It’s that magical time of year again. No, I’m not talking Christmas, I’m talking aftermath. The rush is over, the presents are unwrapped, and you’ve made it through the questionable parties and family dinners. Still working your way through the leftovers, but hey, there’s still time.
No, my friends, I’m referring to annual leave. Post-festive season is a popular time to get out of town for most people. Work’s end of year rush has slowed and you’re no longer bombarded by a million holiday induced stressors.
Your dream destination is set, accommodations are booked, and you’ve requested the time off, but you’re faced with one last thing; how to capture it all?
I mean, where do you even start? Your phone has a camera, right? That’s fine, right? But what about all the amazing stuff you’ll see? Will a phone really do it justice? The last camera you owned was a Polaroid, help?!
No worries, mate! We’ve got you covered, but there are a couple of things you need to think about.
First things first, what kind of holiday are you planning? This may seem like a strange thing to consider, but it’s definitely not, we promise.
Think about where you’re going and what you’ll be doing for most of the trip. Are you going to be watching lakeshore sunrises from a big wooden deck chair with a hot cup of tea? (Please take me with you if so.) Or maybe you’re going surfing in Hawaii or zip-lining across a foggy mountain top.
The point here is that there can be a different camera for every type of adventure and it really helps to have the right gear with you when the perfect photo opportunity presents itself.
As a first camera, or just a first new camera in a long time, point-and-shoot/compact cameras are an excellent combination of great image quality and the convenience of a small form factor that fits easily in your day pack or carry-on luggage. They’re super easy to have at the ready so you can snap a few shots nice and quick, plus they also fit well in small hands making them kid-friendly too.
If your vacation is all about the R & R and taking family photos, then a compact camera might be your best bet. Nowadays, these cameras come in a range of different options from super basic to advanced manual controls so there’s really something for everyone.
Some great examples: Canon Powershot SX620 HSPanasonic Lumix TZ90, or the Sony RX100 series (Mark II, Mark III, Mark IV, and Mark V)
For others, though, a holiday might be about cramming in as much action and as many new experiences as possible. If you’re going backpacking around Europe or headed anywhere with a beach or resort, there’s bound to be a plethora of activities on offer. From hiking rainforests to snorkelling to even just hanging out on a boat, this is where your needs might change.
At this stage, it might be better to think about an action camera or another waterproof offering. Gone are the days when choosing a ‘tough camera’ meant sacrificing performance and features. No, no, that’s well and truly behind us now, as evidenced by the GoPro action cam. Bring one of these with you and you’ll never have to worry about keeping your camera dry or out of the sand again.
A lot of these cameras also have various photo sharing options, whether it’s Wi-Fi or App based. You can send video and images to your friends and family right away which can honestly be quite comforting especially when you’re on an extended trip so far from home. 
If action is your game, check out the GoPro HERO selection, the Panasonic Lumix FT30Olympus TG-Tracker, or the Garmin VIRB 360.
Of course, there’s more yet. A lot of times, we go away for the simple feeling of escape. To get out of the cities we know, to break free of our routines, to go off and see something different and breath taking. These are the moments you just want to keep forever and, never fear, there’s a camera for that too. There’s a lot of stuff for that, actually, but we’ll stick to the basics.
If you’re hoping this kind trip will help turn photography into a new hobby, you might want to go for something a little more involved from the start, like an advanced compact or mirrorless camera. This will give you a chance to get familiar with manual controls and really grow into your camera or even change lenses as you gain more confidence.
The real benefit of choosing the mirrorless option is the ability to swap lenses to suit the different scenarios you might face which gives you a lot more creative freedom. Compact DSLRs work too, but I lean a little more towards mirrorless for travel as they do tend to be smaller and more discreet. This also makes them easier to pack and conceal if you’re not keen on having people check out your gear.
Another advantage is a more advanced feature set and the ability to get experimental with things like long exposures, time lapse, and even 4K video. When going down this road, you might also want to take a good look at the accessories you’ll be taking with you.
Do you have enough memory? What about power options? Can you spare the space for a compact tripod? With this style of camera it’s worth going a little overboard on the extras, especially if you’re planning to pursue this hobby once you get back home.
Perfect beginner cameras to grow into include the popular Sony a6000, the Olympus E-M 10, the Canon EOS M6, or the Fuji X-A10.
Each camera has its own set of benefits you might find useful or convenient, but what matters most is that you’re confident using the gear you’ve got. It’s well worth spending the time to get familiar with your camera because, at the end of the day, you don’t want to miss out on capturing something really special.
Of course, where you go with your photography (pun intended) is up to you. That’s the beauty of photography, really; the fun doesn’t have to stay on vacation even though you might want to.