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Sandfordb

Packing tips for travelling around SE Asia, Indonesia, Australia

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Hi everyone!

 

I'm new to the place and I must say that this is an amazing forum! That being said, I am hoping that somebody on here can help me with some travel tips and advice for a trip I am taking in a few months.

 

I am back packing around SE Asia, Indonesia and Australia and wanted to know if anybody has any experience with airline badge restrictions when travelling through these places (most of my flights are going to be with Garuda Indonesia).

 

I am planning to take my Canon 5DmkIV, Nauticam housing, Macro port, Zen Mini Dome port, DS160 strobes (x2), canon 100mm macro, 8-15mm FE, 16-35mm Wide Angle, 50mm, Tokina 400mm and MacBook 12". These are my valued items and they will all fit into my carry on rucksack (just about) although the weight is on the heavy side. Are carry on items usually weighed in SE Asia/Indonesia/Australia? Or is it just luck of the draw?

 

Obviously I'm a bit reluctant to pack much of this into the hold as I will only have a backpack which although big, offers little in the way of protection plus I'd be worried about things getting stolen/lost in transit (probably an irrational fear).

How reliable are the domestic flights in Indonesia when it comes to connecting flights and hold luggage not getting lost?

 

My itinerary is this - Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bali, Flores/Komodo, Lembeh, Raja Ampat, Australia (via Sulawesi and Bali).

 

Many thanks!

 

Ben

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Hi Ben

 

Sounds a brilliant trip!

 

There is lots of advice on travelling with tons of gear if you search around on Wetpixel - and I'm sure lots of readers will chip-in more.

 

General consensus, I think, is that a smile, a cheery attitude at check-in and, errr, slight concealment of the sheer amount and, especially, the sheer weight, of all the gear can work wonders. I've travelled through most of the regions you are visiting with a roller Pelican case (cabin), a camera bag (cabin) and a dive bag (hold) - probably 45kgs in total - and have yet to have a problem. I've never had cabin bags weighed in Thailand, Cambodia, Bali or Lembeh. Australia can be a bit trickier - a jacket with loads of pockets can be helpful!

 

I found AirAsia flights no problem for hold loading, checking in etc.

 

As I say, my own experience is that with a cheery wave, a friendly smile.... you can get away with a lot.

 

Have a wicked trip!

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Hi Tim! Thank you very much for your reply. I can't wait for my trip to start, just counting down the final work days!

 

That's very helpful and sounds promising too. If all else fails I may have to sweet talk my girlfriend into carrying a bit in her carry on! Just need a good excuse :D

 

Thanks for the note about AirAsia too, I might have a look at their flights to get me from each destination. Did you only fly direct to your destinations or did you have any lay overs?

 

Many thanks again.

 

Ben

Edited by Sandfordb

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Hi Ben

 

Yes, the most useful part of any underwater photography travel is the partner's carry-on and willingness. A helpful, co-operative girlfriend has to be good for, what, 15kgs? :crazy:

 

I was in Aceh for a while and then in Lembeh for 12 months so used to hop around from time to time, usually with loads of dive and camera gear. Mainly point-to-point flights or maybe point-to-point via a hub (Jakarta). At that time AA were very good (they were amazing at the time of the Icelandic volcano - really helpful. I have heard the company has been restructured since then and things may not be quite the same. Maybe worth checking around a bit.

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I have flown though out the Indo Pacific and Southeast Asia with a 40+ lb think thank with camera gear on my back.

The only issues I have had is in Cairns Australia, they are very restrictive on carry-on weight at 15 lbs on Qantas

I would suggest you avoid Australia

 

Elmer

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Thanks very much for your input guys, its been very helpful and has given me a bit of confidence in keeping my gear safe.

 

Unfortunately I'm already tied to going to Cairns as I am heading out on a liveaboard from there after Indonesia. However I won't be using Qantas to get there and will most likely be leaving from Sydney as I'm travelling around Australia for a bit after all of the diving. That should give me time to think of a way to creatively pack my bags or failing that buy some additional padding/protection to go into my pretty empty main back pack to keep a few bits in.

 

Thank you so much again.

 

Ben

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Glad we could help a bit, Ben. Have a cracking trip!

 

Safe travels

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Glad we could help a bit, Ben. Have a cracking trip!

 

Safe travels

Thanks very much, i will try and get a least one worthy picture up! :)

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What ever you do make sure you have a contingency plan if they weigh your carry on and a smile won't cut it. I'm flying out of Houston through Taipei then Manila and they were weighing all carry ons in Houston (EVA airlines). My Think Tank carry on was well over twice the limit of 7 kg and they made me check it in.

 

Thankfully I had a vest with big pockets that I could stuff all my lenses in. I put the housing with macro port in a plastic bag that I carried on and my wife had space in her bag for the 4" dome port and Retra snoot.

 

Next time I'm checking in a pelican case with all the heavy and tough gear.

 

Enjoy your trip!

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Be aware that it's not just Qantas that can be strict in Cairns and Sydney, Virgin can be even stricter. All airports in Oz have the potential to weigh and measure at the gate, even if you get past check-in. I've always been lucky but I have also seen those who haven't. Contingency plans are essential.

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Roller bags for carry on are a bit of a problem at the gate in Australia - much more likely to be targeted for a weigh in before boarding. Jetstar not only forces you to check overweight carry on if they catch it but also charges $150 for the privilege. Backpacks are more likely to slip through the net at the gate, if you make it past the check in desk safely.

 

Regarding your Garuda Indonesia legs, international flights with Garuda include 20kg of "sports allowance" for dive gear. Smiling and saying "camera" repeatedly can help across SE Asia if you run into resistance. If your checked luggage is over with Garuda domestically, the fees are not too bad but they take a loooong time to process. You may need up to an extra hour at the airport while the check in desk and then the billing desk and then the check in desk again play with the calculator and poke numbers into the computer.

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Tell Garuda you have Dive Gear, you get an extra 23kg free luggage. You need to say this when you check in

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It only works on international Garuda! Learnt that lesson the hard way.

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It only works on international Garuda! Learnt that lesson the hard way.

Strange, I do it all the time domestically. They had canceled it for a while but its been back for quite some time. I suggest printing this out and keeping it with you just in case: https://www.garuda-indonesia.com/id/en/special-offers/sales-promotion/sportequipment.page

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Strange, I do it all the time domestically. They had canceled it for a while but its been back for quite some time. I suggest printing this out and keeping it with you just in case: https://www.garuda-indonesia.com/id/en/special-offers/sales-promotion/sportequipment.page

Agreed, it works on domestic flights, sometimes (most often) you'll have to insist (with a smile) on applying the rules,

They will then call somebody in charge, you will resume your request (with a smile) and magically you will have your 23kgs sport equipment for free.

Then you may smile for real.

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I put the housing, strobes and laptop in a carry on haversack. Large dome, small dome, camera, lenses, go pro etc in a roller camera bag. Arms, flat ports, batteries, dive gear in the check in bag. Have not ever had a problem yet except on a very full flight on Singapore airlines where the took my roller bag at the aircraft gate and gave it back to me on landing.

 

Check in bag usually weighs around 22-24 kgs. Roller bag around 15 kgs and haversack around 12 kgs :-)

 

Ohh and there have been times where i leave the roller bag out of sight of check in staff and then quietly roll it away post check in !

 

On smaller air crafts, recently in the Maldives they just take the roller bag at the aircraft gate before boarding. In S E Asia, i usually fly, garuda/Lion/Sriwijaya and have not yet had any issues except to pay excess weight for the check in bag, which would be for4-5 kgs.

 

Hope this helps

 

Diggy

Edited by diggy

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Thank for all of the replies everyone! Some really great tips here.

 

My main issue is that I am going to be backpacking so don't really fancy taking any heavy roller bags with me. Thankfully most of my camera gear will fit into my 30l rucksack which fits within the hand luggage dimensions (definitely not within the weight restrictions) and on my back doesn't look too crammed.

 

The only thing I am going to worry about are my strobes and arms which will most likely need to go in my main backpack, carefully wrapped in clothes! I will have to try and pad out the sides of the rucksack as well. I knew all of those styrofoam sheets I've been saving would come in handy one day! :laugh:

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Thank for all of the replies everyone! Some really great tips here.

 

My main issue is that I am going to be backpacking so don't really fancy taking any heavy roller bags with me. Thankfully most of my camera gear will fit into my 30l rucksack which fits within the hand luggage dimensions (definitely not within the weight restrictions) and on my back doesn't look too crammed.

 

The only thing I am going to worry about are my strobes and arms which will most likely need to go in my main backpack, carefully wrapped in clothes! I will have to try and pad out the sides of the rucksack as well. I knew all of those styrofoam sheets I've been saving would come in handy one day! :laugh:

Yes this makes sense. Although i may warn you that i did a similar thing, albeit not with my strobe but my housing. It was packed in a heavily padded bag(Like a beer cooler) and carefully wrapped around it was my 3 mm wetsuit, with clothes crammed around. And yet after a few trips, the housing window had an issue. So as far as arms are concerned, its not an issue, but strobes, i would like in a safer place. Just my two bits :chatterbox: You can still pack them well enough without any problems.

 

Cheers,

 

Diggy

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I had my honeymoon out in bali/Indonesia and took my underwater setup out in a think tank back pack - no problems what so ever except for on the flight back through Kuala Lumpur when the security guard took exception to my tiny (and I do mean tiny) set of allen keys which I had forgotten to put in my hold luggage (so he confisicated them on the premise that I could do something dangerous with them - longest was about 2 inches long).. So my advice - make sure any tools you have packed go into hold luggage!

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My experience with recent trips around SE Asia and the pacific from Australia has been the crack down on weight for carry-on baggage with all airlines flying out of Australia with 7kg of carry-on. I have my carry on weight on several occasions and what I do with my carry on on a few trips is to put my housing and parts in a cooler bag up to the 7kg limit wrapped in bubble wrap. But these days the budget airlines do offer excellent additional checkin baggage at a small cost. Jetstar allowing up to 40kg, Virgin Australia 2 bags at 23kg, Airasia 40kg, Cebu pacific allowing an extra bag for dive gear up to 40kg (just for dive gear). I have to base my flights around the airlines which give me the best allowance for camera and dive gear and most often its the budget carriers these days.

 

Regards Mark

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