Traveling for Photo and Video Shoots — 12 Mission Critical Tips for Travel Packing

Pack it up!

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. This is part 3 of 4 on how to pack like a boss. Check out the last two posts in this series:

10 Mission Critical Tips for Booking Photo and Video Travel – getting there
12 Mission Critical Tips for Pre-Production – tips BEFORE traveling

Now it is time to hit the road… to bring or not to bring? That is the question. More is certainly not better, but you have to have everything you need… so where is the magic line?

12 Tips for Travel Packing

1. Make sure you have your ID and all necessary documents!

2.Pack early. This will give you time to think about what you may have forgotten and purchase anything needed. Keep a packing list by your stuff so you can keep adding to it and check off packed items.

3. Limit what you bring. Bring the essentials and backups of those essentials. Leave those fancy shoes and other not-so-useful stuff at home.

4. Carry on ALL mission critical items. No exceptions. When you pack a bag to check, pretend you may never see it again. You should have a working photography kit to get you through in a pinch as well as one spare outfit, your technology, any medications, extra pair of prescription glasses/contacts lenses and anything. Wear your heaviest pair of shoes while you travel… just make sure they are easy to remove for airport checkpoints.

5. Follow the rules when you are flying. Check with your airline and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines for packing your baggage. You don’t want to be stuck with extra charges or overweight bags. Carry-ons have lots of limitations including pocket knives and liquids (3-ounce bottles only in a quart size zip top bag).

6. Clothing essentials. Pack appropriately for the local weather and bring layers. Some essential items to consider are wrinkle-resistant, comfortable clothes, comfortable shoes, versatile pieces that can cover a range – totally caj~ to fancy, and a coat.

7. Your gear. Check out this video all about packing photography gear:

8. Carnet for your gear? If you are traveling internationally with lots of gear, you may need to go through an expeditor and get a carnet (passport for your gear – try

9. Bring backups for critical gear items. You may have to leave your underwear to bring an extra battery charger.

10. Charge everything before you leave. That means your computer, your phone, your camera batteries. Confirm you have all of your chargers and extra batteries for when you arrive.

11. Electrical. If you are traveling internationally, bring the correct power adapter. Each country has its own unique plug configuration, so be sure to read the label for a list of where the power adapter will work. Apple makes a World Traveler Adapter Kit for an Apple products, which is convenient.
Secret tip: we like to bring a power strip that we can plug into a transformer with the local plug so you can have many open outlets… this can save on space.
CAUTION: Be VERY careful about voltage so you don’t fry your gear or your self. Read the small print on power strips to make sure they can handle the voltage.

12. Take a production kit with you. There are some essentials that can be a pain to try to track down. Depending on where you go and what you are doing the kit varies, but here are some of my favorite go-to items:
_Mobile Wi-Fi. I fell in love on our latest trip to Cape Town! Up to 5 devices can remotely connect the internet?!?! Heaven:
_a local phone + number
_cash… yes, people still use it. and it can often unlock doors or “make it rain” when in a pinch.
_a tiny printer + ink
_a tiny scanner
_hard copies of your lists, call sheets, paperwork, etc in a production notebook
_sharpies and pens
_talent releases
_some way of organizing your receipts
_travel book/language guide
_power strip

I’d love to know what goes in your location production kit or in your bags! Leave your ideas below.

In the next post of this series, I’ll have some tips for your arrival. Stay tuned.
Best, Kate

32 Responses to Traveling for Photo and Video Shoots — 12 Mission Critical Tips for Travel Packing

  1. Matt Timmons September 11, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Love the articles, Kate, especially the specific links to items you/Chase use. I’ll throw in a helpful tip: I use clear tape and attach a card with my name, address and cell phone all my bags and cases so if they are lost or even just accidentally left in the back of a taxi cab, I can be reached and rendezvous to claim it. You’d be surprised at how many honest people there are out there who will help you get your gear back if there’s a cell phone number attached to it, and I’m one of them.


    • Kate, EP @ Chase Jarvis September 11, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

      That is so TRUE!! Great tip! Also, I usually throw a card inside my luggage too, because sometimes the tags get ripped off. Thanks Matt!!

  2. Stephen September 11, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    I’ve done corporate travel photo work in India and China–don’t forget the gaff tape and a multitool! Also, comfortable shoes. Earplugs are also a must for everything from the airplane to working next to machinery to sleeping at night in a noisy hotel.

  3. Kate, EP @ Chase Jarvis September 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Essentials! Nice additions Stephen. Thank you.

  4. Pascal Depuhl September 11, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    Kate, you’re absolutely right. Case in point: I traveled to Afghanistan this spring to film a documentary and planning the packing for this job was of utmost importance, from the right shoes for -20º at 9,800 feet to redundant gear. Forgetting something would have spelled disaster, since I was not sure how easy it is to find anything in Kabul (turns out it’s not that difficult). You can take a look at all the gear that got packed here:

    • Brian September 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

      Folloe the rules for sure! Had a small multi-tool taken because it had a small knife on it and didn’t realize it was in my carry on. Sometimes it’s te small things.

  5. Dave Sundstrom September 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    This was very timely … I’m in the process of packing for a flight to Cairns

  6. Bruce Philpott September 11, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    Sunscreen, yes, but a 3-ounce bottle won’t do it. As soon as I arrive, I stop at a large CVS, etc. and get a large tube of sunscreen, a cheap (disposable) pocket knife, and anything else I’m used to having with me which I couldn’t bring through TSA.

  7. Jeremy R. Last September 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

    Also, rain protection is important too… :)

    • Daf September 14, 2012 at 5:18 am #

      Yeah – all of my bags have 4 items of permanent kit in them:
      – disposable rain poncho
      – lens cloth
      – ear plugs (I cover lots of nightclubs + music events)
      – Business cards

  8. Hank September 11, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    Two words: Gold Bond. When I know I will be shooting most of the day, outdoors in warm/hot weather, I never leave the hotel before thoroughly dousing my entire crotch and anal area with the magical minty powder. It keeps me dry and prevents chaffing, which would otherwise happen to me if I did lots of sweaty walking. Gold Bond, the greatest stuff.

    • Stephanie September 12, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

      Obviously not a good idea for the ladies — talc (a main ingredient in Gold Bond) should never go near ladyparts! There are other good talc-free powders and chafe-relief creams for women though. Never leave home without it. ;) Especially if I will be wearing shorts or skirts in a hot climate.

  9. faisal September 12, 2012 at 5:27 am #

    These tips are easy but mostly ignored, thanks for the reminder.

  10. Lloyd Matheson September 12, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    All very good points. However, I would like to add one more. When traveling out of the country. Make a copy of your passport and place in your luggage. Should you happen to lose your passport, you have a copy to expedite replacement.

  11. Daf September 14, 2012 at 5:27 am #

    Repeat of some of the above, but a few of my essentials.
    Often if the items are small each bag will have it’s own.

    – Disposable rain poncho
    – Ear plugs (more for loud music than sleeping)
    – Business cards

    – Copy of Passport
    – Copy of travel insurance doc + numbers (plus pdf copy in E-mail + forwarded to next of kin)
    – Copy of European Health insurance card

    – Batteries mostly in carry on but some separated through bags
    – A little cash (local currency and/or UK£/US$ separated through bags)

    – Before leaving call credit card company to tell them where I’m going / not to bar the card
    – Similar for mobile phone – make sure no international call barring.
    – Memorise easy/rough exchange rate

  12. Daf September 14, 2012 at 5:32 am #

    Also – if you have new kit it’s worth double checking everything.

    I recently got caught out!
    Was using a netbook + memory card reader to copy D800 Raw files off the card so I could re-use the cards.
    Unkown to me – Nikon Transfer modifeis the RAW slightly – and unfortunately Nikon transfer 1.x corrupts the Raw files! Showed the previews in ViewNX, but RAW data not useable! Not the best solution but it’s possible to extract the compressed preview (full res) from them.
    I needed Nikon transfer 2.x

    had tested the download at home (previously has USB cable issues) but unfortunately didn’t check the downloaded Raw!

    • Colin January 14, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

      Hi Daf, what modifications does Nikon Transfer do to the Raw files please?

  13. Nelson September 20, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    I also like to review my packing list AFTER the trip too. Maybe add things, maybe subtract something or write a note about a specific item that could be lager/smaller/more features/overkill etc.

    There is a set list of packing items for the trips I’ve taken over the past two years in my phone. It could be stored in email or whatever. I’m not really that organized, but leaving stuff at home when you’re after something is the WORST.

  14. Justin October 16, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    Cliff bars and dried fruit!

  15. Kyle Cesmat January 10, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    Perfect timing for this post! I am heading to Guatemala in a week.

    • Chase August 12, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

      happy to help ;)

  16. Alex September 17, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    Gearing up for a 14 day mission trip to Namibia, Africa. This is very helpful! Question about the mobile wi-fi… which provider did you get that with? Only one I’ve been able to find so far is called Cell Hire – they rent devices and provide service. Not sure what other options are out there. Thoughts?

  17. Wes Coughlin January 14, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    I always bring a Leatherman type tool with me. And I’m always mad at myself when I forget it.

  18. Scott Kennedy January 14, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    I always have a compact travel umbrella in my camera bag. Perfect for if it starts to rain mid shoot – but not hard enough to stop shooting. I don’t really care if I get wet – I care if the gear gets wet!

  19. Shana July 14, 2014 at 6:42 am #

    Awesome tips!

    i would try to also have a small emergerncy kit with me for all shoots. plasters, painkillers, deep heat, eye drops, rehydrat, and anything else that could be useful on a strenuous shoot.

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