How to Pack Your Gear for Airplane Travel

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How to
travel with


Hey filmmaker, I see you sitting there after booking your first (or tenth) destination video. You’re beyond thrilled to travel to a new destination and get started on an exciting project or wedding film! I’m guessing you have already started planning your trip and are looking forward not only to the project or wedding, but the sights you will get to see while traveling.

Traveling for weddings and projects is super exciting! So before moving forward, let’s just take a second to celebrate the fact that you get to do this!

Some of the first steps I’m sure you’ll be taking are securing your flights and lodging and maybe even researching the area to scope out potential shoot locations. You might even be looking into some of the places you want to visit while on your trip. All of these are necessary steps!

What I want to talk about today is a step that often causes stress to filmmakers when they are traveling, and it may even be a step you haven’t given much thought to yet.

This step is figuring out how to pack your gear for travel. It’s just as necessary as booking your flight, but if not thought through well, can be a disaster.

So how do you go about packing your gear, or even finding a place to start? After traveling almost 20,000 miles with my gear I have a few tips I would love to share!


20,000 miles

Figuring out how to pack your gear can be done with a two prong approach. There are two questions that you need to ask yourself when packing, the first is:

1) Which gear do I absolutely NEED when I land?

2) Which gear is most expensive?

Let’s break these two categories down before talking about the baggage I currently use.

1) Which gear do I absolutely need when I land?

This is probably the most important question to ask yourself before flying with your gear because you need to be prepared for a worst case scenario. Imagine that you land at your destination only to discover that your luggage didn’t make it. Now imagine that you packed some of your crucial gear in your checked bag and have a shoot the next day.

You do NOT want this to happen.

To avoid this, the best thing you can do is go through your list of gear and pick out the pieces that you absolutely cannot film without. Then, utilize the space you have in your carry-on and your personal item and make sure you are fitting all of these necessary pieces of equipment in those two bags.

2) Which gear is most expensive?

After completing step one, see if you have any remaining space in your carry-on bags. If you do, go through your remaining equipment and select the most expensive pieces. Just in case something were to happen to your luggage, you will be relieved to have your most expensive gear on your person.

I place this step as step number two because ideally you already have business insurance, so lost gear will probably be covered depending on your insurance plan. I would hate for my suitcase not to make it to my destination, but just in case it does I want to be sure that I have everything I need to film…this is priceless. Expensive gear can come second to following through on what you promise your client when you land at your destination.

Now to talk about bags!

The third component of traveling easily with your gear is carefully selecting what bags you are going to be using. Most airlines allow you to bring one carry-on to fit in the overhead bins and one personal item to stow beneath the seat.

For the carry-on, find an option that has a hard cover. I love using Pelican cases because they are durable and you can purchase customizable inserts for the type of gear you need. Make sure you are smart in your configuration of packing gear so maximize your space.

For the personal item, pick something large! I love my Kelly Moore bag because I am able to fit my C100 Camera body, a large lens, all of my credit cards and ID, two large batteries, and a wireless microphone kit. You can shop Kelly Moore bags here: It sounds crazy that so much fits in one bag, but it’s true! The important thing is picking a bag that is big enough to fit a ton of gear but that can also slide under the seat. To be honest, my bag barely fits beneath a seat, so I squeeze it under for take-off and landing, but bring it out by my feet for the rest of the flight.

If you have gear left over at this point, put it in your checked bag. Again, do not check anything you can’t get by without. I like to check my bulkier items like LED light and light stand and mono-pod in my suitcase. One thing I look for in my suitcases is a hard-cover because you know airline employees toss luggage around.

If you’d like more details about traveling with your gear, including my GEAR GUIDE which breaks down all of the basics of what gear you need for an average shoot, sign up for my email list below! You will be among the first to receive the guide when we release it very soon!

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