By Cindy Baldwin
A few years ago while traveling in Italy, I made a big mistake. I forgot to bring extra batteries for my camera. Instead of eating a stracciatella gelato while looking out on Lake Como, I spent all afternoon looking for a store that sold the right type of camera battery.
Since then, I’ve made an effort to be more prepared so that I can maximize my time while traveling. I try to cover all my bases by packing back-up camera equipment and finding a way to get through the airport as quickly as possible.
With the following tips, you can maximize your experiences while minimizing the hassle of traveling.
- Global Entry Card: If you want to get through the airport quickly, a Global Entry Card is a no-brainer. For only $100 and an interview with TSA, you can use it for five years. It includes TSA PreCheck (which on its own would cost $85) so you can breeze through security without taking all of your equipment out of your bag. It also eliminates waiting in long lines at customs when re-entering the US. There are designated kiosks in the airport for Global Entry cardholders that drastically reduce the wait time. This card has saved me from missing many tight connections!
- Raden A22 Carry Luggage: This amazing suitcase is like a Swiss Army knife: it doubles as a scale to weigh your suitcase, has two USB ports for dual device charging, has a TSA-friendly combination lock, comes with two fabric bags (one for dirty laundry and the other an amenities kit), and has Bluetooth for GPS tracking to locate your luggage if it’s lost. It comes in eight colors and is TSA approved. The carry-on is $299, so it’s a little on the pricy side, but it’s worth every penny for its versatility.
- Noise-Cancelling Headphones: These are a lifesaver for long flights and photographers that need to rest before a big day of shooting. They drown out the engine noise and the sound of other passengers, making it easier to fall asleep, read, or watch a movie. I invested in a pair of Bose headphones a few years ago, and I’ve never left for a trip without them since. Noise-cancelling headphones come in a variety of sizes and colors, so if you prefer the earbud type, Bose has a good selection of those as well. Click here to browse Bose headphones.
- Oslo 3-in-1 Lens System: If you want a day off from carrying your heavy equipment around but still want to take pictures, consider buying a lens for your cell phone. Even though the quality won’t compare to a DSLR, smart phones have decent capabilities that can be enhanced with mini lenses. The following lens system includes a macro lens, a fisheye lens, and a wide angle lens. This particular system is only for iPhones, but there are others for different brands.
- Non-Branded Camera Strap: To avoid advertising your expensive DSLR while traveling, use a non-branded camera strap. With a Canon or a Nikon strap, thieves are more likely to be drawn to you because these well-recognized brands are known to be expensive. Straps don’t have to be boring though—Amazon and Etsy, among others, sells uniquely patterned straps to fit any style. Click here to browse camera straps.
- Hands-Free Rain Ponchos: Taking photos in the rain can be fun, so don’t let a few sprinkles stop you from enjoying your destination. Pack two hands-free rain ponchos — one for yourself and one for your camera. You’ll be prepared for any shot without getting you or your camera wet. Click here to browse rain ponchos.
- Pack extra. It’s always good to be prepared. Pack extra batteries, memory cards, and cables in your camera bag. You should also consider bringing an external hard drive to back up your photos throughout your trip. You’ll never regret having these items with you, but you may regret missing that perfect shot or losing your images!
- Pen and Paper: Keep a small journal in your camera bag while traveling. When you take pictures, write down the significance of each place you photograph so you can look back on it later. It’s easy to forget key details once you’ve moved on to a different place. This can also be useful when trying to write captions once you’re at home. Moleskine notebooks come in a huge variety of sizes and colors.
- Research. Festivals, celebrations, and national holidays can offer great photographic opportunities. Do your research beforehand and find out what’s going on where you’re going. Awareness of these events allows you to be more prepared with certain types of equipment and gives some structure to your time in a given location.
- Take a break. Don’t forget to put your camera down every once in awhile. Step back from your lens and take in the surroundings. If you’re always looking through a viewfinder, you might miss out on other perspectives.
Cindy Baldwin has been a travel consultant for more than 12 years. She has visited more than 20 countries and currently owns her own travel business, Baldwin Travel. Her favorite trips to plan are European getaways, river cruises, and destination weddings.
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