TréCreative Tips&Tricks - Traveling with Camera Equipment

This week's short and sweet TréCreative Tips&Tricks can be summed up in two words, media passes! For the photographers and videographer readers out there, this one's for you! As you may know, traveling with camera equipment is not the easiest task in the world! Having bags constantly checked by security, paying extra for overweight luggage or extra checked bags can really make traveling a drag.

At TréCreative we travel far and wide for weddings and commercial video shoots and this little tip has come in handy so much lately! In short, having a media pass makes traveling with lots of equipment a breeze...well maybe not a breeze, but definitely less of a headache!

Now, before traveling check with the specific airline you're traveling on. Different airlines have different media rates for excessive checked bags. For our latest trip to Georgia, we flew Southwest. Normally, you'd have to pay upwards of $100 for overweight checked bags, or ones above the normal limit. For us, we walked away paying nothing, not a cent! We were expecting to pay $75 per extra bag like it says on the Southwest site for media rates, but the guy just looked at our passes and asked "all photography equipment"? We said yes and he said that we were free to go! On the way back we flew a different airline with stricter media policies, and even with them we still got a free extra bag checked!

To make sure you're taking advantage of these awesome rates, you'll just need an official looking ID card of some sort. We made ours through which has simple templates, great prices and and fast shipping! We got lanyards to go with and just wore them around our necks throughout the airport. Not only do these media ID cards get you discounted baggage rates, they also often get you some premium service when it comes to security and carry-on bags.

If you're really looking into being a traveling pro, here's a few more tips to keep your wheels turning.

  • Apply for TSA Pre which allows you access to shorter lines. Plus, allowing you to leave your laptop in your bag, while keeping your shoes on which really expedites the process.
  • If you have precious equipment you absolutely have to check, get a locking gun case to check it in. What this does is it ensures that your bag will be hand-delivered back to you at the baggage claim. Most US airports have a policy which makes total sense, they can't just drop bags that look like guns out onto the belt or oversized bag area for anyone to grab. We recently got a rifle case for our long motion controlled slider and it's awesome to have them treat it with extra care and walk it out to us every time.
  • On the note of checking expensive gear, make sure your bag is nice and padded. If you're flying into a country where you think the bag could be tampered with internally, you can always put a non-TSA approved lock on the bag. The way to do this legally is when you're checking the bags, ask for it to be pre-searched. Once they do that, they'll label it that it's been checked and you can lock it up with the lock that only you can get into. Now this method is best used on hard cases like pelican cases, as zippered bags can easily be opened by anyone with a ballpoint pen!