Travel Photography Packing List by Wandering Wheatleys

Best Camera Gear for Travel Photography

“I love your photos! What camera do you use while traveling?” is a question we get frequently from people following our adventures. It’s a great question because light, compact gear is essential when you are carrying everything you own around with you everywhere you go (along with clothes, toiletries, random photo props, and a bottle of wine or two).

In choosing what gear to carry we always focus on finding a balance between picture quality, versatility, weight, and cost. Read on to find out what photography equipment we’ve chosen for our travels and how you can get it too!

Photography Packing List: What’s in our Camera Bag

Camera Body: Nikon D7500

While on the road, we’ve tried everything from small point-and-shoot cameras, several different DSLRs, waterproof cameras, and a GoPro. Over time we have ditched all of it except for our cell phones and a DSLR.

We selected the Nikon D7500 because it checks all of the boxes for quality, affordability, and versatility. It’s fairly compact and lightweight while still offering great photo quality. Plus, it’s weather-sealed, which we (accidentally) put to the test quite often!

The D7500 offers 20.9 Megapixels, an ISO range up to 51,200 (for low-light conditions), shoots 8 frames per second in RAW (which we always use) and can shoot 4k video.

Nikon D7500

Check out the Nikon D7500 on Amazon

But that being said, the camera body has little to do with photo quality. If you want to improve your photography skills but don’t want to drop a lot of cash, choose instead to invest in one or two quality camera lenses that suit your photography style. A high-quality, lightweight travel tripod is also a good investment.

If you want to spend a little less, pick up the Nikon D3500. It costs less than half of the D7500 and is both lighter and smaller (which you’ll appreciate when you’re lugging your camera up a mountain or around the world in a suitcase).

Nikon D3500 Camera Body

Check out the Nikon D3500 on Amazon


Zoom Lens: Nikon DX Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G

The Nikon Nikkor 18-200mm is the real workhorse lens of the Wandering Wheatleys. We use this daily and most of the photos you see on our website and our Instagram page have been taken with this camera lens.

It’s a wonderful zoom lens with a lot of range while still being light, compact, and very affordable. It’s rare that we need to zoom more than this lens will allow. We also have shot a lot of photos with the Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G which is a bit smaller, but we sometimes felt it just didn’t have enough zoom.

Best Travel Camera & Photography Gear: Nikon Nikkor 18-200mm Camera Lens

Check out the Nikon 18-200 on Amazon

Of course, there are always better lenses on the market, but they come at a much higher price which means a higher loss in the unfortunate event that it gets lost, stolen, or damaged. If we weren’t so hard on our gear, I would consider investing in the faster and significantly more expensive Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8-4E.

Wide-Angel Lens: Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 Pro DX II

If you’re going to be out in nature taking photos of epic landscapes, you will most certainly need a wide-angle lens to fit it all in.

We find this lens to be invaluable when we want to capture the expansiveness of the scenery around us.

Agung Rinjani at Sunrise, Lombok, Indonesia by Wandering Wheatleys

While Nikon’s wide-angle lenses can be rather pricey, the Tokina 11-16mm Wide Angle Lens made for Nikon cameras, offers amazing quality and costs about half as much as a similar lens with a Nikon logo on it would.

Ever feel like your camera just can’t quite capture the scene? Well, this lens is about as wide as you can go without buying a fish-eye lens.

Check out the Tokina 11-16 on Amazon

Tripod: Sirui T-1205X

If you wish to master the Instagram selfie, ditch the selfie stick and invest in a high-quality, lightweight travel tripod instead. Besides improving your selfie game, you’ll also need it for waterfall shots, night photography, video, and time-lapses.

The challenge with tripods is that they tend to be heavy and bulky. Travel photographers need a tripod that is sturdy enough for long exposure shots, compact enough to fit in a day pack, and light enough to take on a multi-day hiking adventure.

Overlooking Havasu Falls, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

The Sirui 5-Section Carbon Fiber Tripod is the perfect mix of lightweight and sturdy. It weighs less than 2 lbs and when folded up is just 13.8″ long. It is small enough to fit in almost any backpack and won’t weigh you down.

Check out the Sirui T-1205X on Amazon

You’ll also need a ball head for your tripod – this is the part that connects your camera to your tripod. Some tripods come bundled with a ball head but Sirui sells them separately. This gives you more flexibility to select one that is right for your camera and lens setup. If you have a heavier camera and/or a longer lens, you’ll need a heavy-duty ball head to hold it steadily in place.

The Sirui K-10X ball head will suffice for most camera and lens setups. It has a load weight of 44 lbs and adds just 0.9 lbs to your tripod.

Check out the Sirui K-10x on Amazon

The MeFOTO Backpacker is also a great option for a lightweight and extremely portable tripod. It is our second (much less expensive) choice. It is aluminum rather than carbon fiber which means that it’s not quite as sturdy as the Sirui Tripod, but it’s about half the price and comes with the ball head included!

MeFOTO Backpacker Tripod

Check out the MeFOTO Backpacker Tripod on Amazon

Like this post?! How about...
The 9 Best Travel Tripods for 2019: Lightweight, Compact & Portable!


In the days of film, photographers would need to carry around massive bags of filters to achieve their desired effect. Luckily, with digital photography, those days are behind us. But you’ll still find that having a few filters in your bag of tricks can help you take your photographs to the next level. For each of our lenses, we carry a circular polarizing filter and a neutral density filter.

Circular Polarizing Filters

A circular polarizing filter can be useful when you want to remove or accentuate reflections. For example, if you want to highlight the reflection of mountains or trees on a still lake. Or perhaps you want to shoot through a window but are having trouble because of the light reflecting off of the window. It will also help to accentuate the blue color of the sky and water to really make your landscape photos pop!

The filter you should purchase will depend on the diameter of the ‘filter thread’ on your lens. Our 18-200mm Nikon lens uses 72mm filters and our 11-16mm Tokina lens uses 77mm filters. You can either find this number printed on your lens or just do a quick Google search.

We use a Tiffen Circular Polarizing Filter for both of our lenses.

Tiffen Circular Polarizing Filter

Check out Tiffen Circular Polarizing Filters on Amazon

Neutral Density Filters

Neutral density filters are pretty simple – they simply reduce the amount of light entering your camera lens without altering any colors. You may be asking “why would I want to do that?” Photographers are usually trying to figure out how to get more light through the lens in order to use a faster shutter speed. But if you want to shoot photos of waterfalls, you’re going to need at least one neutral density filter.

If you want to create a motion-blur effect of a waterfall (that dreamy flowing water look we all love) then you’ll need to be shooting at a shutter speed of around 1/2″. To keep your photo from being overexposed, you can lower your ISO to 100 (or possibly 50 depending on your camera) and bump up your F-stop as high as it will go. But there are times that even that isn’t enough. It’s easier to add a neutral density filter to your lens.

Fifty Foot Falls, Havasu Canyon, Arizona by Wandering Wheatleys

We use a “variable” neutral density filter which means you can rotate it to increase or decrease the amount of light through. This gives you more control over the light coming into your lens so you can get your perfect shot. The downside is if you zoom or focus with your lens you’ll need to reset the neutral density filter.

Same as our polarizing filters, when it comes to Neutral Density Filters we also go with Tiffen.

Tiffen Variable Neutral Density Flter

Check out Tiffen Neutral Density Filters on Amazon


An intervalometer is an important addition to any travel photographer’s camera bag. They are small, lightweight, inexpensive, and useful in so many situations – selfies, star trails, remote triggering to minimize camera shake, timelapse videos, you name it!

Star Trails in Joshua Tree National Park, California by Wandering Wheatleys

You’ll find a lot of inexpensive options on Amazon. We’re currently using this one by JJC.

JJC Camera Timer Remote Control

This thing is tiny, weighs almost nothing, and seems to run forever on a pair of AAA batteries!

Check out JJC Timer Remote Control on Amazon

Memory Cards: San Disk Extreme Pro 64GB

I travel with 4 San Disk Extreme Pro 64GB memory cards for my camera. While I never actually fill all 4 of them up, the D7500 has 2 memory card slots. So I have 2 in use at all times plus 2 backups. Since memory cards are inexpensive and lightweight, there’s no downside to carrying around a few more than you need, just in case.

SanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB Memory Card

We prefer Extreme Pro memory cards because:

  • They have to write speeds of up to 90MB/second. If you decide to shoot in burst mode or record 4k video, you don’t want the write speed of your memory card to slow you down. At 90MB/s you won’t have any issues.
  • They are shock-proof, temperature-proof, waterproof, and x-rayproof. I’ve never experienced any issues or data loss with SanDisk Extreme Pro memory cards and I have been pretty hard on them. They seem to be fairly indestructible.

Check out SanDisk Memory Cards on Amazon

Portable Hard Drive: Seagate Backup Plus

Don’t forget that you’ll need to store all of your digital photos and if you’re shooting in RAW then each photo is likely 30MB+. Invest in an external hard drive so you can keep your precious memories safe without filling up the hard drive on your laptop.

We currently carry 2 Seagate Backup Plus External Hard Drives – each with a capacity of 5 terabytes. Once is our primary means of storage for our photos and the second is our backup copy of everything.

Seagate Backup Plus: Portable External Hard Drive

We love these drives! They are compact and lightweight, and we have never had any issues with reliability or loss of data.

Check out Seagate Portable Drives on Amazon

We also wrote an entire article about choosing the right portable hard drive for photo storage while traveling.

Like this post?! How about...
Best Portable Hard Drives for Travel Photographers and Digital Nomads

Ape Case Camera Lens Case

I absolutely love these lens cases! When you buy a lens it might come in a felt bag, but if you’re hauling it around in a backpack all the time that just won’t be enough protection for your investment. As I mentioned, we’re carrying 2 lenses so one is always on my camera and the other is in an Ape Case. The “Compact Case” (or the “Ape Case ACLC8”) fits both of our lenses perfectly.

Ape Case ACLC8 Camera Lens Case

Check out Ape Case Camera Lens Cases on Amazon

USB Battery Charger

If you’re going to be traveling and/or hiking with your camera, I would highly recommend picking up a camera battery charger than can be plugged into a USB port. This allows you to charge your camera in the car if you’re on a long road trip or via a portable power pack if you’re going hiking or off-the-grid. (This really came in handy during our Burning Man adventure).

Burning Man sunset over Black Rock Desert, Nevada by Wandering Wheatleys

We use a small, lightweight battery charger from a company called Neewer and we have no complaints!

Neewer USB Camera Battery Charger

Check out USB Camera Battery Chargers on Amazon

Portable Power Bank

Best Power Banks and Portable Chargers for Travelers

If we’re headed on a multi-day hike or into an area where we may not have a reliable power source, I always pack a portable power bank. I have been incredibly happy with my Anker PowerCore 26800 Portable Charger.

You can get 8 battery charges out of it so you never have to worry about dead camera batteries. Plus it keeps your phone and portable speakers going so you can keep the tunes and the GPS going as well. (For some of our other favorite power banks read our post on the best portable chargers for travelers.)

Best Travel Camera & Photography Gear: Anker PowerCore 26800mAh Portable Charger External Battery

Check out the Anker PowerCore 26800 on Amazon

Like this post?! How about...
The Best Power Banks and Portable Chargers for Travelers

Hot Shoe Cover with Bubble Level

This gadget is the perfect replacement for your camera’s boring old hot shoe cover! (If you don’t know what a “hot shoe” is, don’t fret, that just means you’re not a huge nerd). The bubble levels ensure your photos are level, which will save you time in Lightroom later, while also keeping dust and dirt away from the metal connections for your external flash. It’s a complete win-win situation and it doesn’t weigh more than a couple of ounces.

Best Travel Camera & Photography Gear: Bubble Level Hot Shoe Cover

Check out this Bubble Level on Amazon

That’s it! The secret to how we take beautiful photos without breaking our backs (or the bank). Do you have any favorite camera accessories that you travel with? Comment below so we can add them to our bag! 

New to travel photography and want to learn more? Check out our favorite books and resources:


1 thought on “Best Camera Gear for Travel Photography”

  1. Greatness Reinvented

    Great post loving the detail reviews and pro tips. Upgrading out photography game is happening this year.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *