I’ve been travelling a lot longer than 13 years. Technically I’ve been documenting my travels for almost all of my life, but the biggest changes have been within the last 10 to 13 years or so! Sometimes I look back on trips and think ‘man if I had THIS gadget for that trip, imagine the shots I would have got!!’. This post is taking a look at how my travel tech has changed over the years and the quality of the end results!
I did a Facebook video a while back showing my ‘current’ tech set up, which you can check out HERE.
Photography: Film to digital compact super-zoom camera
Even as ‘recently’ as 2007 I was travelling with a 35mm film camera…remember those?? Well by 2007 I had actually progressed to an APS camera where the films were ‘auto load’, you shut the little door, it made a whirring noise and then you were good to go…for 25 shots. Can you imagine that now?? 25 SHOTS. I can take 25 pictures within 1 minute on my digital.
APS film camera (2007)
I mention 2007 because that was the year I went on my ‘once in a lifetime trip’ to Kenya. I was there for 2 weeks and went on safari and all I had was 150 shots (6 films), to last me the whole time! I had to spread out my usage to make sure I had enough left to be able to document all the things we were to do there! Memory cards now can fit THOUSANDS of photos onto just 1 small piece of plastic!
I then had to wait and get the films developed and printed before I could even see if the few pictures I had taken had come out OK! And don’t even get me started on uploading them to the computer! I either had to scan them individually or I did eventually pay for the photography shop to put them onto CDs for me. This process knocked down the quality of the pictures and they don’t exactly edit well.
Edited APS film shot (2007)
Edited digital camera shot (2018)
Somewhere around 2015 I bought a MacBook Air. Almost every single photo I upload online now gets edited through the ‘Photos’ app. I straighten horizons, up the ‘brilliance’, get rid of shadows. It’s a fairly fast process but when you take over 1000 pictures it can then take a while. I have edited a few using photoshop but sometimes one photo could take me hours to edit.
My APS camera did have a zoom function BUT it was a pretty small zoom in comparison to what I have now. Looking back on my safari in Kenya, compared to the wildlife shots I can take now, the difference is CRAZY!
APS film camera (2007)
Digital compact super-zoom camera (2018)
Underwater photography: Disposable camera to GoPro action camera
At least I HAD a camera for my Kenya trip. However there was one moment when I was on a snorkelling trip, sitting on a sandbar thinking to myself ‘I WISH I was able to have my camera on me so I could remember this view forever’. A year and a half later I started travelling with a disposable camera. They were usually a 35mm CARDBOARD camera, protected in a thick waterproof housing. The cameras were single use, so once you had used up the limited amount of frames, you then had to carry around a big ‘dead’ camera until you could get it developed!
Disposable underwater camera (2008)
GoPro Hero 3 (2017)
GoPro Hero 3 (2017)
I now have a GoPro…granted it’s one of the old Hero 3 cameras so even that’s getting a bit outdated but has changed the way I photograph AND VIDEO underwater!! It doesn’t really bother me that there’s no screen on my GoPro (you can buy a screen, I’ve just never felt the need), it has quite a wide range so most of the time if you point it in the right direction, you’re going to get what you want in the frame. It is a little annoying though that there’s no zoom and sometimes the fish eye effects it creates can be a bit of a pain, but hey it’s definitely better than the disposable option!
GoPro Hero 3 underwater video (2017)
When I did my sky dive back in 2006, I had a photographer jump out of the plane in front of me with a ‘film camera’. Usually when you do activities like that now, you or the instructor just has a GoPro attached!
I love the ‘handle bar’ mount that I have for my GoPro too. It’s great for recording hands free on segways, quad bikes etc!
GoPro Hero 3 Segway mount (2015)
Video Cameras: Casette tape recordings to digital video
Even when I was a kid we had a family video camera…it was huge…like the size of your head huge! Thankfully by the time I went to Kenya, they had shrunk in size but I was still using little cassette tapes. I was able to put it onto the computer but the quality was really quite awful.
From the cassette tape camera, I upgraded to an SD card point and shoot video camera which I used during my Route 66 trip in 2011. The quality was definitely an improvement but still not perfect.
SD video camera (2011)
My videos now tend to either be filmed on my GoPro, iPod OR…
Aerial photography and videos
Never in a million years did I think I would ever have a FLYING CAMERA. It has taken my photos and videos to a whole other dimension! If you think that in just 12 years I went from disposable cameras and film cameras that you had to wait and get developed, to a camera that has GPS and a ‘remote screen’ where I can view what my camera could see even when it’s 100m up in the sky is just mental! The quality of the photos and videos are AMAZING too. I rarely need to edit my shots.
DJI Spark drone (2018)
DJI Spark drone (2018)
DJI Spark drone (2018)
There’s a lot to consider when travelling with a drone, they obviously take up a lot of space in luggage and there are locations where you can’t fly them at all. So it’s worth checking in advance as there’s no point lugging it around if you can’t actually fly it at all! I have the actual drone, 3 batteries, the charging hub, you need some sort of mobile device/screen and I now have a joystick controller too, although you can fly some drones without a controller.
Other gadgets: Phones/iPods/MP3 players/Laptops/Kindle
This could be a whole other post by itself! My very first mobile phone in the year 2000 HAD AN AERIAL, let alone touch screens, cameras, video capabilities, maps etc! Back when I was a camp counsellor in 2008 and then on the following trip to Australia a month later, I had to buy international calling cards and use pay-phones!
Being an expat, I literally wouldn’t be able to cope AT ALL without FaceTime and video calling. I use my laptop for this as well as my iPod. It’s great when you’re travelling solo too, it’s nice to see a friendly face! I could use my phone for this, the phones now are crazy expensive and can do everything under the sun, but I find the batteries run out too fast especially when you’re travelling. I have my phone that I’ll use for internet (the UK – free EU data roaming has been AMAZING) but I’ll then use my iPod to fly my drone, for apps, FaceTime, anything WiFi related, saving maps, quick videos or photos for online updates etc, I just wouldn’t have enough space for all of that on my phone.
Me taking close up photos of a waterfall!
I also travel with a separate MP3 player. I remember when I used to walk to school I’d put my CD walkman in my backpack and just the movement of my steps would have the CD tracks jumping! I couldn’t even imagine going for a run now with a walkman! I have an iPod that has a built in clip, they don’t make it anymore but I LOVE it! It also obviously holds thousands of songs compared to having to carry a whole load of CD’s!
Kindle e-reader (2017)
I rarely travel with paperback books anymore. I have a Kindle which just like the MP3 player, can hold thousands of books. I don’t have to worry about finishing my book and having to carry a spare paperback. Sometimes I don’t really know what I feel like reading until I go to start a new book, so e-readers have been awesome! I have one of the early Kindles that aren’t backlit or waterproof, but even these have progressed in the last few years!
Charging tech and accessories while on the road
All this tech obviously needs chargers and accessories etc! I travel with endless leads because every gadget wants something different, but then I think back to CD walkmans and my APS camera when I used to have to travel with heaps of single use batteries. I used to get through MILLIONS. It was part of the reason I got rid of my bridge camera because it would eat through batteries like there was no tomorrow. In hindsight I should have used rechargeable AA batteries but even then you’d need a whole pocket full rather than just a couple.
One thing I do love is that a lot of gadgets are charged using just USB leads so I’ll just travel with a couple of USB world travel adaptors. Back in the day, each gadget would have a bulky plug on the end of the lead so my bag would be full of loads of big plugs AND THEN the travel adapters too!
(The Capsule Hotel in Sydney Australia had USB outlets and plug outlets that took ANY type of plug without the need of a worldwide adaptor!)
What’s amazing now is hotel rooms that are installing USB outlets next to beds so you don’t even need the plug parts! You can’t always tell in advance if accommodations have these but it does then mean you can charge more things at once without taking even more adaptors!
How has your travel tech changed over the years?