Richard’s Rules of Travel

From: Richard W. Adkins, WRAL-TV, Raleigh, NC

Let’s face it, no matter what we say, we all got in this business for just one reason. It’s a cool job! And there is nothing cooler than traveling on the company budget. But before you pack the camera gear and cash the travel check, I’ve got a few words of wisdom I like to call Richard’s Rules of Travel.


On assignment in Panama with reporter Randy Renner, Adkins shoots back toward the Bridge of the Americas.

These rules are presented in no particular order, nor or they designed to override your own company’s rules or common sense. These are just my personal rules I’ve developed over 20 years in this business. These rules should also be read with a healthy dose skepticism.

  • Always travel with your own liquor. Seriously. Why do you think they sell those airline bottles anyway? When you travel, you often run into unknown and sometimes bizarre liquor laws. Often you are working way past the time local liquor stores close. When you’re finished for the day, an adult beverage may be just the ticket, you’ll be ready. Now imagine the end of a long workday, you’ve busted your hump and broadcast live at 5pm, 6pm, and 11pm. You and the reporter and Sat Truck operator meet at the hotel only find the bar is closed. You simply smile, invite the crowd to your room and you’ve suddenly endeared yourself to your coworkers.
  • Always pack your swimsuit. The chances are good that you’ll be booked into a fairly decent hotel… one with a pool. If you’re lucky, it’s an indoor pool for year-round use. Nothing relieves the frustration of a hard day like a nice cool dip in the pool. Some hotel will do you one better by offering a hot tub Jacuzzi. Combine that with the above mention drink and you’ll forget how the producer screwed up your live shot.
  • Always travel with a pack of playing cards. More specifically, pack them in your carry-on bag. From airport delays to court house stakeouts nothing passes the time like a good game of cards. If you’re stuck alone, solitaire will keep you sane. If you’ve got company, everything from Go Fish to Poker is fair game. The type of cards you carry says a lot about you, I carry a pack of Jack Daniels old number 7’s.
  • Always tip well. At the airport and the hotel, the baggage handlers can be your best friends. At the airport, let the SkyCap take your gear and luggage (except the camera). The SkyCap can get you checked in quicker and may be able to get you around any baggage overage charges. Tip well, and you can have a hassle free trip. Tip poorly and your tripod may end u
    * p routed to Tripoli. At the hotel, let the bellman tote your gear to the room. Tip him/her well going in and word will get around. When it comes time to check out you won’t have to wait.
  • Always stay low. I’m not talking about ducking through your newsroom to avoid that dreaded vo/sot. When staying in a nice hotel, forget the view from the 21st floor. Stay on a floor low enough that you don’t mind using the stairs. I’ve known more than one photographer and reporter who nearly missed a live shot waiting on a hotel elevator.
  • Always carry enough gear to shoot at least one story. When traveling by air, carry-on the camera, with a tape in the chamber, a mic, camera light and battery. This way if you didn’t tip the SkyCap well you can still knock out at least one story. On the return trip, bring all your shot tape as carry-on luggage. I had a friend travel to Russia many years ago to shoot an hour long documentary, only he checked his tapes on the return trip and the airline lost them. Keep the boss happy by bringing the tapes back.
  • Always get on first. Whether traveling by plane, train, boat or bus, be one of the first on. You want to make sure you have a safe place to stow your camera. In the case of air travel, I always ask to pre-board. If that’s not possible, I try to book my seat in the last row, when it’s time to board I’m right there ready to get an overhead bin with plenty of pillows for my camera.
  • Always bring home a gift for the kids. Even if you have to stop at the airport gift shop, buy something from the places you visit. Make a big deal about it when you give it to your child. Make sure your child knows that while you were away, they were still in your heart and you were thinking about them.

Adkins enjoys a day off while on assignment in Paris. This photo was taken from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Traveling for News can be fun and exciting, it can also be a pain in the butt. While my list is just a start, there are a thousand other helpful hints out there from veteran photogs who have earned their wings.

I did tell one little fib in the beginning of this article, that whole thing about these rules having no particular order. I do have one rule that takes priority over all else, That’s Richard’s Number One Rule of Travel… Always travel with your own liquor.

One comment

  1. […] my wanderings, I came across this little gem……les-of-travel/ It was written years ago and uses ancient TV terms such as "Tape" and "Travel" […]

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