Whether you’re traveling with just the phone in your pocket, a new mirrorless camera or 20 lbs. of lenses and accessories these are some great gifts to make your life easier and take better photos in 2024. From photographing Northern Lights in the Arctic or island hopping in the Maldives check out which of these you’ll want with you on your next adventure.
Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag
Perfect for smaller trips the Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag and its customizable inserts allow you to comfortably fit a camera, a few lenses, accessories, laptop and a tablet inside along with zippered pockets for quick access to passport, sunglasses or anything else you need handy. Included straps allow you to easily attach a tripod. And the mag-latch allows the bag to be opened and closed with one hand — making it easy to quickly get to your camera and take a shot without even putting down your coffee. And when not traveling — as the name suggests — its convenient size makes it a perfect everyday laptop bag as well.
Think Tank Airport International
When you’re carrying a serious amount of equipment it’s time to forgo the camera backpacks and get a dedicated carry-on roller suitcase. The Think Tank Airport International is the perfect size for most journeys, able to fit two DSLRs, multiple lenses, flashes and accessories with a separate front compartment for laptop, tablet and documents. Think Tank has a few different models in their Airport line but for most the Airport International will get the job done, holding the most gear but small enough to meet carry-on guidelines for international airlines.
Away Carry-On Flex Suitcase
A travel photographer needs to pack clothing for a trip like everyone else. But what makes this top-rated and best-selling suitcase especially good for photographers? Its hard shell and wheels can handle the abuse of a heavy camera bag strapped on top to the pull-up handle. Where other carry-ons eventually get destroyed by this extra weight my Away suitcase is still going strong after testing it with a year of constant travel. Their regular Carry-On works well enough but the Flex model lets you expand capacity when needed. Also available in an Aluminum Edition.
Polaroid I-2 Instant Camera
A new generation has been falling in love with film cameras and now they can discover the fun of instant photography with the new Polaroid I-2. Forget the models you’ll find in your parents’ attic, this pro-style version combines Polaroid’s sharpest-ever lens along with its first-ever manual controls, allowing you to choose the f-stop and shutter speed you want to make your vision come to life – instantly. There are also multi-exposure and timer modes and both color and B/W film packs are available to purchase along with the camera.
Peak Design Travel Tripod
A travel tripod that accomplishes the best of all worlds. It’s lightweight but strong enough to handle a DSLR with a heavy lens. It ingeniously folds up small enough to throw into a camera bag or carry-on suitcase but extends to 60”. There’s one simple adjustment ring to line up your photo and there’s even an iPhone holder hidden inside the main column. Available in two versions: Carbon Fiber (2.81 lbs) and Aluminum (3.44 lbs.).
Nine Volt AirCap
People are using AirTags to keep track of everything from luggage to keys to passport holders. And while it’s a great idea to stash one inside your camera bag Nine Volt has taking the security game one step further with their AirCap. It replaces your camera’s body cap and contains a magnetic secret compartment that holds an AirTag. Should you accidentally leave it somewhere, or have it taken from your bag, the camera can now be tracked directly.
Lens Rentals by Lensrentals
Photographers always love buying new gear but instead of shelling out thousands of dollars for a super-telephoto you’re only going to use for a week on safari it makes better sense to rent instead. Companies like Lensrentals make this a breeze with a wide selection of lenses, cameras and other gear that are shipped directly to your home to use for the exact time you need them. When you’re done just repack everything in the same box and use the included return label to send back. Also great for trying out equipment before you commit to purchasing.
All right, you can’t actually buy a photographer a polar bear. But you can get them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to photograph them on a trip with Frontiers North. With trips based out of Churchill, Canada, photographers will spend a few days at a Tundra Base Station and go on full-day excursions to see Polar Bears in their natural habitat — all conducted with an eye towards conservation and minimal intervention with the animals and their environment. Frontiers North also runs photo trips for Beluga Whales and Northern Lights experiences.
Better iPhone Camera Apps
The camera app that comes with your iPhone does a lot of things well but to open up the true power of the camera you always have with you look to apps like Halide and ProCamera which allow better control over exposure, shutter speed and aperture. Also check out Ephemeris for visualizing the paths of the sun and moon and knowing where and when to place your camera for the perfect shot.
One more app that any traveler can benefit from is Flighty which works like your personal assistant. Put your flight info into the app — or have it automatically read it from your email or calendar — and you will get constant up-to-date info on any delays, gate info and your overall flight plan along with other useful info like transfers and time zone changes. The app also allows you to choose how to share this info with others automatically — no more constantly texting people your updates and whereabouts.