Cameras…Do They Belong on Vacation?

Dear Travel IQ: I love taking my camera on vacation. My hubby, however, thinks they are more of a bother and something of a nuisance. I want to share the memories when I return home. I’ve read, however, that many people have strong opinions about not taking their cameras along. I don’t have an elaborate set of gear…just a point and shoot. What do you think?

Signed: Camera shy

Dear Camera shy:
Would you really travel someplace new and exciting without some sort of camera?

Growing up, camper vacations were a summer routine in our house. From Glacier National Park to the Florida Everglades and from the San Diego Zoo to the Great Smokey Mountains, we drove it all. One piece of “must have” equipment that accompanied us on every trip was my mother’s camera.

From photos of us standing by every state’s “welcome to…” sign to those seemingly similar ocean views, that camera was a permanent fixture.

Fast forward a bunch of years and I am now one of those who have a camera where ever I go.

Is taking photos of everything you see a good thing or not?

Recently I asked over 40 tourists, travelers, and friends what they thought of cameras on vacations. Surprisingly, the response was in favor of cameras…hands down.

Jackie VanHatten asked if I really would travel without one. She wouldn’t. And she’s been around the world a couple of times. Her reason…while you can remember people and places, it’s always good to have those photos. One photo will remind you of what you were doing and bring wonderful stories to mind. Isn’t that what travel is all about…memories and stories?

R. David Kryder tells me he is lost without a camera of some kind. In fact he travels with at least two. Why? He tells me when he “sees” things for the first time he seems to be unable to see them again in the same new way. To avoid losing his appreciation edge, he takes photos. That way, nothing gets overwhelming, or stale, or becomes too much to remember. His best photos are when he just arrives at a new place and see something for the first time. And he relives those moments once he gets home and sees his photos.

Reports of “I must have a camera to capture photos I want to use for articles” was another common reaction to those writers and wanna-be writers I talked to.

Patti K. always “forgets” her camera in the car or hotel room. She doesn’t know why. She loves looking at photos.

Mary McNamara lets her husband carry the camera. She just tells him where to take a photo.

Mary Walker always takes a camera on vacations and outings or excursions to capture family memories. She tells me kids grow up too fast and it’s a good thing to be able to see those family times.

Throughout all those who responded a common theme emerged. ‘Making memories, capturing exciting places, remembering who did what, where you were, my photos provide great conversations’ were only a few of the responses I heard over and over. How can I argue with those?


Only one person totally said “no cameras.” They prefer their memories of any event or destination stand on their own…not in some photo on a computer somewhere.

Next question…do you try to stay out of the way when taking photos?

Those who take cameras on vacation told me they try to be tasteful and unobtrusive, yet capture the exact scene they want. Everyone had an “ugly tourist with a camera” story. You know the ones…the six foot man stepping in front of the five foot lady to get a shot of a Chinese New Year parade float as it passes out of sight; the lady who doesn’t read the signs about “no photos of any type” in the Sistine Chapel; the guy who holds up the group on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge so he can adjust and re-adjust his light meter; the lady who stops everyone to change lenses in the middle of Market Street in San Francisco and can’t figure out why everyone keeps moving around her; the college kids who purchased embarrassing t-shirts and want photos next to the statue of David.

What did I learn?

Cameras are here to stay and cameras belong on vacations.

But, as with most things, taking photos while on vacation should include some level of common sense, tastefulness, and consideration for other travelers.

Happy shooting…


About the author: Wendy VanHatten

Author Wendy VanHatten lives in northern California and loves to travel all over the world. She is a published author, freelance writer and editor, ghostwriter and magazine editor. Her travel advice and info can be found at

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