Behind the Lens: Top 5 Must-Pack Items

by Mike Corey
camera lens, Mike Corey

Getting ready to head out on your next big adventure? Chances are, you plan on taking a camera or smartphone with you to capture your trip. Whether you are a beginner or advanced photographer or videographer, Mike Corey from Kick the Grind TV shares with us the Top 5 things every traveller should pack before heading out the door:


1. Stabilization/Tripod Options

First and foremost, if you’ll be bringing a camera, there’s a tool that allows you to shoot yourself, shoot time lapses, capture long exposure shots, and pan smoothly. It’s going to come as no surprise that I’m going to suggest bringing a tripod. I don’t think anyone enjoys carrying a bundle of metal sticks around the world if they don’t need to, so let’s explore some alternatives that will take up less space in your bag:

– The easiest alternative is as simple as a bean bag. If all you’re looking for is a way to set your camera down for a ‘selfie’ or family photo during a trip, or want to play around with some basic time lapses.This might be all you need.

– The next step up in portability would be investing in a Gorilla Pod. This is often my choice, and a great middle point if I’m looking to save some weight. It can be adjusted to be stable on any sort of surface, and can even be mounted on trees or benches.


And our last option is called a monopod, and it’s basically a single leg of a tripod with camera mount on the end. While not much shorter, it’s definitely a lot lighter. And can give you that extra bit of stability and support so you arm doesn’t get tired when shooting.


2. Camera Protection

While travelling around the world, you’ll often find yourself near sand, water, or dirt. Being able to protect and clean your camera is a skill that every traveller should know. If you’ve been following our series, Camera Protection is something we’ve covered before. But as a recap – remember to carry a shooting bag or at the very least a ziplock as back-up protection from the elements.

clean lens

It’s also important to know how to clean fingerprints and other dirt off the lens. You’re camera lens is made of glass with a special coating to reduce things like reflection. Windex and paper towel will damage that coating. Pick up a lens cleaning solution and a micro fibre cloth from a local camera or eye glass store store to keep the grime off your glass, without stripping the coatings.


3. Strap Options

A reliable way to attach your body to the camera is also a pretty good idea. Even if you feel like you have a grip like the hulk, take it from me, it’s an easy thing to drop. I usually prefer a wrist strap or a hand strap when I shoot. It allows me to always have my camera close like a gun slinger to grab a shot in a blink if I need to.

shooting with camera strap

However, if you’ll be doing an activity that require both hands like hiking with polls, a shoulder strap works best. Just make sure that when you wear one you have your camera tucked in close to your body, not swinging around with the lens pointed out.


4. Card Accessories

Bringing a card reader along is something I frequently do. Especially if I decide not to bring my laptop. Having a card reader allows you to share photos and videos with friends on the trip, and also post some of what you’ve captured online at an internet cafe.

SD card case

Along with the reader, I always carry a card case to keep everything safe and organized, and if you’d like to take organizing your media a step further; you can use a coloured sharpie or a paint marker to mark the base of the cards. Then you’ll know at a glance which card is which.


5. Smartphone / Apps

When I’m out on a shoot, I don’t carry my camera with me all the time. It’s good to unplug and actually enjoy the destination so that you don’t just watch your trip on your camera’s LCD screen. At dinners or other times when I’m “off the clock” having a small portable camera/note taker/utility tool has been a big help. A smartphone has all these features bundled into one.

Smartphone Apps

Some Apps I really enjoy and you may want to consider as well are:

–> Evernote for recording information like addresses and itineraries,

–> SnapSeed for editing photos

There are also other great apps for more advanced videographers that do tasks like predict the sun’s path, and calculate time lapse intervals.


In case you missed it, there a some other videos you can watch if you’d like to learn some more about making better travel videos.


Part 1: How to Shoot Better Travel Videos

Part 2: Timelapses

Part 3: Gear Care

Part 4: Memory Cards


Have fun capturing your next adventure and don’t forget to share your travel videos with us and we might just feature it right here on the Flight Centre blog!