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I'm traveling by air on Ryanair to UK, then off to Spain. I don't feel safe putting my tripod in the checked luggage, and I've had problems carrying it in hand luggage.

How do I make sure that my tripod survives the plane trip? I had a tripod stolen from my luggage and don't fancy that happening again.

  • Hi, Matthew, and welcome to Photography Stack Exchange. I tried to copyedit your question a bit, and added a clearer question statement at the end. Please check that I didn't change your intended meaning too much, and edit your question to clarify it as needed. Thanks! – Ilmari Karonen Feb 14 '15 at 12:17
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    Also, you could improve your question by adding a few details about what kind of tripod you have (size, material, weight) and what specific problems you've had traveling with it before. – Ilmari Karonen Feb 14 '15 at 12:22
  • Sharing your research helps everyone. Have you checked with the carrier and is there something about their advice you are unclear on? For those outside the EU, Ryanair is a low cost carrier modelled highly on Southwest Airlines and it is unlikely that the flight will be empty and all additional services beyond the passenger's backside in a seat for the flight are likely to incur a cost. – James Snell Feb 14 '15 at 16:11
  • Also, have you checked the security and carry-on baggage restrictions at your UK airport. It's unlikely you'd be able to wander around the terminal with one. – James Snell Feb 14 '15 at 16:19
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    What kind of trouble have you had carrying it on? – JDługosz Feb 16 '15 at 12:19
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I only have a fairly small aluminum tripod (53 cm / 21" folded, sans head), which fits inside my suitcase and is more than sturdy enough to take any abuse the luggage handlers might dish out, so I've never had any trouble with it. I assume yours is both bigger and more expensive, though, which could make things more problematic.

That said, I've had similar issues flying to a conference with a rolled-up poster (basically, a cardboard tube about 1 meter long), and my advice for that is simple: ask at check-in. They may be OK with you taking it as hand luggage (they always have, for me), especially if the plane is not too full. If not, they can give advice on how to pack and label it so as to minimize the risk of damage.

Anyway, if I had to pack a fancy expensive tripod for checked luggage, and was paranoid about it getting roughly handled, I might start by bringing a roll of bubble wrap. After wrapping the tripod (and its carrying bag, if you have one) in a layer of bubble wrap to cushion it, go find one of those luggage-wrapping machines they have at airports, that will let you seal the whole package inside a layer of what's basically heavy-duty cling film. Finally, decorate with plenty of "FRAGILE" stickers, just for good measure.


Ps. Related questions on this site:

... and on Travel SE:

  • I had a tripod stolen from my luggage and don' facy that hapening again – matthew Laming Feb 17 '15 at 21:05
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I would suggest a locked hard-case in the hold is the best option. If your tripod is small enough then it may fit in the overhead locker but you should really check this - Ryanair, being a cheap airline, will add on additional charges for anything that they consider extra.

Finally if you are worried about travelling with expensive gear then make sure it is adequately insured.

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It depends on which airline you take. A lot of airlines will allow you to take a carry on item (free) and stow it under the seat and another up above in the cubby.

So,

Checked:

  • clothes
  • miscellaneous items.

Carry on:

  • lenses and camera stored under the seat in a backpack designed to store
  • tripod stored in the cubby area above you, if you are worried about scratches or dents then do what @llmari Karonen said and bubble wrap it.

Personally, I wouldn't let my $600+ camera in the hands of someone else, nor would I let anyone else handle anything that is essential to the function of my $600+ camera.

This will allow you to maximize the amount of items you can take with you and not have to worry about sacrificing any essentials you need (i.e. your camera).

backpack suggestions: Backpack from Amazon

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