You've made the reservations, confirmed the flight/mapped the route, and are packing your clothes.
If you're like me, you run through the mental checkout as you pack:
But are you doing the same with your camera gear? Are you safeguarding them while you're on vacation?
Here are a few tips to make sure you keep it all together and have everything you need for successfully documenting your next trip.
1. Consider the type of vacation before you ever pack your gear.
I don't like to lug around gear I don't need, so before I pack I consider what types of photos I'll be taking while I'm on vacation. This year, animals and mountains are going to be the theme. Since I have no intention of getting up close and personal with a bear, I'll be taking both an extreme zoom lens for the animal photos and a wide-angle lens to capture the mountain ranges. When we went to Disney World a couple years ago, I got away with a simple all-purpose zoom (one lens, less weight and hassle).
2. Pack your gear like you pack your children.
Whether you have a $100 Polaroid camera or an expensive DSLR, pack your camera with care. A padded bag that includes space for your camera and all the accessories you want to tote with you is a no-brainer. My favorite for my DSLR is a padded backpack. I don't have to worry things are banging around and there's literally a customized spot for everything so I'm not searching for a camera card in another bag (Father's Day hint).
3. Make sure you're packing everything you need. This includes point-and-shoot cameras as well as DSLRs.
Multiple film/camera cards
Lenses (if applicable)
Camera strap (see additional discussion below)
A list/photo of everything packed in your camera bag (keep this separate from the bag)
4. Let's hop back to protection for just one minute. (This is directed at those of you with DSLRs. Feel free to skip if you don't have one.)
If you don't have a UV filter on the end of every single lens you own, get online and order one now! This extra layer of protection is simply a round piece of glass that screws onto the end of your lens. There's one for every size lens. It is a line of defense between the environment and your expensive lens. When I worked an 8 a.m.-5 p.m. job, I cracked several of these just banging around the camera during everyday use. Never once have I scratched or cracked a lens and I totally credit that to a piece of $5 glass that takes seconds to screw onto every lens I own. It's called cheap insurance. Can you still break a lens with this on? Yes, but you'd have to try really hard.
The easiest way to provide drop-proof protection is to secure your camera with a strap. Whether you are wearing it around your neck or slung across your shoulder, it's another line of defense against drops. Personally, I prefer a sling. One trip to the Magic Kingdom with a scratchy manufacturer's camera strap was a hard-learned lesson in what is and what isn't comfortable.
Today's cameras are built tough, but they aren't indestructible and they aren't a fan of heat. You wouldn't leave your smartphone in a hot car, don't leave your camera in a hot car. Think of your camera as a fine-tuned computer and treat it accordingly. Another reason to take your camera inside is security or lack thereof. If I have my camera with me, I'm not worrying about its safety in the car.
Vacations are a time to have fun and make memories! Take loads of photos and make sure as "the family photographer," you actually get in a few frames.