Packing your camera as checked luggage :: Digital Photo Secrets

Packing your camera as checked luggage

by David Peterson 10 comments

With the recent security scares in the UK, airlines are starting to ban all carry on luggage.

So all our electronic items you would normally take with you for safety or security will need to undergo the rigors of the baggage handlers.

So how can you pack your camera and extra gear like lenses without them being damaged during the trip?

Wrap in Clothes

The main aim is to lessen the impact force on your camera if your bag is dropped, or bumped. By wrapping your camera in clothes or a towel and placing it in the middle of your suitcase, you can reduce a lot of that force. The problem with clothes is that they can unwrap which leaves your camera exposed.

If your camera is a large one (like an SLR), I would not recommend this option. But if you have a small point and shoot or compact camera, this method would be fine. I’ve often placed my compact camera inside two socks in the middle of my suitcase.

Camera Bags

Most camera bags provide a certain amount of padding, and aren’t likely to break open. However, I would not recommend checking the camera bag on it’s own. For a start, it doesn’t offer all that much protection. The camera is very likely to be damaged if the bag is dropped from a few feet onto a corner. And if it looks like a camera bag, it’s much more likely to be snapped up by someone who doesn’t own it.

Placing your camera inside a camera bag inside your suitcase is a better option.

Hard Shell or Metal Camera Case

If you have an expensive camera, I recommend investing in a metal camera case. These are what pro’s use and they are designed to cushion most of the impact shock before it reaches your camera. The case does this by using a flexible outer plastic shell that can buckle, or lots of extra padding inside the case.

These camera cases have also undergone stress testing, which is more than you can say for the ‘wrapped in a towel’ option.

Try Insurance

If you’re worried about your camera, check with your insurance company about travel insurance for your camera. A lot of airline insurance (or general travel insurance) won’t cover very expensive electronic items, so it’s worth getting additional cover.

Don’t take your good camera!

But the simplest option is to simply not take your good camera! If you have a cheaper camera, take that instead, take your old film camera if you have one, or even purchase a cheap camera at your destination.

The last thing you want when going on holidays is to open your suitcase and find a broken camera. I recommend you take some extra precautions when you next fly and save yourself some possible disappointment.

Most people think this post is Useful. What do you think?


  1. Kastu says:

    All comment and suggestion will really help me when i am going abroad.

  2. Mike Sulman says:

    In my travels across the U.S., to Canada,
    Europe & Latin America I have never had
    a problem taking my camera equipment
    as carry-on. My stuff gets inspected but
    stays with me on the plane

  3. Woza says:

    I travel from RSA to Europe every 10 to 12 weeks and travel between country by Air, I carry my gear & laptop Lowepro backpack, have not trouble for carryon. This small backpack fits between my feet an the seat in front of me with eaze if top luggage space is to small, like on small feeder airlines.
    But always remove cleaning fluids.

    Hope this is helpful info..

  4. Marvin Baer says:

    Delighted to read my gear- namely, camera & memory cards can & will go wiith me ON the plane.
    I read a real horror story several years back,- maybe in the Wall Street Journal-, anyhow a passenger on a plane saw his bag on the way to the baggage area from his window. He also saw someone opening the camera bag- he ran to the stewardess to tell her what was going on. No deal they would NOT let him off the plane. Camera gone!!! Never learned the final result. BE CAREFUL!!!!

  5. ed says:

    I do a lot of traveling an use a couple of the Zero Haliburton metal cases for check-in. This has been a true and proven method for me. I do have a couple of concerns: 1) the Airlines now require you to keep you cases unlocked. The zero cases are difficult to open to open with out the key. 2) The simple fact that the zero cases are dead give away that you have important equipment in them so make sure you stay focus at baggage claim to be there when the cases show up. You don't want to leave them unattended, but I am sure this is something I don't need to remind you you of.

  6. Kyle says:

    I got caught with having to check my camera equipment int when holidaying in Europe a month ago. Luckily, I had purchased a crumpler "Whickey and Cox" bag which was to be used as the carry on. Not being allowed, at least it did provide with ample protection for my EOS350D and video camera plus accessories. I just sealed the zip closed to stop any theft (or anyone putting something in).

  7. Geoff Wright says:

    I travel extensively in the US and have had no problems with camera gear as a carry on. I did remove all cleaning solutions, packing them in my checked baggage. TSA does ask that video equipment be removed from the bag for seperate inspection.

  8. Dan says:

    I've resently traveled in and out of Canada and the US on different airlines and they all still allow 1 carry-on plus 1 personal item such as a camera bag. There were lots of people with a laptop and a camera bag.

  9. sandi says:

    i just went to alaska, usa... my cameras went on the planes as a carry on, stayed with me every minute.. no way was i going to check my gear as luggage.. my tripod- i layed in the middle of my suitcase and packed my clothes around it. had no trouble at all.

  10. jim says:


    On the packing your camera since I am going on a trip soon. Maybe a used case would be the way to go.

    Or , I will use another camera.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *