Photography and travel go hand in hand—in fact, the best gift you can get a photographer is probably a trip somewhere. The problem is, cameras are often big and heavy: here’s the best gear that makes travelling with your camera safer and easier.
Travelling with a camera is risky. Even the best built cameras and lenses are inherently fragile. They’re also a common target for thieves. The best thing you can bring with you when you travel with your camera is a bit of cop-on. Keep an eye on your camera, don’t leave it sitting unattended on a table, don’t just toss it into any old bag, and don’t take it out and wave it around like a tourist when you’re wandering through dark streets at night—even in your safe, home town that’s a stupid move. With that said, there’s gear that can help.
For this article, I’m assuming you shoot with a DSLR or mirrorless camera (if you don’t have one, here’s are guide to the best cameras to start off with). Point and shoots are just so pocketable that you don’t need to worry about them as much.
Here’s the gear I use, love, and recommend. I’ve done the research so you don’t have to.
A Good Bag: Peak Design Travel Bag 40L ($300) or f-stop Guru ($270)
The most dangerous time for your camera is in transit. When you’re on a plane your camera can get banged, bumped, dropped, damaged—or, even stolen. A good camera bag will go a long way towards protecting it.
How you travel will determine what kind of bag you need but, unless you’re bringing a full professional setup, it really should qualify as carryon luggage. There are two bags I love that should cover most people’s needs.
The Peak Design Travel Bag ($299.95) is my go-to camera travel bag. I reviewed it in full before so check out that article if you want a rundown of every feature. At $300, it’s a little pricey—and that’s before you buy an essential camera cube ($49.96-$89.95)—but it’s the best travel bag I’ve ever used. Not only does it hold my camera, it carries my laptop, Kindle, three days worth of clothes, toiletries, tripod, and everything else I need to live—and still fits in a carry-on bin. If you’re traveling for an extended period of time, heading off on a city break, or just want one bag, it’s the best there is.
The Peak Design bag is, however, really a travel focussed bag. It’s not set up for what’s often a big part of photography trips: hiking for hours to get the shot. If you want something with a better harness system, that’ll stay on while you ski or rock climb, and that’s designed for adventures, then the f-stop Guru 25L is your bag. This bundle ($269) comes with an Internal Camera Unit and some extra storage straps. I use the Guru’s—now, discontinued—big brother, the Anja for all my adventure photography.
A Tripod You Can Bring on Planes: MeFOTO Classic Carbon Fiber Roadtrip ($350)
A tripod is an essential bit of kit for travel photography: if you want to take good landscapes, night shots, and most importantly of all, selfies, then you need one. Tripods are totally legal as carry-on luggage but you still have to fall within whatever size or weight restrictions the airline imposes. A big clunky steel tripod is not going to get on the plane with you.
When we looked at the best tripods, our pick for the best travel tripod was the MeFOTO Classic Carbon Fiber Roadtrip ($250). The only thing that’s changed is the price: it’s now $50 cheaper. This is the tripod I’ve taken with me on loads of flights without any hassle. It folds down to 15.4” while still extending to a maximum height of 61.6” and weighs just 3.1lbs. It’s super stable and counts as carry-on. What more could you want?
A Way to Keep Your Camera Accessible: Peak Design Capture Camera Clip ($70)
The whole point of bringing your camera with you while you travel is so you’ll use it. If it sits in your bag the whole day, you’d be better off leaving it at home. This is where Peak Design’s Capture Camera Clip ($70) comes in. This small clip attaches to your backpack’s strap—or your belt if you want—while the plate connects to your camera’s tripod mount (and works with the Roadtrip tripod). Now, you can attach your camera to your backpack strap while you hike or walk about town. With a single press on the release, bam!, your camera’s in your hand ready to go. I’ve even used it to keep my camera accessible while skiing.
Great SD Cards: SanDisk Extreme 16GB ($11)
Data loss is no joke. If you’re spending your hard earned cash to go somewhere nice and take a few photos, you want to make sure you actually have the photos when you come home. This means you need to use quality SD cards. Our favorite SD cards are the dirt cheap 16GB SanDisk Extreme ($10). At that price, you can pick up three or four of them. If your camera has dual card slots, you can use both. If not, you have a few options:
- Use a computer to copy files over to a spare SD card as back up.
- Use a different SD card each day so, if one fails, you don’t lose every photo.
Whatever way you decide to go, you’re better off with stacks of SD cards in your pockets. Just be sure to label them!
Microfiber Lens Cloths: MagicFiber Microfiber Cloths 6 Pack ($9)
Travel is dirty. Whether you’re in a city, on a beach, or up a mountain, there’s always dust, sand, and other particles looking to interfere with your camera gear. A grubby lens won’t take sharp photos. The solution is to regularly clean the front of your lens with a microfiber lens cloth.
Really, any lens cloth will do but, like with SD cards, the more you have with you, the better. That’s why this 6 pack from MagicFiber ($9) is a great deal. You can just stash the cloths in your bag and, whenever one gets dirty, break out a fresh one.