Protecting your Camera Gear from Theft During Travel

Traveling either locally or internationally with camera equipment is always stressful. The mere thought of our expensive photographic equipment being stolen or lost sends shivers down the spine of even the most affluent photographer. Having the equipment insured can help ease the pain, but does little to soften the blow of your ongoing trip where you are now sans cameras. Not a situation any of us want to find ourselves in.

When you are traveling alone there is always the thorny problem of what to do with all your camera gear and bags when nature calls and you have to visit the lounge or public restroom. Do you take your camera bag with you? Where do you put it? (restrooms are not the most sanitary of places to take luggage in my experience) Do you leave it in the lounge where you were seated? Ask someone to watch it for you? And what about when you are seated at a restaurant and need to visit a nearby store? What about at airport security? I have seen someone walk off with the wrong bag at security while its owner was stranded on the other side of the x-ray machine. And, what if you need to leave your camera bag and equipment in the car somewhere? Or even worse, put it down somewhere in the field and forget about it? (I have seen this happen – a colleague left a very expensive Phase One with a P45+ back in the field in Iceland – almost a very expensive mistake Kevin!) There are countless situations in airports and when traveling that could easily see you separated from your expensive camera gear. So how do you protect it and always know where it is located?

At this point, I want to share a tip on how I deal with this problem and how I ensure I always know exactly where my camera bag is located – even when I leave it in the lounge to visit the restroom for a call of nature. The solution comes courtesy of Apple and is known as an Apple Air Tag (you must be an IOS user) Once set up, you simply hide the Air tag inside your camera bag where it cannot easily be found (I like to put it inside the lining of the bag). Then using your IOS device you can track the camera bag anywhere in the world. Granted you need to be within 33 feet for detailed location information. But outside of Bluetooth-range you can use wide-area ‘Find My’ to get inside Bluetooth range and then just let the technology take over. Boom! Your camera bags are now traceable anywhere in the world! The screenshot below shows both my camera case and laptop case as they sit next to me here in the lounge in Doha airport.

Originally designed for locating lost car keys, Apple Air Tags are a wonderful way to keep track of your very expensive camera gear when traveling. With an Air Tag installed in each of my camera bags I can visit the restroom with nothing more than my iPhone and receive an instant notification if the bag moves. I can track the bag if I find it gone (at least until the thief finds the Air Tag – which isn’t very likely) and always know exactly where my camera gear is located. You can even put an Air Tag in your checked luggage and tell the airline where your lost bag is located if it fails to turn up at your destination. There are undoubtedly many other applications for this clever little device, but ensuring you always know where your camera gear is located is certainly top of the list for photographers. Happy and safe traveling.

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