How to Travel with Film?

Film photography has a unique charm that cannot be matched by digital mediums. For those who wish to travel with film, there are certain considerations that can make or break your photographic journey. In this guide, we will delve into the world of traveling with film, from prepping your gear to navigating airport security.

Preparation Before the Trip

To ensure a smooth journey, the first step involves selecting the right equipment. Choose a film camera that suits your style and intended subject matter. Pack various types of film to give you flexibility in different lighting conditions. Remember to include essentials like extra batteries and lens cleaning equipment.

Next, it’s important to focus on protecting your gear. Use a weather-resistant and shock-proof bag to transport your camera, undeveloped film, and other accessories.

Traveling with Film

Traveling with film requires special attention at security checkpoints. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) scanners can harm undeveloped film, so it’s recommended to carry film in your hand luggage rather than checked baggage. If possible, request a hand check at airport security to prevent potential damage.

Adapting to the environment is another crucial aspect. Different climates can affect film differently. Hence, understanding these effects and proper storage methods can enhance the longevity and quality of your film.

Shooting on the Road

When it comes to shooting, understanding light is fundamental. Learn how to manipulate film speed (ISO) to capture images in various lighting conditions. Apply basic principles of framing and composition to create compelling shots with your film camera.

After shooting, preserve your film by storing it correctly. Make sure to rewind your film immediately after shooting to prevent light leaks.

Developing and Scanning Your Film

After your travel, it’s time to develop and scan your film. You can locate trustworthy local labs in different locations or opt for home development. When scanning, consider investing in a quality scanner or using professional scanning services to maintain the quality of your negatives.

Post-Travel Actions

After development, organize and store negatives carefully for long-term preservation. Develop a cataloging system for easy access to your work. You can then share your work on various platforms and even enter film photography contests.

What is the Best Way to Travel with Film?

The best way to travel with film involves a combination of careful preparation and knowledge. Begin by selecting the right equipment according to your photography needs. Pack your gear safely in a weather-resistant and shock-proof bag to protect your film camera and undeveloped film from potential damage. Always carry film in your hand luggage to avoid the stronger X-ray machines used for checked baggage. Be aware of the climate and environmental factors at your destination as they can affect the quality of your film. Lastly, always request for a hand-check at airport security to prevent potential X-ray damage to your film.

Can 35mm Film go Through Airport Security?

Yes, 35mm film can go through airport security, but it’s important to consider the possible impact of X-ray scanners. While lower ISO films (below 800) can generally withstand a few scans without noticeable effects, higher ISO films and repeated scans can result in fogging or streaking on your film. Therefore, to prevent any potential damage, it’s recommended to request a hand check for your film at airport security.

How do You Transport Used Film?

Used or exposed film should be rewound into its protective canister immediately after shooting to avoid light leaks, which can ruin your film. For added protection, you can use a plastic film canister or case. Make sure to store them in a cool, dry place and avoid leaving them in places with high temperature. When traveling, it’s best to keep them in your carry-on luggage to avoid the stronger X-rays used on checked luggage at airports.

Where do You Put Your Film Camera When Traveling?

When traveling, you should always place your film camera in a protective case or bag, preferably one that is shock-proof and weather-resistant. This will help to safeguard your equipment from bumps, drops, and adverse weather conditions. It’s recommended to carry your film camera in your carry-on luggage to prevent it from being mishandled or lost. Moreover, if you’re flying, carry-on luggage goes through less intensive scanners than checked luggage, reducing the risk of damage from X-rays.

Read: How to Travel with a Wedding Dress?

Read: How to Travel with a Hat?

Read: How to Pack Shoes for Travel?

Read: How to Pack Makeup for Travel?


Traveling with film may seem daunting, but with careful planning, it can be a rewarding experience. Follow these tips to make your journey smoother and enjoy the world of film photography to its fullest. Traveling with a film camera invites you to slow down, savor the moment, and create tangible memories that will last a lifetime. Embrace the unpredictability and beauty of film on your next trip!

Leave a Comment