Travel TipsWhat to Pack for Travel

The Best Alternative Travel Cameras for 2019 (and For Your Trip!)

By March 5, 2019 March 6th, 2019 No Comments

For most of us, an important part of travel is documenting our time in the place we are visiting. Usually, we all want to find the best ways to capture our memories and important moments. No matter if you are traveling halfway around the world or just an hour away, photos are as much a part of planning your trip as your luggage and plane ticket. Most people think of a big camera with a shutter and large lens, but there’s lots of other ways to uniquely capture travel memories. Especially if you’re on a road trip. You could use GoPro as dashcam, or invest in stabilizers and tripod for your iPhone. It’s up to you!

Smartphone Photography: The Best Mini Camera

phartphone as primary travel camera

One of the biggest draws of using a smartphone as a camera is ease of use, most of us don’t go far without our phone. It can eliminate bulky carriers and extra charge cords too.

Some of the best smartphone cameras on the market today are Samsung Galaxy S9 (or brand new S10) and Apple’s iPhone X. Both smartphone cameras take crisp clear photos and come ready with in-camera editing features. Your photo can go from snapped to Instagram in seconds.

Another excellent use for a smartphone while traveling is as a dash cam. We will talk more about dedicated dash cams later, but a second smartphone or even an older model that is no longer your main smartphone can do the trick.

I used an iPhone 5 as a travel camera and dash cam for years after I had gone back to Android for my day-to-day smartphone use. Not only did I get more battery life out of iPhone because I wasn’t using it for data, I could mount it quickly and easily. I took shots of scenery and captured video of my family and friends during trips, hands-free.

If you want more dash cam options than your old smartphone can give you, no worries we have you covered.

Dash and Action Cameras

This can be an interesting choice for travelers looking to add to their camera repertoire. These types of camera mount to a car, bike, boat or other moving vehicle, and transition from documenting your drive through forests, and rocky terrain to capture stunning visuals from dinner, karaoke and cocktails. It’s actually one of the most versatile categories of camera that specialize in action but doesn’t skimp on the photo and video quality.

dash cam

One of the most respected and continually top ranking brands of dash cam is Garmin, and one of the best-reviewed cameras for 2019 is hands down the Garmin Dash Cam 55 This dash cam gets a lot of things right great photo quality, a reasonable price tag, compact body, and voice command compatible. These features make the Garmin Dash Cam 55 a solid choice but not your only choice.

Another great choice for your dash cam needs is the Vantrue N2 Uber Dual Dash Cam this camera detects motion, delivers photo quality indoors and outdoors and has an almost 360 view that makes for stunning panorama shots.

If looking for something quick to grab footage quick, things like the Cop Cam are an option as well. For under $30 USD, it’s a tiny square of a camera where footage can be uploaded via USB to your phone or laptop instantly. his takes up the least amount of space for carry-on weekend warriors.

Ultimate Action: GoPro Cameras

Although GoPro cameras can go almost anywhere you go, it’s a great idea to use GoPro as a dashcam, alongside all it’s other features. These cameras take stunning 4k images and videos that are uploaded automatically to your smartphone

What that means is a dashcam that can document every leg of your trip and can come off the dash and become a powerful travel companion as you surf, ski, mountain climb or just spend a day at the beach.

GoPro cameras are notoriously waterproof and all around tough little cameras that fit well in a backpack or even a back pocket. There’s plenty of other types of mounts too, for everything from your helmet or chest to an underwater case or stabilizer handle.

If you are looking for the best GoPro for your next travel adventure here are the top two GoPro’s you want in your hot little hand:

GoPro Hero 7 Black  The hero black series is one of the most popular and well known of the GoPro brand. The seventh iteration has a “hyper smooth” feature that anticipates camera movement to deliver video with less shakiness. No more Blair Witch factor in your action videos with this camera.

GoPro Hero 7 Silver  The Hero Silver is another excellent choice from GoPro that boasts the same stunning 4k video as the black option. The beautiful thing about the Silver edition is that it has many of the features of the Black but in a more economical package, this mid-range GoPro is perfect as a first GoPro purchase or if you aren’t sure that this will be your sole travel camera.

PS – you can definitely use GoPro as dashcam too if you rather not bring several cameras at once. Just remember to take it off the GoPro dash mount when you leave a rental car – or you’ll learn the hard way!

Dash Cam Mounts

Regardless of what type of dash cam you use you will need to choose from the many options of dash cam mounts available. One of the simplest ways to go is to invest in a suction cup mount. Although you can find suction cup mounts for $10 to $20, I suggest you invest money in something that will secure your camera well.

An excellent choice is Fat Gekco Camera and Camcorder Mount  this mount fits essentially any camera or camcorder and secures it to the dash of the car or the front of a bike or motorcycle with two strong suction cups. Forget worrying about your camera falling or becoming unstable.

Another good choice of mount for dash cam is the Panavise AcitonGrip 13130 this mount will serve all of dash cam and GoPro needs. This mount is also sturdy and well worth the price tag, the main difference is that while the Panavise ActionGrip 13130 will more than meet your dash cam needs, it may not be sturdy enough to handle the weight of other types of cameras and camcorders. For those who also travel with DSLR cameras or plan to take professional grade photos and video, I advise the Fat Gecko as your mount of choice.

DSLR vs. Point and Shoot

We can’t have the best cameras for travel roundup without mentioning DSLR options.

Digital cameras have come along way in the last ten years, becoming lighter, easier to manage and packing more features than their early predecessors.

All of the research I have done on the must-have DSLR cameras for 2019 lead directly to the Nixon D750 this Nixon camera is the best of the best and can easily be your everything camera no matter if you are on the road or not. While this option comes with a heftier price tag it is well worth it in features.

While Cannon and other companies make cameras that have similar features you don’t want to skimp on your DSLR choice since these cameras are designed to be an investment that will grow with you for years to come.

If a DSLR seems like too much commitment or you are looking for a choice that is a bit more pocketbook friendly and literally pocket-friendly as many of these options are smaller and easier to carry consider your point and shoot options.

Among the best Point and Shoot options are the Nikon CoolPix which gets better and better with each iteration.  Among other great choices are Panasonic Lumix FZ80 and the Sony DSCW800.

No matter what camera you use to capture your memories with, I hope your travels find you well and you enjoy this roundup of travel cameras for 2019.

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Porscha Simmons

Author Porscha Simmons

Porscha Simmons is a writer and artist living and working in Central Virginia. Porscha can be found online at PorschaWrites.com and on IG @nikki_octavia_studio.

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