Essential Travel Photography Gear for Your Next Trip: 10 Must-Have Items

Essential Travel Photography Gear for Your Next Trip: 10 Must-Have Items

If you want to take truly excellent pictures on your next vacation, you’re going to have to do better than relying on your smartphone. Equipping yourself with some essential travel photography gear will make taking and storing high-quality shots much easier, so if you’re serious about upping your photo-taking game, don’t leave home without a few of these key items. 

1. Rugged & Durable Hard Drives

There’s no point in taking photos if you don’t have a safe place to store them. A good hard drive will leave plenty of room in your camera, and if your camera is lost or stolen, you won’t lose your photographs. Pick up a sturdy hard drive that will hold up even after a week or two of getting tossed around in a suitcase and backpack. We suggest not “cheaping out” here. Ideally, you’ll only need to buy one of these and it will serve you for a long time–  so do some research and find a nice one that will last.

Durable hard drives are essential for travel photography trips.

2. Travel Plug Adapters

Your travel photography equipment will be of no use to you unless you can plug it all in and recharge when necessary. You can find inexpensive adapters on Amazon, and it’s probably worth it to get two or three so that you can charge multiple devices at once. Universal adapters work with almost every outlet type in existence, so whether you’re off to Europe, East Asia or Australia, your trusty universal charger should do the trick. 

3. Power Strips & Extenders

North America is big on outlets, but in other places around the world you may find you run out of power sources quickly, especially if you’re traveling with a lot of electronics. A simple power strip turns one outlet into five outlets, and it can make your creative photo endeavors a lot easier. Of course, the strip is useless without an adaptor, and you should also make sure you choose a power strip rated for up to 240v. Most North American outlets use 110v, but 240v is common in many countries worldwide– and a 110v strip will be fried if you plug it into the wrong socket. Don’t short-circuit and even potentially ruin your equipment: choosing the proper voltage allowance is essential! 

Choosing the right power strip with the correct voltage allowance is crucial when traveling abroad.

4. USB Chargers

Another solution for charging devices is to bring along a USB charger. These plug into an outlet and offer you multiple ports to charge USB devices. These days, most small electronics charge via USB, so an adaptor can really free up some much-needed outlet space. Even better? This lightweight little gadget is handy year-round, even when you’re not on the road. 

5. Cards & Card Readers

All the hard drives and outlets we listed earlier are useless without a way to get your photos off your camera and onto another device. A card reader and a handful of good-quality memory cards are non-negotiable travel gear. If your laptop has a built-in card reader, you can skip a step, although having a portable card reader can be handy if you want to transfer files on the go.

Read related: Our Top 8 Travel Gear Must-Haves 

 

6. Travel Tripods

A sturdy, compact carbon fiber tripod is a lightweight and useful travel solution for taking professional-quality pictures with a stabilizing tool. The weight savings on an ultralightweight tripod frees you up to carry more lenses and gear than you otherwise would, and the compact size reduces the amount of bulk you’ll have to contend with on your trip. You may even avoid those annoying overweight bag fees airlines charge these days– a real boon.

Read related: Top 15 Ways to Budget & Save Money on Your Next Trip 

 

You may also want to look into purchasing a tripod with bendable legs that can grip railings or adjust for uneven surfaces. These give you better flexibility, and they’re also pretty fun to play with on long train rides.

A good-quality travel tripod is an important investment for aspiring travel photographers.

7. Camera Rain Covers

This is yet another one of those items you don’t want to be without– lest you literally get caught in a deluge. A rain cover protects your gear from water damage and lets you take photos no matter where you are. Whether it’s mist from a waterfall or just plain bad weather you need to protect yourself and gear against, a rain cover is essential. It’s also a very lightweight addition to your kit that won’t take up a ton of room in your suitcase or pack.

8. Cleaning Gear

If you’re going to travel with your precious photo gear, you may as well make sure you can properly clean it while abroad. No one wants the nuisance of not being able to clear up a smudged lens. Dust is a big issue in rural and urban areas, sand at the beach is a nuisance that can also do some serious damage to your gear if you let it get into nooks and crannies– and nothing ruins a shot faster than a giant speck on your lens. A rocket blower and a brush should do just fine. You can also browse for complete camera and equipment cleaning gear and kits here

9. Non-Branded Camera Straps

Swapping out your branded camera straps for a generic ones makes you less of a target for thieves looking to steal big-name brands. Neoprene options work well for humid climates, and you can pick up a few options very inexpensively online. Even if you invest a bit more than you initially hoped, this is still much cheaper than buying a new camera if yours gets stolen!

Essential Travel Photography Gear for Your Next trip

10. Insurance For Your Gear

Don’t leave home without insuring your most expensive gear, especially if you’re a professional photographer whose livelihood depends on your tech and equipment. Even if you’re an amateur, you certainly don’t want to lose your hard-earned investment to damage or theft. An insurance policy for your cameras can be bought specially for your gear, or you can obtain a rider on your regular insurance policy for one specific item. Before you sign on the dotted line, read the small print carefully– and double-check that your policy really covers the full value of your complete kit so you’re covered in case of worst-case scenarios.

5 Mystery Novels To Get You in the Mood to Travel

5 Mystery Novels To Get You in the Mood to Travel

Mystery novels make wonderful travel companions.

Compact and efficient, mysteries are often incredibly atmospheric and fun, while featuring a cast of intelligent and well-spoken characters who really bring a particular place or setting to life.

Besides giving you a taste of intrigue and suspense, mysteries often feature exotic locations, and the hi-jinks and intrigue of the story open your imagination to some of the world’s most fantastic settings.

If you’re going on a trip, we recommend picking up some of these fantastic books to take along, especially because some of them highlight Loftus Guide trip destinations! Without further ado, here are 5 of our favorite travel mystery novels: stories that are sure to give you the urge to wander…

For the Wine-Country Enthusiast

Pinot Envy (A Woody Robins Wine Mystery)

The protagonist of this story is a wine-enthusiast with a love of adventure hired by a Napa Valley winery owner to hunt down a missing bottle of red burgundy. The case quickly turns into more than just a tale of missing wine as the cast of characters delves into the beautiful Napa countryside to hunt down the wine before it’s too late.

This story is full of details about wine, the Napa area, and the wine making process. If you want to learn about wine, mystery solving, and the history of vineyards, this book is for you. You’ll be itching to get out to California for a winery tour!

For the French Gourmand

A Taste for Vengeance (A Bruno, Chief of Police novel)

Starring the Police Chief of the Dordogne village of St. Denis, this story opens with a missing British tourist and Chief Bruno’s quest to find her. The search leads readers through the beautiful Dordogne region of France in quest of the culprit, and there’s plenty of description of the setting and, importantly, the food!

If you’ve got an urge to explore the idyllic French countryside with a smooth-talking Frenchman as your guide, A Taste For Vengeance is your best bet! Fine wine, international mystery, a pregnant Rugby player, this story has something for any reader.

 

For the Wine AND Food Enthusiast:

Treachery in Bordeaux (The Winemaker Detective Series Book 1)

In this blend of gastronomy and mystery, Benjamin Cooker and his sidekick Virgile investigate potential sabotage at the prestigious grand cru Moniales Haut-Brion wine estate. In the course of the mystery, readers get acquainted with the city and France’s wine region as the heroes tap into the underworld of a global luxury industry.

Perfect for wine enthusiasts who want a romp through France’s Bordeaux region, this story is a narrative treat that blends mystery, wine, and food in one dark and fun tale.

 

For the History Buff

The Templars’ Last Secret (A Bruno, Chief of Police novel)

St. Denis’ Chief of Police returns for a second and just as thrilling mystery, this time looking into a connection between the body of a woman found at the base of the ruins of the Château de Commarque, a stronghold of the Knights Templar, and the underground labyrinth beneath it.

If you like ancient treasures, international mysteries, and historical connections to mysteries of the past, you can’t go wrong with this Police Chief Bruno tale. The town of St. Denis is a treasure trove of historical detail, and these books do the area justice.

For the Politically Minded:

Commissario Montalbano Series

This series is set in Sicily, and over the course of ten adventures you’ll be familiarized with the wonders of Italy’s largest Mediterranean island through the eyes of Italy’s finest police inspector. This series is inexpensive but expansive, and reading the whole series will give you entrance to some of Italy’s finest sights and sounds. Gritty and intense, these books make fantastic plane reading.

 

Next time you set out on a trip, don’t leave home without a good read! As a bonus tip, we suggest getting digital versions on your e-reader to save space and time. Need some help choosing one of those? Head on over to our blog to learn which Kindle is right for your needs as a traveller.

4 Inspiring Reasons to Give the Gift of Experience

4 Inspiring Reasons to Give the Gift of Experience

Why we always recommend giving gift cards, theater tickets, and experiential presents over material items

How many times in your life have you received gifts that you didn’t care for, only to hang onto it for years so you didn’t hurt the giver’s feelings?

Conversely, how many times have you agonized over choosing a gift only to realize that the recipient didn’t really like or appreciate that object?

More than things, experiences create precious memories that last a lifetime, and even bond participants together in shared recollections. Here are 4 reasons why to gift the gift of experience to family and friends.

1. Stuff is overwhelming us

Picking out gifts is a tricky, frustrating, and oftentimes expensive business, leaving many people disillusioned with the holiday season as a whole. Even birthdays can leave people stressed by the pressure to find loved ones the “right” gift. 

And who can blame them? We’re drowning in stuff we don’t want!

The average American home contains over 300,000 individual items and there is as much as 7.3 feet of rentable storage space for every person in America. Rental storage is the fastest growing area of commercial real estate, as developers struggle to keep up with the demand for more space to hold our stuff.

2. Stuff is wasteful

Giving someone a physical object for a gift is a somewhat risky and highly wasteful way to show someone you care. They may not like the object you choose to shower on them– and purchasing holiday gifts feeds a commercial industry based around these fast gifts. Holiday lotions, festive socks, holiday pajamas are flash in the pan gifts that don’t bring lasting joy.

3. Stuff won’t make you happy

A study by Cornell found that people who spent money on experiential purchases such as travel, demonstrations, and events had more positive outcomes than those who focused on material purchases. Money spent on doing rather than having drove more value in the lives of participants over time.

This study confirms something you’ve probably experienced in your own life. Which has meant more to you:  that new gadget or that trip you took with your family? Even if you loved and used your new cell phone, the experiences we have with others last longer and have more meaning than physical objects.

The value of experiences

At The Loftus Guides, we facilitate amazing, life-changing travel that engages the traveler on a personal level. These trips don’t return the tourist home loaded with trinkets, but they have grown and changed as a result of their travel. We’re firm believers that experiences, not objects, are the best gifts you can give someone.

So the next time you’re hunting for a gift, skip the mall and ask yourself what the person you’re buying for likes to do.

Consider buying movie tickets, art show passes, gift cards, wine tasting events, massages, or manicures. Experiential presents are just as tailored to the recipient as an object gift, but they don’t require you to go to a mall and buy an object they may not even like.

And, best of all, you know that they’re going to make memories that will stay with them for a long time, no storage unit required!

4 Reasons Why Kindles Are The Best E-Readers for Travel

4 Reasons Why Kindles Are The Best E-Readers for Travel

Have you ever heard anyone say they wanted to take a covered wagon journey across the country and lose half their traveling party to Rocky Mountain Fever along the way? Yeah, we didn’t think so.

It’s a simple truth that modern technology has made travel easier and more pleasant– and the advent of tablets and e-readers is no exception. Here at The Loftus Guides, we’re big fans of the Amazon Kindle, because we think it’s an ideal travel companion for any twenty-first-century traveler. Read on for 4 good reasons why Kindles are, in our book, the best e-readers for travel.

Considering purchasing one? Here’s our take!

Kindles are lightweight. These things are some of the lightest pieces of tech you can buy, especially at such a low price point compared to iPads or laptops.

And that’s not even getting into the weight of taking even a single book with you. Books are heavy and bulky, and even if you bring a few only have little flexibility in your reading material.

You can tuck a Kindle in your carry-on without feeling a difference, and, even better….

The battery lasts forever. Seriously. On an e-ink Kindle, the battery life can last you weeks on end. If you brought a portable charger- read for a month completely off-grid. Covered wagon journey, anyone?

 

But if you opt for the more full-featured Kindle Fire model, your battery life isn’t as impressive, however you have an LCD screen and a host of apps you can use to make up for the decreased battery life.

 

Still, we’ve been consistently stunned by the battery life on Kindle e-readers.

 

Plus, they’re cost effective. You can get an entry level kindle for under $80, which is pretty mind-blowing considering the battery life and weight of these things. Buying a single Kindle is about the same cost as buying four regular books at a bookstore.

Read related: 7 Travel Journal Ideas to Perfectly Suit Your Personality 

 When you add in the sheer number of free or incredibly inexpensive books on Amazon (or wherever you like to buy books), the savings of switching to a digital reader are immense. For people who travel a lot, this can really add up. Plus, if you have Prime, you’re entitled to a suite of free (or next to free) books.

 

They’re flexible. When you’re choosing between Kindle models and deciding which is best for you, there’s a whole range of options you can select from. If you’re a no-frills reader, the entry level models give you all the space and flexibility you want at a low price point.

If you value having a backlit screen, you can get a Paperwhite model for not too much more money. For people who travel a lot, this can be a really helpful feature if your light source is unpredictable. For example, it’s nice to be able to read on airplanes at night without having to turn on those horribly glaring overhead lights.

And if you want something with more advanced features and reading options, the Fire model gives you the reading, bookmarking and scrolling power of a sophisticated tablet.

All in all, we think the Kindle is the way to go in terms of price, size, flexibility, and battery life. Do you have any travel tech essentials? Drop us a line and let us know!