First Time Travelling To Asia/Africa With My Gear: I Need Advice


I'm New Here

First, I'm not sure this is the right forum topic area for this, but its the closest I could guess.

I'm a Montreal-based photographer who will be taking a 2 month trip to two places in the next week: The Philippines and Kenya. This is the first time I'm going to either country (and continent!) and I've got some pretty big things to think about the first time. I am going to both places for work. In the Philippines I volunteered to help photo document some of the displacement of rural peoples in different parts of the country due to mining. In Kenya I will be covering the elections there as well as International Women's Day events in March. I'm a freelancer and I have no ties to any agencies or networks. I'm funding these trips out of my own pocket. The opportunity presented itself and I felt like these were the right places to get my feet wet. I have good contacts in both places and my food and accommodations are being taken care of.

So here's the part where I need advice... and this being the first time I'm doing something like this I am VERY open to any and all advice.

I've got a good kit. I'll be hauling my Canon 1DX, Canon 5D Mark III, 50 1.2L, 24 1.4L, 16-35 2.8L and 70-200 2.8L. I bought an F-Stop Tilopa because I felt it did the best job of hauling not just my camera gear but everything I need to live during the trip (clothes etc). Obviously I have some concerns about the security of my kit. I seriously considered leaving my 1DX at home, but the way I see it is if I go on a trip like this I am going to regret not bringing that phenomenal camera. I have no concerns about carrying the weight (well, only fesible ones) and I always work with 2 bodies.

I've got a point and shoot for areas where I don't feel comfortable and my SLRs will stay in my bag until i feel I have relative control of whatever location I'm at. I'm not going to hang them around my neck while travelling on buses or walking around aimlessly in the city. I also think that the 5D will do most of the work when I am moving about when unsure of what my security concerns are. When I am in a more controlled environment I'll take out the 1DX.

Here are some questions:
1) Does this all sound crazy? I honestly have woken up a couple times this week thinking "Holy hell! What if I get robbed! That 1D is 6500$! Am I nuts?". The other option would be to leave one SLR at home and take just the 5D... but then if something goes wrong with that one camera I'm screwed.
2) Have any of you had experience with security issues in either country. You can be specific or non-specific. For example, I've heard not to take any rides from anyone out of the airport in Nairobi unless I know them. I arranged for a from my contact there.
3) Do any of you have advice on insurers in Canada that might insure my gear on a trip like this?

I know this sounds like a really general, non-specific inquiry... and it is. As I said, I'm simultaneously excited and nervous. I'm smart, but not experienced when it comes to travelling with a lot of gear and I feel I might benefit from some of the wide range of experience on this forum. I guess I'm looking for a little wise encouragement too... The truth is I can't imagine going to either place to do the work I'm doing and not bring along all of my best equipment. My concern now is how best to take care of it.


On a very different note: I've been a reader of this forum for some time. I decided its about time I contributed a bit more. The tone and maturity of posters here is impressive compared with most tech/geek forums and I'm in awe of a lot of the work posted here. Kudos to y'all.


I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Jul 21, 2010
Insure your gear, make sure you read the policy and that it covers business use, applies world wide, and offers replacement value coverage. That's question 3, but it should be step 1. ;)

You might consider a hard case for your gear. When I travel, I pack my camera gear in a Lowepro Flipside 300 or 400 AW, or a DSLR Video Fastpack 250 AW (depending on how much gear), and then I pack that loaded bag inside a Pelican Storm im2500 hard case, with a pair of TamperSeal TSA SearchAlert Extended Hasp locks along. That way, I have the gear protected in case I'm forced to check the bag (late boarding or small regional planes with limited stowage), I have a secure case to lock up the gear in a hotel, and I still have an easy way to carry it around at my destination.

Welcome, and have a great trip!