Having the right photography equipment for your travels is so important. Not only will you need a good travel camera, but we also recommend packing several lenses for different settings, a tripod in case you’re traveling solo or don’t have someone to take the picture of you and so much more. Here, we highlight some of our favorite travel photography items we regularly use on our travels. 

We’ll focus mainly on tools for taking photos while traveling. Considering carry-on and checked baggage weight limits (and that you’ll have your belongings to pack), our recommendations are on the lighter side. Keep in mind, we’re not professional photographers, but we are skilled amateur photographers that have learned what works on our own personal travels.  

When traveling you want to carry only the essential photography gear to minimize the weight you must carry. You’re just starting off, so keep it simple. Fortunately, modern cameras and lenses have great technology, so most of the time there is no need to carry multiple camera bodies and heavy lenses. 

The essential gear for a photoshoot will depend on the type of photography you plan to do, but here are some general items that most photographers would consider essential.

The Right Camera 

It goes without saying that you’ll need a good camera. Choose one that fits your needs while also keeping your budget in mind. Don’t get overly obsessed with megapixels and full-frame professional cameras. Get something reasonable to start—there’s no need to carry $10,000 worth of equipment with you when you can take great photos with a $500 or $1,000 camera. 

Our favorite brands are Canon and Fuji. We’ve tried other brands before, but in the end, we chose the cameras we felt the most comfortable with. Part of that comfort is how it feels in your hands as well as where the buttons are around the camera.  

Talia: Ever since she started taking photography more seriously, Talia has been using a Canon camera. Canon is one of the biggest, most reputable names in photography. We have an older Canon 5D MKII with over 200,000 clicks that is still working and a Canon 6D MKII with a shutter count of over 100,000. 

Johannes: Johannes also uses a canon for photoshoots but prefers a Fuji for street style photography and for traveling. Johannes is still using an older Fuji X-T1 with a 23mm lens. It’s a great, no-frills camera with excellent image processing and handling. 

If you’re traveling to places where theft and pickpocketing is more common, leave your expensive gear in a safe place. Don’t make yourself a target by carrying all that expensive stuff with you. If you do carry your camera, be aware of your surroundings and put your camera safely in your backpack when it’s not in use. 

Our Picks 

APS-C Mirrorless Camera: Fujifilm X-T5 

Comparable in size to the X-T1 we use, the X-T5 is the upgraded newest version of Fujifilm’s X-T series. We love the design and usability of this camera.

Full frame Mirrorless Camera: Canon R6 Mark II 

We use the Canon R6, with an upgraded sensor, autofocus, and video capabilities, the Canon R6 Mark II comes up on top especially when you plan to take photos and videos. 

A Variety of Lenses 

Different lenses will give you different perspectives and focal lengths. Invest in at least one good-quality lens for the type of photos you plan to take. 

Ditch the kit lenses and get some quality glass. A good standard zoom lens will suffice for most situations and a good lens holds its value well. It will also improve your photo quality overall. For most cameras, the autofocus motor is in the lens and not in the camera body. A better lens might also give you a better, more precise autofocus in addition to better image quality. Zoom lenses are easier and more convenient to start with 

We use a Tamron 24-70mm F/2.8 as our standard zoom lens. The OEM lenses, e.g., the Canon 24-70 F/2.8 lens do usually give you better performance and image quality but for nearly double the price. 

We love our prime lenses and recommend adding at least one prime lens to your kit. If you plan on taking portraits or non-full-body shots, consider an 85mm prime like the Canon 85mm F/1.8. It’s a decent quality lens for a low price. As far as pricing, the 50mm F1.8 from most manufacturers is hard to beat as well. We ustravel with a light wide angle prime for landscape and a 35mm prime for low light situations.

Our Picks 

Standard Zoom 

Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM 

If you have the change, get the Canon RF Lense. This is an excellent everyday lens. We usually keep our 24-70 on most of the time, especially when traveling light.

If the Canon RF is too expensive, you can get a similar lens from Tarmon and Sigma. 

Currently there are no RF lenses from manufacturers other than Canon. For the Canon lenses below you would need to get an RF lens adapter. 

Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 or Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM IF ART 

Requires a mount apdapter (Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R) for Canon R-Cameras

Prime Lenses 

The lenses we use most of the time are the 35mm and 85mm prime lenses. 

Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM Lens

For around $500 dollar we think this is a great lens but hope that Canon will release a 35mm EF f/1.4L equivalent in the future, but we’ll most likely find this one in the ~$2000 range. 

Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM ART Lens for Canon EF 

After over 5 years in use, we still love this lens. We are still using it a lot with our Canon R6 with a Canon R adapter. We use this lens for most food and drinks photos when visiting restaurants especially when seated inside or in the evening when most natural light is already gone.

Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 L USM Lens 

The RF 85mm is a brilliant lens, but with 2.6 lbs (1.19kg) it’s just too heavy for us as a travel lens.

We are still using our old Canon EF 85mm and are totally happy with it. It’s not the sharpest or fastest lens but weirdly we love the little imperfections of this lens. 

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Lens 

A Tripod 

A tripod is essential for keeping your camera steady and stable, especially in low-light situations. It also allows you to take self-portraits or group photos without asking a random person to do it. We also think the outcome is better with a tripod than a person whose photography skills you don’t know. 

Tripods are one of the hardest items to shop for. We haven’t found the perfect tripod for a reasonable price yet, but having a good-but-not-great tripod is still better than no tripod. Don’t go full carbon—it’s not worth spending hundreds of dollars more just for something so lightweight. Get a good aluminum tripod for a sturdy, reliable and not too heavy piece of equipment. 

A good tripod should be stable enough to keep your camera steady and reduce vibrations. Look for a tripod with sturdy legs and a strong center column. Also make sure the tripod can support the weight of your camera and any accessories you may have, such as a heavy lens or flash. 

Something you’ll want to consider when shopping is the maximum and minimum height of the tripod. Look for a tripod that can extend to a height that’s comfortable for you to use, and that can also be positioned low to the ground if needed. This gives you more creative tripod placement options, which is especially helpful when traveling as you might have to place the tripod in some less-than-ideal spots. 

The tripod head is the part of the tripod that attaches to your camera. Look for a head that is easy to use, can support your camera and lenses, and has the range of motion you need. 

Mafrotto BeFree 

This tripod series is known for its stability and versatility. The legs are adjustable and can be positioned at various angles. It’s a good travel tripod, folds down to a compact size and has performed well so far on our travels. 

Manfrotto Befree Advanced Lever 4-Section Aluminum Travel Tripod with Ball Head 

Fotopro Tripod 

We think this is one of the best value tripods out there. The ball head could be a bit better, but it works fine if the lens is not too heavy. We have had this tripod for over 10 years now and still use it on a regular basis. 

FotoPro C-40i 4-Section Aluminum Tripod with FPH-53P Head 

Peak Design 5-Section Aluminum Travel Tripod with Ball Head

This is probably one of the best travel tripods we ever tested. Compact and light it makes a near perfect travel companion. Some of the more traditional tripod designs feel a bit more sturdy and the Ball Head needs a bit to get used to but those are very minor issues compared to all the amazing features of this tripod.

We would get the aluminium version since the carbon fiber version is nearly double the price for a couple grams of weight saving. You are saving 0.6 lbs (270 gramns) with the carbon fiber version and if you travel a lot it might be worth getting the carbon fiber version.

Peak Design Aluminium Tripod weight: 3.4 lbs (1.54kg)

Peak Design Carbon Fiber Tripod weight: 2.8 lbs (1.27kg)

Good Lighting 

When traveling, your lighting options are limited to the weight limitations of your luggage. We barely use flash for our travel photography. If you plan to take a lot of photos in low-light situations, you might not be able to avoid getting one. 

We use reflectors a lot in our photoshoots but won’t carry one with us when traveling. You can use most white surfaces to bounce light off to the subject, but it might look a bit silly holding a big piece of Styrofoam (if you’re lucky enough to find one). Our go-to is an external continuous light such as a Lume Cube or your phone’s flashlight. Tip: hold a thin white tissue paper or napkin in front of the light to create a softer light. 

Lens Filters 

You can use filters to create more creative photos or correct the conditions you are taking photos in. While filters aren’t a must-have item, they’re certainly useful if you really want them and have the budget for them. A good filter can be expensive, and a cheap filter might reduce your image quality so definitely do your homework before choosing a filter. 

If you like to protect your lens, putting on a UV filter might give you some extra protection. UV filters saved our lenses twice. We usually buy our filters from B+W, Tiffen and Hoya.  

Polarizing filters can reduce reflections and glare from non-metallic surfaces such as water or glass. They also enhance colors and increase contrast, making them popular for landscape and outdoor photography. 

Neutral density filters reduce the amount of light entering the camera without affecting the color balance, allowing for longer exposure times or larger apertures in bright conditions. They are often used for creating motion blur in waterfalls or blurring crowds in busy streets. 

Graduated neutral density filters are similar to neutral density filters, but they are half clear and half dark, with a gradual transition between the two. They are used to balance the exposure between the bright sky and the darker foreground in landscape photography. 

Color filters are used to alter the color balance of an image, creating warmer or cooler tones, or enhancing certain colors. For example, a red filter can enhance the color of a blue sky, or a yellow filter can make skin tones appear warmer. 

Our recommendation is to save money and skip the filters until you are confident using your camera in normal situations.

If you want/need a lens filters start with the following.

  • Protective / UV & Skylight Filters
  • Neutral Density Filters
  • Polarizing Filters

Find Lens filters here.

Memory Cards 

This should go without saying, but make sure you have enough storage space for all the photos you’re planning on taking. Consider purchasing high-speed memory cards with a large storage capacity. 

We use the smaller but fast SanDisk SD Cards from 32-128GB. We prefer changing our SD Cards and storing them in a safe space, so we don’t lose days of shooting in case the SD Card gets corrupted. It also helps organize our days of shooting or trips into each memory card rather than having multiple sessions or trips on one. This can be helpful for organizing and keeping track of where to find the photos you’re looking for later.  

We recommend doing backups and always carrying multiple cards. Even the good SD cards will break someday, and you don’t want to lose all the pictures and memories you stored on that card. 
Get a memory card case (or enough for however many cards you’re planning to bring) to securely store your memory card once full.  

SanDisk Memory Cards 

Backup Batteries 

Always carry extra batteries for your camera and other gear to ensure you never run out of power during a shoot. We always carry at least 2 spare batteries with us. Depending on where you’re traveling you might not always be able to charge your devices and batteries, so it’s important to be prepared. If you’re planning to travel to remote places where you might not be able to charge your camera batteries, we recommend getting a DSLR instead of a mirrorless camera. Our DSLRs can run over a month on one battery when using power-saving features and creating habits like not checking every picture on the screen or disabling photo preview on the camera screen. 

Camera Batteries 

A Camera Bag 

A good camera bag will keep your gear organized, protected and easily accessible. We’ll go into finding and selecting the right camera bag in a later blog post, but for now, here are a few tips. 

Generally, we prefer something that does not scream “I’m carrying thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment” and to use something that is more subtle and looks more like a regular backpack. Keep this in mind when you are traveling places where theft and pickpocketing is more common. 

We currently use a Wandrd Prvke which looks more like a regular rolltop backpack, but oftentimes we just throw our camera into a tote bag and go out taking photos. 

WANDRD PRVKE 21L or 31L Backpack

Peak Design Photo Travel Bundle with 45L Backpack

Little Extras 

A cleaning kit takes up very little space and is such a handy thing to have with you. It’ll keep your lenses, filters and camera body free of dust, smudges and fingerprints. Nothing is more annoying than having dirt on your sensor and not being able to clean it. 

We also like to travel with a remote shutter release which allows you to take photos without touching the camera and reduces the risk of camera shaking. We highly recommend having one if you’re traveling alone or want to give your partner a break. 

Lastly, depending on the type of photography you plan to do, you may need props or wardrobe items to complete your vision. Your suitcase or backpack has limited space so you can pack items you can style and shoot in different ways. Solid colors are more versatile and can be combined better with other items.

  • Cleaning Kit
    Always keep your camera and especially the sensor free of dust and other things. Nothing is more annoying to find a dust spot on all your pictures when reviewing photos for post processing.
    ProOPTIC Complete Optics Care and Cleaning Kit 
  • Remote Shutter Release
    Must have for long exposure. Even when the camera is secured on a tripod, pressing the shutter release button usually adds some movement and can make your image bit less sharp.
    Canon RC-6 Wireless Remote for Many EOS Digital SLR’s 
  • SD Card Holder
    Store your SD cards in a save place.
    Pelican 0915 Memory Card Case for 12 SD
  • Camera Strap
    In our opinion the best camera strap on the maket. Esay adjustable lenghts nd the clips allow to quickly unclip the camera strap in case it gets annoying (e.g. for photoshoot).
    Peak Design Slide Strap for Camera
  • Tech Puch
    You’ll need something to store your epare batteries, charger, cables, sd cards, wireless remote and other accessories. A tech puch helps you to keep things organized.
    Peak Design Tech Pouch

And most importantly: 

Your Creativity, Passion & Skill 

All the aforementioned items are the things you’ll need to help you take the photos themselves, but remember, it requires practice and patience to develop skills and experience for taking good photos. 

Remember, the most essential gear is your creativity, skill and passion for photography. The right equipment can help you capture your vision, but it’s your unique perspective and creativity that will make your photos stand out. 

You need to find your own style and type of photos you like. Until you know what direction you want to take different gear might be better for you. Everyone has to find their own style and preference. You might start liking landscape photography and want to invest in a top-of-the line tripod or you may prefer taking street and urban pictures and need something that draws less attention. Or maybe you prefer a more purist approach and opt for an analog camera or something like a Fuji X-Pro3. 

In the end, what really counts is that you go out and just start shooting no matter what equipment you use.  

Interested what Equipment we are currently using?

Check out our photography camera equipment list here.

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