Quick tips to plan your Photography Trip – Part 1
It’s time to plan your next trip! Every time I plan a trip, I do it with the idea in mind of gathering a lot of images. What’s the best way to plan a road trip when you don’t know or have limited knowledge of the place?
With these quick tips you’ll learn how to plan your Photography Trip very efficiently. Use Google Maps. You need to identify locations, know how to get from a place to another efficiently. You need to have a list of places and alternative routes to reach them. So you need to plan properly in order to make the most out of your photo trip. In this first article of a series of three I’m going to share with you the list of actions I take when I plan a trip. At the moment I’m planning a trip to Japan and what follows is a list of what I’m doing these days and I always do when it comes to plan a vacations or a photo trip. I’m sure you’ll find it useful.
UPDATE Part 2 and 3 are out, you can find them at
Your planning tools
This short list of tools is what I recommend to have before you start planning. You need a laptop. I use a MacBook Pro, I think that Apple computers are more versatile and give me out of the box what I need to start working on my projects. I use it in conjunction with my iPhone X and sharing data between the two devices is basically immediate. If I write a note or a reminder on my laptop it will immediately be available on my iPhone too. You can use a PC or Android phone, I’m pretty sure that the apps I’m going to suggest are available on those devices too.
Who is your travel partner?
Ok another quick check before you start planning. Who is your travel partner? Are you travelling by yourself? Are you travelling with your spouse? With friends? How about kids? You need to ask yourself and answer all these questions because your travel partners need to be aware that you are planning to do a photo trip and you want them to be excited about it. They need to know that you are going to wake up really early to drive to a sunrise destination, that there will be hikes to do. Make sure that you make them aware of the kind of vacation they are going to expect if they want to come along. They deserve to enjoy the trip as much as you do.
Is it more of a relaxed vacation or you’re looking for an adventure?
If you are going on a 5 day guided tour and are going to sleep in a 5 stars Hotel, you don’t need to pack for an adventure. Start thinking in advance about this, because if you don’t have hiking or camping gear, researching and buying the right tools takes time. If you are not going to plan on time you’ll get close to the date of departure and you’ll still need to get a lot of equipment. This is a recipe for disaster. You’ll do things in a rush and no time for thinking properly means wasting a lot of money in tools that are not probably needed or worse, you might not buy good gear and by the time you realize what you did it’s going to be too late.
Consider travelling in low-season
That way you’ll save time and money. Peak season is where a destination shows the best side of itself. But, of course, it’s also when more people are going to be there and everything is going to be much more expensive. In a busy period, it’s going to be so hard to take good photos, because streets will be busy, famous locations will be crowded and even though you’ll wake up really early every morning you’ll find hordes of photographers ready with their tripod every day. It’s going to be frustrating and exhausting. In low-season you are more likely not only to experience a more relaxed environment with less tourists, but it will also be easier to interact with locals and ask them for advices about where to eat a good traditional meal or ask them about secret places to shoot. You might end up with unique photos of places that no other tourists have yet discovered.
Do your research
Be mindful of the culture of other countries. Before knowing the type of photos you want to take, you should get to know the locations, their history and customs. Knowing the culture of the place you are going to visit is very important. Before you take photos of a location and share it on social media, it’s a really good thing to know if this is considered respectful towards who lives there. There might be cultural or religious barriers and unless you are filming an authorized documentary I wouldn’t take photos that might offend other people.
Your photos list
How many days are you going to be travelling and how many good photos you want to get away with? What are those photos? You need a list of the possible shoots you’re going to take. Maybe you need photos for your Instagram account or for your blog. Or maybe you’re building a new portfolio. Have in mind a list of photos you need and this will make choosing your locations much easier. You might realize you need only 5 or 6 really good photos and the rest can be just shooting for fun. But knowing this you can now go to the next step.
Your locations list
This and the previous step can be done at the same time. Knowing the number of locations you’ll have time to visit will affect the number of photos you are willing to plan and take. Once you know it, write down a possible list of locations you want to see and share it with your travel partner. Start seeing if it’s feasible and you can start considering what is a possible cost for the entire trip.
Ask your friends
They might know the place, or they might know someone that has already been there. By asking your friends you will end up adding or removing some destination from your long list. Your friends will give you a good idea of what to expect from a location and they might share with you their experiences, positive and negative. This could avoid you possible trouble or unsafe situations.
List of websites and apps you can use
I’ll mention more options in part 2 of this blog post, but local tourism websites and apps will be very helpful. If you are travelling to Japan for example, you might want to check the Japan Tourism Website or https://www.japan.travel. On Google just type the name of the destination followed by the word “tourism” and you should get the official tourism websites of that place. Another good website to consult, has the name suggests, is TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor is probably the world’s largest travel website. You will find reviews from other people and suggestions on the cheapest flights, best accommodations and restaurants. You’ll be able not only to read reviews, but also to ask questions. Check Trip Advisor here.
Speaking of cheap flights, did you know that in Google search if you type something like `from Sydney to Tokyo` you’ll get a list of cheap flights that Google gathered from other websites? Pretty cool!
Use Google Maps
The map you see above is the one I created for my travel in the South Island of New Zealand.
I’ll explain in detail how to use Google maps efficiently in Part 2. Google maps is probably going to be your best friend when planning your trip. I’ll explain to you how to create your own map, how to add markers and plot your list of locations on the map, how to share it with your travel buddies and work together on it and much more!
End of part 1
So as you might have understood, planning a photography requires time and effort. Go through the steps in this list one by one and make a checklist so that you can keep track of what you’ve taken care of. I wanted to divide this article in 3 parts to make it more readable, so stay tuned for part 2 and I’m going to explain how to manage your list of locations and give you more tips on how to plan your photography travel!
UPDATE Part 2 and 3 are out, go to
Writing articles like this one takes time and effort. I’m really happy to share with you these tips because it took me so long to put together a good and efficient planning process for my trips. If you are finding what I write useful and want to help me out, please please please, share this article on your social media by using the buttons below, you can also find sharing buttons on the left of the page. And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get updates and know when Part 2 is out! Thank you and good planning!