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Tips & Tricks

How To Back Up Your Images When Traveling

By Hanssie on June 20th 2015

With summer officially days away, some of us here (me mostly) have travel on the mind. A few days ago, I shared a video with some simple and essential travel tips for photographers and today, I wanted to share a video focused specifically on backing up your images when you travel. I think most of us can agree that we’d rather have our gear taken than lose our images. Gear is expensive, but replaceable, lost images are not. Whether you are traveling this summer for a wedding or a vacation, you need to make sure that the images you’ve taken are safe (x3).


If you’ve watched our Lightroom Workflow System Workshop, you’ll be familiar with our system of data safety. Everyone does it a little differently, but when it comes to keeping your images safe when traveling, make sure you have a plan, because as the saying goes, “if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”


In the following video, Steve Perry shows us his method for image backup while he is traveling. I especially liked his tips on keeping the backups as separate as possible while traveling. For example, keeping your laptop in one place (such as your hotel room) while your external drive can be hidden in the car. One tip that he does include is something I do as well while traveling for destination weddings; I put all the images on one large card (after transferring the files onto my laptop and keeping a copy on my external) and carry that card on me (usually in my pocket).

Watch the video below to get Steve Perry’s method, and perhaps pick up a few tips you can use the next time you travel.

What data backup method do you use while traveling? Comment below!


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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Dave Haynie

    In the last few years, I’ve really come to dig the idea of travelling light. I went to Arizona in January and Amsterdam last week, both fairly short trips, with everything in a backpack (medium “casual” backpack, good for plane travel, not a trail pack). My camera for these is an OM-D in a separate small LowePro AW bag, along with batteries, spare memory cards, and lenses chosen for the specific trip. I don’t bring a laptop, just an Android tablet. I bring enough batteries for twice the shooting I think I’ll need so I don’t have to deal with chargers.

    For backup, I backup the camera to the SD card in the tablet, then copy that to the USB drive on my keychain. I always have a large rugged USB drive on my keychain, the current one is around 64GB. I have a few larger USB sticks, but like the camera, the important one is the one you have with you. So if I have my car, I have storage.

    I usually have a blank SD card in my wallet. Once, I was doing a video shoot of an area (but not local) soccer match, and I realized when I got there I didn’t have an memory card. I was able to buy some workable cards locally, but for many times the non-emergency price. Never thought of that as a good backup location, but that’s a pretty nice idea. And while I haven’t had one go bad that way, there’s always the chance. So it’s not one of my top cards kept there.

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  2. Dustin Baugh

    The only question for me is about formatting SD cards, I can never decide if I should or shouldn’t. I like having them as yet another backup but then I end up second guessing myself if I backed them up or not. Where if I format them after they’re backed up I know the process has been done.
    In one case I’m unsure if they’re backed up and forced to format in the field when time may be a concern.
    In the other case I’m down one more backup location. Which is never a problem yet but I get paranoid that the laptop and external drive will be destroyed.

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  3. Marlin Woodruff

    Great tips always learning something new…

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  4. John Cavan

    My general practice is fairly similar, though not quite all of it. I do tend to copy onto my travelling laptop and on to a couple of external USB drives. I use the Seagate GoFlex slim drives (USB 3) because they’re fast and they’re very compact, highly recommended. Once I know my copies are good, then I reformat the card in the camera for the next day.

    The dual camera tip is a very good one. I also used that when I was still shooting Pentax and had a dual K-5 setup. So much easier to manage when you have distinct file names. Now… the real trick is to remember to do that when you roll over on the number. :D

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  5. Trevor Dayley

    Great tips! Traveling always makes me a little nervous because I am out of my normal element.

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  6. Chuck Eggen

    I like the SD Card in the wallet tip. Great idea!

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