Soooo, all you photography gear-heads out there: I know that we all love our equipment, having a choice of the best cameras and lenses out there available for our tours. But for our travel photography gear it is a tad different: although we might have tons of great gear at home, we cannot carry all of that with us when going abroad and hiking all day, looking for the best shot of the day. To give you a little recommendation on that topic, I want to showcase my perfect travel photography gear that I always take on the road with me!
The big Trade-off of Travel Photography Gear
As said: although you might have tons of the best photography equipment at home, you will not be able to take it on the road with you. The reason is simple – photography gear is quite heavy! Therefore you will always have the following trade-off:
The more equipment you take with you, the better for your photos.
The more equipment you take with you, the heavier it will be on your travels.
When I’m travelling around the world, I often spend the whole day on the road with lots of hiking or even climbing. Every pound of excess equipment makes these activities harder and more exhausting – and sometimes it just isn’t possible to take that additional lense or high-end tripod with you! That’s why the best travel photography gear always is a compromise: always pack as much as you need, and as much as you are actually able to carry!
My typical Travel Photography Gear
So, what travel photography gear do I actually recommend to you? Here’s the list of the stuff that I typically carry with me – it served me well throughout the years and all photos you see can be made with travel photography gear like this:
1. Travel DSLR
The most important part of travel photography gear is of course your camera. As I have described in my Travel Camera Guide, I will always recommend getting a proper DSLR camera. You can just do so much more with it that it is worth the bigger size and heavier weight. Plus: some of today’s DSLR cameras are optimized for travelling and are lightweight enough to carry them around. I personally decided to go for a Canon EOS Rebel SL1, which is one of the smallest DSLR cameras on the market today. The camera body itself only costs 499USD, and only 649USD with the standard lens – which is a great price for the value you get. If you have more cash to spend, Canon’s EOS 6D is an awesome piece of travel photography gear as well!
My recommendation: Canon EOS Rebel SL1
2. Travel Tripod
If you’re serious about travel photography, you should always take a tripod with you. The good thing is: as you can see in my guide to travel tripods, today’s tripods are not clunky or heavy any more. There are many lightweight tripods that you can fold to a very small size – which makes them fit into each travel backpack you might use. Especially for proper shots at night or HDR photographs, a tripod is an essential part of your travel photography gear. I personally use my Manfrotto BeFree Travel Tripod, which is a great value.
My recommendation: Manfrotto BeFree Travel Tripod
3. Travel Lenses
Of couse, two or three lenses should be the standard equipment and part of any travel photography gear. This is a question of personal taste though, so I won’t recommend you anything here. Just make sure you can cover all your preferences when it comes to photographing – if you’re into macro shots you should invest some more money here of course.
My recommendation: Well – that’s completely up to you!
4. Camera Backpack
Of course you need to pack all your travel photography gear into a proper backpack that is optimized for photographers! For me, Case Logic’s “Kilowatt” is the best travel backpack for photographers out there. It is incredibly well-made and offers special compartments for your camera, laptop and different lenses. You can even strap your tripod on its outside to save more space. Its 25 year warranty also speaks for itself. As this backpack will carry your travel photography gear around the world safely for the next years, it is definitely a good investment.
My recommendation: Case Logic Kilowatt
5. Travel Laptop
“Times are a changing…”: I never thought that a laptop would be one key element of my travel photography gear some years ago. Today, it is essential for me to work on the road and backup all the photos of each day. There are two reasons why I need a travel laptop. First: although I have several SD Cards, I always want to store my photographs in the evening so I can take the maximum amount of photos each day (you never know what you might run into…). Second: I always want to start editing my photos while on the road (perfect for long train rides for example). This is why I always have Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop installed and ready to use on my laptop.
My recommendation: Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1
6. External Hard Drive
“Better safe than sorry”: it can always happen that your camera gets stolen or your laptop hard drive stops working. This is why doing backups of your data is the most important thing to do each evening in your hotel! Although you can use USB sticks for that as well, I recommend a safer option for my travel photography gear: external hard disk drives that are “military grade” for outdoot activities and travellers! I highly recommend getting one of these as you minimize the risk of your data – which is your income in case you are a professional photographer!
My recommendation: Silicon Power Rugged Armor A15
As written above, I always want to do some first photo editing while I’m on the road. This is why I always have two programs installed to further improve my shots: One of them is Adobe Photoshop, which is perfect as a general image editing tool. The other one is Adobe Lightroom, which should be the most famous software for photographers. It helps you get the most out of your shots, so it should be part of your travel photography gear, even when you’re on the road.
That’s it for now with my travel photography gear checklist – I hope it helps you to pack everything you need!