Although there are an absolute ton of videography niches that will require you to travel around on a regular basis, more and more vloggers, particularly travel vloggers and travel based social media influencers are starting to add a 3 axis gimbal to their collection of camera accessories. This has directly led to an increase in the number of people that we see reaching out for advice on how to travel with their gimbal on a regular basis.
Due to airline restrictions being so strict these days, we are specifically seeing people reaching out and asking for advice on what they should be doing to make traveling with a gimbal stabilizer as easy as possible. Due to this, we have decided to base today’s article around seven tips that we would highly recommend that videographers, vloggers, and social media influencers implement into their travel routine if they are planning to travel via air with their gimbal. Although you don’t have to implement all of these tips, reading over them and implementing the ones you feel are relevant to you can definatley be beneficial to you.
Get Some Suitable Storage
In our opinion, the number one thing that you can do to offer the best possible protection for your handheld gimbal while traveling is to invest in a suitable storage solution such as a Pelican Case that is large enough to house your stabilizer as well as any other delicate camera accessories. We have lost count of the number of reports we have seen from people who have been traveling around with their gimbal stabilizers only to get to their destination to realize that their gimbal has been damaged or totally broken while in transit.
Although storing a gimbal in something like a backpack is more common amongst vloggers and social media influencers than professional videographers, purchasing something like a Pelican Case that costs a fraction of what your gimbal costs can be a quick, easy, and highly recommended solution. Not only are Pelican Case extremely robust but they are also fully waterproof too. Although there are other brands on the market, the Pelican range definatley has one of the better reputations amongst the community having managed to earn tons of excellent third-party reviews over the years.
Be sure to check the dimensions of your gimbal prior to ordering your Pelican Case as gimbals come in all shapes and sizes but we are confident that you will be able to find a case to fit it. Additionally, more and more foam cutting stores are offering their services online too meaning that you can often have a custom cut foam insert for your particular gimbal to house it in the case too.
Invest In A Suitable Gimbal
Depending on your current situation, you may already have your gimbal of choice or you may just be researching how best to travel with a gimbal prior to actually setting off. If you are in the latter and are yet to purchase your gimbal or are looking to add a new handheld gimbal stabilizer to your collection then choosing a suitable travel gimbal is an obvious option.
As the majority of social media influencers and vloggers tend to use either the Canon G7X or the Sony RX100 as their camera of choice, a gimbal such as the FeiyuTech G6 Max is ideal as it can easily support the payload weight of point and shoot cameras with ease. Additionally, the G6 Max was only released around two months back so it has some of the latest technology available for small compact travel gimbals to help ensure you are getting the absolute best bang for your buck.
More established vloggers and social media influencers may have upgraded to something like the Canon m50 or something from the Sony Alpha range. Mirrorless cameras are also a very popular option for professional videographers too so if you fall into this type of bracket then the Zhiyun Weebill S is probably going to be the best gimbal option. The Weebill S has only been available for around four-month at the time of writing and in our opinion, is one of, if not the best gimbal stabilizer made to date.
Both of these gimbals are very small and easy to travel with due to their compact design, they are also very lightweight too meaning they are easier to squeeze into your luggage allowances without problem too. Both the G6 Max and the Weebill S also have independent locks on all three of their axes too allowing you to easily lock all of the movable parts on the gimbal in place. This also helps to reduce the risk of any of the axes rotating while in transit and accidentally breaking too, as far as travel gimbals go, both of these options are excellent and the best options for their respective weight classes.
Lock Your Bags
There are plenty of stories out there about people who have not used a simple cheap, TSA approved luggage lock on their bags when traveling and have ended up having their gear stolen. As your gimbal and other camera accessories can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars, we definatley think that investing in a few ten to twenty dollar locks is well worth doing to help protect your gear.
This also ties in with our recommendation to also add a suitable Pelican Case to your collection of gimbal accessories. The vast majority of Pelican cases come with a reinforced lock mount allowing you to string a lock through the case to protect your gimbal and other camera accessories without having a weak point for a potential thief to try and attack to open the case. Now, keep in mind, agencies such as the TSA are still well within their rights to crack your lock open to double-check what’s inside your luggage but these locks can help to deter thieves from targeting you as well as prevent baggage handlers from seeing what you have in your bags and cases.
Take Advantage Of Media Rates
Even in this day and age, we still see a large number of photographers and videographers traveling via plane who are unaware of media rates for their gear. This is essentially a rate for camera equipment that is much cheaper than standard luggage and should definatley be taken advantage of. Now, some airlines do not offer this but the vast majority of North American and European airlines do you just have to do a little digging on their websites.
For example, here are the current media rates for traveling with United Airlines at the time of writing and as you can see, they can definatley add up to some solid savings. One of the best things about media rates is that the airline staff actually rarely know what they are looking for to approve the rate and give you this increased baggage allowance for a lower rate.
There are multiple YouTube channels that have gone over how they are able to travel around with all of their camera accessories without issue. Many of them simply have a print off with a logo on it that tells them to go to a location and record footage or capture photographs. A quick flash of all of your camera gear usually does the trick and gets you the media rates without actually having to be a journalist on an official tasking from a news network.
At the time of writing, this is still working with many people still using this trick and from what we can see, there have been no efforts to increase the training of the airline staff to teach them what actual press passes look like and what has to be shown to qualify for media rates.
Store The Batteries
Now, this next one can be depending on the airline that you are traveling with as there are still a few airlines that will not let you put your luggage in the main luggage hold is it contains any time of the battery. Although this is very rare in this day and age, it is definitely worth double-checking with the airline that you will be traveling with prior to your flight. There is a ton of information online going into the battery types and what ones can be stored where on a plane.
Carry On Or Hold Storage
Again, this one is going to come down to what the airline you are traveling with allow as most airlines these days will try and ensure that passengers have as little carry on luggage as possible when flying and that luggage goes in the hold of the plane. Some airlines also prefer you to remove the battery from any devices you have and carry it in with your carry on baggage as the holds of planes are often pressurized or not temperature controlled but this will depend on your airline. As some gimbals do not have removable batteries, this will also dictate where you have to store it during air travel.
All that said and done though, we have never had a problem with an airline when traveling with a gimbal. There are also a number of Pelican Cases that are small enough to be taken on the plane as carry on too, especially if you use a gimbal like the FeiyuTech G6 Max that is very small. As many videographers and vloggers like to be able to keep an eye on their gear while traveling, this can often be the preferred solution.
This final point will only be relevant if your travels involved the USA but ensure that your camera accessories are all compliant with the TSA regulations. At the time of writing, there are no restrictions on flying with a gimbal or any other type of camera accessory but the TSA regulations are regularly updated.
On top of this, a number of airlines have put their own specific policies in that may affect you too. Although at the time of writing there are none in force that we are aware of, some airlines have previously banned camera tripods from being a part of your carry on luggage. Although not directly related to a gimbal, many videographers and vloggers often have a tripod with their gimbal so we just wanted to make our readers aware of this.