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8 Simple Travel Photography Accessories and Essentials for Beginners

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8 Simple Travel Photography Accessories and Essentials for Beginners

Want to capture your travel memories in the best way possible? These are a few must-have travel photography accessories to help take your shots to the next level!

Over the years as a travel blogger, I’ve picked up quite a few travel photography tips. I also have a degree in photography, but as anyone who’s studied any art-based subject at uni will know, that essentially means a degree in bull****ting about what your work “means” on an existential level!

Out in the real world, though, I’ve had hands-on experience, got tips from some amazing photographers,  and really learnt a lot about applying my theoretical skills in practice.

Slowly but surely, I’ve also built up my travel photography equipment; investing in a decent DSLR and a few high-quality accessories to take my travel snaps to the next level.

With all this knowledge knocking around in my head, I decided it was high time I did a little something with it. So, I’ve teamed up* with Calumet Photographic to bring you this round-up of my essential gear for travel photography.

Essential gear for travel photography
My full camera kit for travelling

Essential Travel Photography Accessories

The most important piece of advice I can give you is to buy your travel photography gear from a reputable brand. And no, I’m not just saying that because I’m working with Calumet on this post.

It’s because cheap brands and knock off imitations can genuinely cause damage to your camera, and usually aren’t quite as good. Your DSLR probably cost you hundreds of pounds, so why put it at risk?

Buy from a decent brand that you trust, avoid buying from places like eBay, and check that your getting a genuine product. Most camera equipment comes with a serial number, which you can check on the brand’s website to make sure it’s a genuine item and not a knock off.

For me, it’s important to only travel with the basic essentials, since it all has to fit in my luggage and I have to carry it myself. I also look out for space-saving and lightweight alternatives when I can. So, this is all the travel photography gear I travel with…

1. DSLR and Lenses

Creative Dundee
My Canon 750D and 50mm Lens

Obviously, the most important bit of kit is the camera itself, and the lenses you use with it. This post is about travel photography accessories, so I won’t dwell on the camera side of things.

I use a Canon 750D, because the WiFi connection and rotating LDC viewing screen are perfect for travel blogging photography. It’s also really good quality, perfect if you want to print your travel photos into posters etc. 

Because I shoot a lot of food and close-ups, I favour a dinky 50mm lens which goes down to f1.8 for a nice shallow depth of field. Alongside it, I carry the 18-55mm kit lens that came with my camera, because, frankly, it’s good enough for my needs, and together the two lenses don’t take up too much space. A decent zoom will be the next investment!

2. Spare Battery and Memory Cards

Seems fairly obvious, but they’re easily forgotten! The camera battery in my Canon 750D lasts about 3/4 days of inconsistent use, so it’s easy to think I won’t need a spare battery if I charge it often enough.

Not true! I was caught short in a beautiful monastery in Galicia recently and have carried a spare ever since. Just make sure that you buy the right battery for your camera by getting the product code off your existing one.

And with both batteries and memory cards, make sure you buy a brand you can trust – you generally do get what you pay for!

3. Tripod

Essential gear for travel photography
Joby Gorillapod

When I was a photography student, my heavy, bulky tripod was the bane of my life. These days I’ve switched to a Joby GorillaPod tripod.

It looks like a toy and weighs just 320g, but this bad boy is strong enough to support a DSLR camera with a zoom lens (up to 3kg!). It’s easily one of the most useful travel photography accessories I’ve found – and it’s also great for filming intros if you’re making a travel video, too!

Travel Photography Accessories

The flexible legs with high-grip rubber feet work as a standard tripod, or they can bend and rotate up to 360°. So you can also wrap the GorillaPod around things like posts, fences, or tree branches to hold your camera steady.

Perfect for getting long exposures and shooting in low light without camera shake, or for taking that all-important jump shot when one’s around to shoot for you. Speaking of which…

4. DSLR Remote

Getting pictures of yourself when you’re travelling solo can be tricky. Until recently, I was using my camera’s timer function, but only when I could really be bothered. The process of running back and forth from my camera and trying to pose for the count of ten just isn’t a fun one! Recently, I discovered the Canon R6 Remote Control.

Travel Photography Accessories
Group shot using the Canon Remote Control

It uses infra-red to pair up with my Canon and control the shutter, and it either takes shots instantly or with a two second delay. It’s perfect for self portraits when I’m travelling solo! The remote is also really handy for taking a long exposure shot with a tripod, since even pressing the shutter button can cause camera shake. I love this little baby, which is small enough (9.1 x 6.4 x 1.4mm) to slip into my camera bag’s side pocket no problem.

Update: the R6 appears to have been discontinued, but this wireless remote control is compatible with most Canon cameras.

5. LensPen DSLR Pro Cleaning Kit

Confession time. I have a naughty tendency to use my sleeve or the bottom of my t-shirt to wipe my lenses when they’re dirty. Shock, horror! (Please don’t tell my old teachers).

I bet you do it too, don’t you? It’s not good for the lens, though. Your clothes might feel soft, but they could have tiny fibres in them which are damaging your lens. Luckily, I have found a solution.

Travel Photography Accessories
Lenspen DSLR Pro Cleaning Kit

Lenspens are small gadgets that look like marker pens. One end has a retractable brush to remove dust and small particles. The other has a small cleaning tip covered with an invisible carbon compound. Carbon molecules can absorb huge amounts of oils and contaminants, so this is a really effective cleaning tool.

Microscopes show that the results are better than using microfibre cloths, and even with the naked eye I can see it does a much better job than my t-shirt! The Lenspen DSLR Pro Cleaning Kit comes with three pens (plus a microfibre cloth): one for your lens, a smaller one for filters, and a really teeny one for your viewfinder. If you only buy one piece of travel photography gear, make it this one.

6. Filters

There are a lot of different filters you can use to help improve different kinds of photographs. They simply pop on top of your lens to add a different effect or enhance the images, and they have the added bonus of protecting your lens too! Take a look at this round up from Fstoppers of the different filters and what they might be used for, to help you choose which filters would best suit your preferred photography type. For travel, the two basics would be:

Ultraviolet Filter

There’s some debate about using UV filters since they can in theory reduce image quality very slightly. But they are also used to reduce the bluish tones caused by UV light in very bright sunshine, and and can help reduce glare and unnecessary reflections. Many photographers leave a UV filter on at all times, particularly because their effects are subtle and the filter offers extra protection.

Essential gear for travel photography
With and without a UV filter. The difference is very subtle, but colours are slightly improved in the left-hand image – especially the sky and trees.

Polarising Filter

These are used to filter out unpolarised light. Yep, I don’t really know what that means either! What you need to know is that a polarising filter will help darken skies, reduce reflections, increase contrast, improve colours, and suppress glare – especially from water surfaces. It’s a very handy all-rounder, especially for shooting in nice sunny conditions. The Calumet Circular Polarising Filter also has a rotating mount so you can adjust the enhancement.

Travel Photography Accessories
With and without a polarising filter. The water in the left-hand image has richer colour and less glare.

Are there any travel photography accessories or pieces of equipment you never leave home without? I’d love to hear your tips – so scroll down to leave a comment! 

*Calumet supplied some of the products mentioned in this post free of charge in exchange for a review. As always, all words and opinions are my own. 

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14 thoughts on “8 Simple Travel Photography Accessories and Essentials for Beginners”

  1. I recently got myself a proper camera back pack. waterproof, easy acess to body and lens. Wasn’t exactly cheap, but perfect for hiking (or lately horse riding) and any other outdoor activity!
    the one i picked also has room for a spare shirt and some undies, so it is a good hand luggage item. Especially since there is even an extra space for a laptop.

    1. Ah yes – a waterproof camera backpack would be really handy. I love my Manfrotto camera bag because it’s really small and well designed but it hides loads of extra pockets, and has space for camera + both my lenses! I normally stick that inside my regular backpack though. Might need to invest in a camera backpack :)

  2. Though a bit inconvenient I have started taking my lenshood as well with me in addition to the equipment you have mentioned. I am yet to see a difference between pics taken with and without a hood, however, my main purpose is to protect my lens. Trudging in a thick mangrove forest recently, the lens did a lord protector’s job. Thanks for thr gorillapod suggestion. Is it expensive?

      1. I have considered a lens hood but wasn’t sure how much good it would do. Does it really do a good job protecting the lens? Or would a UV filter be enough since they make such a small difference anyway?

        The Gorillapod is actually quite reasonable. It’s £39 on Calumet – and considering how small, light, and yet sturdy it is I think it’s a steal! Definitely recommend one. It’s not as solid as a proper tripod obviously but it’s perfect for travellers!

        1. From my last experience in the wild I thought a hood may come in handy even if you use a filter. There were moments when my path was half-blocked by thick vegetation. In the process, I ended up touching my lens inadvertently every now and then which left some fingerprints on it. Then there was the risk of plants and twigs hitting it. Of course, these happen only in those particular places and situations.

          Thanks for the info on Gorillapod.

          1. Ah ok! Definitely sounds like it could be handy for some situations. To be honest, I’m pretty obsessive about putting my lenscap on between shots so I think I’ll be ok – but it would definitely be helpful for many I think!

  3. I never thought about a remote before, genius for couple pics. I’m always like RUN 10 SECONDS… I am upgrading by the end of the year, WiFi is specification I’d be after now. Our wedding photography had it, was magic. Really useful post, cheers for sharing you knowledge.

    1. Thanks Gemma! Wifi in my camera is an absolute godsend, I don’t know how I coped without it! If you have WiFi on the Canon you can also use your phone as a remote but it’s more fiddly to set up nd a remote is easier to hide! Definitely get one though, they aren’t even that pricey and they’re so good!

  4. Great post Emily! I agree with Pramod regarding the use of a lens hood. Makes a great difference keeping out stray light. A hood is always on my lens – even at night. I would also recommend upgrading the camera neck strap to a sling – your neck will thank you for it!

    1. Ooh a sling neck strap would definitely be more comfortable – great tip. I normally have my camera constantly in my hand as I hate wearing it around my neck :) Thanks for the tips!

  5. Hey Emily! Great post, I’ll definitely be investing is one of the pens for lens cleaning!! I do use my sleeve – tut tut I know! The remote also sounds great, I often get embarrassed when posing solo for images but I love it when I’m in the photo too! This could be a game changer if I don’t have to ‘pose’ for the whole 10 seconds! Thanks for sharing! Alicia

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