First ask yourself, what sort of photography do I want to do on my next trip? Then, what is the minimum standard of equipment I will need to achieve my goals from the first question.
Maybe you already own a kit of a digital SLR camera with several lenses. Will you need them all or are they too heavy to carry on your trip? Maybe a compact camera will do the job for you, certainly less to lug around. And image quality has improved dramatically in some of the pricier compacts.
What will you do with the images when you return home? Are they for posting on social media with lots of selfies or do you want to enter them in photographic competitions or even sell them to publications?
The answers to these questions will determine how you approach your trip.
Research your destination using the internet and library sources. What are the iconic images of the area…when you get there check out the postcards in the local shops. Then check for the best light. Invariably outdoor landscapes will be best taken around dawn. The light is great and the tourist buses haven’t arrived yet. Crowds can kill that iconic shot you wanted.
If you are not a morning person, then plan on being out in the hour around sunset. Middle of the day in a sunny and hot climate is generally poor for good photography.
Learn to say Hello in the local language. Show an interest in what the locals are doing before you start snapping. Generally a nod from you and showing your camera will soon get a response for your subject. If they indicate no, then respect that and move on graciously.
Camera shake destroys many a good holiday snap. Practice with your camera before you leave to find out the slowest speed that you can get away with. And then promise yourself to never go below the next fastest speed, just to be sure.
Be like the documentary maker. Look for the story behind the scene. Maybe swot up on your history before you leave. Then take your pictures with this storyline in mind. Start with the establishment shot. Ideally a high vantage point looking down on the resort, beach, town or whatever is appropriate. Wide angle and get it all in!!(By the way, creating your story doesn’t have to happen in chronological order).
So, if you know you are taking a journey into the hinterland at some stage, remember to take this establishing shot when you are up there. Then your next shot will be closer, maybe down on the beach but still wide angle and showing lots of the surrounds. Then next we can get in close and personal. Show us the resort, the locals and the tourists, the pool, the surf, the town, the harbour, the markets and of course, the ubiquitous historic church or ruins. Yeah, I know, it’s all a bit cliché, but guess what, your audience will appreciate it when you return. Now’s a good time for your selfies!!
Know your camera as best you can. Take the manual with you just in case. Often you can download the manual as a pdf and store it on your smartphone or tablet/laptop. One less book to carry. Don’t forget batteries, chargers etc and enough memory to last your trip.
What about all those images you are going to take. How are you going to store them. If you have a laptop with you then great, bring an extra external drive for back up such as the La Cie Rugged USB3-Thunderbolt drive. Keep the laptop and drive in separate bags in case one gets lost along the way.
Another thing to check is how are you going to get power to charge your mobile devices. Do you have the appropriate plugs and are your transformers suitable for the electricity supply of the country you are going to. In Australia we use 220Volts as standard. Many countries like the USA use 110 Volts. Can your charger auto switch? Many can, but check before you leave.
Finally don’t draw attention to your gear, especially if it is expensive. The backpack with Canon or Nikon emblazoned on it is like a magnet to local thieves. Some seasoned pros actually duct tape their good gear to make it look as old and cheap as possible.