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Why I Love Traveling With My Instant Camera

pile of instant photos beside a polaroid now+ camera
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek
The best reason to pack an instant camera in your travel bag is because it forces you to be selective about which memories and moments you want to capture on your vacation. After all, film is pricey, and you can only bring along so much film on a trip.

When you pack your next travel bag, consider packing an instant camera. It’s worth the extra space in your suitcase for multiple reasons, but my favorite is that an instant camera helps you be more thoughtful about which moments are worthy of an instant photo. I absolutely love traveling with my instant camera, and I’ll never go on a vacation without one again.

You Only Snap Photos of Your Most Important Memories

You can take a thousand photos on your smartphone or digital camera, but you can’t take that many on an instant camera. Well, unless you’re filthy rich and can spend tons on expensive film packs, and you have a big enough bag to hold all of your used film after you take photos.

Because instant camera film is expensive, it forces you to be selective about which moments you want to take a photo of. I still take my smartphone out with me and snap tons of photos while traveling to catch the little moments. But for the big moments I want to capture with my instant camera, I’m more thoughtful and strategic.

Polaroid instant photo of the Berlin Zoo entrance

For example, when I visited the Berlin Zoo, I took a bunch of photos with my smartphone of all the animals and statues inside. But before we entered the zoo, I took a photo of the majestic gate at the entrance with my instant camera. When I see that photo on my wall, it reminds me of the entire experience that day, and I don’t have to look through hundreds of photos on my smartphone to reminisce.

The Whole Process Is Nostalgic and Charming

One of the best parts about taking instant photos in general, not just when you’re traveling, is the process. From start to finish, snapping a photograph with an instant camera requires much more work than taking a photo with your smartphone or a digital camera.

With digital devices, you turn it on, take as many photos as you have the storage space for, and put it away until you need it again. With an instant camera, you first need to load the film pack. Then, when you’ve finally lined up your shot and you take a photo, it prints right then and there.

Polaroid instant camera, lenses, and packet of instant film
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

After the photo prints, you have to protect it from light while it develops. My Polaroid Now+ camera has a black film shield covering the photo when it first prints. You have to gently lift the film shield for it to snap back and return inside your camera when you’re ready to take the photo out. Then, you have to hide the photo somewhere dark, like a jacket pocket or upside down on a table, while it continues to develop.

Some might see this process as extra, but I love it. It’s so cool and satisfying to see your photo come to life minutes after you take it.

If You Catch a Beautiful Moment, You Can Give an Instant Memento to a Stranger

When you take a photo with an instant camera, it prints out right away. This means that if you’re in a foreign country or even just exploring your own local area, and you photograph a special moment involving someone else, you can instantly give them the photo to hold onto.

Instant photo of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin Germany
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

You never know what you’re going to see when you’re out with your camera. You could catch a sweet proposal, see a family having the best time with each other, or spot just one person in their own world enjoying the view around them. With your instant camera, you can take a candid photo of strangers and brighten their day with a memory of that moment by giving them the printed photo.

Instant Photos Are So Much Fun to Look Through After Your Travels

After you get back from vacation, sharing photos is a pretty standard process. It’s fun for other people to see where you went, and it’s fun for you to share your experiences.

Typically, sharing your photos with two or three people involves everyone huddled around you and your smartphone or your computer. If you’re sharing with a larger group of people, you might hook up your laptop to the TV, collect photos you’ve sent off to be printed, or post them to social media in multiple batches.

pile of instant photos on a wooden desk (1)
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

There’s nothing wrong with any of the methods mentioned above, but they’re more time intensive or less hands-on than sharing instant photos. If you’ve taken photos with your instant camera while on vacation, the photos are printed and ready to be shared with a group as soon as you get back. You don’t have to order prints, hook up your device to a TV, or choose the best photos for Instagram.

Instead, everyone can gather around your pile of instant photos and pass them around. The only thing you have to worry about in this situation is fingerprints, and most people are already mindful enough to hold photos by the edges.

They Make Excellent Wall Decorations

Though you can print photos you take with a digital camera or with your smartphone, the typical 4- by 6-inch printed photo isn’t the cutest on your wall. Instant photos—even if you stick with the plain old white-bordered film—automatically have a beautiful aesthetic that fits with any decor.

close up of some instant photos on a wooden desk
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

If you get bored of white-bordered film, there are so many different types of borders you can play around with, no matter which instant camera brand you go with. On top of different border styles, you can also purchase color film or black and white film, or even play around with colored lens covers when taking photos.

Plus, seeing your photos on display on walls you see every day helps you remember your favorite travels and fun memories. You can arrange your instant photos in a frame, or use the classic string and clothespins method to display them.

The Best Instant Cameras

Taking along an instant camera on your vacation can be a special experience, but what if you don’t have an instant camera yet? There are plenty of great choices from reputable brands, most notably Fujifilm and Polaroid. To help you start your search for the best instant camera, we’ve got you covered with our picks

Sarah Chaney Sarah Chaney
Sarah Chaney is a professional freelance writer for Review Geek, Android Authority, MakeUseOf, and other great websites. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a Creative Writing concentration. Her degree, paired with her almost two years of professionally writing for websites, helps her write content that is engaging, yet informative. She enjoys covering anything Android, video game, or tech related. Read Full Bio »