Tips to Pack Your Camera Safely for Travel

Protect your camera from bumps, spills, and theft

Man packing bag for trip

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Neither serious nor amateur photographers ever leave their photography equipment at home when they travel. Traveling provides a great opportunity for capturing memorable photos, but it does pose risks to that expensive gear. Use these tips to pack your camera bag for travel, ensuring that your photography equipment arrives safely.

Tighten Everything Before Packing

Close-Up Of Camera By Bag On Wooden Table At Home
 Rosley Majid / EyeEm/Getty Images

Make sure all the covers are tight on the camera before packing it: USB ports, lens caps, battery compartment panel, etc. Jostling and bumps can tear off or break loose parts.

...But Remove the Lens

Camera lenses arranged on a wooden table
Svante Berg / EyeEm/Getty Images

If you're flying with a DSLR camera, don't travel with the lens attached to the camera body. Shifts during your flight can stress or damage the threads that hold the lens to the camera. Carry it separately, and make sure all lens caps are tightly secured on both ends.

Power Out

Remove the battery and memory card from the camera for travel. This way, you won’t have to worry about the camera inadvertently powering on and draining the battery while you're on-the-go. Do keep the battery handy, though; airport screening personnel might ask you to prove the camera is a working piece of equipment.

Don't Check It

Airport customer service representative giving ticket to traveler
 Hero Images / Getty Images

The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) allows camera gear both checked and in carry-ons, but don't check your camera equipment, if at all possible. Carry it onto the plane. If you must check it, consider purchasing a specialized protective case to secure it. Check with your airline before your flight, of course, but check the camera equipment only as a last resort. This way, that expensive gear stays close by, where you can keep an eye on it.

When Going Through Security

Airport security imaging equipment
Baerbel Schmidt / Getty Images

If you have to take your camera out of a bag or pocket when you're going through security, make sure you have a good grip on it. You'll almost certainly be juggling multiple objects in the rush and stress of the process, increasing the possibility of dropping the camera.

Don’t worry about the imaging equipment used at the airport damaging your digital camera, memory card data, or camera components. Film is a different story, though. X-ray imaging can damage both exposed and unexposed film, so keep that in your carry-on bag. The screening device for carry-on bags shouldn't damage it. If you're nervous about carrying film through security, ask the personnel to inspect the film by hand.

Choose the Right Bag or Case

Altura Photo Camera Case for DSLR & Mirrorless Cameras

Consider purchasing a hard-sided case with ample padding. Some padding is made specifically for certain types of lenses and camera bodies, so take some time to find the best one for your equipment. Keep in mind that such cases can be expensive, though.

As a cheaper alternative, pack the camera in some sort of cushioned bag, or wrap it before it goes in your carry-on bag. If you still have the original packing and box for your camera, consider using that while you travel.

Guard Against Leakage

Cameras In Plastic Bags
Mr.tharakorn Saengsuratham / EyeEm / Getty Images

If you pack the camera in a carry-on bag along with toiletries, put it in a sealed plastic bag to protect it from spills.

Doublecheck That You've Packed Everything

Don't forget your battery charger. You’d hate to have a trip scheduled for multiple days and have a dead battery after day one with no way to charge it.

And Just in Case...

A wide lens on a camera
 Suriyo Hmun Kaew/EyeEm / Getty Images

Finally, protect expensive equipment with insurance before you travel. Contact your insurance company or agent for a quote.