Before you pack all of your camera equipment for you next trip, there’s a lot you need to consider. Think about what type of images you will be taking, and consider sticking to the basics: a camera body, a wide-angle lens, and a telephoto zoom lens. Place one battery in your camera and have the other in your carry-on in a plastic bag. Remember to bring extra memory cards and a battery charger. If simple vacation shots are your goal consider an advanced point-and-shoot like a Canon G9, Nikon Coolpix, or Sony Cybershot. All are small but still allow for control over your images. For more compact suggestions, check out PopPhoto.com for latest list of top selling compact cameras.
If you are flying, you are allowed a separate bag for photography equipment in addition to your personal carry on. Visit the TSA site and print out this information. Not all airlines will honor this so be prepared with a back up plan to shuffle your equipment into a jacket pocket or your other carry-on bag. From TSA site: “Carry-on baggage is limited to one carry-on bag plus one personal item. Personal items include laptops, purses, small backpacks, briefcases, or camera cases. Remember, 1+1.” Label your gear uniformly so it is clear that it is all yours.
Once at the airport, always keep your eye on your carry-on bags and when going through security have a jacket with zip up pockets to place smaller items like watch, keys or wallet in. Steve Frischling of the photographic travel blog, Flying With Fish, advises when going through security send shoes and jacket in first bin, laptop or cameras in second or middle bins and less valuables in last bin. This allows you to get your shoes back on and grab the jacket, beating the middle bins through security so you are there to receive them after they have been scanned.
As for which bag to use, compare different styles of backpacks and camera bags to decide what fits your needs. There are a number of companies that make quality bags, such as Tamrac, Lowe Pro and Think Tank. Consider the comfort of carrying the bag when loaded with heavy equipment, do you want to take your laptop with all the necessary cords, card reader or external drive? Some bags have compartments just for all those small but necessary things.
For a true photographic trip you will need a way to store all of your files. There are a number of solutions, Epson makes storage units that are small, hold up to 80GB of files, and allow you to view your files. Western Digital has a line of external drives called Passport that are also small, hold up to 320GB, and come in bright colors.
A last tip for traveling is to save the phone numbers of reputable camera repair shops or photo rental businesses for your destination in case something happens you will know where to go.
Traveling should be fun and with proper planning and preparation you will alleviate most problems before they occur.