Tuesday, April 08, 2014

16 Travel Mistakes Made By Photographers

Don’t make these common mistakes when traveling for vacation this year. They are in no particular order, but here to make sure you are well prepared for your travel abroad.

1. Forget you need a Passport—When traveling abroad you need a current and up to date passport. It takes 4 to 6 weeks to get a passport by standard processing and you need to allow the 6 weeks so you have plenty of time.

2. Travel without a Visa—According to the "Henley Visa Restrictions Index 2013," holders of a United States passport can visit 172 countries and territories visa-free or with visa on arrival, and the United States is currently ranked 2nd (tied with Germany, Denmark, and Luxembourg) in terms of travel freedom.  There are 196 countries, so you need to just check and be sure if you need a visa to travel.

3. Forget a AC Plug converter—There are many variations of plug and socket types around the world. If you fail to plan ahead you might have a hard time charging your devices. Check the voltage requirements for the desired country and bring a power converter, if necessary.

4. No Phone Plan—Your phone may work just fine overseas, but when you get back you will be surprised at your bill. Check with your provider to get the best rate for phone and data while traveling abroad. Type frequently used telephone, emergency contact, hotel and transportation numbers on the phone and save them in the phone's address book. Make sure to enter the telephone numbers using the international dialing format: for example, calls to the U.S. should be entered with the prefix "+011" followed by the area code and telephone number because calls made abroad will initiate from the local phone carrier.

5. Delay buying airfare and other transportation—I see this the most often as a mistake by many travelers. This is really apparent at car rental counters. By preplanning and booking and sometimes paying for the rental car early you can save. Let go of brand names when looking. For example Sixt’s, German rental, was renting a Mercedes C-class for a cost $38.81 a day in late May at Sixt’s Orlando airport location. Compare this to Hertz for the same dates were $50.57 a day for a Kia Rio or similar economy car. Often you can find deals way out on international travel. You can also setup alerts on some of the travel websites to let you know when prices drop. Register those places you want to go far in advance and then when a special comes along you get an email alert.

6. No Travel Insurance—There are a few things that you need to consider, Medical, Emergency Evacuation, Travel [flights, hotels, etc.] and baggage. If you get seriously hurt and need to be evacuated due to a fall, car wreck and so on, this could cost $25,000 or more.  Check with your own health insurance also about travel out of country. One of my friends was caught in a hurricane in southern Mexico and they were very fearful of not making it out.

7. Failure to do research on your destination—This I see so often and the consequences can be all over the map from the lack of planning. If you are going to Hungary for example you will be arrested if you take photos of anyone in public without first getting their permission. This law just went into affect. Knowing this up front may make you decide to travel to another location.

Convertible wick away pants
8. Failure to plan for weather—While I had packed a coat when I went to Kona, Hawaii, I left it in my main hotel room in Kona when I drove around the Island to Volcano National Park. I had to go and buy some long sleeve shirts to wear in the cold wet rain. Trying to find a coat in Hawaii isn’t easy on a Sunday when all the shops were closed.

9. Inadequate clothing—When traveling you don’t always have the luxury of time to wash clothes. You can also find yourself in torrential rain and soaked. Getting those items dry before your next day of travel can be a problem. I highly recommend clothing made of wicking, which will pull moisture away from the skin keeping you cooler, but also some of the synthetic wicking clothing dries very fast. I recommend layering clothing when traveling. Two thin layers can be warmer yet lighter than one thick layer, because the air trapped between layers serves as thermal insulation.

10. Poor footwear—I am surprised at how many times I see people in flip-flops in places where it is recommended to have hiking gear. When you are on your feet all day for many days on vacation, looking fashionable is not as important as feeling comfortable. I recommend the Clark's Wave Walker Shoes. They make a variety of styles for men and women.

Photography Mistakes

11. Under shoot—I hear way too many people thinking that they took a lot of photos when really they just took a photo of each place they saw.  You spent all this money to get somewhere, there is really no additional expense with digital to make a few thousand photos verses a couple hundred—except maybe a $30 to $50 memory card. Your trip may cost you more than a few thousand dollars and when you return the only thing you have to remember the trip into your retirement are your photos. Most people will experience a memory that diminishes, as we get older—so take photos to help preserve those memories.

12. Don’t bring extra batteries or memory cards—You planned for years and then you are finally where you dreamed of being and your camera is dead because your battery died. When you travel you will use your camera more than normal. While you have never experienced your camera dying on you—it can and it will die on a vacation of a lifetime. Also, buy a few extra memory cards. Rather than bringing a computer it is much easier to just carry a few memory cards.

13. Carry too much or too little gear—I have done both in my travels. This is where your lack of research on your destination will impact your shooting. A great example is thinking you need to go and buy at 800mm ƒ/5.6 lens for your African Animal Safari trip. Once you get there the tour guides take you out on open vehicles where for the most part you are so close you could use your 50mm lens to get the shot. You can also go on a bird watching tour and your iPhone just will not let you see the photo clearly and close enough in a tree.  What about flash or will you go somewhere that flash isn’t allowed. You may need a camera with high ISO to get those photos.

14. Too big of camera—Even if you are a teenager carrying your gear all day long for a week or more of sight seeing can injure your back. Be sure that the gear you bring will be something you don’t mind carrying around with you all the time.

15. Not ready for special situations—If you go to Charleston, SC and get up early to cover The Citadel Summerall Guards performing on a Saturday morning in the late spring or early fall you will be dealing with condensation on your lens. I carry Fog Eliminator cloth for my camera lenses. Leaving a hotel or car with air conditioning and stepping out in the high humidity of Charleston will take a good 10 to 15 minutes for your camera to stop fogging up. Maybe you are going to a rain forest for a few days. This can destroy your electronics. Make plans to keep your gear dry.

16. Cultural and location mistakes—Too many people do not take the time to read about where they are going. They may find that in their research they want to be sure to go to a certain location and also find out how to avoid security issues. Too many people have things stolen because they are so identifiable as tourists and become a target. Those who do their research will be better prepared to avoid these mistakes. Also even simple things like hand gestures in one culture can mean something totally different in another, so you need to do your best to prepare.

It is difficult to over prepare, but it is very easy to under prepare for your travel. Going somewhere soon for a vacation? I hope this inspires you to take the necessary steps now to make your trip a trip of a lifetime.