Memories make the best souvenirs. Photos help us to remember those memories.
One of the worst things that could happen on your trip of a lifetime is that all your pictures disappear because of card error, loss, theft or accident. A photo of that epic sunset over the Grand Canyon, or that safari expedition you dreamed of for years, would be heartbreaking to leave without – especially since people aren’t going to believe that it happened unless you have the photos to prove it, right?
There are hundreds of different things that can go wrong when you travel, including lost bookings, missed buses and theft, but losing your travel memories shouldn’t be one of them if you know how to properly back up your files.
Backup Methods for Your Travel Photos
Your camera or your memory card could become lost, broken, stolen or full throughout your trip, so it’s important to have a backup file of each of them, preferably in two places.
Digital copy: An easy way to back up your pictures is through web programs. Dropbox allows you to automatically sync the pictures on your phone with your online account and desktop over WiFi. Cloud programs do the same, as does the Eye-Fi memory card. You can immediately send the file to a safe place over an Internet connection.
I’m a fan of Picasa, where I upload pictures during my trip. The web program, similar to Flickr and SmugMug, creates albums for online viewing for friends and family back home. You can also make CDs or download files from the program in case of loss.
Hard copy: Another type of backup you can do is of your drives. Remember, if traveling with a laptop, bad things can also happen to it (and the backup of photos you already did on it). I always travel with both an external hard drive (iOmega is my preferred brand) and a few USB drives just in case. If your camera gets stolen part way through a trip, you at least have the ones from the beginning backed up. Depending on your destination and access to computers and Internet, you can also mail your full memory cards, CDs or USB drives home part way through your trip.
Plan for the Worst: Save the Memories
I’ve had to plan for the worst a handful of times on my travels, including making CDs of my pictures in Florence, Italy and Chiang Mai, Thailand, as well as buying jump drives and backup memory cards in Asia. There was still a few weeks left in both trips and I didn’t want to delete any of my pictures. Instead, I walked into a camera shop and had a disc made for cheap. It gave me peace of mind and it meant I could keep shooting without worrying about filling up my memory card. I now travel with multiple memory cards just in case, which are cheap to pick up in many parts of the world. Lesson learned.
Hot tip: Don’t wait too long between backups! It’s better to lose a few days of photos instead of an entire month’s.