How to travel with film the stress free way!

This is the method we use when travelling with our film in this x-ray happy day and age. We have experienced no problems in Australia, USA, Asia, Central and South America  using this system to get your film hand checked with even the most strict security personnel.

Lead lined film bags no longer cut it as the screener will just turn up the x-ray machines output. Avoid these.

First always as you go through screening announce that you have film and request a hand check and have your baggie in your hands ready for the staff as explained below.

In order to make things a breeze you will need several heavy duty ziplock bags and one or more extra small rafters bags in Black nylon which are available from most good outdoor stores. Your first step is to take all your film out of its boxes and plastic cans and put it all in one ziplock bag ( handy hint we always carry some  high speed  such as Ilford Delta 3200 iso film mixed in with the rest, you can point out that its high speed film and will be damaged by even low dose x-rays. This really helps if you start to get the I have had way too many coffees and donuts today……. look from the staff).

So here is your film with its tabs hanging out in a nice clear easy to see and search bag.


This is what you present to the friendly security staff most seem to actually appreciate the fact that you are organised! and will only give it a quick visual check, others will check each roll. Once you have passed muster it then goes back into its little waterproof and dustproof rafters bag. I used to go to the trouble of putting my film back in the plastic cans for safe travelling but have found that it’s tough stuff and now leave the cans at home.

The XS rafters bag in light black nylon by Sea to Summit. Water and light tight… Perfect!

One thing to remember is that on a long trip you might run into a wall every now and then don’t panic your film will survive a few x-ray passes the whole idea is to keep this to a minimum. Just at all costs avoid leaving film in your checked in baggage as the x-ray machines this goes through are all seeing and all destroying.

This little bag holds up to 40 rolls of film. I have travelled with all my film in these many times now and have had no hassles at all. Handy hint write your name and address and email on the label or bag with a reward for its return. Happy trails!

3 thoughts on “How to travel with film the stress free way!

    • Hi Stephen,

      Good point! I have travelled with 120 rolls amongst my 35mm they are ok sealed in the foil and once exposed I put them back in the foil with the top open… but sheet film that’s a doozy… as I can just see some Bolivian security guy wanting to take a peak!

  1. Hi Scott,
    Thanks for the great tips! This article is full of handy advice especially with an upcoming trip to Burma! See you again soon no doubt.

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