Whether you’re taking a long weekend away with your family or headed on the honeymoon adventure of your dreams, you want to be equipped with the necessary tools to make sure you and your loved one(s) are able to take amazing selfies at every. possible. opportunity. Kidding! (Kind of.) Over the years, Rich and I have gotten really into photography, and now travel with a truckload (not actually, but close) of our favorite cameras, lenses and ancillary equipment. I get asked all the time about what cameras we use, what recommendations we have for travel photography, and what tips we could offer on how to capture amazing moments while on vacation. So after years of learning all kinds of great tips and tricks, here are my top travel photography recommendations for making sure your trip is beautifully preserved for posterity and your instagram/snapchat game doesn’t miss a beat.
1 . DITCH IPHONE PHOTOS & BUY (OR RENT!) ONE OF THESE CAMERAS
Especially for important trips like a honeymoon, you may want to venture beyond iPhone photos and invest in something a little nicer to capture those once-in-a-lifetime moments. As mentioned, we’re really into photography, so we typically bring our Canon 5D Mark III and our GoPro. If you’re not a photography freak, there are tons of great point-and-shoot cameras like this one which has amazing capabilities, is super easy to use, and connects directly to your phone. I’ve also heard great things about this camera and this camera. However, if buying a new camera for the trip isn’t in the cards, look into rental options. We’ve used BorrowLenses.com repeatedly to rent camera equipment for one-off projects or trips, and even rented a few special lenses from them for our honeymoon. You can rent everything from the simplest point-and-shoot cameras to high-end professional photography accessories like tripods, lenses, extra memory cards, and underwater cases.
2. UP YOUR iPHONE CAMERA GAME
If you just can’t bear the thought of abandoning your iPhone (or Droid, etc.) for a nicer camera, or you rely on your phone’s camera for instagram and snapchat (like me!), there are some tricks to making your phone photography the best it possibly can be. Smartphone lens attachments like this one or this one can really enhance the existing photo capabilities of your phone. Also, check out my favorite photo editing apps like Afterlight, VSCO, Snapseed, or if you’re a more advanced photographer, Adobe Lightroom’s app.
3. BRING A SELFIE STICK (SERIOUSLY!)
Believe me, no one enjoys ridiculing selfie sticks more than yours truly. However, I got one in a gift bag at a conference a couple years ago, and after jokingly fooling around with it, I actually realized that there are some merits to the devices. [insert embarrassed emoji here] Especially if you’re off exploring without lots of other people around to help snap photos, there are easy ways to hold the selfie stick from a side angle so that the embarrassing pole isn’t visible in the picture. No one has to know.
4. PURCHASE EXTRA MEMORY CARDS (WITH SPECIAL FEATURES)
Not only do I recommend bringing extra memory cards for your camera and/or GoPro in case you run out of space while you’re out exploring, but I also highly recommend buying one of these amazing EyeFi memory cards that connects wirelessly to your phone so you can take a great photo with your camera or GoPro, and instantly upload it to your phone for viewing and sharing. Some cameras have this phone connection capability built-in, but many do not. With the ability to check out the camera photos instantaneously on your phone, Eyefi memory cards make travel photography so much easier and so much more fun.
5. COME EQUIPPED WITH EXTRA BATTERIES
If you spend all day relaxing on the beach, swimming, hiking and/or exploring, there will be few opportunities to plug in your camera battery. We bought extra batteries for our camera and GoPro so that we always have fully charged backups in our bag. GoPro batteries are especially notorious for dying quickly, so make sure you have a few extras charged if you’re using your GoPro a lot. And, don’t forget to recharge everything each night!
6. INVEST IN AN EXTERNAL CHARGER
In addition to extra batteries, we also always had a portable charger at the ready to refuel our other dying devices (phones and tablets that were used constantly for listening to music, reading on the beach, taking photos, and checking out EyeFi camera photos). I prefer a portable charger because they’re typically much more powerful, but a lot of people love these charging phone cases which offer the extra juice and phone protection all in one unit. I also highly recommend this portable battery pack for a beach or otherwise-adventurous vacation because it’s waterproof and shockproof, so if you slam your backpack during a hike or get a little water splashed in your bag, it will be no problemo.
7. REMEMBER CONVERTERS (AND THE EXTENSION CORD TRICK)
Going out of the country? Don’t forget a converter or adapter to charge everything! I highly recommend this universal travel adapter which I use every time I travel internationally, no matter the destination. However, with lots of cameras, phones and other gadgets that need recharging every night, you either need to bring several adapters for each, OR bring a power strip! In the past, we’ve brought one power strip with a dedicated adapter so you can plug all your US-based gadgets into one station for charging overnight. More recently, we purchased this unit that’s an adapter and power strip all in one. It also has four USB outlets, so your phones and tablets are covered as well. This way, you don’t have to bring a million adapters for every single item that needs charging AND if you’re staying in a room that doesn’t have a ton of outlets, you’re good to go with just one or two.
8. BRING A CAMERA-FRIENDLY BACKPACK
If you’re planning on doing some hiking, a backpack is a great thing to bring so you can comfortably carry cameras, snacks, etc. when you’re out exploring. Since we typically travel with lots of cameras, lenses, and other tech accessories, we always bring our favorite ONA backpack that’s specifically designed to house and protect camera equipment. We’ve brought it everywhere from hikes in the Seychelles, to game drives in South Africa, to daytrips exploring medieval castles in Portugal. Not only does it keep our cameras, lenses and equipment safe and comfortably packed, but it also has great pockets and compartments for other supplies, layers of clothing, you name it. Especially if you’re a photographer or aspiring photographer, I can’t recommend these bags highly enough! As an alternative, I’ve also heard fantastic things about these Copper River bags as well.
9. DON’T USE A WATERPROOF PHONE CASE!
After listing all of the camera accessories that you should bring above, I thought it would be helpful to mention one I would avoid: the soul-crushing “waterproof” phone case. If you’ve used a waterproof phone case that works reliably and didn’t flood your phone, more power to you. However, I know at least a dozen people who have bought various “waterproof” phone cases to use on a beach vacation, just to find out once they’re far away from civilization and any Apple/Verizon/Whatever store that the case is not really fully totally 100% waterproof. After attempting to take some cool underwater shots on day one, they are now cut off from the rest of the universe for the entirety of their trip. The up side of this situation is a nice (forced) vacation from technology, but the downside is that you likely need your phone for traveling, logistics, safety, and providing your paranoid mother with periodic updates that you’re alive. If you’re not Tom Hanks, the whole real-life Cast Away thing where you start growing a beard and losing tons of weight and calling inanimate objects Wilson just isn’t as cute. Don’t risk it, y’all. Better off investing in a GoPro (or renting one) and its iron-clad under water cases, than risking your phone. Remember, there’s really no way to know whether it works or not until you’re underwater. Soooo not worth the risk, in my opinion!
10. ENROLL IN AN INTERNATIONAL DATA PLAN OR RENT A MIFI DEVICE
This one just applies to international vacations: Whether it’s to periodically check your work email, correspond with family and friends, instagram / snapchat like a mad-woman or use in case of emergency, don’t forget to arrange for international data to be enabled on your phone during the trip. If that costs an arm and a leg, look into renting a portable MiFi device. Our phone plans are Verizon which has an amazing new(ish) travel plan called “Travel Pass” which is super affordable, but we’ve also used mi-fi devices from Orange in Spain and most recently MyWebspot in Portugal and Denmark (but it works all over Europe). Aside from social media and work, the biggest thing is making sure you have a connection to back up the photos and videos on your phone to iCloud or whatever storage you use. I had my phone stolen in Paris a couple years ago, and because I didn’t have a MiFi device or international data plan allowing my photos to be backed up, I lost two weeks worth of wonderful photos. You want to make sure you’re able to connect to the internet and back those puppies up as often as possible!
11. USE SNAPCHAT EVERYDAY AND SAVE YOUR STORIES EVERY NIGHT
During our most recent trip to Europe, we used snapchat consistently everyday to document little moments that we experienced throughout the trip. From great meals, to great views, to funny navigational issues we had in the car, to favorite scenes on the streets of quaint little towns, it was a wonderful way to document our trip and remember all of the “little things” that perhaps don’t warrant an actual picture, but are fun to look back on nonetheless. At the end of every day, I saved down my Snapchat story to my iPhone (the Memories feature was actually introduced halfway through our trip!), so I now have a snap story for each day of the trip that can easily be strung together into a longer movie of the trip as a whole. The beauty of snapchat is that it forces moments to be captured in ten seconds or less, so at the end of the trip, you don’t have to go through hours and hours of video footage. We have two to five minutes of snaps from each day, which don’t require editing, and will be so much fun to look back on. So whether you’re dying to share your travels with your millions of snapchat friends, or are completely new to snapchat and don’t have a single follower, the platform is a great tool for preserving all of those special memories.
Any questions or travel photography tips that I missed? Chime in below in the comments!! xx