In addition to your main camera (and perhaps your backup or second camera) there are a number of other equipment essentials that it pays to think about sourcing before you depart. Remember that in some destinations you may find yourself many miles away from anywhere stocking the simplest accessories, such as batteries, never mind more complicated equipment.
Here's a list of what you should be looking to pack:
While a small, lightweight tripod is the ideal travel companion, a monopod makes a surprisingly useful alternative. They’re easier to carry, quick to set up, and can provide a stable platform for exposures as low as 1/4 second, once you get the hang of holding them steady. A pocket tripod can also more than earn its keep for the little space it takes up.
A compact flashgun can come in very handy as a fill-flash, or for small interiors where there isn’t enough available light. If you get a slave flash (from under £7 for a non-dedicated pocket model), which can be triggered from your camera’s built-in flash, you can hide it (or several) within your scene. Some dedicated flashguns feature a slave mode for TTL off-camera flash.
It’s the usual dilemma – do you pack every bit of kit you own, just in case, or trim it down to the essentials? Let’s assume you already have an 18-55mm or 18-70mm standard lens. That gives you a reasonable degree of wideangle coverage but not much at the telephoto end. Pairing it with something like a 70-200mm or 70-300mm lens will cover that range nicely. If you can get one with Vibration Reduction/Image Stabilisation it will reduce the need to use a tripod.
If you want to travel lighter still, an 18-200mm lens covers the range of both these lenses in a single optic. The Nikon 18-200mm (pictured) achieved a very respectable score when it was tested in WDC, though some of the cheaper ones are not as good optically. This is because the broader the zoom range, the greater their propensity for distortion and image quality issues. Their smaller maximum apertures mean they’ll struggle in lower light levels too, so you’ll need to use a tripod more often.
If you can stand the additional weight (and expense) taking several faster (wider aperture) lenses, or fast zooms, such as a 80-200mm f/2.8 will give you better image quality. You’ll also be able to shoot hand-held in lower light and achieve a shallower depth of field – great for portraits. It may also be tempting to squeeze in a superwide zoom, if you have one, such as a 12-24mm, for those dramatic landscapes.
A portable hard drive provides an ideal solution for downloading the images on your cards for safekeeping. Transferring your photos to a drive each night also avoids having to delete images when you run out of space on your memory cards. Prices start from under £100 for a basic model.