Friday, January 19, 2018

DSLRs on a Plane - A new strategy for getting my camera to its final destination

Over the last few years I've managed to tune my murse man-bag so that it works as my airline carry-on bag. It's got earbuds, a Buff to act as a sleep mask, foam earplugs, common medications, a Bluetooth keyboard and battery and other items that are handy mid-flight. And, it's smaller than a backpack, so I can stuff it under the seat in front of me and have some bonus leg-room.

It's a great system until I need to bring along either a laptop or DSLR.

For short'ish or international trips, I can usually get away with leaving the laptop at home. But the DSLR is a trickier proposition. During the planning stage, it's easy to imagine leaving the DSLR with its heavy telephoto lens at home. But when you're in the field, and there's a monkey peaking out from the canopy 75 feet above you, that telephoto lens is invaluable. So for nearly all personal travel, the DSLR has to come along.

The question: what's the best way to transport it on the airplane? I've never been a big fan of the obvious answer: use a single purpose camera bag. They seem bulky and too limited for my taste. On the other hand, putting my camera and lens in bulk-free neoprene sleeve and dropping them into a backpack is a recipe for disaster.

I've even tried carrying the camera through the airport without storing it in a bag. This method has promise because it's such a useful habit to actually have the camera available and ready to shoot with. But I've found that there's just not enough need for a DSLR while in-flight or making my way through a terminal. Not to mention, there was that time when I left the camera at security because I wasn't thinking about it.

This last trip I do believe I found my solution! Check it out:

As you can see, I grabbed one of the handful of kids lunch boxes we have lying around and placed my camera, telephoto zoom lens and a couple of batteries in it. I then dropped the lunch box into a dirt cheap, but super practical 10 liter backpack.

The result was a secure way of carrying my camera, without a lot of bulk, or emphasis on single purpose gear. As a bonus, the setup doesn't look like it contains hundreds of dollars of photo equipment. I like that the backup is compact enough that it pairs well the man-bag I'm using already. I'm not sure why I didn't try this setup earlier?

If Princess lunch boxes aren't your thing, another option would be to order a camera bag insert to use in a regular bag. Though the above items fit so well, I plan to stick with them for now.

How do you opt to schlep your DSLR or other fragile equipment when you travel?

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