Traveling With Your Camera Gear – Better Safe Than Sorry

The summer travel season is quickly approaching and many of us are planning our next photo outing. Of course we aren’t the only ones getting ready. Summer vacations mean lots of easy pickings for thieves and the best way to make sure that your vacation is full of great photos and not police reports is to take a little extra care. Here’s a few hints to keep in mind as you venture out with your gear.

1. Write down your serial numbers and then email them to an account that you can access from the road. I would venture to guess that many of you have never given your serial numbers a second thought but they can be helpful in a number of ways. First, if your gear does get stolen, the police can use this info to possibly recover your stuff. Many times the first place a thief will go after scoring some camera equipment is to a pawn shop for some quick cash. The police know this and if they have serial numbers, there is a good chance that they can not only recover some or all of your gear but also nab the bad guys. It’s a long shot but I know someone that did get his stuff back after just such an incident. Also, the insurance company will appreciate the numbers in processing a claim.

2. Which leads to the second point, make sure you have your equipment insured. Many times you can get a rider on your stuff through your homeowners policy.Give them a call and see if you have the possibility of adding a rider. It sounds like a lot of work to go through for something you might not use but consider the investment you have made in your gear and what it would take to replace it all at once.

3. This one ranks up there as one of the most important things you can do to safeguard not only your cameras but any valuable electronics you might take on your journey. Never, ever pack your camera stuff in your checked luggage, especially of you are traveling overseas. I know more than one person that has arrived at their destination only to find that their camera was boosted from their bag. And don’t count on TSA to keep things safe since they have been known to pinch a camera or two from unknowing passengers.

4. Only take what you need. I know it’s hard not to pack everything you own but really try to think out what you will be taking pictures of and what gear you will need to accomplish your goals. Just going on a family get-away? Maybe just slip a point-and-shoot in your pocket and leave the rest behind. You’ll travel lighter and have less to keep track of on the road.

5. Consider getting a bag that has built-in security measures that make it harder to access your stuff. Many travel bags now have things like security cables built into them that allow you to not only lock down all the compartments and zippers but also lock them to a sturdy table or some other non-movable object.

6. Hide your stuff in your hotel room. Most hotel thieves are living on the edge of always being caught. It’s for this reason that they usually just grab what is in the open and then get out as quickly as possible. They usually don’t take the time to search the room for valuables so take a little time to find a place to stash your stuff if you are going out for a bite or some other activity where you don’t want to have your camera with you.

7. Check with the hotel to see if they have a secure place to lock up your valuables. Many rooms have safes in them that might accommodate some of your stuff but it never hurts to ask the front desk if they can watch over your things while you are out.

8. Not everyone is a thief so give the honest ones a chance to help. Write down your name and an email address on a piece of paper and then take a picture of it. If you do lose your camera and someone finds it, chances are they will look through your pictures and if you have a frame containing your contact info, then you up your chances of getting it back.

9. Last, but not least, be vigilant. Most cameras are lost by crimes of opportunity. Heavily visited tourist spots are prime targets for thieves just waiting for an opportunity. It only takes a second for you to set your bag down in a crowded spot to grab a shot and have it swiped while you are looking through the viewfinder. If you are using a camera bag or backpack with a strap, try looping it around your leg as you set it on the ground. This way, you will know if someone tries to pick it up.

I’m not saying that you should be paranoid but the fact is that most camera thefts are a result of some careless action by the owner. Just be cautious and take that extra couple of seconds to safeguard your stuff and you can be spared the horrors of realizing that your investment is on its way to the pawn shop.

 

 

Comments

  1. I use a service called Trackitback.com where I bought some stickers and luggage tags for my gear (camera, Kindle, backpack, etc). They’re for the honest person who finds your stuff — it gives them a neutral contact point, a reward from then for returners (some free stickers), return shipping and an additional reward from me.

    It won’t do anything for stolen gear, but it might help for lost or left-behind items.

  2. Re: the lock shown in your picture:

    Locks on bags are, more often that not, useless: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5mvvZl6pLI

    • It’s kind of like hiding your bag in your hotel room, it’s not going to deter the determined. A locked bag will present enough of a deterrent to discourage someone from picking yours, which would require more effort than one with no protection at all.

  3. Another thing to be aware of is the shiny new camera that you have when walking around can make you a target. You can avoid this by making your gear look older than it is by use of masking tape and black pen. Stick the tape onto the body (especially over the logos etc) and colour in roughly with the pen. Voila, one old camera that your average theif won’t be interested in. I think Leica owners who travel the third world are fond of this method. They call it stealth tape or something….?

Trackbacks

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