- slide 1 of 5
Filters & Lenses
These take top priority. Filters and other optics are not amongst the most expensive accessories for a camera, but also the most delicate. A single scratch can completely ruin a three figure lens.
Only bring the filters that you absolutely need. This will reduce clutter while traveling, as well as reduce the risk of losing or damaging the filters while changing them. Narrow it down to your top few, perhaps a polarizer, an ND, and a UV. If you bring more, on a day's wandering only bring with you what you think you'll actually use. This will greatly increase your mobility while out and about.
Some photographers like to purchase a cheap clear or UV filter specifically for a trip so that they can use it for “extreme” conditions, like on a sandy beach or in the rain, to help protect their precious lens. If you can spare the money, go for it: your lens will probably thank you, and you'll be able to take the pictures with a little more confidence.
Other than that, don't forget to have a sturdy case for your filters, one that can stand up to a little tossing about while in the plane and while out and about.
- slide 2 of 5
Many photographers would rather die than part with their tripod. That's OK. If you really use a tripod for absolutely every shot, then bring it along and deal with the bulk accordingly. Buying a largeish backpack and strapping it to the outside while moving around is probably your best bet, while if you're not using it for a while, stowing it away is better. Tripods are fairly ruggedly built, so they're not really an object of concern.
If you're not quite so attached to your tripod, then consider this: do you actually need it? Tripods are great for those long exposure shots at night, but for the vast majority of daytime shots, they're not strictly necessary, especially if you've got a good rail handy or something to steady yourself against.
Not bringing one along will drastically reduce the amount of luggage you have to carry with you, often a concern for backpackers and other light travelers, and allow greater mobility either in the city or in the outdoors.
There are also many alternatives to the traditional bulky tripod, from walking stick monopods to gorillapods to string tripods, all of which are much smaller and thus better suited for travel purposes. Consider your stabilizing options carefully before heading out!
- slide 3 of 5
Batteries & Charger
You need to be careful with these: packed incorrectly, batteries can melt and do serious damage to your luggage—and your camera equipment.
There are two main choices with batteries: rechargeable, and non rechargeable. While some cameras don't give you any choice on the matter, others allow you to use standard AAs or other types, rechargeable or no. But for travel, which is better, rechargeable or non rechargeable?
Rechargeable. It's cheaper over the longterm, which is nice, and it saves you the hassle while traveling of trying to purchase new batteries whenever you run out, which are often more expensive in tourist destinations. A charger isn't adding too much to your luggage, so it's an A+ on all sides.
Make sure that you store your batteries and battery charger in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or temperature changes when not in use. You may need an adapter for the outlets if you're traveling out of the country, so purchasing that ahead of time is definitely an advantage.
It definitely pays to keep an extra set of charged batteries on your person at all times, just in case the camera runs out and there's that perfect shot...
There are a number of things you can do to increase the lifespan of your batteries. For more information, check out this article on battery care.
- slide 4 of 5
You need to store your pictures somewhere. One of the greatest advantages of the digital camera is its use of large, reusable memory cards, which comes in handy while you're out traveling.
However, you need to be careful with your memory cards. Any exposure to extreme heat or moisture, any bending or physical stress can result in damage to the card—and partial total loss of the images upon it. Additionally, storing them near magnets and electrical sources, such as televisions, may corrupt the data. Taking them through airport security is another issue.
It's a good idea to invest in some case for the memory card(s), in addition to a waterproof bag. This will prevent the majority of any possible damage.
- slide 5 of 5
Increasingly, people are traveling with their laptops. The capability of accessing your data anytime, anywhere is a wonderful one, and being able to upload your photos onto the laptop for backup purposes, as well as just not running out of memory cards and being able to edit your photos while on the go. However, there are a lot of risks associated with bringing a laptop along, from possible damage to possible thievery. In the end, it's up to you whether you want to bring it or not, according to your personal needs.