Traveling for Photo + Video Shoots [10 Mission Critical Tips for Booking Photo + Video Travel]

Photo: Erik Hecht

So you’re going on the road to shoot photos/videos for fun or for a client? Kate here again, Executive Producer over here at Team Chase. I’ve been thinking a lot about shooting (for work or play) on the road. Whether you are traveling 100 miles or 10,000 miles, whether on a budget or with a budget, here are some tips I’ve learned over the past 10 years producing photo shoots away from home. This is part 1 of a 4 part series on Traveling for Photo and Video Shoots: Booking your Travel.

10 tips for booking your photo/video travel.
Everything can seem important when you decide that you are headed out on a trip, but nothing is more important than making sure you can actually get to where you are need to go. These tips will get you headed in the right direction:

1. Confirm that all travel docs are valid. Whether you’re traveling abroad or just to the next state over, certain docs are likely required… ID, driver’s license, passport, carnet (passport for gear) or other required documents. Make sure yours are up to snuff.

2. Research your destination. You can dive deep later, but initially you need to find out the essentials: how to get there, requirements for entry, vaccinations, and special considerations. A great source of info for traveling abroad is the US Department of State Travel Site.

3. Decide who will travel and how will you get there. If you’re a one-man or one-woman show, the ‘who’ is easy. But, if you have a small team traveling with you, make the call on who will travel, when, and if these people are available during your prospective travel window. For the how – weighing the pros and cons with respect to cost and efficiency will help you determine the best way to get to your location.

4. Apply for visas. If a visa is required, START THIS ASAP!

  • Gather information. how long will it take, where do you apply, what is required?
  • Gather the assets needed. the application, passport photos, letter of invitation if needed, travelers’ information.
  • Apply. To apply on your own, work directly with the embassy or consulate. If budget allows, you can explore two options for support:

-expeditors such as www.cibt.com can take care of the process for you.
-local production company where you will be traveling can help you gather documents if they are needed. (I’ll discuss more in part 2 of this series)

5. Get vaccinations and medications. If either of these are required, take care of that early. Some times there can be a wait period before they are effective. The CDC has helpful information: http://1.usa.gov/mg0vvE

6. Gather travelers’ information. For all travelers, you will likely need the names of each passenger, exactly as it appear on their travel ID (driver’s license, passports), ID number, date of birth, gender and mileage account information.

7. Book flights/trains/cars. If you are traveling by either plane or train, you can save tons by booking early, BUT make sure you know the penalties for changes or cancellations before booking. You’ll need to balance your savings with possible fees.

8. Book accommodations. You can often save money by booking early and paying a large deposit at the time of booking… this goes for small hotels, vacation rental sites, and longer term housing. Just be careful because these places usually come with hefty cancellation and change fees. Whenever I feel like the dates are likely to shift, I book through large hotel chains that have very flexible cancellation/changes policies. Some — like the Hiltons, Hyatts, Marriotts, Westins– will allow changes without penalty as late as the day of your scheduled arrival.

9. Book ground transportation. Even if you are traveling by plane or train, you will need to think about getting to and from the airport or train station. A ride from a friend, taxi, subway, booked car… all work, just make sure you allow enough space for the gear you’ll need to bring.

10. Research your Insurance Coverage. Think about what you will be doing and ask questions if you have new elements. For both your business and medical insurance, work with your provider to find out what is NOT covered. There can be lots of exclusions, such as, limited liability coverage for international travel. You can up your coverage for the duration of the trip or buy additional insurance. www.imglobal.com provides a ton of additional medical coverage for a great price.

Once you’ve checked these items off your to do list, you’ll know WHERE you will be, WHEN you will be there and WHO will be with you… the basic skeleton. That’s when I always feel like I can relax a tiny bit. But stay tuned for the next post of this series, I’ll have some production specific tips (ie – for shooting and making the arrangements to get your shots) at your destination. Until then, safe travels! Kate

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Wonderful post, Oh next time, please share how to get the money to travel, just kidding, :)

Good list and good info as usual. The VISA thing is definately something that needs to be started asap!

Tim says:

When entering countries what do you list as your primary reason for visit: Vacation/Tourist or Business? I’ve always felt that listing business is a red flag for them to tax you.

faisal says:

You can always put it as tourist, no harm.

The risk of putting tourism when you are there for business is that a commercial shoot could be compromised. A business visa may be required for some of the work you intend to do. So you’ll need to make the call based on what you hope to do int the country.

Joseph Holley says:

“For the how – weighing the pros and cons with respect to” in number 3 just… stops. I think you’re missing something, there.

Thanks Joseph. I’ll update. Should read: For the how – weighing the pros and cons with respect to cost and efficiency will help you determine the best way to get to your location. best, kate

This is a very nicely laid out beginner’s guide (always having beginner’s mind right?) Never heard of carnet until now and this definitely sounds like a must for international gigs. Thanks Kate! -George

Hey George. Lots of info about carnets here: http://www.atacarnet.com

Hey there! Thanks for writing this. I am about to head out the door (Sept 9th) to Europe for 1 1/2 months for some fun and work. I keep wondering about the visas and cant figure out if I need one or not for Europe! LOL I know when I went to work in Africa last year I needed a TON of stuff. The visa thing is ALWAYS confusing! So since you have reminded me… Ill be off now to research the visa stuff again! Thanks for the reminder and the great tips! LeLinda Bourgeois

Seb says:

Well I don’t know where you’re going in Europe, but in the main countries you won’t need any visa (except Russia i think). Just bring your passport and you’ll be fine.
best wishes from germany
seb

Anonymous says:

Have a great trip LeLinda. -kate

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