Even with phones these days having excellent cameras that are capable of taking high-quality photos, there is still a place for Polaroid cameras, especially when you are traveling and taking in new sights.

There can be some uncertainty when bringing packing a Polaroid or Instax camera due to the nature of its design and the film.

According to the TSA, you can bring Polaroid and Instax cameras on a plane in both your carry-on and checked bags.

But the real question is: will the airport security screening process damage your film, and what is the best way of packing your Polaroid camera.

How the Screening Process Works for Polaroid & Instax Cameras

It’s only natural to be a bit nervous when flying with a Polaroid camera because you might think that your film will be damaged when undergoing screening.


X-Ray Won’t Damage Your Exposed Film

If you’ve already taken some photos, then you have nothing to worry about.

Your exposed film won’t be damaged when undergoing screening, so you can pack film in either your carry-on or checked bag.

But Will Damage Your Undeveloped Film

Unfortunately, due to the radiation that airport scanners emit, especially the new scanners installed in airports, your undeveloped instant film can be damaged, which will result in foggy photos that are washed-out and have a pinkish hue.

The good news is that before the screening process begins, you can ask a TSA officer to physically inspect your film, so it won’t have to undergo X-ray screening.

How to Pack Your Polaroid Camera for Flying

To safely pack your camera when flying, there are a few things we suggest:

  • Place your Polaroid camera in a protective case or bag if you pack it in either your carry-on or checked bag. If you don’t want to use a case, at the very least make sure that you wrap it in clothing.
  • Pack your films inside a dark bag. A filmguard bag like this is recommended.
  • As both your carry-on bags and checked bags undergo screening, it would be best to pack your film in your carry-on because you can ask for it to be physically inspected.
  • Make sure you bring enough film because it can be hard to find film in some places, especially if you’re flying internationally.

The Best Polaroid Camera for Travel

Either the Instax SQ1 or Polaroid Now i-Type are the popular, obvious choices. Both are user-friendly while also having the benefit of being lightweight and easy to use.

The Instax Wide 300 would be your best bet if you’re looking to take wider photos, which can be beneficial when traveling, so you can fit more into the frame when sightseeing.

Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.

Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.

Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).