When you are off gallivanting around the world and having the time of your life, the memories you make and the photos you capture become your most prized possessions. Many people don’t take the time to backup photos while travelling. It doesn’t seem like such a pressing issue when the memories are fresh in your mind.
I can tell you however that memory is a fickle thing and no matter how amazing the sights and experiences, the images will slowly fade away, making your photos more precious than ever as the years pass by.
I heard a number of devastating stories whilst I was travelling of people losing months’ worth of memories. These things can happen to anyone but very few people take the time to learn how to protect their photos adequately.
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The 5 Best Ways to Backup Photos While Travelling
I’m writing this article to share my best tips on how I’ve protected my travel photos over the years. These 5 tips are the easiest and most convenient ways to backup your photos while travelling in order to ensure they are kept safe.
Photos can be lost in a variety of ways, there is physical loss such as theft, damage or misplacing equipment and there is electronic loss such as corrupted data (from water, damage or viruses) and accidental deletion/overwriting. This means the best approach is to have a variety of methods simultaneously to backup your photos while travelling.
Use multiple lower capacity memory cards
Your camera is often your most valuable item when travelling and is an obvious target. The thieves don’t care about your photos, they just want the camera. Unfortunately they tend not to be considerate enough to remove the SD card first!
The simplest way I found to protect my photos while travelling long term was to use lower capacity SD cards and replace them more often. The price of SD cards goes up rapidly with capacity so it’s not much more expensive to use multiple cards. When full you just store the SD card in a separate bag to your camera.
Stock up on these before you hit the road:
Backup your SD cards Using a Wireless Hub
When I first went backpacking technology wasn’t quite what it is today. Backing up photos from an SD card to USB usually meant using a hostel computer and a cheap SD to USB adapter. Hostel computers are awful for viruses. If your drive gets infected then when you get home your own virus protection is likely to wipe out your photos along with the virus.
The WD My Passport Wireless Pro is an amazing device which acts as an external hard drive as well as a battery pack and wireless router. Plug your SD card straight in and you can copy your photos onto the built in hard drive. You can also connect to the hard drive’s own built-in Wi-Fi and transfer directly from your phone or camera!
On top of this it can be used to charge your devices as it features a 6400mAh lithium battery. You can also boost weak Wi-Fi signals from a guesthouse or turn wired internet into Wi-Fi. If you are being extremely cautious you can even backup your photos again onto a USB.
Use the cloud
Cloud storage is ubiquitous nowadays and increasingly cheap. A lot of services can connect directly to your phone or a Wi-Fi enabled camera and automatically back up your shots. This is a great option but has some drawbacks.
Modern photos have pretty huge file sizes so the data and connection speed required to upload a large number is high. This is fine if you are travelling a developed country or have unlimited mobile data. It can throw up a lot of issues when visiting multiple countries or less developed areas.
One method with slower internet is to keep your gear in your locker at the hostel and just run the transfer overnight. Keep in mind with cloud storage that it is never 100% secure and accidental deletion or overwriting can happen. Try to copy photos and not just transfer them.
External storage devices
Call me overprotective but I didn’t stop with using multiple SD cards, I also backed up every card to a second storage device. USBs and external HDDs are so cheap now it’s crazy not to use them.
USB Flash Drive – If you aren’t using the cloud then make sure that you bring a USB to create a second backup as a USB can be kept in your big bag and is much less likely to be stolen. Make sure it’s the newest USB 3.0 like this one, so you have the best transfer speed.
External Hard Drive – If you want more space than a flash drive and something that can store all of your travel photos from multiple trips, then check out these portable external hard drives that come in a variety of storage sizes. This option provides more than enough space to store and protect travel photos, videos and other files.
Travel with a small laptop
I left this option to last as it is the most expensive and means you’re carrying another high value item. Yet many people are now travelling with laptops and it’s a super convenient option to back up photos while travelling.
As long as you ensure that you have enough storage and remember to copy the photos then you are set. Your photos will remain virus free and can be easily backed up to the cloud.
ASUS Chromebook Flip – Chromebooks are perfect if you are looking for a simple device to watch some movies, check social media and transfer photos. They are super compact and lightweight however you will need a separate external hard drive to store your photos.
Dell Inspiron 13 5310 – If you do a lot of heavy photo processing or video editing on the road, then you will need something with more performance. We use a Dell Inspiron as it has the processing power, RAM and SSD storage that we need for managing and editing large amounts of photos. It’s intelligent design means that it’s still lightweight and compact.
I hope you have gained some valuable tips on the best ways to backup photos while travelling. I recommend using several of these methods simultaneously to ensure your memories are safe and secure for years to come. That way, you’ll always be able to re-live the amazing times you are sure to have!
Find more useful travel tips
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- 25 essential tips for the first time solo traveller
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Thanks for these tips, Rick! I didn’t know about the RAVPower FileHub. It’s on my wish-list now!
Very helpful article! I will have to incorporate some of these suggestions!