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  • Writer's pictureJefferson Graham

Photo Road Trip: Don't leave home without these accessories

(Today's edition is supported by our friends at SmugMug, the photo company for automatic backup of your smartphone photos, selling prints online and showcasing your photos in great galleries.)

Memorial Day is the traditional kickoff for our big summer road trips and I'll be right out there with you Photowalking.

But before you go, a quick six-point checklist to make sure you don't end up with exhausted batteries and devices that won't charge because you left the right cables at home.


Don't be the person who arrives to the Yellowstone Geyser with an exhausted battery. Please make sure your phone is at 100%. This is easier to do than ever, with a multiple charger in the car so that everyone’s phone is getting juice as you drive along. There are many models available: this Belkin multi-charger is $35.

Motel rooms are notoriously stingy on finding places to charge up, so make sure to buy a multiple charge cord for the room as well, or two if you plan on having a few phones, tablet, AirPods and a Watch as well. Here again the multiple charger comes really handy.


Another must-have accessory is extra power. You can buy these little power banks for as little as $20 to $40, and they’ll bring you an extra 8 hours or so of charge. These need to also be charged, so don't forget to juice them up every night.


This is very, very important, as getting the right cable can be very tough on the open road. The simple iPhone USB-C to Lightning cable you already have, and if you're an Android user, you have the basic USB-C to USB-C cable. But iPhone users will also need a USB-C to USB-C cable to power the Power Bank, so in effect they need two cables, one to charge the bank the other to charge the iPhone on the road. (If you've got $70, Belkin's BoostCharge Plus comes with the required cables, saving you the hassle of dragging them along with you.


So You’re sitting in your hotel room with hundreds or even thousands of photos you've taken on your phone. Lose the phone, you’ve lost all your vacation photos, so what’cha gonna do? Like most people, I believe in cloud storage on the road. I use the auto backup smartphone app from SmugMug (full disclosure, my sponsor) to send all of my photos and videos to the cloud while I’m sleeping, and I love how SmugMug doesn’t have storage limits. SmugMug costs just over $110 yearly. Apple, Google and Dropbox have similar storage and auto-backup plans, but they max out at 2 TB. Also, beware, when Apple nags you to make room on your phone, and it will, and you delete images, it also kills them from the iCloud service. If you’re a member of Amazon’s Prime membership, you get unlimited storage to your photos there as well, but not video.


Maybe you're in a location with no cell/wifi service, and you can't use Auto Backup. Or you feel comfortable (and you should) with a second layer of backup. Sandisk makes a little mini thumbdrive/hard drive called iXpand. It connects directly to the Lightning port of the iPhone (or charging port of Android phones) and lets you copy and move files.

Selfie stick/tripod.

I’ve been preaching the use of tripods for years, because they give you sharper photos, steadier videos and better group shots. Many people have ignored me for years, but now, with this little selfie stick/tripod that fits in a pocket, you’ve got to pay attention. For $25, the Insta360 selfie stick is great for better video shots and selfies, and best of all, it extends into a 4 foot tripod. You can easily open it up for time lapse shots, or use it to interview someone in a cafe.


You’ll need a smartphone tripod adapter or cage to connect the phone to a tripod. I like the Manfrotto clamp, which sells for just over $20, and won’t crack in half, like other ones I’ve used.

Action camera:

If you’re planning on doing awesome stuff out on the open road, you may want an action camera from GoPro or 360 camera from Insta360. Remember that your late model smartphone is water resistant, and you can easily dunk it in the water, and even take it swimming. But if you want to surf, water ski or something else equally awesome, think GoPro, which has the appropriate housing for this type of activity.

The Insta360 has housing too, and is best used for vlogging, as there is a lens on both sides, and you get some pretty unique views of the world this way. Like when I climbed down to the Hollywood Sign on a rope holding the camera in my hand and the software made the “invisible selfie stick:” disappear.

Have fun on the open road and don't forget to wave or honk at me when we cross paths on the highway.


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