Now, when you’re reading through this list, please keep in mind that I’m a working professional. I carry a lot of gear these days. More than I started with.
Most travelers don’t need backup cameras, drones, and multiple lenses.
If you’re just interested in a good portable camera for traveling, make sure to check out my complete guide to the best travel cameras for every budget.
I also share some more budget-friendly gear options at the end of this post. Enjoy!
My Best Travel Photography Gear (2020)
Sony A7R III
I was a Canon fanboy for years and started my backpacking adventures back in 2010 with the Canon 7D. However, when Sony came out with their smaller (and superior) mirrorless A7 line, I made the switch.
Since then I’ve been using Sony cameras & lenses for the past 4 years.
Sony’s camera & sensor technology is often ahead of its competitors these days — in fact, even Nikon uses Sony sensors in their cameras!
The Sony A7R III is built for high-end landscape photography with a massive 42.4-megapixel full-frame sensor. This sensor is HUGE! But the camera body isn’t, which is pretty incredible.
Frankly, this is far too much camera for most travelers though.
If you’d like examples of more budget-friendly options, make sure to read my tips for choosing the perfect travel camera.
Also Read 18 Winter Travel Tips
Sony 16-35mm F2.8
The 16-35mm F2.8 is the lens that’s on my camera 75% of the time. As a landscape photographer, I love shooting wide to capture as much of a big landscape as possible.
But you can also get decent portraits out of it zoomed in to 35mm and stopped down to F2.8. This lens works well for night and star photography too.
There is a less expensive version of this, the Sony 16-35mm F4 which is another decent option too.
Sony 24-70mm F2.8 – Medium Zoom Lens
Occasionally I need a little more reach. Or, I only have space for one lens (like on bigger hiking trips), and want the best of both worlds.
The 24-70mm F2.8 isn’t quite as wide, but often wide enough for most landscapes. With the added ability to zoom in to small subjects far away, or to compress the background making mountains “look” bigger.
This is also my go-to portrait lens for taking photos of people!
Sony FE 70-200mm F4 – Telephoto Zoom
The 70-200mm F4 is my wildlife photography lens. I don’t use it that often, and don’t bring it along on every trip either. If weight is an issue, it’s usually the first to be left behind.
But if I have a particular shot in mind that requires a telephoto, I’ll bring it.
By adding a Sony 2X extension on it, I can up the range to 400mm (which is great for safari photography).
Also Read Best Things To Do In Venice
Sony A6500 – Backup Mirrorless Camera
For a long time, I only traveled with one camera. But as I began working professional photography gigs, I realized that a backup camera was a wise investment.
When you’ve been hired for a photography project that pays 5-figures, the last thing you want is an accident or malfunction to leave you without any useable images for the client!
The Sony A6500 works with all my other Sony lenses, plus I use it as a portable vlogging camera.
It has a cropped (smaller) sensor, but has many of the same functions as my larger A7R III.
I also use it for shooting time-lapses while I’m working on other things, with help from Sony’s internal time-lapse software.
Sony 10-18mm F4 – Wide Vlogging Lens
The 10-18mm F4 is a cropped sensor lens that stays attached to my Sony A6500 body. It’s nice and wide for shooting selfie-style vlogging video, with fast autofocus.
GoPro Hero 8 – Action Camera
I’ve been using a GoPro since I started traveling 9 years ago. I’ve owned almost all the models! Currently, I travel with the GoPro Hero 8.
GoPro cameras are great at capturing hands-free action or “b-roll” and you can attach them to almost anything. Plus, they are waterproof and shockproof!
I use my GoPro for surfing, mountain biking, hiking, snowboarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, cliff jumping, interior and exterior moving-vehicle footage, and more.
GoPro Camera Accessories
Just owning a GoPro is not enough to get great images and video. The magic of these cameras is in the multitude of accessories that are available for them!
Handheld sticks, suction cups, clamps, head straps, mouth mounts — so many unique ways to attach a GoPro to something and get amazing footage.
Check out my complete guide to the best GoPro accessories for travel.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro – Flying Drone
The perfect tool for capturing aerial photography and video, while costing much less than renting a helicopter! Drones have really come a long way.
I couldn’t be happier with the new DJI Mavic 2 Pro (read my full review here).
It flies super fast, is extremely reliable, and shoots some very high-quality photos and video. Not to mention it folds up to fit in my carry-on bag!
The 360-degree sensors help stop you from running into things while flying, so you can concentrate on the shot. Active track and intelligent flight modes can do a lot of the work for you.
Remote Controller Sun Shade
I don’t own a bunch of accessories for my drone, but one important one is the DJI Mavic Sunshade. This allows me to see what I’m shooting on my iPhone screen, even in bright sunlight.
DJI Car Charger
Another drone accessory I bring with me on road trips is the car-charging adapter for DJI Mavic batteries. This ensures I always have a fresh battery ready to fly during epic travel photography road trips!
Also Read Best Travel Gear
My Camera Tripods
RRS TQC-14 – Full-Size Tripod
As a landscape photographer, a solid yet lightweight travel tripod is a key piece of my photography equipment.
I use my RRS TQC-14 to stabilize the camera in low light situations and with high f-stop settings (for maximum focus range). It allows me to get shots I just can’t achieve hand-held.
Sunsets, sunrises, the northern lights, star photography, and motion blurred waterfalls are just some of the situations where having a tripod is important.
I also use it to film myself for vlogs, as well as to shoot travel selfies when I’m hiking on my own. There are cheaper tripods out there though too, which I share in my guide to the best travel tripods.
Joby Gorillapod – Mini-Tripod
If I need to travel super light, for example on a long-distance camping & trekking adventure that will last multiple days, then I sometimes pack the Joby Gorillapod 5K instead of my full-size tripod.
At only 1.55 lbs, this thing is tiny. But the bendy legs allow you to attach it to objects for a higher perspective too. It’s strong enough to hold my large camera and works great as a “selfie stick” for shooting video too.
This piece of metal attaches to the bottom of my large camera and allows for very quick changes from a landscape angle to portrait mode (long photos to tall photos) on my tripod.
In today’s Instagram world, where the 8×10 ratio is important, I try to shoot images of key locations in both landscape and portrait perspectives. I use the landscape style in my blog posts, and portrait style for social media (because they display better on smartphones).