Imagine being chased in the Serengeti by a giraffe. You want to remember this terrifying moment forever! But your camera battery died and your friend is filming on their Blackberry from the early 2000s. So you’re desperately fumbling around trying to find an extra battery in your bag. Ten seconds later, you’re eaten by the giraffe, and all that’s left is a 360p grainy video of the moment. What a waste.
Nevermind that giraffes are herbivores. That’s not the point. The point is if you’re going on a trip with your camera gear, you need to be prepared! Here are a few tips that can help you out.
Bring lots of batteries (and number them)
On a recent trip, I brought a camera that drains power like crazy, so I brought five batteries with me. To keep myself organized, I numbered all of my batteries and used them in order so I always knew which ones were charged and which ones were depleted while I was out and about. This also helped me know whether I needed to be a bit more selective, and conserve battery life when there were only one or two left.
Speaking of power…
If you’re traveling outside of your country, make sure you’ve got the proper power adapters for the outlets at your destination. You can find a list of the plug types and voltage used around the world here. Most modern battery chargers are universal and can handle varying degrees of voltage, so you won’t need a voltage converter — just the adapter so the prongs fit into the holes. Look towards the tiny writing on the back of your chargers to double check!
I like to travel with a power strip or two just in case outlets are hard to come by, and it allows me to limit the amount of adapters I’ll need. This compact one is my favorite. I also have this handy multi-USB charger for my other gadgets.
Spread your footage across memory cards
Having a single point of failure is nightmare fuel for me. What if it turns out giraffes have evolved to eat memory cards? I like to bring three or four smaller cards with me instead of one large card. That way, just in case something happens to one of them, I still at least have some footage safe on another. When you’ve got multiple cards, my numbering trick works great here too!
Backup that sweet footage!
Instead of spreading out your shots across memory cards, you could just keep backups of those memories. It’s like having a second brain, except not as slimy when you touch it. There are a few options here. If you’ve brought your computer, you can backup onto that. You can also get an external backup device like HyperDrive, which has an LCD screen for viewing content. Lastly, a lot of cameras are Wi-Fi capable these days and will let you backup directly to your phone, tablet or computer via an app. If your camera isn’t Wi-Fi capable, you can get a memory card that is!
Bring a microfiber cloth
Lenses get dirty! I always carry a microfiber cloth with me (the same kind you clean eyeglasses with) to rid my lenses of any smudges, water spritzes, or anything else that may get on there. Your shirt and most other materials tend to spread smudges around instead of clean them up, and they’re also a tad abrasive and may scratch your lens.
Keep it all handy
Woah, did you see that whale many people thought was extinct just jump over that triple rainbow? Too bad you missed that amazing and instantly viral shot because your camera was inside your backpack. It’s super important to keep your gear handy. You brought your camera for a reason, right? Don’t keep it in hard to reach places.
My camera is almost always in my hand or strapped onto my body for easy access. I don’t worry about getting it wet or banged up or anything like that, because it’s not a precious museum piece: it’s a tool that’s meant to be utilized, so use it to it’s fullest advantage.
Flying? Carry on your gear.
I’ve never had my luggage lost or stolen but I know plenty of people who have. Eliminate that pretty large risk and never let your gear out of your sight. Get yourself a hard carry-on like this small Pelican, or a bag with lots of soft padding inside. Most airlines let you have one carry-on and one personal bag. Unless you’re lugging around tripods, lights, and drones, keep it all with you. It doesn’t do you much good if your camera lens landed with you in France, but your camera body got diverted to Sheboygan County Memorial Airport. Don’t let that oddly specific scenario happen to you!
This isn’t completely necessary, but there may be some of you out there who are interested in insurance just in case something happens to your gear while traveling. If you have home insurance, renter’s insurance, or small business insurance, you may already be covered. Make sure to check the details of your agreement. If not, a quick Google search yields a ton of resources that should steer you on the right path. With insurance, you can feel perfectly safe letting a monkey on the side of the road hold your camera to take a selfie.
Now, enjoy your well-equipped travels and film lots of stuff!