Tips for the vacationing photographer

A trishaw ride in Penang, Malaysia—Mode of transportation is a big consideration when traveling with your gear. If you’re flying then you need to pack even more carefully. Ask yourself if you’re willing to be without your clothes or your gear.

We’ve all been there.

We’re on a trip with our family.

They have their own agendas with their own plans.

They might want to hang out by the pool or stroll downtown and window shop, but not you.

You want to take pictures.

It’s not all about you. You have to find a balance and live the moment as well. Your kids won’t stay little forever and you need to spend time with them during the vacation.

On top of that, you want to arrive at scenic areas when the light is right but they would rather sleep in.

Since traveling with your family is always a compromise, what do you do?

I’m really asking folks. So please respond under comments.


Traveling light–I used this when I was a guest and shot some pictures at my nephew’s wedding. No, I wasn’t the obnoxious guest and never got in the way of the ‘official photographer’. Take a look at my pictures from that wedding on board a riverboat in Sacramento.

Should you bring everything and the kitchen sink or just  your iPhone?

I must the last holdout for a smart phone although I am certainly feeling the pressure to conform.

I haven’t caved in yet but I have a feeling soon, my teenage daughter’s whining will win out.

Compact camera--Here's a family portrait taken with my Canon Powershot G11 mounted on a Gorillapod and trigger by a cheap radio remote.
Compact camera–Here’s a family portrait taken with my Canon Powershot G11 mounted on a Gorillapod and trigger by a cheap Vello Freewave radio remote.

I have my Canon Powershot G11 which I will always favor over a smartphone except in instances when I am documenting behind-the-scenes type pictures when I shoot for my blog.

What I love about them G11 is its capability to shoot raw and decent video.

At some point, I may upgrade to a G12 if they can still be found because the G12 shoots 720p video.

I would have to say when it comes to gear, it is really difficult to say what to bring.

So much depends on  your destination and your mode of travel.

If you are flying and traveling overseas, 2 major things come to mind.

  • Mobility
  • Power (electrical kind)

If you’re wondering what qualifies me to give this advice, remember I used to work as a cabin attendant in Singapore Airlines where I boarded a plane more often than a bus and every trip was overseas because Singapore is an island nation.


Packing— On vacation, you really should scale back on the gear especially if you’re flying. If you’re driving, you may have more space.

If you bring too much gear, you will be wondering where to stow your equipment when you are away from your room or your vehicle.

Best case scenario is you have equipment insurance like I do.

No matter how careful you are, if a thief wants in, they will get to your gear.

Packing and planning carefully is your best best.

If you’re doing a lot of walking like hiking, weight will be a big consideration.

Zoom lenses and carbon fibre tripods or gorillapods are good choices.

If you’re camping and will be away from civilization, some sort of solar cell charger might be worth looking into.


Unless you plan on shooting film, extra batteries and lots of memory cards should be on your list of priorities.

Don’t forget power convertors and those pesky plugs that will allow the pins on your chargers to fit into the rounded ones found abroad.


Having a laptop is nice but unless you know you have a lot of downtime and you will have access to power, bringing one is a lot of weight if you are flying.

I tend to pack more than I need but then again, I’d rather arrive with my gear and no clothes than vice-versa.

Repeat after me…”Without battery power or memory cards, all I have around my neck is an ugly necklace.”

Traveling by myself is always easier than with my family for obvious reasons.

I have to remind myself to find a happy balance between spending time with my family and making memorable pictures.

Feel free to chime in with your thoughts my friends.

If you aren’t on a vacation, then this post on traveling with your photo gear  has more in-depth information.

Keep in mind, there is content in that post that is dated but it is still relevant.

Peter Phun Photography

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