• Sam Wilson

Essential Packing For A Photography Road Trip

Don’t Leave Home Without These Essentials



Road trips are such a great way to travel - you can set your own budget and itinerary that group tours or other ways of travel just don’t let you do.


Car on side of road overlooking valley with mountains in the background
With Views Like This I Just Had To Pull Over

Save money, stress less and generally have the ultimate relaxed road trip with this essential photography road trip packing guide. It is a comprehensive list, but hey it’s a road trip so there’s no weight/bag size restrictions - it's all down to the size of your vehicle and how many travellers. It's often just me (or one other) so there's no real issue.



lounge covered in various luggage and bags ready for a road trip
No One Ever Accuses Me Of Travelling Light

To download this comprehensive one page checklist you can do so here, and keep on reading below for all the details.




As an Australian whose only road tripped in Australia, this list will focus on staying in Oz. And what is better than a good old Road Trip?






For my full guide on Planning The Perfect Road Trip, head here. I update this article after every road trip as there's always new things to learn!


Having done a fair bit of road tripping over the years, I’ve certainly had some interesting experiences which has led to the development of this list along with my planning guide.


Each trip I learn something else, along with experiencing some really cool locations and drives, and even occasionally meeting some lovely locals along the way





This list is intended to ensure you have as stress free a trip as possible for maximum enjoyment.


BASICS


Clothes and Shoes

I’m not including specific clothing and shoes as it really depends on the season and destination but think comfy, particularly for long drives.


I will say always take an extra pair of shoes as they can take so long to dry if you get soaked, and there’s nothing worse than cold wet feet. Trust me on this, it happened to me on my last road trip to Victoria. First step onto the beach in the dark and stepped straight into water. It was not at all warm so I was so grateful to have my spare shoes and socks to change into afterwards!





I will mention sunglasses though as if you leave super early and it’s still dark, these are easy to forget, so make sure you pop them in the car the night before if you don’t keep them there anyway.


License and Insurance Details

Yes, you usually have your license on you at all times, but make sure you also have your insurance details saved on your phone.





It can also pay to check what insurance cover you have for car rental just in case.


Roadside Assistance Details

Make sure you have the number saved in your phone if you need to call.


First Aid Kit

This should go without saying and live in your car permanently. Now is a good time to check all contents are stocked and in date.

Include in this your regular go to over the counter meds such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, cold and flu, etc.


GPS/Maps

Consider a dashboard mount for your phone if you don’t have an inbuilt screen in your car.

If you’re like most and relying on apps for navigation and not carrying paper maps, make sure you’re able to access them offline for those times that you don’t have service or even a low battery.


Tissues/Wipes/Sanitiser

Always a good idea to have a supply of these in the glove box for those unexpected spills or cleaning the sunnies etc.



Attempt at humour - trying to drink a coffee wearing a face mask
I Do Also Still Pack A Mask - Just In Case

Water and Snacks

Having a stash handy can save a ton of money at the petrol station.


Car and Device Chargers

These come in particularly handy if you’re using these for your navigation.


Rubbish Bag

Super handy for snack wrappers and used tissues/wipes etc. Makes keeping your car clean and tidy so much easier.


Reusable Utensils

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve needed these. I always carried cutlery and just recently added plate, bowl and small chopping board to the list after staying in a motel that had a toaster but no knives or plates (I’m still a bit confused by that one).


Food Storage Containers and Bags/Wraps

These also come in really handy for leftovers, or packing your lunch for the day should you be heading out for a bushwalk. This really helps save some money and prevents waste.


Reusable Water Bottle

Not just economical and good for the environment, a good quality one will keep your water cooler for longer. To save money I tend to buy large bottles and then refill as needed.


Travel Mug

Well this is honestly one of the first things I pack. Again it saves money on buying coffee everywhere, also places aren’t always open when I hit the road, and a good quality one will keep your beverage drinkable for a few hours. Perfect for in between that sunrise photoshoot and breakfast, particularly in winter!




No Cafe Out Here

Toilet Paper

This is something I’ve only recently added to my list after being caught out one too many times at public toilets. For extra protection I keep it in a ziplock bag to keep it dry and clean, and it now lives in my day bag.


Notebook/Journal

Yes, you can record stuff in your phone, but I do like my old fashioned pen and paper.


Esky/Cooler

These are great when moving from one location to another and don’t want to lose any leftover food you may have in addition to keeping water and snacks cold for longer drives. Chuck in a couple of Ice Blocks and you’re good to go.


TECHNOLOGY


Laptop

An essential to back up/store your photos, do some photo editing on the go, research and update plans as you go; and a time filler if you get stuck inside due to bad weather.


Portable Hard Drives

Don’t risk losing those precious travel photos - back up as you go - I do it daily


Power Bank/Chargers

Just mentioning these again so you’ve got them for standard power in addition to in the car - you can never have too much charge!


Portable USB Dock and Card Readers

For plugging in those essential hard drives and memory cards for you photo transfers and back up.


Powerboard and Extension Cord

These I find I use on almost every trip - so many motels just don’t have enough power outlets, or they’re totally in the wrong place for you to be able to power up your laptop and recharge your camera batteries etc.




Cat next to empty camera bag
Miss Peaches Supervising Me Packing My Gear


Camera Gear laid out in table ready to add to bag in the above photo
What Actually Goes In The Bag

CAMERA GEAR

This I’m just listing so you don’t forget anything - no explanations required -

  • Camera and Lenses

  • Tripod

  • Spare Batteries, Memory Cards, Card Reader and Battery Chargers

  • Torch/Headlamp

  • Remote Shutter Release

  • Filters - CPL, ND etc.

  • Cleaning Gear

  • Allan Keys/Tripod Tools

  • Rain Cover or Plastic Bags


Car boot full of bags including esky and tripod
All Packed Ready To Go

EXTRAS

These always live in my boot, not just for road trips -

  • Wet Weather Gear

  • Sunscreen and Insect REpellant

  • Spare Jacket, Shoes and Socks

  • Towel

  • Beanie & Scarf

  • Torch

  • Umbrella



If Nothing Else, An Umbrella Can Brighten Up A Dull Morning

Non-Essentials

I always like to take a little bit of luxury with me when on a road trip so usually have a nice scented candle, oh and my fave slipper socks.


You may also want to consider some form of entertainment for those times that you have no radio reception, or having some down time at your accommodation due to the weather etc. My go to is a book and bluetooth speaker.


I’d love to know if there’s anything you think I’ve missed - please comment below with any suggestions.


That’s it for now - Keep clicking and stay caffeinated


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Note - This post does not contain any sponsored or affiliated links. All suggestions and opinions are mine. Unless otherwise stated, all photos are mine and remain my copyright images - Sam Wilson Photography.


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