Travel Photography Prep … Anticipate all possible scenarios, Prepare and then Deal!

July 25, 2013_Africa, Tanzania_2168_edit_SRGB webBecause sometimes “IT” happens not matter how hard we try. Normally I might post this image before a departure but now I can report on how “IT” worked out. Rewind back to July 25th, somewhere around 4am, if I recall correctly. I grabbed the iPhone to click a quick shot of my gear before finally departing on my journey to Africa with #TheGivingLens. I already owned a great carry on that I had used for years, but I had this nagging worry that my current bag just might be too large to get past multiple “Gate Keepers” during my 28 and 36 hours of international travel. In order to preempt anyone from insisting that I “check my gear,” and in spite of the fact that my credit card was already melting, I took the leap and purchased a 2nd, very cool, very small, back pack, carry on gear bag, with wheels. One that met all airline carry on restriction sizes in my path! Still worrying about weight restrictions, I further thinned out the gear by liberating myself of my flash unit AND my favorite toy in the toy box, my Nikon 70-200mm. I was hoping that my LensProToGo, Nikon 80-400 rental with the 1.4 converter would suffice and it did not disappoint!

Now that everything fit and the weight was reasonable, well sort of, off to Logan I went. Stepping confidently up to the smiling Lufthansa agent, I placed my single backpack, containing only clothes, on the scale.  Said smiling agent looks at my passport, asks how many checked bags I had and then slowly leans over my shoulder where he eyes my 2nd, very cool, very small, back pack, carry on gear bag, with wheels. Suddenly the smile evaporates and in a different tone altogether, I hear ”That bag isn’t going to work.” And I swear I heard the rest in slow-mow as he went on to say “You … Will … Have … To … Check … THAT!”  No matter what I said to him he would not budge. It didn’t matter that this bag was purchased for this trip specifically because it met the Lufthansa carry on size restrictions listed on their website. Nor did it matter when I nicely stated that I have traveled for years and NEVER been told I needed to check my original and much larger gear bag, ever.  He was resolute and I was not getting on that plane with my gear bag in hand.  This was not the fault of the 2nd, very cool, very small, back pack, carry on gear bag, with wheels, of course. THIS was all on said no-longer smiling Lufthansa agent.  What did I do next, you ask? Well, I removed all of the gear that I could not possibly do without on a photography workshop in Africa. I then handed over my now, “nearly empty,” 2nd, very cool, very small, back pack, carry on gear bag, with wheels to said resolute agent, who sent it bumping down the conveyer belt, destined for the baggage compartment in the belly of the planes on my journey. With “Are you kidding me?!” repeating over and over in my brain and sometimes out loud, as Chris Keeeley will attest to, I placed all the now unprotected gear from my 2nd, very cool, very small, back pack, carry on gear bag, with wheels,  into my now overstuffed and canvas bag with two small handles, no shoulder strap and zero support.  I took a big breath and began the task of “Letting It Go” as I made my way to the departure gate with fellow traveling companions who generously offered to act as my personal Sherpa, when my aching shoulders threatened to give out. When finally arriving at our Lufthansa departure gate out of Boston, I was none the less pleased to see the boarding passenger before me wearing a fully stuffed large back back while also holding a stuffed teddy bear so large it must have needed it’s own seat. AND here’s the rib, she was hauling behind her a carry on bag that was, hands down, twice as large as the one my Lufthansa agent insisted I would not be allowed to board the plane with. And so it went.

Long story short, 28 hours later, I and my photo gear arrived at Kilimonjaro Airport. And at 4:15 in the morning I was there to receive my “nearly empty,” 2nd, very cool, very small, back pack, carry on gear bag, with wheels, as it came out of the depths of the luggage hold. I returned my gear to the safe and cushioned compartments inside and was thankful for my one dented filter that sacrificed itself to protect a rather expensive lens that spent much to much time rolling around in a canvas bag for 28 hours.

It is indeed true, sometimes, no matter how hard we try,  “IT” still happens. I have since returned said 2nd, very cool, very small, back pack, carry on gear bag, with wheels, to the store. “What is my next move to try and beat “IT” at it’s own game,” you may be asking?  I will be purchasing my new #FStop Gear Bag with removable Internal Camera Units. This way, if said non-smiling, Lufthansa boarding agent and I ever cross paths again, at least I will be able to keep my gear protected when forced to remove from a bag that I am told is “Not Going To Work!”

Checkmate … I Hope 😉

July 25, 2013_Africa, Tanzania_2168_edit_SRGB web

One comment

  1. I received a great question from Betty, who wanted to know how I travel with my Tripod!

    I actually prefer to pack my tripod into my checked luggage, Betty. I purchased Pacsafe StuffSafe 80 Waterproof Secure Stuffsack. PacSafe is a large waterproof rolltop bag, surrounded by a stainless steel mesh bag that is tied at the top with a steel rope and then is locked and attached to something secure by looping around it. It fits in my regular suitcase, in my back pack. I lock all of my gear in this security bag and and use a TSA accessible lock to lock it to the stress support bar inside of my luggage. That way, if someone in baggage wants to rummage and grab from my case, at least they can’t easily lift what is in the bag. They would, in fact,have to steal my entire suitcase to get to my tripod. And then, at my hotel, I can also lock my camera gear and laptop in the bag and secure it to a piece of heavy furniture or a permanent fixture in my room while I am out and about. So there can be no door break in and grab of all of my electronics from my room.

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