Destination weddings are fun and crazy at the same time. I’ve had the privilege of photographing a number of them, so let me share my experiences. I recently saw someone tweet about how they were having so much trouble at the airport, which is why I am writing this piece.
“Well, I’ll just bring all of my gear because I cannot risk missing a shot!” I beg to differ.
Tip #1 – Taxes For More Than One Body
If you carry more than one body, international airports will deem it as professional work and will charge you taxes and fees. Therefore, always claim it as your assistant’s camera. You can also make an excuse that one is about to break, so you brought a backup. Just be prepared on how to respond if you hate to pay extra.
Tip #2 – Light Packing
Carry as lightly as possible. When I photographed a day after session in Tulum (Mexico), we walked for 45 minutes to the beach, which would be a super pain if you lugged a lot of gear, so pack accordingly.
If you forget this, you do not deserve to shoot destination weddings.
Printed Wedding Itinerary
Be prepared to not have any printers conveniently lying around, unless you are at Ritz Carlton or something. Only problem there is they’ll charge you $0.70 per sheet. Trust me, I know.
Make sure that you can charge whatever gear you have. If you have consecutive weddings or shoots, be ready.
Surprisingly, many people forget this. I remember bringing associates to destination weddings and they FORGET their chargers. Like O-M-G right? LOL
Business / Credit Cards
Business cards are given. Credit cards are not.
Tip #1 – Variety
Don’t bother with AMEX or Discover. Most of the world does not accept them … yet. The most used cards are Visa and MasterCard. Visa is still dominant.
Check with your exchange rates. Some cards charge a conversion fee. This is the same for ATM withdrawals. Don’t exchange money at retail locations, especially with the businesses at airports. Go to your local bank and order some foreign currency – enough for food, taxi travel, etc.
Tip #2 – Travel Alert
Call your credit card companies and put a travel alert on them. If you use it outside the country (sometimes state), they will freeze your account lest it has been hacked and you will be stuck with no money.
Tip #3 – Exchange Rates
Find out your credit card fees. ATM withdrawals are normally 1%. Credit card transactions are normally 3%. Don’t go spending like crazy to later find out you dug yourself a tiny debt.
No matter how much the airport wants to tear you a new one when exchanging money, be sure to exchange some into the visiting country’s currency.
Make sure to bring small change as well in case they honor the US dollar. This way you can tip cab drivers and etc. Later on when in the country, see whether it is more economical to exchange cash or withdraw from an ATM (normally 1%).
(Only the top one is a Benjamin. That’s how I roll – big bills on the outside hahaha!)
The safe maximum size for international carry-on luggage is 45″, in the form of a 22″ x 14″ x 9″ bag. Companies have already created bags with those specifications in mind.
- ThinkTank Airport International
- Calumet Rolling Case
- LowePro International Rolling Case
When booking hotels, I would suggest to stay wherever your bride/groom are staying. The reason for this is because it will be difficult to communicate with each other once you are there. Cell phones and emails might not be accessible, so plan accordingly.
If it is dire that you have data for emails [or twittering], make sure that you buy an international data plan before hand. One time I accidentally hit refresh and loaded 200 emails, which costed me $40. So yeah…
??? just kidding
Aside from that, please be sure to bring socks, sandals, sun block, sun glasses, under garments, etc. This entire article dawned on me when someone tweeted about paying taxes at the airport, so I decided to elaborate from there.
P.S. My favorite Chipotle entree is chicken salad with black beans, hot sauce, sour cream, cheese and corn. Yum! I just had it today and can do it again tomorrow.