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Editor’s note: The team at The Points Guy loves to travel, but now is not the time for unnecessary trips. Health officials note that the fastest way to return to normalcy is to stop coming in contact with others. That includes ceasing travel. We are publishing travel deals and destination content because we should all use this time to think about and plan our next adventures. TPG doesn’t advise booking trips for travel until the late spring or early summer — and even then be mindful of cancellation policies.
Sometimes, it’s a social media post that actually makes you want to book a vacation or visit somewhere new. When you get there, capturing those amazing memories can be difficult as you want to capture exactly what your eyes are seeing — so sometimes you need a little more technological help
The important thing with technology when traveling is that gadgets need to be travel-friendly, light and portable. So we’ve rounded up some essential travel gadgets to take your social media game up a notch.
A lot of the time, your smartphone is your camera. The newest devices can deliver high-quality photos and video. When deciding on which phone to buy for photography, the key question is what kind of photos do you imagine yourself capturing? Not all multi-lens cameras are created equal — some have ultrawide lenses for stunning landscapes, others have telephotos for zoomed-in shallow depth-of-field portraits and others have both.
Periscope-style lenses on phones can achieve up to 10x lossless zoom, so they’re as powerful as DSLR cameras. Technically, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is the best camera phone out at the moment but we really like the Huawei P40 ($915). It not only looks good but also has phenomenal battery life, a 6.58-inch full-HD+OLED screen with pretty rounded edges and, of course, its famous ultra vision Leica quad camera.
The camera produces 12.5-megapixel images and the autofocus is impressive too, especially in low lighting.
You’ll be able to take photos quickly and effortlessly with the AI wizardry doing all the work, which can even remove reflections that appear when you’re trying to photograph something that’s behind glass.
If cameras are your thing, Sony RX has an interesting range of cameras that are portable, light, cost-effective and easy to use. The point-and-shoot element of these cameras produces superb quality photos and are as close as it gets to a DSLR camera.
Its RX0 ultracompact shockproof waterproof digital camera ($759) produces 15.3-megapixel quality images and video but is a tiny 4 ounces in weight, so you can mount this rugged camera in a variety of locations to get some imaginative shots. There’s also a cool function to turn your phone into a remote control for the camera.
Lighting is a hot topic and a key factor in creating a beautiful image, and it determines not only brightness but also tone, mood and atmosphere. Controlling light correctly can be the difference between a mediocre photo and one of your best of the year.
RGB LED lights are a great tool to create an interesting cinematic style. The small size, price point and weight mean that they are ideal for travel and you can place them almost anywhere.
Our favorite is the Beamo ($105), an LED light especially for phones that gives you pro-grade lighting in any condition. Beamo is super compact and you can even take it 100 feet underwater. It’s easy to control, as you can dim it down continuously or just tap the five-step button until you find your ideal brightness. Check out the strobe light function, too.
Halo Ring lights are great for selfies especially on a gray day when the lighting isn’t the best. Compatible with many smartphones and most cameras, the Neewer RL-12 LED ring light ($98) diffuses lighting around the subject while reducing the appearance of harsh shadows. It also comes with two plastic color filters.
Often an overlooked piece of kit but can make a world of difference to that one-minute compilation video of your travels, especially if you are at a festival is a microphone.
Related: Top travel gear for families on the move
The Shure MV88 digital stereo condenser microphone ($177) is made for capturing crystal-clear professional quality audio straight from your phone. This plug-and-play microphone also tilts and rotates to optimize sound quality.
Drone footage delivers the wow factor as the images a drone can capture are captivating and unique, especially when it comes to showcasing travel. Cool location plus drone equals viral content.
The DJI Mavic Mini ($483) is just 9 ounces, which gives the drone a generous 30 minutes flying time on a full battery. This makes it exceptionally portable and places it in the lowest and safest weight class of drones, which in many countries, may exempt it from certain regulations.
The DJI Fly app is especially notable as it’s so simple to use, enabling you to create cinematic shots with just a few taps. The app also has an easy editing feature for beginners with no editing experience so you can turn any moment into a social media sensation.
From the skies to the seas, no travel tech geek goes anywhere without a GoPro. The GoPro is the world’s most popular underwater camera because it’s compact, affordable and surprisingly easy to use — allowing almost anyone to take it for a dunk or a dive and get decent quality content.
We especially like the HERO8 Black ($366), as this new design doesn’t require special housing for mounts, image stabilization is smooth, it’s waterproof and you can livestream your adventures in HD 1080p quality on social media.
7. Power bank
There are so many different types to choose from, so think about how often you may need to charge your phone and how much juice you’ll need. Our favorite tried and trusted power bank is the wireless iWALK Qi wireless portable charger ($29), which uses a simple suction and “sticks” on the back of your smartphone without any annoying wires.
The power bank will charge your phone about 60% to 80% more, just the boost it needs at the end of a day on the beach. Don’t forget that many airlines only let you carry power banks in carry-on luggage and not checked.
8. Smartphone stand
This is an essential piece of kit for those time-lapse sunrise and sunset sequences. The GripTight ONE GP stand ($50) is compact, light and has flexible legs with strong rubber feet that wrap around objects for stability anywhere.
The legs also create a handle for selfies and hand-held video action.
9. Photo editing software
So you have the photo, but mastering postproduction can turn that holiday snap into a social media smash hit. Adobe Lightroom (free) has become the gold standard for digital photo management and editing with some even saying they don’t need to take a proper camera when they travel. The interface is user friendly and it’s available on both Android and iOS. This all-in-one app offers a photo manager and editor complete with RAW photo support, presets, exposure adjustments, watermarking and more.
10. Keeping your gadgets safe
You have the gadgets and those special memories but you need to keep them safe. Store your kit in a Red Original waterproof deck bag ($150), which has a decent six-gallon capacity for your gadgets. Made from 100% waterproof TPU fabric and a YKK zip that will never rust or corrode, your gadgets will always stay dry even if submerged in water. It’s also easy to get into with ergonomic top access.
Also never lose a gadget with the Chipolo One ($27), a little stylish Bluetooth tracker designed to cut out the faff of looking for or losing gadgets when traveling. It’s very loud (up to 120 decibels) and comes with a host of free features like tracking your gadget and being alerted if you leave it behind.
Whether you’re trying to become the next big influencer or just want to share better photos and videos online, upping your social media quality also doesn’t have to cost the earth, as there’s a broad range of gadgets to suit your budget.
Featured photo by Sompong Rattanakunchon/Getty Images
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.