Steve's Travel Tips, Part 1
Well, it's time for Steve to go on the road again, or rather, in the air. I'll be taking another trip to Israel in a couple of weeks, and while it's on my mind, I thought I'd hunker down and share a few of my observations after years of travel... with gear in tow. I have it down to a bit of a science, so here goes. Bear with me if this stuff is common knowledge.
1) Make sure your case fits international carry-on standards. If you haven't flown with your camera bag, look up the maximum size of carry-on luggage, and make sure yours will fit. Not planning on traveling internationally any time soon? Check those sizes anyway, as they tend to be slightly smaller than domestic. You never know when you will get the urge to head overseas, and you want to be ready.
2) Choose your seats carefully. You don't want to have to check your camera bag, right? Then make sure you won't be forced to gate-check it when you get to the plane either. I have a ThinkTank Artificial Intelligence 15 v2.0 bag. It's amazing- lots of space, sturdy, has both rollers AND backpack straps (neatly concealed when not using them). It conforms to international carry-on standards and easily fits in the overhead bin on big jets. But what about the commuter jets that take us to hub airports? BE CAREFUL: a bag like this won't fit in the overhead bin on a commuter jet, but good news: I've never had trouble fitting it under the seat as long as I'm on the aisle. Embraer RJ45 jets usually have three seats across; make sure you pick the aisle seat on the side of the plane with two seats. Otherwise it's not likely to fit.
3) Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on. Do you want to hear about the time I flew with my family to Italy and the airline lots all of our luggage for six days?? Naah, I didn't think so. The old rule still abides: pack some extras in your carry on.
4) Don't voluntarily open your camera bag in the security check. This one seems counterintuitive to me. For years I traveled with a mid-sized professional video camcorder. I would dutifully come to the security check and pull the camera out of the bag and put it in a tray. Nearly every time my bag would get pulled out, swabbed for explosives, unpacked, etc. One day I decided to send the whole bag through, leaving the camera in. I figured, "If they want to look at it, they'll pull it out anyway." Nothing happened. Ever since I've put my whole bag through the x-ray machine, and only once (just before 9-11-11 at Charles DeGaulle) have they pulled it off to check it. You still have to remove your computer, etc., but give it a try next time. Believe me, they'll pull it off if they want to. But if they don't, you've just kept yourself from having to repack your expensive toys.
Enough for now. If you're hungry for more, I'll write a second installment to this series. Leave a comment and retweet if you find this helpful.
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