Top Tips for Going Travelling with a Digital SLR Camera
Travelling leaves you with so many great memories but, if like me, you find yourself needing to store those memories more permanently then I advise you take a photo. Doing so requires a camera, for many people a phone is enough but if your heart is set on taking a big digital SLR then there are a few rules you should follow when taking it on your travels. Check out my top 7 tips below...
Also before heading off overseas it is important you buy the right camera. If you are looking for recommendations for what camera to buy we recommend a digital SLR like the Canon EOS-6D.
Camera padding. The soft padding that can be easily bought online to protect your camera whilst travelling
1. On the move
One of the main ways folks get from place to place on their travels is by bus. These journeys can be long and uneventful leaving sleep as the only logical solution to idle away time. This, however, can leave your valuables, including your camera, vulnerable to theft. Everyone is told to never stow valuables below the bus, which is very true, but I always went a step further. I would always have the bag containing my camera, passport and other important items strapped to my leg below my seat. It may make for a slightly more cramped space but I always slept easier knowing my items were as safe as can be.
USE A SAFE OR THE LOCKERS! It’s as simple as that really. Before you drink, before you go out exploring, before you sleep make sure your gear is locked away. Most hotel rooms have a safe or somewhere to lock valubale possesions and although I felt more than safe in many hostels, almost anyone can arrive when you are off drinking or exploring. This one time, at band camp, in a hostel in Chile, where the room I was staying in was broken into and two girl’s bags were taken and emptied. My bag with passport and camera was two beds across and, being the luckiest guy alive, none of my things went missing. This was my wake up call to never leave my valuables bag without locking it away.
Camera bag. The housing inside a regular backpack showing how easy it is to create a makeshift camera bag
This brings me onto your camera bag. You may think that taking the swankiest new camera bag is the best idea to look after your camera. The problem with this is that you basically paint a gigantic sign on your back saying “I have an expensive camera”. This is not the smartest of ideas. A simple, cheap and effective camera bag can be made from 2 things. An old backpacking bag and a padding lining (which are easy to get from eBay or somewhere similar). By putting a padded box inside your old backpack you create your own ‘secret camera bag’. The camera is well protected at the bottom of the bag, you can cover the top with other items, have room for daily essentials and the best bit is no bright signs saying ‘Nikon’, ‘Cannon’ or ‘Lowepro’. You end up with a handy, cheap camera bag and massively lower your risk of being targeted for robbery.
Those are, for me, the 3 main rules you should stick to when travelling with your camera but there are a few others to make your life a bit easier when on the road:
Howler Monkey. A howler monkey found in the Amazon, a shot from a distance that requires an SLR and telephoto lens
4. Spare batteries
Charging is hard when travelling, sometimes you won’t have access to a charging point for days so 1 or 2 spare batteries can ensure you are always able get the shot you want
5. Avoid carrying a camera around your neck
When you are travelling, especially in busy cities, walking around with an SLR hanging from your neck definitely paints a target on your back
Magic Cloth. A magic cloth thats handy for cleaning lenses and many other parts of the camera
6. Magic cloth
Essential to any photographer, carrying a cloth to be able to quickly clean up your lenses and camera will make all the difference to your shots
Machu Picchu. Taken after climbing all the steps up to Machu Picchu in Peru. A comfy bag is definitely needed
7. Memory cards
Memory cards have become fairly cheap these days so you have very few excuses for running out of space. Have spares and when you have time (buses are a good time to do it) go through and delete the photos you don’t want to keep.
Taking your camera and following these rules can be a bit of a hassle but you will end up with shots that remind you of all those amazing things you’ve seen and experienced. If you follow these rules you will minimise the chance of your trip being ruined by your camera going missing. You’ll also notice as your trip goes on that these things become habit and carrying your gear with you becomes easier and allows you to capture those amazing moments in the best way possible.
By Nicholas Horne