When packing for domestic or international travel, it takes more than just planning your outfits and ensuring they are fit for the weather. It also means considering if everything you will bring is safe and allowed on board.
Whether you’re a professional photographer or love to take photos, you know how tripods are essential when traveling. Not only do they support your camera, but they also make the best companion for taking group photos without needing a photographer.
But given its weight and size, you might wonder if you can safely bring tripods on the plane. Here we will discuss everything you need to know about carrying tripods during trips.
Can I Bring Tripod on a Plane?
To start, yes, tripods are allowed on the plane. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website, tripods are allowed in carry-on luggage and checked baggage. They also don’t have additional size limitations, but they are subject to the same carry-on and checked baggage size restrictions. (Read Can You Bring Zyn Through TSA)
The size limitations vary per airline, but most airlines follow these measurements:
For personal items: dimensions should be around 18 x 14 x 8 in. (45 x 35 x 20 cm.) and should fit under the front seat
For carry-on: dimensions should be around 22 x 14 x 9 in. (56 x 36 x 23 cm.) and should fit in the overhead bin
As for the items’ weight for personal and carry-on, certain airlines have weight limits, usually between 30-40 lbs. (Around 13-18 kgs.).
However, the final decision rests with the TSA officer whether your item will pose any hazard and if they will allow them through the checkpoint.
Tips for Packing Your Tripod
Yes, you can carry a tripod on a plane, but you must keep it in the best way possible. Here are some tips for packing your tripod in your carry-on bags or checked luggage:
Keep your tripod in your carry-on baggage
You can place your tripod in your carry-on or checked luggage, but it’s highly recommended that you put it in your hand luggage. While most tripods nowadays seem sturdy, you never know what happens when you have already checked in your luggage. Unlike when you carry it with you, you can keep your eye on it and ensure its safety, especially if it’s expensive.
Place it in a dedicated case
When bringing a tripod on a plane, ensure it’s stored in a tripod bag with label. This will make it easier for airport security to identify what you’re carrying. It’s also easier to find when it has a label and prevents it from being thrown away.
Bring only a small tripod
As mentioned above, specific sizes are allowed when taking your tripod as a personal item or in your carry-on. Instead of bringing a standard tripod, you can opt for a travel tripod or pocket tripod to save some space and not worry whether they’ll be permitted in your carry-on.
Although large tripods are allowed in your checked luggage, you can’t bring them in your carry-on since they can’t be stored in the overhead compartment or under your seat.
Best to carry a carbon fiber or light aluminum tripod
Airport security is flexible when it comes to the material of the tripod you’ll bring since they allow all kinds. However, heavy tripods such as those made of steel or aluminum can raise concerns for airport security since they might be a potential weapon.
For a hassle-free trip, go for a light carbon fiber or lightweight aluminum tripod to avoid adding weight and raise concerns while checking your bags.
Place your tripod in the bottommost area of your checked bags
If you need to put your tripod in your checked bag, you can place them in the bottommost area since they are the sturdiest, including light stands. You can then set the more delicate items, such as lenses or flashes, in padded cases. After placing all of these, you can now put all your clothes and other stuff on top. (Read Can I Take A Pencil Sharpener On A Plane)
Best Types of Tripods to Bring
Here are some of the best travel-friendly tripods you can consider bringing:
Based on their name, travel tripods are portable yet functional, making them ideal for travel. They are just like ordinary tripods but smaller and more lightweight.
If you will go for this type for your trips, make sure you go for ones that can fit vertically in your carry-on bags that will not require you to angle them sideways. Through this, you can ensure that they are stored upright, won’t get damaged, and won’t consume much space in your bag.
Typically 4-8 inches tall, pocket tripods are best for quick self-portraits. Since they are small, you can’t make them stand on the ground; you need to find a table or anything elevated to rest them on. This type is your best bet if you will mainly take portraits during your trip!
As its name states, monopods are tripods with mono or single leg. They can support the weight of your camera, but you can’t walk away from it. Since they are lighter than a regular tripod, they are easier to carry around. If you’re planning to visit Africa or anywhere where you will visit wildlife, this tripod is the most ideal.
Specialized tripods usually come in two types: suction cups and flexible legs. Suction cups like Fat Gecko are ideal for taking photos and videos when you’re in a moving car. Meanwhile, adjustable legs like GorillaPod are tripods with stretchy legs that can bend in whatever shape you want!
Bringing camera and camera gear on a plane
When bringing your tripod, it also means you’re bringing your camera. The TSA allows the camera and other camera gear on a plane as long as it’s packed properly.
For your cameras, it’s highly recommended to bring them with you in your carry-on bag and place it in a camera bag. It’s also ideal for placing your camera equipment in your hand luggage, but if it’s too bulky, you can leave it in your checked bag. You can follow the last tip when packing your tripod in case you will have to place your camera gear in your checked bags.
The best way to know whether your tripod and other camera gear are allowed on your carry-on and checked baggage is to check the website of the airline you’ll be visiting. This way, you’re sure you will be fine with the equipment you’ll be bringing. You can also reach out to TSA on Twitter to confirm whether an item is allowed. (Read Can You Bring Sharpies On A Plane)
In conclusion, it will be fine when you carry a tripod on board. Airlines understand that camera gears such as tripods are essential when traveling and don’t usually pose any risk to the passengers. Only heavier tripods, and those with steel heads and made out of heavy aluminum might cause you trouble and be restricted by TSA officers.
You won’t have to worry about bringing your camera and tripod if you follow the mentioned tips and reminders. So, plan that trip and take the best photos you can!