Trip of a lifetime? Take a spare camera.

Jamie, AKA Travel Savvy Mom, suggested I file this under "lessons learned the hard way:"

For reasons I don’t pretend to understand, cameras always seem to go on vacation when you’re on vacation. Not long ago (in famously photogenic Seville) I looked through my viewfinder, zoomed in on my family, pushed the shutter button, and…nothing happened. Luckily we were in Spain and not Papua New Guinea, so I was able buy a replacement without too much trouble. The worst part? We had a spare camera at home.

If you’re taking the trip of a lifetime always, always bring a second camera.

This story brings to mind the magnificent photos I took at Glastonbury Abbey — the late afternoon light was golden — until I realized, as we were leaving, there was no film in the camera. (Remember film? The stuff you used to load in your camera before they went all digital?) Still breaks my heart.

Related: All manner of travel hacks in the Travel/Going Out archive


  1. Stephanie says


    I’ve never put much thought into my camera dying when I really need it. Thanks!

  2. says

    We’re not very good at taking lots of pictures, so when we were on our honeymoon in Paris we only took a dozen or so. Then we came home and tried to finish the roll of film so we could get it developed. No film in the camera. Nine years later, I’m still sad about it, too.

  3. says

    Along similar lines I’ll make it a point to say please stay timely with transferring your pictures off of the computer! When we were at Storyland last month and my memory card gave up the ghost, I lost not only the vacation pictures (luckily my parents were with us so we had backup), but also soccer practice and 6th birthday party pictures :(.

    We have a bad habit of looking at them slideshow style on our television (the Wii lets you do that), but then putting the disk back in the camera, and never getting them permanently off someplace else.

  4. says

    I had a camera die when I was in India many years ago – the story involves a small boat, and cameras and the ocean water just don’t get along well. I was able to buy another camera, but the quality was nowhere near as good as the one I destroyed.

    And on another trip – also to a place where it was hard to get a good camera – I had mine stolen.

    So yes, if you have a spare (or you’re going to a place where buying a new one would be difficult), consider bringing a spare camera!

  5. Darryl Papa-sensei says

    When I got a new digital camera, I gave the old one to my wife who rarely takes pictures (I’m the photo geek!). It goes into her purse as both our backup camera, and as one that our 4-yo daughter can use.

    My daughter also loves to uses it to “see” her friends and cousins, since selected family-type photos now live permanently on the camera in Mommy’s purse.

    Also, we can use it as a mini-photo album for friends we meet to see the family!

    It’s harder to make sure the spare has fresh batteries and room on the card, but now we always travel with two cameras even if one never leaves her purse/bag thingie.

    One last thing: Put a generic family shot on that camera. Then you can “prove” your child is really yours. Yes, sometimes that’s a thought. Like when I picked up some filled-in daycare forms from a nearby clinic, while I was on a bicycle ride. No wallet to show who I was, but I did have my camera, and showed the receptionist I had my daughter’s picture. That was good enough for her since she had seen my daughter when the forms were dropped off!