The Travel Photographer Destination Guide Part One

Cruise boats in Ketchikan, Alaska
Cruise boats in Ketchikan, Alaska. Click on the above image to view a larger version and for other options

In my recent post I discussed the Planning and Preparation for Travel Photos. Now we need to work out what we are going to do when we get there, hence part one of this travel photographer destination guide


Before we get there, we need to leave.

By now you would have worked out what equipment you are taking.

However, you are still not in the clear yet. Each mode of transport has different challenges.

Let’s look at the most common:

By Air

The days when we all had to remove our film from the camera and plead with the security staff to hand inspect it are almost gone.


There are of course still photographers out there that use film. And film, as in the past, can still get damaged by the X Ray security machine.

Asking for a hand inspection is still the best way to avoid the X Ray machine.

It’s a matter of numbers. One pass through the X Ray machine is not going to cause an issue. It’s cumulative, so the more times that a roll of film passes through an X Ray machine, the more likely damage will occur.

I worked on the 80/20 principle.

If the film only goes through one or two machines and avoids 8 then it should be good.

I will most likely be at home by the last one and it’s unlikely I will take the same roll of film away with me again.

Anyway, back to more commonplace challenges:


Weight is one thing to consider, especially if you are packing one or two DSLR’s and some decent lenses to go with it. Some airlines are hot on carry-on baggage weight so do your homework.

Personally, I don’t travel with my DSLR.

I have an OMD 1 MKII Mirrorless camera, which with the couple of pro lenses is still fairly heavy. But it’s nowhere near as heavy as my Canon 5D MKII and the lenses that go with that.

I’ve never had a problem with weight since I went with Mirrorless cameras.

If you think weight might be an issue, research the airline to find out how strict they are.

If they are strict, consider leaving something behind and hiring equipment at your destination.

Check in Baggage

But don’t put lenses or cameras in your check in baggage.

Why not? Well there is the faint chance of theft, but damage is much more common.

The last thing you want is to get there ready to take some great photos and find that your favourite lens is in bits.

Replacing a lens can be a challenge in some destinations.

If you must put something in your checked in baggage, put in your laptop with your data backed up.

If it’s broken you can buy any old one to get you by until you claim on your insurance.

Additionally, computer equipment is available almost anywhere in the world, not so, good camera gear.

By Car

On a long road trip there are only 2 challenges. What to do with your gear if you stop somewhere. And how much to take.

The answer to the first question is simple, don’t leave anything in the car.

In answer to the second question, don’t take so much, that you can’t take it with you when you do stop.

By Sea or other forms of public transport

Burano, Venice

Keep your gear with you and don’t have so much that you can’t carry it around with you.


If your destination is in another time zone, I bet you changed your watch and if not automatic, your smartphone.

Most (including me) forget to change the time on cameras.

Sure, you can change it during post processing but like everything it’s much better to do it in camera. That way when you are post processing and you’re not sure why the light is so orange, you can check the time and see whether it was late or early in the day.

Don’t forget to reset back when you get home.


If you are going through customs you really shouldn’t have any issues as far as camera equipment goes.

Sometimes they might ask how many cameras you have or whether you have video camera.

But if you are honest and say that you need many cameras for the different tourist attractions, you should be OK.


You should have already organized your accommodation.

If you have followed my Planning and Preparation article, you will already have an idea of the ideal place to stay for you to get photos that you want.

Ideally, it’s best to stay as close as you can to your potential subjects.

That way you don’t have to carry everything and can easily drop back to your hotel if need be.

Of course, the other thing to be mindful of is transportation costs.

The further away from where you will spend most of your time the more time and money it’s going to cost you.

Something I like to do is ask for a room on the highest floor that my budget will allow me.

That way I can survey the surroundings and get orientation, plus maybe even get some great view shots. If that’s not possible, often hotels have roof top bars, swimming pools or Gyms that will give you a view.


Summary – Part one of Travel Photographer Destination Guide

Each mode of travel to your destination has its own challenges.

Remember don’t take too much equipment if you can’t have it with you all the time.

Or you don’t have access to a secure place to leave it.

Make sure you change the time in your camera if appropriate.

Select your accommodation carefully. Remember to take in to account how close it will be in relation to where you will spend your most time.

You don’t want to waste time and money going backwards and forwards to your hotel.

So this the end of part one of the Travel Photographer Destination Guide

Watch out for part two next week!

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Categories: How to, travel photographyTags: ,

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