You might think that capturing a once-in-a-lifetime photograph is all about being in the right place at the right time, but any traveling photographer knows the best way to get the perfect shot is to be prepared for it. A lot can go wrong when you’re traveling the world with your camera: lenses can get scratched, memory cards are easy to lose, and camera batteries run out of juice. These mishaps can make the difference between the best photo you’ve ever taken and an empty memory card full of nothing but regret.
The best way to never miss a moment? Travel with the right gear.
Using your flash in low-light conditions washes out photos, but without it, photos tend to come out blurry. A tripod solves this problem by offering a steady surface for longer exposures, but most tripods are heavy and cumbersome. However, there are some great light and compact tripods designed specifically for travel.
For example, this colorful aluminum tripod from MeFoto weighs only 1.8 pounds and folds up small enough to fit into a medium-sized messenger bag. This tripod is fully extendable and easy to set up quickly. If you’re looking for something smaller and easier on your budget, check out the 50-Inch lightweight Tripod from AmazonBasics. It does not extend as high, but at 1.2 pounds, it’s even easier to carry around.
Tripods can make it easier to shoot in low-light situations, but without a remote shutter you still run the risk of motion blur when you press down to take a photo. A remote shutter like this one will allow you to take photos using a remote. Some, like the WU-1a from Nikon, allow you to take the photo with your phone, and will even give you a live preview and the option to download the photo straight from your camera.
It doesn’t matter how little time you expect to spend away from your hotel room, you should always keep extra camera batteries with you. Not only will it save you should your batteries die in the middle of the day, it also means less time spent waiting for one battery to charge.
Batteries purchased from the manufacturer can be expensive, so the best place to start your search is on Amazon. Make sure to double check the size and make of your camera’s battery before purchasing, though.
Memory Card Case
Like batteries, you should always travel with multiple memory cards. When the moment strikes, you don’t want to waste time deleting photos just to make more room on your memory card. Memory cards are small and easy to lose or damage, so the best way to keep them safe is by investing in a memory-card organizer. This waterproof card holder from HDE can hold up to 12 micro and standard SD cards, while taking up minimal space in your camera bag.
Even with an arsenal of back-up memory cards in your pocket, it doesn’t hurt to also back up your photos on an external hard drive. Not only will this save space on your cards, it will also save memory on your computer–and you can rest easy knowing that your precious vacation photos are backed up and stored away. Hard drives come in all different sizes and models, so start your search here to find the perfect one for you.
One of the most surprising difficulties that comes with travel photography is the strain of carrying a camera on your neck. Wearing a heavy camera can cause stiffness and soreness, which is why I recommend investing in one of the latest camera innovations to pop up on the market. The Camera Lift Strap eliminates the problem of camera-related neck soreness with a leather band that attaches the camera strap to your backpack, thereby distributing the weight evenly on your shoulders.
If you’re the kind of photographer who can’t travel without every lens, gadget, and camera body in your arsenal, then it’s time to invest in a carry-on case designed to keep your gear protected. If you’ll be traveling with all your gear no matter where you go, the Lowepro Pro Runner DSLR Backpack is a smaller option that’s easy to carry around, but if your concern is just getting your gear to your destination, invest in hard-case luggage like this watertight model from IBEX.
Fashionable Camera Tote
Camera cases will keep your gear safe, but they’re also conspicuous. That’s why I love the latest trend of fashionable camera totes like the Kailo Chic Camera and Laptop Tote. They’re big enough to hold all your gear (and your laptop), but don’t cramp your style. And the best part? They’re everywhere now, which means more options. Just take a look around and you’ll be sure to find the perfect carrier for you.
Waterproof Case or Rain Cover
Like most DSLR owners, you probably cringe at the idea of bringing your camera anywhere near water, but with cases like this Underwater and Waterproof case from Bingo, you can finally bring your camera on your next underwater adventure. These are also great if you get stuck in the rain. Just make sure to keep the plastic cover secured tightly to your camera lens to avoid any distortion; and, before you buy, make sure you’ve selected the right fit for your specific camera.
If you’re like me, the bottom of your camera bag is full of microfiber wipes that have attracted all kinds of dirt and debris over the course of your adventures. Well, it’s time to throw those out and buy yourself a lens pen. A lens pen is the easiest way to clean your lens, and its retractable cap keeps it protected from dust when you’re not using it. Much faster to pull out and easier to carry around (and with nos cleaning spray required), the lens pen makes cleaning your lens as easy and quick as possible.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 12 Things You Don’t Photograph–But Should
- iPhone, Galaxy, Lumix: Which Is the Best Camera for Travel?
- 12 Travel Photography Mistakes to Avoid
Jamie Ditaranto is a writer and photographer who is always looking for her next adventure. Follow her on Twitter @jamieditaranto.