These photography essentials are always in my suitcase.
Hello there (G’day), friends!
I’m home from Australia finally feeling back in the swing of things, thanks to a variety of routine tasks over the weekend: Unpacking, teaching Cycle at Studio Three and naps on naps to overcome a bit of jetlag.
And laundry — lots of laundry.
So as we dive into the travel content I plan to share with you (from both Australia and Europe), I wanted to first write about the photography and tech equipment I use during trips.
Every day during my time abroad, I received questions about the gear and photography equipment I was using to share my experiences across social media. And while I am by no means a professional photographer, I do love capturing my experiences sharing travel stories through beautiful photos and videos.
Let’s do it:
Must-have for: Having great videos
Probably my favorite purchase of the year — already — and it was less than $100. This powerful little product is actually what inspired me to write this post, since I got tons of questions about my videos from you guys on Instagram.
Real quick: WTF is a gimbal?
A gimbal is a video stabilizer, which is what I used to obtain those professional-looking, smooth videos during my Australia trip — all on my iPhone.
Yes, my phone! You can see the videos in the highlights portion of my Instagram page.
It’s affordable, easy to master (with a bit of practice) and not too difficult to tote around — that’s what I’m holding in my left hand, below.
Almost every other worthwhile gimbal on the market is at least twice as expensive and three times as bulky.
Even if you’re not a current or aspiring vlogger, this affordable gadget is awesome for capturing great photos and videos — period — on your phone.
It doubles as a selfie stick, too, if that’s something you’re into. Just sayin’.
Must-have for: Taking great photos wherever you go
I can’t say enough good things about the Canon G7x Mark II digital camera. But I’ll try anyway:
The Canon G7X Mark II takes high-quality images during day or night — the latter of which was one of the selling points on it when I bought it. They’re sharp, in-focus and require minimal (if any) editing.
But my favorite thing about it is that it’s WiFi enabled — meaning you can transfer your photos and videos on-the-go (to your phone, computer, whatever). So clutch!
It’s small enough to fit in your purse, too (as you can see above).
Gone are the days of lugging my DSLR around each and every day during a trip or vacation — this small-but-mighty digital camera does everything I need to capture high-quality photos without the bulk or weight of a professional-grade camera.
As for video, it shoots in a full HD format — but what makes it so valuable for vlogging is the camera’s preview screen; it’s able to tilt up to 180 degrees so you can always see your frame, even when you’re selfie’ing or filming yourself.
The best cameras for blogging will also be the best cameras for anyone who wants to capture amazing photos — travel-related or not.
Accesory-wise, this vintage leather carrying case is really cute — and I couldn’t believe it was under $18! I love the lightly distressed cognac color.
Must-have for: Solo travelers
This tripod is small, lightweight, portable and compatible with most smartphones, GoPros, DSLR and compact cameras. (See photo below, on the right.) It’s less than $10, too!
Personally, I use this tripod with my Canon EOS DSLR camera as well as the video stabilizer and Canon G7X Mark II camera I recommended above. It’s ideal for filming time-lapses, action photography or capturing stable images in general.
More often than not, I keep it attached to my camera and carry it around that way — it acts as a decent hand-held video stabilizer, too; but again, I’d recommend the above for those purposes.
It comes with a phone mount for smartphone compatibility, but most of your camera/film devices have a screw on the bottom for this very purpose.
As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s perfect for solo travelers — that’s how I captured all of my outfit photos during last year’s month-long trip to Europe (using a self-timer).
Here’s two photos I’ve snapped using the tripod and a self-timer on my Canon Camera — both shown with zero editing.
The first is from my most recent trip to Australia; the second from last year’s solo travel through Europe.
Click here to read more about my 10 favorite memories from Europe — plus, a list of my must-do’s for you as you plan your next trip abroad.
(And for help doing that, click here to read “how to plan an international trip.”)
Must-have for: Never finding yourself at at 1%
Whether it’s at music festival, on a long flight or for a vacation abroad, I am never without my mophie.
This powerful portable charger often makes its way into my handbag on very busy days, too. I have yet to find a better external charger for my iPhone (this one lasts around 3 days with multiple charges — without needing re-charged itself), but if you have suggestions, give me a holler in the comments!
5. Hard drive
Must-have for: Peace of mind (photo/video storage)
Not as fun to talk about, but important nonetheless. If you’ve captured lots of beautiful travel content (or even just love to take pictures on the reg), it’s imperative to back-up your photos.
Computers crash, cell phones disappear, and so on — I back-up all of my files on an external hard drive to avoid the fear of being without them should that happen. (As it did in Australia — the WiFi hardware on my computer disappeared for a week. WTF?!)
I also automatically back-up photos on iCloud, but I’m old school and like to have peace of mind, which is why I do it twice — for reasons such as the above.. Nerd alert!
Must-have for: Memory-making
This portable printer syncs to your smartphone through an app so you can print Polaroid-style photos of your favorite iPhone snaps and memories. So cool, right?
Not only is this little gadget something I use regularly, it’s one of the gifts I most love gifting to friends & family, too.
Don’t forget to grab this camera film as well.
… Say that one five times fast.
Must have for: Jams
You know I love my music, so I’m all about a bluetooth-enabled speaker that’s small enough for a suitcase.
This mini barrel-shaped music speaker is compact, easy to transport and — GUYS — is even waterproof. Like, it floats! As a(nother) bonus, it comes in six cute colors — that cashmere pink situation is bound to be the crowd favorite, no?
The entire UE speaker series has great sound — I have the UE Boom 2 but chose to feature the waterproof style because, well, I NEED.
Must have for: Keeping your selfie game strong
The OG of selfie-essential smartphone cases — and I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I was way late to the LuMee game.
Here’s the deets: LuMee’s latest duo model offers back- and front-facing LED lighting, which makes for consistently soft, warm lighting in every photo. I love that it comes the ability to dim the brightness a few levels, too. Brilliant!
Oh, and I can tell you from experience that the case itself is indeed quite durable. That’s a must for me, ’cause you know my middle name ain’t Grace, so-to-speak.
Side-note: Am I the last person to know that LuMee makes LED selfie sticks, by the way?
9. Disposable camera
Must have for: Fun!
Last but not least, team, and yeah — I’m goin’ old school on this one. But, like:
Don’t you remember that feeling of picking up the photos from a freshly developed disposable camera back in the day?
That was it, man. Right up there with hearing your AIM messenger ding.
And also, those were the longest one-hour stretches ever.
Anywho, I’ve been bringing these back for birthdays, weddings, travel, girls’ trips, going away parties and the like, and they are so much fun to use and then sort through — especially if/when you’re in a post-vaca (or post par-tay) slump.
Try it — trust me!
Last time I bought one, by the way, I had to have an employee in Target’s tech section unlock them for me. LOLLLLL.
In terms of upcoming travel content, here’s what I’ve been developing to write and share with you:
- Photos + videos (yay!)
- Advice for traveling solo
- How to find cheap flights
- Tips for surviving flights
- Packing tips — both in general and for certain cities/destinations
- Booking tips, plus advice for every other step of the trip planning process
… Among other things.
Please feel free to share what else you’d like to see on the blog. I’m all-ears for you, as always!