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Travel Hints
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Travel Hints

Here are a few tips guaranteed to make things easier for traveling photographers.

X-ray machines and metal detectors used to be the bane of film photographers because the machines frequently ruined exposed film if they were set too high or poorly maintained. Thankfully, these machines have no effect on digital media, so you can travel confidently with any type of memory card. Cameras and memory cards in both carry-on and checked luggage will be safe.

Checking photo equipment with your luggage when flying could lead to disaster. With the exception of small point-and-shoot cameras that can be wrapped up in a sweater and placed in the center of your suitcase, you should never check photo equipment. If the luggage crusher doesn't get it, some thief will. Carry it with you.

How much memory to bring depends on your shooting habits. Some people never fill up a single small memory card while others can fill a drawer full of cards on the first day. But memory is cheap at the moment, so take two or three times what you think you'll use. Fortunately, memory cards are available even in relatively out-of-the-way locales. Still, better to have it with you than spend a few hours looking for more on the road.

Batteries are either often impossible to find when traveling or they're ridiculously expensive, especially those dedicated to just your camera model. Bring rechargeable batteries and your charger along with a voltage adapter plug (Radio Shack) and you'll always have enough juice.

Customs and other regulations are usually not a problem for photographers, but some countries limit the amount of equipment you can bring across their borders. If you're traveling with new equipment, it's a good idea to register it with the United States customs officials at the airport before you go, so you won't have to prove ownership coming home or in other locales. Bring several photocopies of receipts.

Downloading and printing services abroad are easy to find in developed countries. Europe, for example, is far ahead of the U.S. when it comes to well-equipped cyber cafes. You can usually find a place where you can download images, burn them to a CD (for a fee), or email lower resolution files home. If you get prints made locally, you can use them as postcards to send back home!

Buying equipment abroad is not a good idea in most countries. In the face of currency-exchange rates, duties, and unusable warranties arrangements, you should buy cameras abroad only if the one you bring dies or is lost. For backup, bring along a few single-use film cameras.

Next: "Researching Your Trip"