Working as professional photographer for the past 12 years, I’ve come up with the ultimate kit for travel photography. This packing list includes all of the gear I personally use and the best backpacks for travel photographers. Here’s how to pack like a pro!
Travel Photographer Packing List (Tips From a Pro!)
Choosing the Best Camera Bag
Protection, security, and comfort are essential when toting around your gear, so make sure a quality backpack is top priority. Lowepro and PacSafe bags are designed with traveling in mind, equipped with anti-theft features and camera/laptop protection.
If the bag you choose does not come with an attached rain fly (highly recommended), you can purchase one separately. Check out our recommendations below or find a similar one that suits your needs best.
Keep in mind that some airlines have a weight limit for carry-ons, so if you find a casual, lightweight-looking backpack you will more than likely not be asked to weigh it — allowing you to carry on all of your (typically) heavier camera equipment with you.
Best Backpacks for Travel Photographers
Our Favorite Shoulder Bags
Keep Your Equipment Light
Mirrorless and compact cameras are great for lightening your load, and point-and-shoots are often more practical if you know you’ll get tired of carrying around a heavier DSLR. (See our complete camera buying guide here.)
If you do opt to bring your SLR, consider cutting back on lenses and consider the pros and cons of zoom vs. primes lenses; a zoom lens may be more convenient and require less shots, but a single, fixed lens will be lightweight and encourage you to explore more of the area to get the perfect shot!
Only pack both if you’re willing to commit to carrying the weight. Buying a quality, quick-release shoulder strap will help reduce strain on your neck and redistribute your camera’s weight across your body; BlackRapid straps even allow you to slide your camera up to eye level with minimal effort.
My Travel Photography Kit
After years of testing the best gear on the market, I’ve come up with the perfect travel photography kit. Here’s my personal packing list which is perfect for minimalists like myself!
Sony 16-35mm F4 Lens – My go-to lens.
Sony 70-200mm F4 Lens – I only bring this lens if I know I’ll be photographing wildlife.
Sony 24-70 F4 Lens – I recently purchased this lens to take with me on trips instead of always lugging around my 70-200. It has a lot more range than my wide angle, but it’s not nearly as heavy as the 70-200.
GoPro Hero 5 – Waterproof up to 33 ft without a housing.
DJI Mavic Pro Bundle – I found this bundle is well worth the extra $300; three batteries, a compact charger that fits up to four batteries + lots of other extras!
Intervalometer – A must-have for “selfies,” long exposure shots and timelapse. Make sure to get one that is compatible with your camera.
Compact Tripod – Attached to the outside of my backpack.
Pack Plenty of Batteries and SD Cards
Some larger cameras require lithium ion batteries, which can be difficult to find in stores when traveling. Make sure to pack extras and a charger! Keep them in your carry-on, as some airlines don’t allow camera batteries in checked luggage.
SD cards can be purchased on the go if necessary, but they will likely come at a steeper cost. If your camera does not come equipped with its own WiFi, consider buying an Eyefi card – an SD card with wifi capabilities.
64GB SD Card Class 10 — The higher the class, the faster the card will be. I recommend Class 10.
Eyefi 32 GB Class 10 – If you don’t have WiFi capabilities on your camera, I recommend a WiFi SD card.
Exclude as Much as You Can
Nearly everyone has a tendency to over pack for fear of forgetting something, but really – less is more! Some photographers even arrive at their destination only to mail back extra items they’ve packed that ultimately are a burden to lug around.
You will have to personally decide whether a tripod would be worth the added weight. I pack a compact tripod on all of my trips because I travel solo often and it’s the only way I’m able to get certain shots with myself in the photo.
Tip: Pack only what you know how to use well and are familiar with. If you’re in a foreign place fumbling around with unfamiliar equipment, odds are you’ll draw attention to yourself and make the locals uncomfortable. Use your camera smoothly and with ease, and you’ll likely go by unnoticed.
Rain covers are must-haves if you plan on getting wet, as are ziplock bags and lens cloths. Thankfully, all of these are compact and lightweight! Bring water housing or a GoPro if you know you’re going to want some underwater shots.
Camera Rainsleeve – You can also use a shower cap.
Backpack Rain Fly – A must-have if your backpack doesn’t have one attached.