In an earlier post I talked about how the definitions of Travel Photography have changed as access to cameras and other equipment becomes more ubiquitous. Now we all know what it is, its time to look at what you need to pack before you head off – whether that’s down the road for a long weekend, or half way round the globe for the experience of a lifetime.

Obviously its unlikely you’ll want to take everything with you. However pack too much and you’ll be carrying a heavy bag of equipment that provides no use other than improving your fitness and stamina levels! But pack too little and you risk leaving behind something essential that you find out you need when arriving at your destination. So here’s my handy packing lists broken down by (i) a weekend away, (ii) short haul/short break and (iii) long haul experiences.

A Weekend Away

When you head away for a long weekend, you generally know where you’re going and what you’re going to see. Its likely you’ll be staying within a reasonably small geographic area and a little research should provide you with a fairly accurate forecast of the weather. As such you should be able to pack light and keep your kit to a minimum.

  • Your camera!
  • A good zoom lens (for a city break you might consider something around 18-55mm)
  • A reasonably sized (4Gb) memory card + spare (just in case!)
  • Lens cloth/Small cleaning kit
  • Small daypack/rucksack

Short Haul/Short Break

Heading somewhere slightly further afield, for perhaps up to a week, needs a little more thought. Its likely you’ll be exploring a range of locations and as the forecast won’t be as accurate over longer periods you’re more at risk from the weather. You’ll probably be taking more photos as well so extra memory is important as well.

  • Your camera
  • A couple of lenses (I’d suggest the 18-55mm mentioned before and something with a larger zoom)
  • Lightweight tripod (this depends on what you may be shooting)
  • 3-4 memory cards (4Gb or 8Gb)
  • Lens cloth/cleaning kit
  • Filters (definitely a polariser and perhaps others)
  • Remote release (especially if you take a tripod)
  • Spare batteries
  • Rucksack

Long Haul Experiences

As the trips get longer, there’s a good chance they are more likely to become special places you’ll not return to often (if at all) – and so the ability to capture your experiences becomes more important. The equipment you take with you needs to reflect this and you don’t want to miss a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because you didn’t bring something to get the shot you wanted. The longer you’re away, the need to be able to back up your images securely also becomes a core requirement. The last thing you want is to return home and find you’ve lost or damaged a memory card!

  • Your camera
  • Wide angle lens and zoom lens (plus prime 50mm)
  • Lightweight tripod
  • Filters (polarisers, ND graduated filters plus holders)
  • Flashgun
  • Spare batteries and charger
  • 4+ memory cards (preferably 8Gb+)
  • Laptop and card reader, or memory card backup device
  • Remote release
  • Lens cloth and lens and sensor cleaning kits
  • Large rucksack

Of course these are just suggestions and your own requirements are going to vary depending on where you’re heading to. If you’re going somewhere very cold – take extra batteries as they won’t last long. If you’re going to be around water (rain, on rivers, the sea) –  include waterproofing. But as a rough guide to get you started I hope the above lists prove at a minimum something to serve as a base to work from.