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Traveling with underwater camera to international destination - packing tips and advise

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This is not correct. HKG separates arrivals and departures and there is no way around it. After deplaning, you must pass through a security check to get through to the departures side.

 

I've never seen them scrutinize bag size at the transit security posts

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Agreed, the airport security staff don't seem to worry about the size or weight of bags during transit, my point was only that there is in fact a security check.

 

Another factor is that gate staff do have the authority to check bag size and weight. It is rare for them to intervene, and I have never seen a scale to verify weight, but I have seen gate staff for several airlines require obviously oversize bags to be gate checked.

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The point that I was trying to convey In flying through HKG was that if you stay in the transit area and do not leave the airport you will not be hassled about having two carry-on's. It is the security check after check-in at the ticket counter that gets you.

 

We spent a few days in Hong Kong as we were traveling to Komodo and got dinged at security, they would not let us pass with two carry-on's. We were forced to check in our roll-on's to DSP. We were flying Cathay on business class.

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It's not just an American thing, Nautilus. Consider a pretty standard DSLR system: Nauticam NA-5D3 housing, a dome port for your fisheye, and a macro port, plus two Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobes, plus cables, arms, clamps, floats, plus strobe batteries, chargers, etc. That will just about fit perfectly into a Pelican 1610 and it will weigh right around 50lbs - right on the limit. From that basic kit, what could possibly be eliminated to make the box lighter? The box itself weighs around 22lbs, so you'd think that would be a great place to save some weight. But how do you keep the airlines and airports, who couldn't care less about your belongings from damaging your equipment?

When it comes to carry-ons, as I said earlier in this thread, just a pair of 5DMK3 bodies, a 8-15, 16-35 and 100mm macro plus chargers and batteries will be over the limit at the gate. And then there's your computer. Let's face it, if you're serious about underwater photography, it's madness not to bring a laptop, since otherwise you have no way of identifying problems with lenses, sensors, etc., unless you can closely inspect the photos in the field. So you have your 13" Macbook Pro, and a couple of 2TB Thunderbolt drives, plus chargers, etc. And once again, that bag alone is overweight.

 

I don't know how anyone doing serious underwater photography can reduce weight, regardless of their nationality. I approach this whole travel thing as a war. It's you against the airline and airport authority. No one cares about you or your things. You just have to get in there and push push push your way through. Use every tactic and strategy you can, because you are powerless against your airline. Honestly, it's you against them.

 

 

 

This may sound overly simplistic, but perhaps some careful thought as to what you really need to take on the trip may be the answer.

 

I travel a few times a year to various tropical destinations taking dive gear and a 4/3 camera rig with strobes. (I know that's an immediate advantage over DSLR travellers)

 

Even so, after a while I realised I was repeatedly taking stuff I never used! I can now pack everything I need in a lightweight check-in roller bag (23kg), a carry-on backpack (7kg) and my one personal item (my camera and two lenses in a small camera shoulder bag) that I can carry on. Up to now I have resisted taking a laptop, using a smart phone instead, but I think that may change soon!

 

If it looks like I may be getting close to the baggage limit of 23kg (Australian airlines) I buy an extra couple of kg in advance of travel which is a lot less expensive than paying excess baggage at the airport.

 

Now without wishing to be too controversial maybe this baggage issue is an American thing! I am amazed how much stuff people think they need to take and this was driven home when I went camping with a couple of American friends a while ago. Wow! everything including the kitchen sink!

 

Perhaps having such generous domestic baggage allowances in the USA makes it more difficult to be a bit ruthless when packing for an overseas trip?

Edited by jplaurel

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Hi,

 

If I would try to bring a Pelican on-board here in Europe the would just start laughing at me :-)

 

I check in my Strobes. I use a plastic "Lunch-box" for it.

The Camera and a Lense are fitted into the UW-housing and I carry it separetely.

I use a Duffel Backpack for the Lenses and the big Domeport. The lenses are protected by padded Lense bags.

The Domeport is protected by a Regulator back and some pastic on Sun-shade side.

 

I am of the opinion that you should avoid a roller-bags. They are more visible than Backpacks and looks heavier.

People with Rollerbags seems to be stopped a lot more often than not!

 

Well, this System works fine for me for some years now.

 

/Erik

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I have seen more and more people using a system like yours, Erik. Gee, it sounds pretty complex with gear in all sorts of different places. I don't know how well it would work on a live aboard, where you are leaving your equipment outside under the camera table all the time. I find that I am constantly working out of my Pelican case. When you're in a big rush to change ports or batteries between dives, it's nice to have a waterproof bin to work out of.

 

We never use Pelicases as carry-ons. But are you saying that they are a problem to check in on Intra-Europe flights?

 

I am going to use the Porter Case as a carry-on for the trip to Bali this time, as I will have an extra housing. The Porter is strong enough to be gate checked, if necessary. The beautiful thing about the Porter as a carry-on is that it serves to help you roll your stuff around airports during long layovers in places where they don't allow the airport carts. And when you arrive at your destination, you can move all your gear in one shot by piling everything on top of it.

 

We are flying Seattle -> Taipei -> Denpasar this time. I know the airline won't give us a hard time at Seattle. Never had a problem with cabin baggage at Taipei before. We'll see what happens and I'll report back in this thread in October.

 

Hi,

 

If I would try to bring a Pelican on-board here in Europe the would just start laughing at me :-)

 

I check in my Strobes. I use a plastic "Lunch-box" for it.

The Camera and a Lense are fitted into the UW-housing and I carry it separetely.

I use a Duffel Backpack for the Lenses and the big Domeport. The lenses are protected by padded Lense bags.

The Domeport is protected by a Regulator back and some pastic on Sun-shade side.

 

I am of the opinion that you should avoid a roller-bags. They are more visible than Backpacks and looks heavier.

People with Rollerbags seems to be stopped a lot more often than not!

 

Well, this System works fine for me for some years now.

 

/Erik

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One possibility for keeping the checked weight down is to switch from Pelicases to Zarges boxes. The K470 sized 23.6x15.7x13.4in weighs11 lbs. That is quite substantial 11lb savings! I'm not sure No wheels, though they do offer a small trolley. No velcro foam dividers like you can get for the Pelicases.

 

https://www.zargescases.com/products/shipping-storage-standard-cases/k470/

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Just returned from Bali :-)

 

I carry my nauticam housing with Camera(7D) inside the housing and two strobes (Z240) in a laptop haversack.

 

The lenses 100 mm macro/60 mm macro/10-17 tokina, mini dome port, dive computer, additional 24-105 lens SMC convertor, sola's (3), view finder etc. etc. etc. in something like this: http://store.lowepro.com/rolling-cases/pro-runner-x450-aw

 

Both above as hand carry.

 

All arms/eneloops/regulator etc etc in this : http://www.polarbearcoolers.com/product/48_pack_soft_coolers/PB486.html

 

The above also works great to carry your camera on boats and rinsing if there is no proper facility. It hardly weighs anything at all and is fully padded.

 

And dive gear/clothes/large dome/ and ports in a medium size roller bag.

 

The above two check in baggage.

 

Hope that helps :-)

 

Diggy

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Choosing lightweight bags to start with is a big advantage, having a bag that weighs almost half your baggage allowance doesn't help. My check-in roller bag weighs around 3kg empty and it is fairly nondescript so doesn't attract unwanted attention. Not sure of its longevity as I have only done two trips so far with this particular bag, but so far so good.

 

I also pack my various components in padded bags and in different places like Erik, however I take a fold-up soft cooler in my check-in bag to use on dive boats to hold my camera rig which I assemble at the destination, whether its a live-aboard or a resort.

 

I appreciate that everyone has their own preferred packing method, but this works for me.

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