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.
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!
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.
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!
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.