Travel Photography: A Girls Guide to Packing!

By Geoff Harris

Packing for a photography trip.

Whenever I travel somewhere, I go through the same ritual of agonising over which camera gear to take.  And the night before departure, there’s always the feeling that I haven’t made the right choice, and won’t have what I need!  If you travel by car of course, it’s not a problem, because you can just pack everything including the kitchen sink and not worry about it.  But if you are travelling by plane, it’s a completely different matter.


I have two different ways of packing for a flight, depending on the type of trip.  If I’m going walking or trekking, then my camera gear will be much more minimal, because I don’t want to carry too much weight – and for the same reason, I don’t take a tripod with me.

I’ll usually take one camera body with a zoom lens – mine is a Nikon 28-300mm zoom, which covers most photographic situations.  It’s good to have a vibration reduction lens if you don’t take a tripod, as it will mean you can hand hold at slower shutter speeds without so much risk of camera shake.  If there are likely to be lots of flowers, I’ll try to fit my macro lens in too.

Recently I’ve bought a prime 20mm lens, which is very small and light, so I will probably add that to my kit for future walking trips.

It always feels slightly worrying not to have a backup camera body, but I find it too heavy to walk all day with two bodies, so I usually compromise by taking a small compact as a backup just in case.  Also of course I take at least one spare battery and plenty of memory cards.  Oh yes, and a polarising filter!

Packing for a photography trip

If my trip isn’t going to involve so much walking, then I take a larger camera backpack with a backup body and lenses with a range of focal lengths.  You’ll want to take your camera gear as cabin baggage, so it’s important to check your airline’s size and weight requirements for this.

Several manufacturers make backpacks which are marketed as complying with cabin baggage limits, but since these vary from one airline to another I wouldn’t rely on that without double-checking.  Also take a tape measure with you when you go to choose your backpack, and check that the dimensions are what they say they are – I once bought a backpack and found when I got it home that it was 3 cm (1 1/4”)  wider than it claimed!

Because most airlines only allow one piece of hold baggage, the tripod has to go in my suitcase.  I remove the head to make it easier to fit it in, and wrap the head in bubble wrap to protect it.  By the time that’s in, together with all the battery chargers and other bits and pieces, there’s not much room for clothes – but I just assume that no-one expects me to look glamorous on a photography trip!

For those of you who are interested in learning more about Travel photography consider taking Keith Wilson’s MyPhotoSchool 4 week online course Travel & City Break Photography

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) - the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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