My readers know I have been a wildlife photographer for 25 years using Canon equipment. Through the years, I have flown around the world on many planes, from a De Havilland Beaver to the Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger jet. The above video shows how some airline luggage handlers perform their tasks. For serious photographers, the challenge is to get all their gear into the plane instead of having to check the equipment into the cargo bay below.
Here's how I pack for wildlife photo tours to ensure my bag always gets into the cabin above :
- Bring the highest quality zoom lenses plus one Super Telephoto prime lens.
- See my lens recommendation for wildlife and landscape photography
- Bring two top-of-the-line camera bodies.
- See my DSLR recommendation for wildlife photography
- Bring one set of battery, charger and memory cards for each camera. If you are out of room, wear cargo pants with outer pockets and carry them there.
The above bag will weigh less than 30 pounds, depending on the equipment and bag used. Other equipment like mono and tripods, flash, laptop, extenders, extension tubes, extra charger and memory, etc. can be packed into another bag for the cargo hold. If the worst happens and the checked bag is lost or delayed, my photo trip will not be ruined because I still have the required gear to take photos.
My preference is to travel light and plan ahead for most contingencies, including loss or theft of equipment. For those who must bring all the 'necessary' gear, they can pack them in Pelican cases, check them into the cargo hold and hope for the best. You can see my equipment bag and works on MichaelDanielHo.com