Is there anything better than reliving your favorite vacation memories when you’re stuck back at home for the season? Nothing breaks up the monotony in our lives like our favorite pics of our favorite people in some of the most scenic destinations in the world.
Whether you’re road-trippin’ it or traveling halfway around the planet, great vacation photos are easy to find and capture. When you’re already having a great time, there are few shots worth passing up. Shutterbugs of the world: this one is for you.
1. Do a Little Research
If you’re going somewhere totally new, any number of vacation planning apps and tools to research your exotic locale will help you map out an adventure that maximizes every second that you spend away from home.
Wanderlog can help you plan your itinerary, and everything that you save is available offline, which makes it perfect for those traveling somewhere remote. Roadtrippers, Tripadvisor, and Citymapper are also full of scenic sights and local must-tries that you might want to consider scheduling into your vacation.
2. Tell a Story
When you look back on your trip, you’re going to want to remember even small moments, especially if you’re traveling with a loved one or with family. Your pre-flight coffee? The cab trip to a romantic dinner? Sometimes, it’s the little things that really bring us back in retrospect.
If you can, always have your camera or phone on you, not just for the group photo at the end of every planned outing. Vacation photos don’t always have to be posed and fake; candids truly are gold, and we find that some of our most memorable shots come without warning, even under conditions that are less than ideal for traditional photography.
The photo never has to be perfect. It just needs to be awesome.
3. Bring a Lightweight Tripod or Selfie Stick
A small tripod for travel photography can be an absolute lifesaver, especially if you travel to take photos specifically. If you’re going to go through all the trouble of visiting the Great Pyramids of Giza, you might as well guarantee yourself the shot of a lifetime.
There are many tripods on the market designed specifically for taking photos on vacation, offering a quick, convenient, drop-it-and-snap-it experience that won’t slow you down.
If a tripod is a little too hoity-toity for your style and crew, a selfie stick is the next best thing that you can grab before catching your flight. You can squeeze everybody into the shot without compromising the quality of your photo and without bothering a local onlooker.
4. Wander Off the Beaten Path
The Statue of Liberty. The Golden Gate Bridge. Once you’ve done the obvious stuff, what is there left to do on vacation?
Local spots, peculiarities, and experiences may not always be easy to sniff out, especially if you’re fairly new to traveling as a hobby. Yelp can really only do so much for you—the best food, the most interesting places, and the coolest people will usually not be found on Fifth Avenue, so to speak.
If you don’t have a friend on the other side and are a little shy about inquiring in person, sites like Culture Trip, Atlas Obscura, and even social media sites like Instagram can help you hone in on the best of what any city has to show. Bring a tale worth telling home, complete with the pictures to prove it.
5. Don’t Shy Away From the Power of Mobile Photography
If you’re an avid travel photographer already, your bag is likely already packed in the next room, ready and waiting for action at a moment’s notice.
Quality gear and all the gadgets make travel photography a lot of fun, but we encourage you to lean into your smartphone whenever your real camera isn’t on-hand. Small-format photography doesn’t have to look and feel pedestrian and haphazard; we never want to miss out on a great memory, and neither should you.
6. Save the Editing for the Hotel Room
Alongside our previous point comes one admission: we suffer from acute, chronic VSCO-Cam-at-the-table syndrome. Heed our warning, editing your photos while you’re still supposed to be enjoying your vacation is a waste of valuable time.
If you’re crazy like us, you also worry obsessively over losing a photo before sharing it. Leave the dirty work to your preferred cloud storage service and perhaps an external backup drive that you dump your load into nightly.
You’ll have so much time to edit your photos when you’re home. When you keep your eyes on the horizon, you’ll usually end up having a much better time. Your photos will also probably end up turning out way better to boot.
7. Keep Your Gear and Your Files Safe
Worst case scenario: someone swipes your entire camera bag while you’re out there living it up. Your photos? Gone, along with all of your gear.
The same rules that apply to traveling with valuables like jewelry or large amounts of cash will apply here—bring only what you need out into the field, and try not to advertise what you are carrying.
Insuring your gear and even affixing each device and accessory with Apple AirTags are both foolproof ways to prevent a financial disaster. An insurance policy won’t bring back any of your actual photos, however. Thankfully, if you’re backing everything up on a separate drive or to the cloud, your photos will likely be the least of your concerns.
8. Get Up Early and Stay Out Late
When you’re halfway across the country or around the world, you’re going to want to soak in everything that you can before the crushing banality of your ordinary life envelops you once more.
For this reason, we have one piece of advice: never sleep in when you’re on vacation. We can also recommend staying out past your usual bedtime, but we probably didn’t have to tell you that.
If you’re a foodie, you never want to miss a meal on vacation. If you’re sentimental like us, you also never want to miss a sunrise or a sunset, especially if you’re traveling somewhere very naturally beautiful. Bop until you drop, and see the world for what it truly is.
9. Follow Your Heart
Serendipity? Synchronicity? Destiny? Fate? Call it whatever you want. When you’ve got a good feeling about something ahead, take it by the hand and roll with it.
You can plan your trip to the nines and do all the research in the world, but there really is no substitute for the feeling of being out in the world, somewhere totally new, and experiencing every breath completely in the moment.
Keep your eyes and ears open for exciting opportunities to explore; the recommendation of a friendly stranger, an intriguing rustic storefront, or even a literal fork in the road ahead. As long as you’re traveling safely and not causing a ruckus, your trip might end up somewhere completely unexpected in the best way possible.
Take Vacation Photos That Make You Feel Like You’re Still on Vacation
Awesome vacation photos don’t necessarily need to pull you too far out of your way, nor should they; you’ve got an entire itinerary to meet, explore, and enjoy, after all.
With your trusty camera already by your side, you’ll be primed for some of the best vacation photos of your life. Say cheese.
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About The Author
Emma Garofalo (315 Articles Published)
Writer, artist, and lover of tech.