A Peek Inside My Camera Bag: My Favorite Travel Photography Gear

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On average, I get at least one comment or email per week asking the same question: What camera do you use when you travel?

I've answered this question on my FAQ page, but decided that today I would take my answer one step further and give you a peek into everything that's currently in my camera bag.

So here we go with my favorite travel photography gear!

CURRENT CAMERA

Sony a7III

Back in late 2018, I finally jumped ship from Olympus cropped-sensor mirrorless cameras and switched over the Sony a7III, a full-frame mirrorless camera.

This was not an easy decision since Olympus makes great travel-friendly cameras, but ultimately the lure of better photo quality and more potential in my photography convinced me to switch. This was an *investment* in my photography for sure, but so far I've been extremely happy with this camera.

I went with the Sony a7III over other iterations of Sony's Alpha series because I don't do a whole lot of video work, and don't sell very many photos for print. The a7III seemed like a great intro to the Sony family of cameras, and so far it's been just that.

Sony a7III accessories

My lens: I'm using the Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS lens as my all-around lens for this camera. It's not a small lens, but it performs well in a variety of situations.

I've also rented the Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS Super Telephoto Zoom Lens to use with this camera (for a safari trip to East Africa), and while it's a beast, it's a great lens for wildlife photography. One of these days I'd like to buy this lens!

On safari in Tanzania
Me rocking my ridiculously large (rented) lens on safari in Tanzania

Camera strap: I'm using a Pacsafe anti-theft camera strap, which is slash-proof and makes me feel a little better when I'm walking around with my camera slung cross-body.

Camera body protector: Because I'm sometimes a bit rough with my camera gear, I decided to invest in a silicone cover for my new baby, in order to protect it from dings and scratches. I have this camera cover by STSEETOP, and it works really well. It also makes my camera a lot easier to grip!

OLD CAMERA

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II

Before switching to Sony, I used Olympus mirrorless cameras for years. The last one I had (and still have) was the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. It's a great camera that packs a big punch in a relatively small body.

If you're looking for a smaller mirrorless camera that still takes great photos, consider this one.

Northern Lights in Tromsø, Norway
Northern Lights captured with my Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II and 12-40mm lens

For my Olympus camera, my go-to lenses were the Olympus 12-40 F2.8 PRO lens for everyday use, and the Olympus MSC ED-M 75-300mm for when I needed a telephoto.

I still have this camera to use as a back-up (or for Elliot to use if I send him out to take photos of things when I'm not at home!).

BACK-UP CAMERA

After experiencing a full-on camera melt-down once on a trip, I started traveling with a small back-up camera. My go-to is my Panasonic Lumix point-and-shoot (I have this one), which is just fine for quick outings.

But, to be perfectly honest, smartphones these days have cameras that easily compete with most point-and-shoot cameras. Ever since I got my iPhone 11 Pro last year, I haven't bothered packing my Panasonic.

Amanda taking a photo with a phone
Smartphones these days also take great photos

CAMERA ACCESSORIES

Other general things in my camera-related arsenal include:

Extra batteries – Because you can never really have too many! (I always have at least 2-3 batteries with me when I'm traveling.)

SD cards – Most of my current SD cards are SanDisk Extreme Pro cards; for my Sony a7III, I like 128 GB cards.

Filters – I use UV filters to protect all my lenses, and also have a polarizing filter and ND filter, though I admit that I don't use them much!

Remote control – Even though most cameras these days come with apps that let you control them from your phone, sometimes you need a little more control. I have this wireless remote setup, and use it for both long exposures so I don't blur the photo by touching the shutter button, and for taking photos of myself when I'm traveling solo.

LensPen This marker-sized item is a must-have for anyone with a camera. One end has a brush to remove dirt, dust, and sand, and the other will safely clean your camera’s lens to get rid of smudges and fingerprints.

TRIPODS

My main tripod is the Vanguard VEO 235AB. Vanguard makes a line of travel-friendly tripods (the VEO line), which means they're fairly compact and not *too* heavy. My VEO tripod has helped me photograph waterfalls in Iceland and the Northern Lights in Norway, among other things.

I also have a GorillaPod, a short little tripod with bendy legs that you can wrap around things. This is sometimes more appropriate to carry around since it's lighter and can be used more easily on-the-fly.

(Unless I know I'll be doing night photography, I'm more likely to travel with my GorillaPod than a full-size tripod – but that's just me!)

Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park
It's tough to get waterfall shots like this without a tripod!

VIDEO GEAR

GoPro Hero 7 Black

I don't do a ton of video work or vlogging, but I do have fun putting together short videos for Facebook and YouTube every now and then. My go-to for video is currently the GoPro Hero 7 Black.

GoPro introduced a ton a new features in its GoPro 7 model, including a new stabilization feature called “Hypersmooth” that is really incredible.

I also have the following accessories to go along with my GoPro:

GoPro 3-way grip This was the first “selfie stick” I bought for my GoPro, and it's handy for a variety of situations.

GoPole EVO extendable pole This see-through, extendable pole is perfect for water activities since it extends to 2 feet AND floats on its own.

Swimming at Three Sisters Springs
Me with my GoPro and GoPole EVO in Florida

Floating grip This grip floats just like the EVO, but isn't extendable at all. However, it takes up very little extra room in my bag, making it perfect to pack for those “just in case” moments.

I've also got the GoPro Smart Remote, a wrist mount, a head mount (which only Elliot gets to use because my head is too small!), and a suction cup that I've used a couple times to mount my GoPro to a car.

DJI Mavic Air

Yes, Elliot and I got seduced by drone deals a couple years ago, and picked up a Mavic Air. It took us a while to get into it, but Elliot now has his commercial drone license from the FAA, and we've started traveling with it a little more.

Drone footage is fun to have, and I'm hoping to expand some of the services we can offer to brands and destinations to include aerial photo/video work.

Some extra drone accessories we've picked up include an extender mount for Elliot's phone (it just makes everything easier to see/control), and a landing pad that's especially useful in grassy areas.

Vieques, Puerto Rico
Drone shot in Puerto Rico

CAMERA BAG(S)

Pacsafe Camsafe

With a growing amount of camera gear to carry around with me, I decided to invest in a good set of camera bags.

I went with the Pacsafe Camsafe, which is an anti-theft camera backpack that comes in two sizes. The larger bag can hold 25 liters and easily fits all my gear (and then some), while the smaller bag holds 17 liters and is better suited to trips where I'm either not taking an extra lens or not taking GoPro gear.

I actually have BOTH of these backpacks because I couldn't decide which size I would use more often! It turns out that I tend to use the smaller one on shorter trips, and the bigger one on longer trips (like my overland trip in Africa).

Pacsafe makes some incredible bags that are both durable AND functional, and I love having the peace of mind of the anti-theft features like slash-proof material and zipper hooks to make it really tough for anyone to get at my gear.

“Holster” camera bag

When I got my Sony camera, I also purchased a Case Logic “holster”-style camera bag. I'm guilty of often just slinging my camera across my body and letting it bump into anything and everything, and this bag at least saves it from getting banged up.

This style of bag is great for instances when you know you're going to use your camera a lot (and therefore don't want to have to keep digging in/out of a backpack), but don't necessarily want it hanging around your neck.

PHOTO EDITING

I don't do a ton of post-processing on my photos, but I do edit nearly all my images. Sometimes it's as simple as straightening a horizon (I can NOT seem to take a straight photo to save my life) or making a quick crop, and other times I boost the saturation or bring up shadows a bit in order to make my photos match what I saw with my eyes.

Sunset at Camps Bay
A sunset in South Africa that needed little editing

My go-to for photo editing is Adobe Lightroom. It gives you all the tools you need to touch up just about any image, and also helps you organize your image library.

You used to be able to purchase Lightroom on its own as a one-time download, but now your best bet is to get a subscription to Adobe's Creative Cloud Photography plan, which gives you access to both Lightroom and Photoshop for $9.99 per month, plus all the updates and new features.

STORAGE

When I'm on the road, I travel with a portable hard drive in order to back up all my photos. I have a “rugged” hard drive called the Buffalo MiniStation Extreme, which is supposed to be able to survive the wear and tear most travel tech faces (i.e. bumps, drops, and general bouncing around). I've had mine for a few years and love how it's performed and held up so far.

Once I get home, I back my photos up online in multiple places. First, I upload all my final images to Dropbox. And then I upload all the images I plan to use on my blog to albums on SmugMug (this is also where you can buy prints from my galleries!).

A Coo with a View on the Isle of Harris
My most-purchased photo to date!

And there you have it! Everything that helps me take all the photos you see on this site. If you have any other questions about my gear or photos, leave them in the comments below!

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"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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148 Comments on “A Peek Inside My Camera Bag: My Favorite Travel Photography Gear

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  1. Impressive gear for photography. After reading your article i think i will take some photography classes 🙂 because it’s on my mind for some time now. Thank you for the article.

    I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I forget something small like batteries or SD Cards. It’s enough to drive you up a wall.

    Anyway! Great post! Just make sure to put your batteries and SD Cards on a necklace or something :b

      I always hide back-ups in all my camera bags/backpacks – I’ve forgotten them, too!

    Really handy advice there Amanda – I really need to sort out my camera gear for my next trip & I’m gonna try to take your advice to heart this time! Thanks for sharing & keep up the good work!

      Thanks, Matt! Hopefully I’ve given you a few ideas to look into!

    Great tips! I hadn’t thought about the doorstop with an alarm, that’s pretty nifty.
    If I were to win the GoPro, I would use it for my upcoming adventures in El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Bolivia, and Mauritius!

      Wow, sounds like you’ve got some great trips coming up!

    This post was so useful Amanda! You (with the help of your blog) have been a huge inspiration and influence for me to follow my own dream of solo traveling and exploring the world.

    I know that my wandering soul needs to experience different cultures, more nature, and meet new people from around the world. I’m still in the saving stage, as I like to call it, to begin my journey. Winning a GoPro HERO5, would offset the cost of purchasing one, allowing me to reach my goal faster. Having a GoPro will allow my friends, family, and others just like me come along with me to see my future endeavors through my eyes. It’s sure to be a wild ride

      Well hey, the “saving stage” is an important one! Good luck!

    I love your blog posts, they give me ideas for planning my next travels! I’d love to use a GoPro on our next trip to hike the Amalfi Coast!

    I’ve debated the mirrorless vs DSLR too. I’m the opposite! I started out with my DSLR since I take photos for a living, and can’t justify the cost of a mirrorless that doesn’t “do everything” like my canon. even for the less weight! haha. Photos look great though!

      I totally get that! And if photography was my living, I would likely invest in much better gear. But I rarely sell photos, so for me the size and weight are really selling points!

    Amanda, I got caught up in your descriptions of the camera equipment you use, and some of the places you have been. Thank you for the opportunity to win the GoPro Hero for my daughter, who takes lots of pictures of her two teenage boys when they compete in mountain bike races. Man, the exercise they are getting, and the fun they are having!! Our family has always taken numerous pictures. Thanks! Linda Phillips 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by to read! And good luck!

    The gopro isn’t for me but for my Mtn biking sons. I want to see what they see when they are on the trails and what they see when they are racing. Thank you for the chance.

      That’s so nice of you – and also a great idea!

    My family would love to take this on a skiing adventure!

      Sounds fun! (And a GoPro would be perfect for that!)

    I just got back from Belize and would have loved to have a GoPro for snorkeling! Loved your pic!

      They’re great for the beach and snorkeling!

    What an extensive collection of gear … I need to add to mine to improve my shots, so thanks for revealing your go-to options!

    Amanda,
    Thanks for sharing! I use a Nikon DSLR and while I love it, sometimes I wish I had something more compact. Schlepping it on the Tongariro circuit wasn’t fun but I’m thrilled I have photos to document the adventure!

      Mirrorless and mirco four-thirds cameras have come a long way in the last couple of years – they certainly give traditional DSLRs a run for their money. Maybe it’s time to consider a switch?

    Thank you for this post. Great pictures make a good story come alive. I currently use a DSLR but will soon make the switch to a much smaller camera.

    I would love to win this GoPro and would use it for my upcoming solo trip to Jordan.

      I know a lot of (travel) photographers moving from DSLRs to smaller cameras – there are so many great options out there now!

    Thanks for the chance to win! I just recently started traveling and found your blog when looking for info on Iceland. Your camera tips are so helpful and I will definitely put them to use in Iceland! The go pro would be amazing for some snorkeling in Iceland or maybe a video of glacier hiking!

      A GoPro is a must for snorkeling Silfra for sure!

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