It’s the summer holiday season and hopefully you are able to take some time off from your day to day lives and get away from it all and relax. Many of you may be lucky enough to be able to travel abroad, either short or long distances, on your choice of holiday and hopefully you’ll be wanting to take your cameras with you to capture those special moments that you want to remember in the future.
I’ve put together these 10 tips for travelling with your camera gear to hopefully give you a few pointers so you don’t get to your destination and realise you’ve forgotten something important and that you enjoy your trip too.
1. Travel Light
How many times have you seen people on holiday with their families lugging about a huge DSLR with a massive zoom lens attached, a big back pack full of other lenses, a tripod and many other gadgets to help make their photos the best they can be? Well I’ve seen it far too often and unless your holiday is specifically for photography, just leave most of your gear at home.
Before you pack, just think about what photo opportunities there might be where you are going. Do you really need that huge zoom lens? Are you likely to be taken many landscape shots? Will you need the tripod? What’s the crime rate where you are going? Do you really want to attract attention to yourself with all your expensive camera gear?
Quite often, limiting the camera gear you have will actually result in you getting better photos. Yes you might miss a few opportunities, but the opportunities you do get will make you think more about how best to use the equipment you have. You’ll be a better photographer for it. I promise.
2. Take Extra Batteries
You never know if you’ll able to charge your batteries up and you might forget to put them on charge one night if you have one or two beers and fall asleep early… it’s not just me that does that is it? Having several back up batteries means that you could leave one on charge while you are out so it’s ready for the evening or the early morning start.
You can pick up decent third party batteries for not a lot of money from places like ebay, but if you can afford the camera manufacturer versions then that’s what I’d recommend but I know they can be expensive so some decent aftermarket ones are usually a better option.
3. Take Extra Memory Cards
The last thing you want to happen is to lose your memory card and lose several hundred memories of your holiday that are stored on it. My advice is to have several smaller capacity cards so if one does get lost, you don’t lose all your images. Of course, make sure you keep them safe and you don’t accidentally leave them in your pocket before you jump in the swimming pool.
4. Know The Local Laws
Not every country has the same laws on photography as the place that you live so it’s best to find out what you can and can’t do. Travel documentary type images are great but if you start taking pictures of people and places you aren’t meant to then you can easily land yourself in a bit of bother. Don’t ruin your holiday by having your camera confiscated or even worse, a spell in a local prison.
If you are unsure about the laws where you are, first of all try and see what other people are taking photos of and what they aren’t taking photos of. It may just prevent you using your camera somewhere you shouldn’t.
Sites like TripAdvisor.com are a great place to ask questions about your destination before you go, as are photography forums, but I’d always get second opinions or check the countries tourist information web sites to make sure.
5. Avoid Being The Victim Of Crime
I mentioned earlier about knowing what the crime rate was like in your destination. If you are going to walk the local streets with your expensive camera then it’s a good idea to try and look less conspicuous.
For example, look at your camera bag. Does it shout out “expensive things inside!!”? Maybe a more subtle looking bag could be used while you are out and about and keep your proper camera bag for travelling to and from your destination.
Does your camera stand out as looking all new and shiny? Some subtle use of tape can make your camera look a bit more old and battered at first glance while still keeping your camera safe. It could even help protect it from the odd knock or two in busy areas. Along with this, be very aware of what you have on your in busy areas. A camera back pack is great, but if it can be opened without you knowing, you could easily find you are carrying around an empty bag by the end of the day.
Just use your common sense and be aware of your surroundings.
6. Insure Your Camera Gear
If you are taking expensive camera gear away with you, check whether it’s insured. Your house insurance may cover it, or your travel insurance might also cover some loss. It’s best to check before you go though.
7. Set Yourself A Project
If you are going to a location with plenty of photographic opportunities then set yourself a project before you go. Maybe aim to produce 10 good landscapes or portraits, or document the increasing sunburn that English tourists seem to get when they go abroad.
If it’s the holiday of a lifetime then record the trip from start to finish so you have a memory of the whole thing, not just the odd snapshot during the holiday.
8. Get A Polarising Filter
If you are going somewhere sunny then a polarising filter will help make skies bluer, white clouds fluffier and will reduce reflections and glare too.
Filters can become quite expensive as you want to get good quality ones and if you have many different lense then you can end up having to buy many sizes to cover everything. Another reason to travel light. You can also get by filter kits that let you attach filters in front of your lens but you just by the right adaptors for your lens and then one filter to use across them all. Quite often a much cheaper option in the long run. Take a look at the kits available from Lee Filters, they are pricey but very good quality.
9. Take Your Camera Gear As Carry On
Don’t put your camera gear in the plane hold unless it’s in proper protective cases. If you see how your cases are thrown around and banged around, you certainly don’t want your camera to be in your case when that happens.
If you do take all your gear as carry on, then be mindful of the limits the airline allows. You don’t want to be forced to put it all in the hold if your camera bag is deemed to be too big or heavy.
10. Enjoy Your Holiday
The last tip is the most important one of all. Enjoy your holiday and don’t spend the whole time behind the camera. Sometimes it’s better to just sit back, put the camera away and enjoy the moment. If you are away with your family then I’m sure they will appreciate a bit of time without a camera being pointed at them.
So they are 10 of my tips, but I bet you have more to share. So tell me your advice for travelling with your camera gear. What problems have you come up against in the past?