So you’re planning your next holiday or you’re thinking about taking the ultimate leap and going travelling long term. You’re probably trying to work out a question that bugged many for a long time. Should I have a GoPro for travel?
It may sound crazy, because a GoPro camera is so small, and surely that can fit anywhere, but should you include this piece of kit in your luggage? After all, space is a premium, and when you get the required accessories, along with a protective case for it, all of a sudden it’s not just a tiny little Fujifilm camera that can slip in your pocket. It’s a small lunchbox of valuable electronics that you’re adding to your bag.
And until you start to pack for the long term backpacking lifestyle, I doubt many people think that something so small (and obviously an awesome product) could cause such a dilemma.
Well we’re hoping to provide you with everything that we’ve learnt from owning a GoPro Hero6 Black over the last 6 months. Giving you the scope on how it has benefitted our travels. Outlining the bad bits and also why sometimes we feel we don’t need it. And championing what’s good about it too. So hopefully by the end of this you’ll be able to make the correct decision based on your own needs.
So what are the positives of the GoPro?
- GoPro’s are one of the smallest action cameras on the market – but they pack a serious punch when it comes to the tech that’s inside them (especially the most recent GoPro Hero 8 Black model which is the best in the GoPro cameras range). How do they fit so much great technology in such a small space!
- The build quality of the GoPro is brilliant, and it’s very easy to use – even for someone as useless with these types of gadgets as James is…
- If you’re looking for something that is innocuous, isn’t invasive, can be strapped to pretty much anything and guaranteed to give you great quality film, then look no further.
- If you are interested in action shots, as many travel bloggers will attest, the GoPro range (whether that’s the GoPro Hero5 Black, GoPro Hero4 or even earlier), boasts the best travel cameras for sporting and action junkies.
- If you are travelling and something does go wrong, you need a new part or want to get a new addition, then as market leader it is the easiest to find somewhere for it to be fixed or the part you’re looking for.
- The GoPro app that you get with owning a GoPro is great for downloading your photos straight to your device.
And what are the negatives of a GoPro for travel?
- However, and here’s the biggest but, the question you need to ask yourself is what actually do I need a GoPro for? We have been travelling across Asia for over 6 months, and in reality, although having the GoPro is really cool – it’s not as important to us as many might think.
- Where we find it useful is on any water activity (snorkelling, diving to waterfall hikes) and then to set up a time lapse of an amazing sunset and sunrise. Or to catch some great video of the open road.
- If you’re just going around other sites, there is no point in lugging it around, when a phone will do just as well – or if you need stronger imagery then a camera would be your go to!
- Depending on what accessories you use (see our below on a stick as imperative), if you’re using it in your hands, a pesky stray finger will often appear and ruin that shot.
What GoPro accessories do I need for travelling?
There are so many GoPro accessories available to choose from, that it can really be a bit daunting. So if you’re set on your GoPro for travel, here are what we consider the must have GoPro accessories for travelling. And having been on the road for 6 months, we think that we have really nailed what you definitely need, but let us know in the comments if there is anything else that you think we are missing.
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Memory card / Micro SD card
So alongside the GoPro, you’re also going to need to get hold of a decent memory card, there are a few things to watch out for when buying the right card – is it compatible with the type of GoPro that you have? And also does it have enough space for the amount of video and photos you’re looking to capture.
We went for the SanDisk Extreme Micro SD Card which has 256 GB storage, and we haven’t even got close to filling up the space on it during a day. It is also compatible with both the GoPro Hero6 and Hero7 editions.
With all these new toys, you’ll want to make sure you get the best carry case for all your items. Something that can take a bit of a knock, is lightweight and doesn’t take up too much space. The biggest advice we can offer on this, is to make sure that you get all the gear that you need and then buy your case after! There’s no point, getting a case that’s too small or large… You’ll just have to return it and start again.
We have really enjoyed using the Smatree GoPro Carrying Case – it’s incredibly affordable but oh so functional.
Diving hand grip
This is something that we have just invested in… and it’s already changed the quality of the photos and videos that we are getting while snorkelling and diving. We originally started off just having a wrist support for the GoPro, which was ok, and still definitely has it’s uses, however, for use in water, the GoPro floating hand grip has just totally raised our game.
Now if you are a keen scuba diver (or even can free dive to decent depths), although the latest GoPro claims to be waterproof up to 10 meters – you’ll definitely want to get a bit of extra protection. Even Open Water divers will go to depths of at least 18 metres and Advanced much deeper than that – so you don’t want a bit of water leaking in and ruining your expensive piece of kit.
We’d recommend that you go for GoPro’s own product – the GoPro Super Suit. It has some amazing reviews and we’ve used it loads with absolutely no issue at all.
Charger & Battery pack
So you may have heard that the GoPro cameras chew through the battery life, especially when filming in 4k. So you’ll want to carry around at least one back up, if not a couple if you plan on spending the day out and using the GoPro camera a fair amount. This is particularly a good option if you are on a boat doing a number of dives or on a long road trip and don’t have access to a plug to charge.
Although we are huge advocates of buying the official GoPro products, we have been using the Smatree pack which was a great cheap alternative and has worked flawlessly. You get two spare batteries along with a charger – super helpful.
Wrist grip or Guard
Actually this was the first accessory that we purchased for our GoPro, as it worked across both our main camera and the GoPro. This Campix wrist band pack, comes with two polythene wrist straps and can be interchangeable between different devices. So we use it day to day as we walk the streets with the main DSLR camera (it feels much safer and comfortable than strapped across your shoulder), and then in the water we switch it over to being on the GoPro. It’s also so incredibly affordable, considering it’s value.
Although it doesn’t give you the same stability as the Diving Stick, it still provides the comfort of knowing that you won’t lose your GoPro. For us this is a must for GoPro for travel.
At the top of our “to buy” list, and only because these aren’t the cheapest, is a Go Pro Gimbal Stabiliser, which adds even more stability to your GoPro image quality. Used in the film industry for years, these nifty bits of kits have been scaled down to work on your phones and GoPros – so no more jumping or jittery footage – only the smoothest film is captured.
One of the most important accessories for us when traveling with a GoPro is making sure that once backed-up, and the images are safe. And as you travel, your kit gets knocked about, dropped, your bags get wet and even a beer or two might get spilled on it. So make sure you keep the memories safe with a an almost indestructible 2 TB Lacie.
Conclusion – should you buy a GoPro for Travel?
Yes. For us, it’s a beautiful piece of equipment that we love to use, particularly as we both enjoy diving and snorkelling and without it we’d be a little lost. And with the ongoing improvements that GoPro are making, it’s important to upgrade from an early model to the latest and buy the GoPro Hero 8 Black. The difference is insane picture quality and image stabilisation.
We also love that we can get it to link to our phones, upload the content right on the boat just out the water and get up to social media platforms as quickly as that.
However, if you’re not into action sports or water sports, then maybe this isn’t the right product for you!
We run a full time blog and focus our time between Pinterest and Instagram as our biggest social channels. Both of which are very photography heavy – so we have a lot of GoPro footage that we don’t use. That said, one day, having all the out takes may prove to be very useful!
Are there any alternatives that I should look at?
Absolutely – again this completely comes down to what you are planning on doing on your holiday or travels! Our most important piece of kit for us is a really fantastic camera for our travel photography. Something that is lightweight and easy to use. We use the Panasonic Z1000 which is an affordable bridge DSLR – so no need to change the lens and carry around loads but gives us fantastic travel photos.
The second most important piece of tech for us is our phones – especially James’ Xiaomi Mi 9 which takes unbelievable selfies, photos, low light night photos and video content. The great things about having a top notch phone in your pocket is that it’s always there, so no need to always be lugging around other kit or bags.
We combine good quality imagery with Adobe Lightroom for editing, and our absolute cheat is using ‘Presets’ which can turn an average snap into an absolute masterpiece.
We were originally going to take (and bought) a tripod, which we left at home. We quickly realised that we aren’t the type that likes a couples shot! And even though our Tripod was great… it didn’t make our final packing list for us!
The one thing that we recently invested in (and don’t know how we ever did without it) is a DJI Mavic Drone. The photos and footage that we’ve captured so far is amazing… and it offers a completely different view of landscapes, culminating in spectacular results.
There are a few other travel cameras similar to GoPro, and we’ve heard good things of the Osmo Pocket.
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Looking for some travel tips on what to pack?
We have a great list of the backpacking essentials list, just in case you want to check out what you should take on your trip. But if you have any other queries, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us in the comments below or leave us a message here.
Is GoPro good for travel photography?
It’s not quite such an easy black and white answer. In essence, the GoPro is a great action camera. So if you are intending on doing some activities, whether that’s hiking, to diving and everything in between then yes, it is definitely worth having a GoPro for travel photography. But this should only make up part of your photography kit. You should also have a decent camera, which in most instances, will take a better photo.
Which GoPro is best for travel?
At the moment, we’d definitely recommend the latest GoPro Hero 7 Black for your travel photos and videos. It has the latest technology, and quite key for taking videos on the move: great image stabilization.
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