Tips + Techniques

21 Travel Tips for Wedding Photographers

July 20, 2018

By Jacqueline Tobin

Photo © Callaway Gable

Let’s face it: Very few of us have mastered the art of smooth, hassle-free travel, especially when lots of gear, multiple locations and connecting flights are involved. These handy tips from three wedding photographers, who find themselves in airplane mode more often than not, will definitely help cut down on the chaos.

Photo © Callaway Gable

Brian Callaway
Callaway Gable
Los Angeles, CA


When flying to an international destination, you’ll often have an additional connecting flight with a regional airline. Their luggage rules and fees are different from the U.S. airline you started with. Be prepared to pay fees for your carry-on camera bag—weight and size limits are smaller abroad. Also anticipate check-in luggage fees if you are connecting on a flight that is not part of your initial record locator.

Recently, I flew to India on American Airlines. When connecting on Jet Airways, an Indian airline, I was charged for carry-on weight and checked-in luggage weight. Make sure you anticipate these fees and add them to your budget, or bill your client.

When shopping for the right camera bag for your gear, you want to factor in size, portability and security. Use a carry-on bag that has been designed for the smaller limits on international overhead compartments. You will be doing a lot of walking through airports, so choose a case that has four wheels—it’s much easier on your body to stroll with four than it is to pull with two. Look for a case that comes with a built-in security cable. Your worst nightmare will come true when you turn around to grab a coffee and someone has taken your bag. I prefer Think Tank Photo’s Airport Roller Derby Rolling Carry-On Camera Bag. It fits the bill on all of the above.


Most airports now have lounges that come with full bathrooms, food, bars and Wi-Fi. If you have the right credit card, free lounge access is often a perk. Many credit cards offer Priority Pass membership, which gives you access to over 1,200 lounges worldwide. I prefer the American Express Platinum card, which gives you access to its Centurion lounge. With complimentary top-shelf cocktails and wine, celebrity chef cuisine, showers and areas with privacy, this lounge will help you arrive to your destination rested and ready for your shoot. Take a look at for the latest travel credit card perks and specials.


All of your batteries must be in your carry-on luggage. This includes your speed light batteries, camera body batteries and often-overlooked video light batteries. Also, be prepared to take out all of your electronics when passing through security in other countries. Recently, I had to pull out all of my cameras, flashes and batteries at London’s Heathrow Airport for additional inspection. You should definitely factor in these delays when scheduling your flights and connection times.


Using Google Earth, you can visit and pre-scout your destination before you travel. Enter your location in Google Earth’s search field, and when it loads, you will notice several icons on the right. The icon that looks like a human is the Street View icon; drag this onto the map and you will be transported down to the ground with a 360-degree view. You can now “walk” around and start scouting virtually. I use Google Earth to make a list of interesting landscapes and cityscapes near the wedding venue. I include directions and travel time using Google Maps. When I land, my location scouts that used to take half a day now only take a fraction of that.


Did you know that many phone carriers have added affordable international plans? AT&T’s International Day Pass lets you travel to over 100 countries and have unlimited text, talk and the same data plan you use at home for $10 per day. Check with your provider to see what they offer. If you need something more robust, try Skyroam. It’s a Wi-Fi hub that brings the internet to you and five of your gadgets for $9 per day.

Photo © Jerry Ghionis Photography

Jerry Ghionis
Jerry Ghionis Photography
Las Vegas, NV


When a couple inquires with us to photograph a wedding in a destination location, we only offer our highest collection. We also separately charge a minimum of three nights of accommodations and return travel. If I didn’t book the wedding, I would be able to stay home and potentially book twice as many weddings that weekend or work on my business, so while shooting a destination wedding sounds glamorous, it needs to be worth the time and effort spent away from your home and family.


Be sure to sign up for an airline rewards program—and do your best to stick to that program by only booking flights within that family. You will quickly (or eventually) start improving your status with that airline, which means automatic upgrades to premium economy (or better) with more leg room and a more comfortable journey. It also means that you’ll be able to use a separate (usually much shorter) line at the airport when checking in your luggage. And you will be able to board the plane first and access the overhead storage bins first, too.


Keep your trip organized by signing up for TripIt, an app that keeps track of all of your flights, hotels, car rentals, etc. in a single app. It’s free, but if you find yourself traveling a lot, I highly recommend just signing up for TripIt Pro (it’s $49 per year) for the extra options. It even keeps track of confirmation emails that come in to your inbox and will automatically add them to your itinerary. You can access your details even when you’re offline and don’t have internet access. It’s a very helpful way to make sure you always have all of your confirmation numbers and other logistical information within easy reach.


Check before making your seat selections on a flight. You’ll be asked to type in your airline, your flight number and date of travel, and you’ll be given a map that lists which specific seats are great (unexpected extra legroom, perhaps), which seats get mixed reviews (extra legroom but too close to the galley so it may be noisy, or have no window) and which seats get bad reviews (close to the bathroom so lots of people are standing next to you during the flight). It’s a great resource and you’ll avoid any surprises when you board the plane.


Make sure to find out in advance if you will need any vaccinations before arriving to the country you are traveling to. Some countries will not allow you to enter until you provide proof of certain vaccinations. Other times, it is just for your own health and safety if you are traveling to a country where you may be infected with a disease from mosquitos or the local water.


If you find yourself traveling internationally regularly, then it is very worthwhile to sign up for Global Entry (if you are a U.S. resident) or the equivalent in your country. There is an application fee (it is $100 for U.S. residents) and once you have been approved, you will be able to quickly pass through a special lane when re-entering the United States. There are automated kiosks dedicated to Global Entry travelers; you simply walk up, scan your passport and leave instead of waiting in extremely long lines at customs or passport control.

If you find yourself traveling domestically regularly, then it is also very worthwhile to sign up for the TSA PreCheck program (if you are a U.S. resident) or the equivalent in your country. In the United States, for example, it allows you to go into a special line at airport security that is often shorter, and you do not have to take off your shoes or remove any laptops from your bag.

If you have an American Express Platinum card for your business, be sure to pay the application fee for both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck with your card. American Express will credit the application fees for both programs back to your credit card just for being a member.


If you are traveling to a country that is underdeveloped, remember to bring a pack of toilet paper with you. When using a public bathroom, some countries may not always have it available, and you’ll be very grateful that you brought some with you. Luckily, it doesn’t take up much space in your luggage.


If you are traveling internationally, always make sure you are allowed to work in the country you will be going to. This means obtaining the necessary permits and visas (and the customs department does always ask to see them!) before you leave. These can often take some time and may require some paperwork, so it’s always best to start working on it as soon as you have a signed contract from your client. If you wait until the last minute, it may be too late.


Make sure you all of your gear is charged before you leave but still bring all of your chargers in case you need to charge them when you get there.

If you are traveling with someone or if you have multiple phones and devices, you might find a multi-charger very useful—a device that will let you charge up to four phones, iPads, etc. at the same time and will only use up one power outlet. You will find that power outlets can sometimes be quite scarce in a hotel room!

In that regard, instead of buying five or six adaptors, just buy one or two and bring a power strip with you. Then you’ll be able to plug all of your chargers and devices into the power strip and just use one adaptor for the power strip itself.

Most importantly, be sure to check that you have the correct power adaptor for the country you will be traveling to!


Make sure your insurance is up to date! This is true whether you are traveling for work or not, but you especially want to be sure all of your gear is insured for loss and that your liability insurance is up to date. It is important to call your insurance company to make sure that you gear will still be insured if you travel away from your home state or out of the country. You do not want to be in a situation where you need to file a claim only to find that you gear was not insured because that was not included in your policy.


Make sure you bring pain relievers (such as Advil) with you in your carry-on luggage.  The air can be very dry while in an airport and on a plane, and combined with additional anxiety you may be feeling, you do not want to find yourself on a long flight with a massive headache. It sounds like a trivial thing, but once it has happened, you will never forget to have pain relievers with you ever again. Flight attendants are usually not permitted to dispense any kind of medication, and having a big headache while being stuck in your seat on a long flight can be very difficult and a bad way to start your work trip.


Always request that your client book a room at the hotel where they will be staying or where the wedding will be held. You do not want to be left stranded in a hotel that is far away.

It is also a good idea to purchase travel insurance. You can purchase travel insurance separately for one trip, or if you travel frequently, you can purchase a policy that covers your travel for a year. This will protect you if you need to cancel a flight or if you get sick overseas.


For your own peace of mind, always put the keys to your house in the same exact spot in your luggage or carry-on. When you get home and you are exhausted from a long flight and lack of sleep, you definitely do not want to be rummaging around every piece of luggage you brought or feeling a sense of panic at the thought of having lost them somewhere along the way. Trust me on this: Keep them in the same exact spot every single time and you’ll never have to worry about it.

Photo © Keith Cephus Photography

Keith Cephus
Keith Cephus Photography
Virginia Beach, VA


I typically bring a maximum of two camera bodies, and I only pack what is absolutely necessary. That way when I go through customs, I don’t look like a working pro. If you have more than two cameras, you run the risk of needing a work permit. Invest in the Think Tank Photo Airport Security V3.0 carry-on bag; it’s amazing and compatible for both domestic and international travel.


The less people know what you have in your room, the better. Take full advantage of the room safe and stow all of your valuables, including your passport. Grab some towels and wash clothes as needed and keep the Do Not Disturb sign on your door at all times.


Lens condensation is an inconvenient problem that occurs when you leave a cold, air-conditioned room and step outside into the heat. When you check in, store your camera bodies and lenses in Hefty slider storage bags. There is nothing more frustrating than standing around with foggy lenses that you can’t see or shoot through.

Related: 5 Unexplored Destinations You Might Want to Add to Your Bucket List

The Secret Retreat: A Workshop for the Aspiring Destination Wedding Photographer

How to Prep For the Logistics of a Destination Wedding