Over the past year or two I've had the privilege, even though it sucks to be away from family, to travel for work. It's really a crazy opportunity that I always want to be thankful for, you never know when things will change. During this time I have learned a lot about airline travel, how to pack and the whole process etc. So thought I would throw this post together to help people who are interested. Please be aware that I would consider these tips for domestic USA travel only. Things can/do/might change when you start traveling overseas.
1. Get TSA pre check. I cannot overstate this enough. Its such a huge time saver, especially if you are traveling out of larger airports.
2. I would try and stay with the same airline and get that airline credit card. Getting status is really nice when you start flying a lot. Its the little things. Also the credit card can help save money on checked bags.
3. Try and get a hard card from a photography organization/club/etc or from the client stating your'e media. Sometimes making your own media hard card works. But sometimes not. When traveling with lots of gear this is the difference between $1,000 in check fees and $200.
4. Be aware of new booking categories that airlines have started. Some don't allow upgrades/changes.
4. I would suggest National rental car. Get on their program, they make getting a rental super easy, you can almost can just jump into the car and go. Again, the little things.
5. When booking travel through a company (some large clients want booking to stay in house) make sure you do the homework on your flight and push for the carrier/flight that works best for you. Direct is always best when dealing with expensive gear that could sink a shoot if it doesn't make it. This is a good place to be pushy.
6. Try and have in your carry on the very minimum of gear to shoot with, incase something happens.
7. But in the same thought don't try and be a hero and over pack your carry on. Take care of yourself when traveling. Killing your back isn't a good way to start off a shoot.
8. Pack vitamins and drink lots of water, traveling wrecks your body, at least it does mine, take care of it.
9. Watch out for the ever changing battery rules the TSA decides to implement and change. I usually carry on all batteries in a Pelican 1510. They have been cracking down on this. (Check out the new Pelican Air, looks like they are much lighter.) If you can I would look into just renting all batteries on location.
10. TrekPak your hard cases, seriously get the TrekPak dividers. I have found I can get more stuff in my cases and it seems TSA wont pull bags for hand inspection that are packed neatly. Thats just been my observation.
11. Don't use all hard cases, it screams expensive and steal. But also for some stuff use them, be smart. For instance I use pelicans for lenses and Movi. But for other items I use Tenba/Patigonia/Fstop bags.
12. Get a lightweight cart, I have a Rock and Roller R12 that I check (thanks ENG guys for turning me onto these!). It saves my life, also its an awesome cart that expands and collapses to fit in most cars, it can take a beating.
13. Try and rent/ship tripods on location and get cstands on location. If you have to travel with stands look at lightweight photo stands and some Westcott flex lights. For lots of things two Westcott flex lights and an Icelight can do some serious damage.
14. HPRC tripod cases rock and look at snowboard/ski hard bags for larger items.
15. Uber rocks. Sometimes easiest way to get to and from the airport.
16. Get some vacuum bags for clothes, saves soooo much space.
17. Get a neck pillow, yea you look like a dork, but your neck will thank you.
I'll update this if I think of anything more, if you have any tips hit me up and if they are good I'll throw them up and credit you. One thing I'm working on with my trainer is a hotel room workout plan, because we all know that traveling for work is late nights, early morning, lots of sitting and eating, and this doesn't do your body any favors. Might do a video walk through of how I pack, will post both once I get them completed.
Hope this helps!