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  • Leslie Mathews

Beginners Guide toTraveling with Kids and Cameras

Let’s face it, we have all been on a trip with our children that did not turn out the way we hoped. We imagined a trip full of beautiful moments hugging it out near an amazing waterfall and envisioned how much everyone would appreciate our planning efforts. Then they complain all the way up the mountain or down the beach, refusing to look out at the stunning landscape or look in the direction of the setting sun. We miss the sunset because we are busy begging for cooperation and promising ice cream if they will just agree to walk back.

My favorite trick to keep my kids “present” is putting a camera in their hands. Any camera will do. I do have an ulterior motive. I am a photographer, and I am passionate about travel photography. When I travel I love to see and do! I rarely make time for the pool or spa (though I really should). That said, until this past year I really did not enjoy traveling with my children. I took a couple trips per year without them in the past, but I really don’t like leaving them behind now. Okay, maybe once or twice per year!

Why travel with kids and cameras?

Over the past two years we have taken our kids to places that I never imagined we could. I have learned many lessons along the way, and I get more confident with each trip. The preparation and planning are critical to ensure that we all have a happy, peaceful journey. Initially I thought I would leave this part up to the experts. I looked at pre- planned adventures, but soon realized that if Disney could do this, so could I! Don’t get me wrong, I want to go on an Adventures by Disney trip ASAP!

However, I want to travel every time we get a free minute. That means that sometimes we have to travel on a budget.

I want to share my planning strategies, travel tips and integration of kid photography with you! Traveling with your children will open their eyes to new cultures, teach them to appreciate the world we live in, and get them off their usual devices. Bringing along an age appropriate camera fulfills their need for electronics, but it also gives them purpose and forces them to really take in the environment you are exploring.

Planning a trip with kids and cameras

All that you need to successfully plan your next trip is a computer and time to do a little research and a make a budget! I use Tripadvisor, follow families that travel on Instagram, subscribe to travel bloggers newsletters, follow Instagram travel photographers, and look at travel agencies in the areas we want to go. All of those things help me make an overall plan for the journey. I will share more specific tips on planning in upcoming blog posts!

Family travel tips

Here are a just a few things that I do to make our trips more enjoyable for the everyone:

Planning and Kid Preparation

  1. When you are planning, show the kids adventures or activities you are considering. Let them make some of the choices when possible.

  2. Build in rest days for everyone. My kids love to hang by the pool and relax sometimes. Make time for it!

  3. Print out a simple itinerary on a calendar to avoid anxiety of the unknown! Some kids love surprises. I have one that does not!

  4. Read books or articles about children in the destination. Kids love to learn about other kids!

  5. Look at Google Earth so they can see how far you are traveling. Point out different landmarks that you might be seeing on your journey.


  1. Pack the necessities without them, but give them some choices on things that you can be flexible on.

  2. Don’t overpack. Make a packing list and stick to it. If you can do laundry, keep your clothing to a minimum.

  3. Pack a bag of their favorite snacks to get them through the trip if you are traveling somewhere with very different food.

  4. Bring electronic devices and travel board games (magnetic games are great) if there will be long car or plane rides. I usually keep the devices away from the kids for a couple of weeks prior to the trip, so they are really excited to get some quality time on them!

  5. Consider leaving devices at home. We recently traveled device free for 30 days! It was amazing.

  6. For kids with food allergies pack Epipens, extra safe snacks and treat alternatives, and research local urgent care centers or hospitals if the allergy is severe. I will be posting more about traveling with food allergies and sensitivities, as we have a ton of them!

  7. Find destination specific packing guides. I can find them on TripAdvisor sometimes, but I love finding other mom blogs with this information!

  8. Bring a travel journal for everyone! Even those that can’t write can draw pictures about their day! Bring or know where you can get the things that help you relax. FYI, some places in the US do not sell liquor!

Cameras for kids

I am a bit of an electronics junkie, so I always seem to have plenty of extra cameras for the kids. That is not the case for most people. Multipurpose cameras, that can be used by everyone are the best! I will do a “Best Travel Products Post” where I will put up more photos that the kids have taken, but here is the list of cameras my kids have used or are currently using when we travel:

Little kid cameras

I started both kids with a VTech Kidizoom camera when they were under 3 years old.

  • Pros: fits their hands perfectly, survives many drops, shoots stills and video, and has games and frames to keep them entertained and get them interested.

  • Cons: The games can be distracting, and the image quality is not great. My kids still love these cameras at 5 and 8, but I don’t take them on trips now.

Waterproof and durable cameras

Ella using the Olympus Tough digital camera on a hike in New York. A great kid friendly camera that can even handle being dropped a few times!

We bought an Olympus TG-4 16 MP Waterproof camera a couple of years ago when we were taking a Disney Cruise. I didn’t want to bring the DSLR waterproof housing, so this camera made sense. My 5 year old used it on our recent trip to New Zealand. It is an expensive camera for kid use, but our entire family have enjoyed using it! It is great for water and hiking.

Captured by my then 3 year old on a Disney Cruise! Impressive quality for a point and shoot! Olympus Tough!

This past summer I purchased a Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 primarily for use at the beach. I love that it can be in the sand and water. It is also very durable and can handle being dropped. I love this camera. My daughter took some great photos and video on our recent trip to New Zealand. Panasonic makes the less expensive Lumix DMC-TS30, which also has great reviews but I have not personally used it.

Mobile Cameras

I also bring an old iPhone 6 that isn’t connected to our calling plan. My children’s generation will learn photography on mobile devices, and they can use editing tools or apps to learn manual settings when they are ready.


My 21 year old shoots with my old Canon 6D DSLR with a 24-105 mm lens. I still love this camera. It is a great body for him to learn to shoot manually! If you have an old camera sitting around, pass it down to the kids!


I recently started bringing a Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer on our trips. The kids can transfer their images to a mobile device and print onto the photo paper that is also a sticker. If they have a photo they love, it can go right into their travel journal!

I always attach a floating wrist strap to the cameras for comfort and safety! Even if they aren’t getting in the water, it is just a good idea.

Vacation is calling! Where will you go?

I believe a trip is the best gift you can give your children! Putting a camera in their hand on each trip will teach them to look a little closer at the world around them, be present on your journey, and will help them remember their favorite experiences more vividly!

Whether it be a local trip or to a land far, far away, start planning now!!! Do you have any travel planning tips to add? Is anyone in love with another kid-friendly camera? Please share in the comments below!

If you love this post, please follow our adventures on Instagram @focusingonthejourney .

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