I go on a shoot! More does not mean better to me! I agree with Connie, your camera bag is sporty, and doesn’t cry out, camera to steal! Nice article!!

  3. Jean B Says:

    Great article! Lighter is better! I have a backpack for when I’m traveling and not shooting. When I’m ready to shoot, I travel with my camera, battery, cloth and extra lens…which is stowed in my purse/backpack and I’m off! The bag that does not yell ‘Camera Equipment’ is the best!

  4. ElleSnaps Says:

    Great article Earl!! I carry just the camera, cloth and battery in the backpack, small one. I carry my camera every where I go, in a small backpack, it goes to work with me, sits in the car with me and travels with me, so small and light is the way to go!!

  5. shannonr Says:

    Earl nice article, I have flown a few times recently and my camera is definitley the one thing I want on me. I used to carry my actual camera bag but found it to be too big, bulky and really wanted something more travel friendly. With my last camera purchase they actually gave me this little bag that doesn’t really resemble camera case….perfect I immediatley thought for vacation. My mom then saw it and asked what it was for…I replied the camera; she then immediately stated she was getting a different bag for vacation as well. I don’t have the huge camera set up as yourself but totally agree that the essential are all you need those hassles at the airport can surely get out of hand….Thanks for the nice article on travel….now I need to book my next vacation…LOL

  6. AnnAbbott Says:

    I am trying to learn what I need and what I dont need to take great photographs while I am traveling with my family. I have 3 kids under the age of 10 and needless to say we still pack alot. Year by year it is getting lighter with the kid gear and now I can carry more camera gear. But what do I really need? I find just what you have showing is just all you need. Sometimes I wish I had my telephoto lens but there will be a day when I am not carry that extra bag of snacks and sippy cups and there will be more room for my stuff.

  7. curicogirl Says:

    Definitley helpful Earl. I am looking ot buy a camera bag being that I have added a couple new lens to my collection. I really like your yellow bag. Looks like it is just the right size. Where would you suggest to buy camera bags? The ones at the camera stores are too expensive. Have been looking on craiglist!

  8. traceyclark Says:

    Hey Earl, I agree! I never travel without my DSLR. Us girls have it a little easier when we can use a “purse” as our camera bag! Something like the new Epiphanie Bag is a perfect bag to travel with because it’s actually a camera bag that looks like a purse so you can carry it on “with” your carry-on and have the camera at the ready for great window seat shots instead of having it be packed away. good stuff! : )

  9. Joey Says:

    Tracy, i just clicked on your name and you show the Epiphanie Bag. Its great and very stylish!
    I couldn’t find a way to comment on your blog.
    Great stuff Earl!! I think i found a backpack and a cross-over bag in my closet that may work for my camera and ‘purse’ stuff!
    Niki, I bought a bag kind of similar to Earl’s at a sporting goods store a couple months ago,

  10. BarbaraJ Says:

    This is great and I agree. I have a small camera bag and I take only the necessary lens. Great article, I enjoy all your articles!

more about Earl J

I'm a long-time film photographer, starting with a darkroom in my parents' fruit-cellar when a teen-ager. I fought the change to digital at first, but no longer. I've become a convert and Shutterfly has been my on-line provider since 2002. Since then I've placed (as I write this) 135 orders for prints, enlargements, calendars for every year and 42 photo books in different sizes. I'm very pleased with the top quality of all Shutterfly products.

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