How to backup your photos whilst travelling

If you're on the trip of a lifetime, chances are you will be taking lots of photos, and will be away for more than a couple of days. If the worst happens, and your camera is stolen, or your memory card corrupts, you will still have all your memories intact if you have taken the time to backup your photos as you go.

The problem is having somewhere to back your photos up to. It needs to be somewhere stored in a different place to your camera, so that if you lose your camera you still have your images (this rules out relying on dual memory card slots if you have them in your camera).

Using the cloud

The safest (short term) place to send your backups are to the cloud. Your images are protected from camera thieves, or from you accidentally losing your camera. If your memory card corrupts, you'll only lose the images since you last backed up. 

The problem is of course internet access; and access at a speed fast enough (and cheap enough) to make this a viable solution. If you will have fast, reliable and economical wifi, make this your first choice backup. It doesn't need to be an archival, organised backup - all you need to do is dump one copy of your photos at the end of each day in a storage service. Any cloud service will do. I use Dropbox, but you could use iCloud, or Amazon (who do an unlimited photo storage service if you have Prime membership).

Using storage you have with you

If wifi won't be reliable, you will need to take some kind of hard drive with you. If luggage isn't an issue, free up some space on your laptop and use that as a temporary storage place. Or if it is already full, take along an external hard drive as well, and copy all your images straight to that. 

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If you don't want to take a laptop, you'll need some kind of portable storage with an interface to get your files off your memory card. This is where it starts to get expensive, but something like the Western Digital Wireless Pro is an all-in-one solution. A less expensive option is to buy a portable travel router with a built-in SD card reader (assuming you use SD cards, not Compact Flash), and use that to transfer your files from your card to an external hard drive that you already own. 

You can use an iPad if you have enough space on it, if you buy an SD card to iPad reader. Then you just put your SD card into the reader, plug it all into your iPad, and download the files once the reader has been recognised.

All of these devices will need charging. If you are away from civilisation for any amount of time, you'll need to take a portable charger pack with you (make sure you charge it before you leave). I use a Waka Waka solar charger and it is fabulous. Waka Waka is a social enterprise that sells solar chargers but also brings light and power to people caught in crisis situations. Read more about their work here: Waka Waka bringing light.

Emergency backup

You can always email copies of your best shots each day to yourself - at least you'll always have a few shots from the trip.

Test before you go

Whatever system you use, please test it for both upload and download before you leave home.


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Emma Davies