5 savvy travel tips for the modern explorer and photographer (2024)

First published:
June 6, 2024
June 10, 2024

5 savvy travel tips for the modern explorer and photographer (2024)

First published:
June 6, 2024
June 10, 2024

Whether you're a casual holidaymaker or a dedicated travel photographer, these practical insights will ensure you make the most of your travels this year

It’s 2024, and travel has never been more popular. International travel is expected to break records this year.

I’ve been travelling for two decades; it's my first passion alongside photography. I’ve had many adventures, made many friends, learned from my mistakes, and picked up some travel hacks along the way. Here are my top five tips, drawn from my own experiences of living out of a suitcase for a good chunk of my time, to help you have the best trip possible in 2024. These tips will also either directly or indirectly help you with your photography!

While these tips can be applied to any type of trip, they are particularly useful for travel or casual photography while on holiday. They’ll help you plan in advance and get the best possible experience wherever you’re going! They may seem a bit random, but hear me out…

1 Download maps offline to your device in advance of your trip

Photo by Alessio Merighi

Did you know you can download maps of entire islands, cities, and regions on Google Maps and keep them on your device, even offline?

Downloading maps before your trip can be a lifesaver when you’re on the road and might not have internet access or are keeping your phone in aeroplane mode to avoid data roaming costs. It means you’ll be able to see where you are at any time (most networks will let you see your location even in aeroplane mode) and be able to consult your downloaded map for directions.

See instructions on how to download maps offline for Android and iOS.

Top tip:
Make a bespoke map for your trip, marking all the places you want to visit beforehand and download that, too. It’s a great way to plan your trip and ensure you’re not missing out on anything you want to see. This is especially useful if you have a bucket list of things you want to photograph so you can visit them all and tick them off in advance.

2 Invest in a power bank and buy a USB plug for the region you’re visiting

Photo by ready made

Having a power bank with you is particularly important for modern travel. Not only do you want to avoid being left with a mobile phone without power when on the road (especially if you’re going somewhere remote), but you also never know when a good photo opportunity might arise. Your camera phone might be the most accessible to you at the time, so you want to ensure it’s always powered up.

Having a USB charging plug in the format for the region you’re visiting is also handy. If you ever need to charge your devices, you’ve got something you can use immediately when there’s a plug available. USB plugs are cheap and easy to find online, so buy one for whatever region you visit before heading off. It’s better than messing around with a bulky plug adaptor and will save you valuable space.

3 Research data roaming capabilities in advance & buy a local SIM

Photo by Silvie Lindemann

While offline maps are great, you’ll also want some online access. It’s 2024, and the days of being totally ‘uncontactable’ are long gone; everyone generally has their device, even when travelling. Having your smartphone with internet capabilities is incredibly useful—you can research places to go quickly, make new connections more easily, and keep in touch with friends and family so they know you’re safe.

Check with your mobile operator beforehand to see if you can use the mobile phone data associated with your plan or credit abroad without additional charges. If charges apply, consider getting a local SIM card for your trip. Prepaid SIMs can be incredibly cheap and provide data for the duration of your stay. For example, on recent trips to Serbia and North Macedonia, I purchased data-only SIMs for around £5 each, which lasted my entire trip.

4 Ditch the liquids

Photo by Tabitha  Mort

Not carrying bottles of liquids has been a revelation for me, saving both time and space. Instead of carrying around cumbersome shampoo bottles, conditioner, and shower gel (and worrying about airport rules with liquid allowances), bring shampoo, conditioner, and soap bars instead. Not only will you save space, but it makes travelling far easier. You’ll also avoid the risk of spillage onto camera equipment—something I've unfortunately experienced!

5 Make time to visit a country’s ‘second city’ or smaller cities other than the capital

One of my favourite images from Bitola, North Macedonia

Second cities or smaller provincial cities can offer a different insight into a country away from the capital, which may not truly reflect what the country is like (think London vs. the rest of the UK). While the sights may not be as famous, you’ll encounter interesting spots, a slower pace of life, friendly people, lower prices, and potentially fabulous photo opportunities.

Whenever I visit a new country, I almost always try to visit the second city. On my recent trip to North Macedonia, the highlight was an unexpected extra day in Bitola, the country’s second-largest city. Other second cities I highly recommend are Novi Sad, Serbia; Khujand, Tajikistan; Gyumri, Armenia; and Ankara, Turkey.

Final Thoughts

I know it’s a mixed bag of tips, but I hope you find them helpful when planning your next trip. At the very least, I hope they inspire you to try something new or visit somewhere you hadn’t initially thought about!

Remember to upload your travel images to your Picfair Store whenever you take them. Also, showcase them in special albums and share them with the world—you never know what opportunities that could lead to, and you might even make some money from your photos! If you’re new to Picfair, sign up, set up your own store, and start selling your images.

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