Getting gear ready for a photo trip

What to Pack for a Photo Trip

You booked the trip and now you are dreaming of the adventure and counting the days. Your awesome vacation will have photo opportunities, so you need to bring a camera. Who knows what you might find on your journey. Don’t waste those weeks before you leave.

Be prepared for success by doing a bit of planning and maintenance.

There is nothing worse than being on the trip of a lifetime and having your camera fail or run out of memory. I remember climbing to the top of a mountain only to have my film camera exposure meter battery die on me. I had to guess the exposure; I guessed wrong.  :^(

Holidays need to be fun and stress free, not disappointing where gear and photo opportunities go wrong. A little pre-planning can put the odds in your favour that you will capture the moment and bring it home to build your future travelogue show!

Do not assume anything! Test your gear a week before you leave.

Here are a few tips to keep your camera(s) rolling and you smiling. There is a bit more to just pack and go, you need to make ready. Let’s break it down into four parts then you can pack and head out:

  1. Requirements
  2. Purchase
  3. Maintenance
  4. Backup Plan


Requirements what photography do you need to cover on your next vacation? Do you have the camera(s) to do the job?

First, decide what kind of device you want to take. Just the camera phone, add a pocket camera, or go for better quality and take the big DSLR too?

Are you OK with video capture from a still camera? If not, bring a proper video camera. And then there are sports camera for capturing action, hanging out at the beach and underwater pursuits.

Does your trip take you on any new adventures skiing, bike touring, kayaking, snorkeling, where you may wish to photograph. Can your camera deliver?

Consider the need to shoot, indoors at galleries and museums, can your camera expose well in low light, without a tripod? Are you getting into new creative specialties, time lapse, panorama pics, slow motion video or perhaps HDR photos?

Purchase – If you do not have the cameras you need to get the coverage needed on your next outing, it’s time to go shopping. Perhaps you need to upgrade, you wish to improve the quality of photos and videos you take on this next trip.

Maybe you need the odd accessory to mount a sports camera or cable, extra memory, battery. Now is the time to order the extra add-ons to make your trek more productive or creative.

Getting a new lens may be just the ticket to get you back into exploring the world with your camera in a new perspective.

Refrain from buying the gear at the last minute. You need to test it, learn how to operate the camera controls comfortably and set it up to capture photos and video in the formats you wish to working in when you return home.

MaintenanceLook over your gear and clean off any sand, dust, salt spray, vacuum out your bags. Clean your lens properly of any blemishes or finger smudges. Take a few photos of a blank wall and note if there is dust on the sensor. Go for a walk, test the camera, does everything look right when you review the pix on your computer screen?

Review your camera memory cards. Make sure they are empty, formatted and not giving you problems.

Make space on your smart phone. Empty out 3-6 or more GBs of space for photos  you may shoot and those large video files.

Charge your batteries. You should have a spare and see that they hold a charge. Test all data and charging cable.

Backup PlanWhat is your plan if things go wrong. Figure it out now, not when you are having fun and missing the shots during your vacation.

You are going to be away, perhaps in a country where replacing or fixing something can be difficult to do or impossible. Can you substitute a broken camera with a backup or borrow one from another person in your traveling party? You may even buy a new one, if the country you are visiting has good prices, but that could be a time waster.

Memory is cheap have plenty, double what you think you need.

Get a spare battery or two…without power you are out of luck. If you are traveling, through the wilderness, electricity needs to come from solar or battery backup devices, plan for that.


What to Pack?

So you see even before you pack the gear it needs to be at the ready, willing and able to serve. What you actually pack is going to vary as it depends on many factors.

First how much coverage are you going to do on this next trip. Keep it simple and take a few family pix or go Hollywood and cover it every which way. Then what level of quality and how avid a shooter are you will dictate what you will pack. Bringing extra lens, a flash and tripod may be standard equipment or not a option, you see it depends on what you want to make of it.

So all I can do is offer this Camera Packing Checklist to help you decide. If you sign up for my Newsletter it’s yours to download. (available tomorrow)

The main reason travellers leave their gear at home:
it’s too heavy, too bulky.

Make good choicesJust remember you have to carry it, and it’s no fun being a mule on your holidays.

Here is how I pack my gear. I’ll divide the items in three categories. What camera(s) do I what in my primary “camera bag” to have at the ready? Add enough memory cards and batteries for the day (and double that) and keep it lite.

Then the second bag that stays safe in the hotel room or car trunk has the cables, adapters, batteries, cleaning kit, odd filters and my unshot memory. (shot memory is keep on me) And extra Ziplock bags are always handy.

The third bag if I bring it, has a sports camera with attachments and straps for whatever sport I may do on this trip. This bag is with me on the days I need it otherwise I hide it back at home base.

When traveling if I use my car then consideration as to what I bring become more lacks since the vehicle does the hauling. But if I fly then I have to weigh my consideration more wisely, literally.

I bring any valuable and fragile gear with me in the airplane cabin, jammed in a knapsack under the seat. The luggage under the plane has the other bags with accessories and maybe a tripod.

Many times my choice as a camera bag is actually a plain bag that does not advertise that I am carrying valuable gear. Nor do I use camera straps displaying brand names in big bold letters. Being discreet is a good idea when traveling to not attract thieves or offend locals who live on less.

And the last thing to pack is the Owner’s Manual as a pdf file on your phone or tablet. You never know if you get stuck staring at a stupid error message or forget what that button does. You need to keep shooting not cursing.

With all this in play you are now armed and ready for the best outcome and some serious fun. Get out there and start shooting some amazing pictures as you travel about, discovering new and exciting corners of the beautiful world.

About Dan Roitner

I love traveling, and have been doing slideshows and video home movies of my trips for decades. As a pro photographer, instructor and multimedia artist I hope to teach you the many aspects to develop an artist style and improve the quality of your own travelogue projects.As the owner of this site, may the resources here, help you improve your skills to create holiday memories worth sharing.


  1. Thanks for packing info.
    I too want to travel light and foot loose on my vacations.

    You did not mention drones. What do you think of them? Do you have one?


    • Ben drones are definitely cool.
      I love model airplanes and the vantage point you get with them are spectacular, truly unique.

      BUT I like traveling lite and a item like a drone plus all the extras is just too much trouble on my holidays. There are also different regulation in foreign countries that could send you to jail for spying or other misinterpreted deeds. Not worth the shot.


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