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Buying a real, quality camera for travel is a big investment. While cameras today are more affordable than ever, they still cost a good amount of money. Travelers – especially budget travelers – may be inclined to forego purchasing a real camera for a trip, opting instead to use their phone camera. We think that is a huge mistake.
To be honest, at first, we were hesitant to buy a travel camera. The expense and the extra weight had us concerned. We had iPhones, did we really need to buy a separate camera for traveling?
We weighed the pros and cons – and identified several reasons why buying a real camera for travel was a good choice. After much debate, we decided to take the plunge and bought a Canon Rebel – a camera that is highly touted as the Best Camera For Budget Travel and beginner photographers.
If we knew then what we know now, buying a travel camera would have been a no-brainer from the start. In hindsight, it is one of our best pre-trip investments (along with Packing Cubes!) and we cannot imagine traveling now without a real camera.
Why You Need A Real Camera For Travel
If you are a budget-conscious traveler, like us, then you are probably in the same position as we were before we bought our travel camera. If you are still unsure whether or not you should purchase a camera for travel, we have five good reasons why you should!
If you are ready to buy a camera, use our guide to the Best Travel Camera!
#1 Keep Your Phone Tucked Away
In this age of modern technology, phone cameras are fantastic for taking travel pictures. That said, they are not nearly as good as a real camera that is specifically designed to take photos (and a great travel camera can really produce some phenomenal photos – just take a look at our Instagram account!). While that may seem reason enough to buy a travel camera, there are other reasons we think it is best to keep your phone tucked away when traveling.
A big reason you don’t want to solely rely your phone for travel pictures is the risk of damage or loss. When we travel, we are out of our element; we fumble, stumble and are distracted by our new surroundings. In these situations, we are more likely to become careless with everyday objects like our phones – which can lead to dropping and breaking our phones or (even worse) someone thieving our phones from us.
In our travels, we have witnessed the phone loss scenario one too many times. In fact, I myself cracked my screen to slivers in a moment of jet-lagged clumsiness after a long-haul flight to Australia. Being stranded on a trip without a phone is a sinking feeling. Thankfully, we had all of our travel documents and information backed up via iCloud and I had my Canon Rebel camera to take pictures during our trip.
Pro Tip: When traveling, it is essential to have a travel day pack with zippered pockets where you can safely stow your phone and camera. And trip insurance that covers loss and theft of electronic items is key, too!
#2 Save Money by Taking Photos Instead of Buying Souvenirs
For our trips, some of the best travel mementos we have are the photos we snapped. Actually, of the very few souvenirs we have collected since we became full-time travelers in 2014, none of them are more important to us than our photographs.
Furthermore, digital photos don’t take up any extra room in our backpacks and they weigh nothing! We carry tens of thousands of photos with us when we travel – and looking at them is our favorite way to relive a previous trip.
Pro Tip: Need packing tips? We’ve got them! Go to our Tips for Travel Packing page for more pro advice.
#3 A Quality Camera Lasts For Years
While a travel camera is a big upfront investment, a quality camera will last for years. Our Canon Rebel is going on 10 years – and it works as well today as the day we bought it. Photos are crisp and the functionality is superb.
The camera body is showing some wear and tear – the thumb grip melted off in Vietnam and the neck strap has seen better days – but that is to be expected when you use an item almost every day over several years of traveling. (It also should be noted that both items can be easily replaced and neither affect the camera functions.)
Pro Tip: Just in case something happens to our Rebel camera, we carry a backup Canon PowerShot ELPH (that is even older than our Rebel!). Fortunately, we have only had to use it once – and that was due to operator error. (I jammed my focus ring when I dropped the camera in Sarajevo; thankfully, it was a quick fix with the help from the local camera store!)
#4 A DSLR Camera Can Grow With You
One of the great things about investing in a DSLR camera for travel is the interchangeable lenses. While most beginner travel cameras – like the Canon Rebel and Sony A6000 – come with a starter lens, as you become more confident and comfortable using the camera, you can purchase additional lenses that might better meet your travel photography needs – without having to buy an entirely new camera.
The included lens is often sufficient and a great place to start for travel photos. When I purchased my Canon Rebel, it came with two lenses and I used them for years before upgrading to a Standard Zoom Lens (and I bought it used, so it was half the price of a brand new one!).
Pro Tip: As a beginner photographer, I bought the Canon Rebel Kit – which came complete with useful gizmos and gadgets. These fun accessories were helpful in my learning process and we highly recommend purchasing a complete kit if you are buying your first DSLR camera for travel!
#5 A Hobby for Travel and At Home
One of the things we love about taking photos while traveling to foreign places is that it encourages us to see things in a different perspective. When we look through the viewfinder, we don’t just snap pictures of the sights to check off our list, but we attempt to capture the moment, the people, the atmosphere.
Travel is our passion; there is nothing we love more than boarding a flight and jetting off to new adventures. However, when travel is not possible, photography can be a fun local hobby, too – and a real opportunity to get more use out of your investment. Besides, practicing at home will help you hone your travel photography skills for your next trip!
We Want To Know: Have you purchased a travel camera? What do you love about it? Tell us in the comments below!
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