7 Tips for Traveling Abroad

If you're ever booked to cover an event, or provide some sort of photography coverage outside of your country, here are some helpful tips based on my experience. 

1. Pack Light

I have accumulated a lot of gear over the few years I've been shooting, and I love to have it all handy, and hate not having it when needed. However, I have learned to travel with the absolute minimum gear possible, to get the job done. For me, that includes a mixture of:

  • One camera body
  • One 24-70mm lens
  • One 50mm lens ***Sometimes. Depends on the gig.
  • One 70-200mm lens ***Although it's bulky, I need it for the live music/concert photography that I do.
  • One external flash
  • One compact camera with one lens
  • One monopod
  • Batteries, chargers, and necessary cables
  • Plenty of memory cards
  • Memory card reader
  • Laptop
  • External hard drive(s) 
  • Power converters/adapters

2. Carry your gear with you everywhere you go

There are two pretty simple reasons for this. First, you don't want to miss a moment, and second, you don't want to return to your room and discover that your gear is missing.

I traveled to a country in Africa recently, and upon returning to the hotel from dinner, I found 3 guys in my room trying to steal my equipment. By the time I opened the door, they were halfway out of the room, through the patio door. Thank God they ran, instead of attacking me. One was holding a knife or screwdriver. They had popped the lock on the patio door of the beachfront style room. Thankfully, my gear was chained to the luggage stand, inside my ThinkTank Airport International v2.0 bag. They had gotten as far as ripping the luggage stand off of the wall, and sawing away one of the bars. They left empty handed. Whew.

When I say, "Carry your gear everywhere...", I don't literally mean "everything". Hard drives, cables, and the little stuff can stay behind. Just tuck it away somewhere.

 Anthony Hamilton, captured  just hours before the breaking and entering incident mentioned above in Tip 2.

Anthony Hamilton, captured  just hours before the breaking and entering incident mentioned above in Tip 2.

3. Have the proper power converters

If you're anything like me, you have multiple things that you'll need to charge each night. It'll suck having to charge one device at a time. So, purchase multiple adapters/converters and a splitter. Try to get a converter with a USB socket, for your cell phone or other small gadgets.

4. Bring plenty of memory cards, and backup hard drives

You should have enough memory cards and portable hard drives to back up all photos and/or video, and bring the memory cards home full. Don't wipe out the cards until you are back home.

5. The hotel's wi-fi is your friend

Use your hotel's wi-fi to the absolute maximum. Rely on it for your photo and/or video uploads, and emailing images. Preserve your personal data plan as much as possible. Double check that your international data plan works in the country you're traveling to. Otherwise, you'll have a nice surprise on your next bill.

 View of the Sydney Opera House from my hotel window.

View of the Sydney Opera House from my hotel window.

6. Setup a home base

Have a person that's dedicated to uploading content back at home, so you're not stuck in your room uploading, editing, and posting content online and on social media. Setup an online file sharing workflow, and simply dump everything there. Be sure to provide them the needed details for the posting. Describe the event, time/date, location, the people that appear in the content, etc.

7. Do some personal work

Although you're traveling for a particular gig, find something that interests you, and shoot it. If time allows, create a special project for that country you're traveling to. It may even give you a reason to return.

 Although I was traveling in Australia with Anthony Hamilton, for a music festival, I managed to book a couple of photo shoots with some Australian women that I encountered during my visit.

Although I was traveling in Australia with Anthony Hamilton, for a music festival, I managed to book a couple of photo shoots with some Australian women that I encountered during my visit.