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I’m often asked when I’m traveling solo whether I have someone following me around with a camera. The answer is a big resounding NO! I’m not rich enough to hire someone to take photos of me, nor is it practical for me to always travel with someone.
One of my most common questions on my Instagram account and on my blog is asking how I take such beautiful travel selfies.
Photos serve as a great memento of your travels. They can help you remember where you’ve been and have the added bonus of being lightweight “souvenirs”. Gone are the days of awkward travel photos, or taking 10 billion photos of the same thing. There is an art to snapping a good solo portrait.
To help others take great photos when traveling solo, I’ve put together a list of ways you can take a great travel selfie.
1. Pack a travel-sized tripod
Travel sized tripods are my secret weapon when it comes to taking an epic travel selfie. When you’re short on luggage space or are hiking up a mountain, a full sized tripod just isn’t practical. My favorite is the JOBY GorillaPod. This one is especially useful, as you can set up your camera on a ledge or wrap it around a railing or tree branch (yes, I have done this before!)
These are also great when you’re traveling with family and want to get group photos. This tripod is especially helpful when there aren’t other people around!
Pro tip: Make sure you buy the right size for your camera (i.e., point and shoot vs. DSLR). The version for the point and shoot won’t be strong enough to carry the weight of a DSLR. They screw into the bottom of your camera (you don’t need to worry about fittings apart from making sure you buy the right version for the weight of your camera).
Shot on a beach in Fiji by wrapping my GorillaPod around a tree and setting my camera on a timer before running into the shot.
2. Pack a full-sized tripod: this is my favorite and is how I get many of my travel selfies
Yes, full-sized tripods can be heavy, but they make a world of difference when getting that perfect shot. If you’re into photography, a tripod is a must for capturing low light shots or for photographing at sunrise or sunset. I always get asked “who” takes my photos when I shoot with a tripod – people are always surprised when I tell them I got the shot with a tripod!
My favorite is this budget-friendly tripod from Amazon. While cheap, you may want to upgrade to a sturdier version if you’re traveling to windy environments (the Amazon basics tripod is quite light) If you don’t travel solo that often, or you’re not spending massive amounts of time in the great outdoors, this is a great option!
Pro tip: learn how to adjust your tripod before you set out. You can play with heights and angles (i.e. you can angle your camera up or down). They’re a great replacement in the absence of a person.
Set your camera on a timer or purchase a wireless remote so you can snap your travel selfies from a distance.
Shot in Antelope Canyon, USA with the Amazon tripod.
3. Prop your camera on a ledge (or place it on the ground/steps)
If all else fails or you forget your tripod, set your camera on a ledge or steps. You can then set your camera on timer mode and voila! It’s almost like you had a physical person there to take your photo.
Shot in Tasmania, Australia by setting my camera on a rock and setting it on a timer!
4. The good ol’ selfie
What can I say – you can never go wrong with a travel selfie. This is a great option if you want just a photo of you in front of something. You can also get super cool effects if you have a fisheye or wide angled lens on your camera or phone. I use the Potok clip-on phone lens. It comes with various lenses you can play with and you can clip it onto your phone camera.
The famous LOVE statue in Philadelphia – shot with the Potok clip-on phone lens.
5. Use a selfie stick
I’ve never been a selfie stick person, but I have many friends who swear by the sturdy selfie stick. You can prop it over your shoulder to mix things up or take great group shots by holding it in front of you.
Remember: Make sure you only use your selfie stick in places where they’re allowed. Some places like Disneyland have banned the use of selfie sticks.
6. Make friends who love to take photos
If you make friends easily, try to make friends with fellow travelers at the hostel you’re staying at. Or better yet, reach out to fellow travelers in FB groups who might live or be visiting the same city or country you’re traveling to and see if they might be up for a day of traveling with you.
In the past, I’ve met up with fellow travel bloggers I’ve met via travel Facebook groups or Instagram. If you’re doing this, be careful and only meet in public places. There are a lot of strange people out there on the internet!
Shot on Rhode Island, USA by my friend who blogs over at City and See who I met via Instagram!
7. Ask a stranger
If all else fails, ask a stranger! I’ve been asked SO many times by complete strangers to take photos of them.
Look out for fellow photographers (if they’re carrying a large camera, chances are they would be willing to help) or offer to take photos for others and then when you’re done, ask if they can take a photo of you!
There is an art to taking a great travel photo, but the effort is 100% worth it. Travel is such a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you may not have a chance to visit the city or country again!
Don’t miss out on beautiful travel photos just because you’re traveling solo. There are so many ways to get the elusive solo travel photo – just use what works for you and your travel style.