When you go on your family vacations, you’re taking your camera with you to record some great photos and video. Maybe you use your phone, action camera, or DSLR camera, or maybe all three. Each type of camera is best for specific situations and environments, but each also has its limitations.
Having the right accessories for your cameras can help remove those limitations and give you more flexibility and versatility to take better photos and video. But the aim isn’t to collect a bunch of accessories. When you have too many, they end up taking up space and slowing you down. You want a handful of the best accessories that are the most versatile and apply to the most situations, while still being convenient to carry around.
Here are the some of the accessories that we take on our trips, and have helped us record the travel videos you see on our YouTube channel and take the photos you see on our Instagram feed.
Best Accessories for Phones
If you’re taking photos and shooting video with your phone, your primary focus is convenience. Your phone is always on you, can be taken out quickly, and is fast to use. So any accessory you get with your phone should also have these same characteristics. The camera phone accessories need to be small enough to carry in your pocket, easy to take out, and quick to use. Otherwise, anything bulkier would defeat the purpose of being able to to take fast photos and videos with your phone.
Regardless of whether you have an iPhone or Android or any other brand, these are the top accessories to improve your mobile photography on family trips.
Mobile Phone Stands and Tripods
When you need to get a steady shot, or want to set up your phone for a selfie, these stands and tripods are small enough to carry in your pocket and can be setup in just a few seconds. Which one you pick just depends on your preference and how you use your phone on your family trips.
This tripod is the size and thickness of a credit card and can slip easily into your wallet or pocket. Its unique design allows it to quickly transform into a tripod with a few simple twists (and it’s unbelievably satisfying to do). It holds any phone, horizontal or vertical, at multiple angles.
Get this pocket tripod on Amazon or on eBay
JOBY GripTight ONE Micro Stand
This is also a pocket-sized tripod stand. It has a spring grip to securely hold on to your phone, and unfolds into a traditional 3-legged stand for great stability. The amazing part is that it all folds into a small compact stick you can fit in your pocket.
Get this micro stand on Amazon or eBay
This tripod, also from JOBY, is slightly bigger. It adds in the benefit of longer, flexible legs so you can truly setup your phone anywhere you want. Though it is a little bulkier to carry around, it’s still small enough to fit in your pocket.
Get this mobile mini stand on Amazon or eBay
Camera Phone Lenses
If you have a phone purchased in the past few years, it probably already has an incredible camera that’s great for most situations. But sometimes you need a little something extra, and don’t want to bring the DSLR camera along.
These small lenses clip easily onto your phone and amplify the existing camera lens. So whether you want to zoom in or get a wide shot that your phone just isn’t capable of, these lenses are small enough to carry in your pocket and easily clip on.
ShiftCam Photography ProLens Kit
Providing the optimal balance between price and quality, ShiftCam has some great mobile lenses for phones. This bundled kit offers the best multi-purpose use – telephoto lens and a wide lens, ensuring you get the shot that you want. The lenses mount onto your phone via a low profile mount, which you can just leave on, or quickly add on when you need it.
Get this lens kit on Amazon or eBay
Top Accessories for Action Cameras
Action cameras are most useful when you’re trying to shoot in motion, such as running, biking, or just chasing your kids. They’re also great for environments that would damage any other type of camera, such as water, snow, dirt, sand, mud, or just being dropped. So the most useful accessories for action cameras are ones that are also water and dirt resistant, as well as keeping your action camera secure during motion so it doesn’t fall.
Which one(s) you use will just depend on the activity you’re going to do and what would best suit that environment. Whether you have a GoPro, Insta360, DJI Osmo, or another brand of of action camera, these accessories have adapters that should fit most of them.
A strong clamp is incredibly versatile and makes good use of your action camera. It allows you to be hands free and easily transfer your camera to different places. You can clamp your action camera to your backpack strap as you’re hiking, your bike handlebars as you’re riding, a tree branch for selfies, somewhere on your car for driving shots… the possibilities are endless.
There are several different clamp mounts available, but this one comes with a flexible arm extension. This expands the versatility of the clamp mount, allowing you to attach it to almost anything and still get the idea shot that you want.
Get this flex clamp on Amazon
Tripod / Selfie Stick
A good tripod and selfie stick combo will help you utilize your action camera for both movement and still shots. Collapsed into a handheld stick, it’s great for extended motion and better grip as you’re walking, running, skiing, snorkeling, or any other activity. It makes it easy to flip around for a selfie shot. Then when you want to capture a scene or a time lapse, it’s easy enough to pull the legs out and set it down.
GEPULY Waterproof Selfie Stick Tripod
This is one of those generic Amazon brands where multiple have the exact same product, but this product is really good. This compact selfie stick easily unfolds and extends into a mini tripod. It’s got good grip on the handles. But the best part is that it floats in water, so if you drop your action camera while swimming, no worries about losing it. There are a lot of action camera sticks that have these features individually, but this one has all of them in one.
Get this tripod on Amazon
Must-Have Accessories for Digital Cameras
If you’re carrying around a digital camera, whether it be a point-and-shoot, a mirrorless camera, or a full DSLR, it’s going to be bigger and heavier than your phone or action camera. So you’re sacrificing mobility for higher quality photo and video. Still, this is your family vacation, so you still want it to be as convenient to use as it can be.
With that in mind, these accessories aren’t geared towards professional photography and videography, but aim to be small and lightweight to carry around with you on your trips and setup relatively quickly.
Clip or Strap
When you’re carrying your camera around, you want it out of the way when you’re not using it, but readily accessible when you need it. So this is for instances when you’re using it too frequently to keep pulling it in and out of a backpack or bag, but not enough to have in your hands the whole time.
Whether you prefer to where it as a strap or clip it to something, here are the best options for conveniently carrying your camera.
There are a lot of camera straps out there, so which one you pick is largely up to your personal preference. But what’s unique about this strap is it allows you to connect the ends to a different spots on your camera, making it more convenient to wear your camera how you like (I prefer over the shoulder and across the chest). A clip system also let’s you detach the strap quickly from the camera, making it really versatile.
Get this strap on Amazon or eBay
Peak Design Capture Camera Clip
If you prefer to clip your camera, this one also from Peak Design is really flexible for multiple uses. For hiking, I’ll attach it to my backpack strap, and clip the camera in. Other times I might attach it to my belt and clip my camera to my hip. This system makes it really quick and easy to clip and release the camera, but have it really secure.
Occasionally you’ll want to setup your camera for a selfie photo or video. But if you’re on the go, tripods often come across as large and cumbersome, and most are. Also, I usually don’t like to choose between a small table-top tripod and a large full height tripod.
So these tripods selections are incredibly compact, easy to unfold and setup, and have a good range of height.
This is on the pricier end, but this tripod is truly the most compact and lightest tripod out there that has a full tripod extension. It’s lightweight and folds down to roughly the size of a water bottle, but has the full extension of a regular sized tripod.
Get this tripod on Amazon or eBay
For something a little more affordable, this tripod is more lightweight and compact compared to others with the same height extension. Though still bulkier than the Peak Design, it is definitely way less expensive.
While there are a lot of accessories you can buy, these are the ones that I’ve found most helpful for photography and videography on family vacations. I would even say to not buy all of these, but just the most essential ones you would use. Because when you’re on a family outing trying to both capture memories and enjoy the moment, you don’t want to be bogged down by looking through your accessory back. You want something that easy to carry, easy to access, and most importantly, that helps you in taking better photos and videos quickly so you can get back to spending time with your family.
Do you have any of these accessories? What do you think of them? Are there any that I missed? Share with us in the comments.