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If you don’t want to pay for extra carry-on luggage, then you should know about these travel hacks for getting more camera equipment on planes
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So you’re planning your next trip and having to decide what gear you should take with you. Your main problem is that it’s not easy to take a ton of bulky camera equipment on planes…
Well there are a few tricks you should know about before giving up on the idea of taking that 70-200mm you spent all your hard earned money on.
Make sure you have a camera bag specifically designed to be carry-on compliant
There’s a whole bunch of camera bags out there that you would easily be able to use as hand luggage. For example the Manfrotto NX Backpack is a great choice, especially if you need room to carry other items as well as camera gear.
If you’re only interested in maximising the amount of space in your bag for camera equipment then a made-to-meansure option like this bag from Amazon which looks like a normal rolling suitcase but in designed to hold the maximum amount of camera gear is a good option.
The duty free bag hack
This is a good one. When I tell people about this they often can’t believe how simple it is and why they had never thought of it themselves.
Pretty much every airline allows you to carry on-board one duty free bag in addition to your standard hand luggage allowance. You know, the one you get when you buy something from the airport like this:
To get your extra camera equipment on planes simply put it in a normal plastic bag at home, and then when you get to the airport just ask the cashier in one of the shops for a spare bag and transfer everything into it. I’ve had to do this a few times and nobody has ever questioned it once you get past security.
Admittedly this won’t work everywhere. Some countries require duty free bags to be sealed by the shop when you buy something. But I’ve only ever seen that in parts of North America. Everywhere else in the world I’ve been to they just use the normal bags like you can see in the photo above. That includes all over Europe, Asia, Middle East etc..
Wear your extra camera gear
The next simplest way of getting extra camera equipment on planes is just to wear it.
Put your camera around your neck like a typical tourist, and any small lenses into jacket pockets.
That should free up enough room in your standard hand luggage to fit everything else in. Not even the worst budget airline in the world would make you empty your pockets because it was “over your allowance”.
And as for having the camera around your neck, well your going on holiday and that’s what tourists do right? As long as you don’t have a huge pro DSLR with a battery grip and a telephoto lens on it you’ll be fine.
I’m a professional travel photographer, and I’ve been living the digital nomad lifestyle since 2016. I make money by working on client assignments, selling stock photography and helping other photographers by sharing my experiences on this website. I move around at my own pace (I hate fast-paced travel) and like to spend a few months getting to know each place I base myself in.
My writing and photos have been featured on industry leading websites such as Digital Photography School, Atlas Obscura and the world’s leading underwater photography resource The Underwater Photography Guide. I authored an eBook called “Breaking Into Travel Photography: The complete guide to carving out a career in travel photography” that has been published on Amazon. My stock images have also appeared in ads promoting destinations and companies that sometimes has been a surprise, even to me. But I guess that’s the nature of stock photography, you never know who will license them!
I’m always happy to connect, so feel free to reach out!