How We Stored Our Digital Images During Long Term Travel
We did a lot of research on how store our digital photos while traveling, it was a hard decision to make. We initially decided to go with a portable CD/DVD burner device. It is called the Apacer Disk Steno CP300 DVD/CD Burner. It is light, small in size and works without the use of a computer. You can operate it from the AC adapter or the rechargeable battery.
We brought a package of DVD’s with us that were stored in protective sleeves and inside a hard plastic case. A dvd holds 4.7GB’s of data. Each time we filled up 4GB’s worth of photos we would burn 2 dvd copies of them. With the first package of souvenirs that were sent home to a family member we included one copy of the DVD’s. The second copy was sent with the next shipment home along with the first set of the next batch of burnt dvd’s, and so on.
When we did our world trip we used a site called Travelpod that allows you to have a free blog. Friends and family felt like they were taking the journey with us. They could see photos and read our adventures soon after we experienced them. Now that we have our own website we can still easily update it while we travel.
We Broke Down And Purchased A Laptop
We found ourselves spending large amounts of time in internet cafes to write posts and upload our pictures. The speed of the uploading varied from painfully slow to mediocre in many places.
Six months into our trip we purchased a laptop. We spent the extra money to get one with a DVD burner and built in wireless. We sent the Apacer Burner home. The laptop we purchased was very small and light, making it easy to pack around.
The laptop made life easier and freed up a lot of our time. We could upload pictures at our leisure and keep our journal up to date. We would work on our blog after retiring to our accommodation for the night. There are many cafes, hotels and hostels offering free internet. If it wasn’t provided at our accommodation we often found free wireless by searching for a signal. We even picked it up in some remote parts of China. I’m not sure we could travel with out our laptop now, I think we would feel very disconnected.
External Portable Hard Drives And Media Viewing Devices
There are external hard drives almost as small as a pack of cards. This sounded like a good storage option, but we were not completely comfortable with it. They can be sensitive to being bumped around or dropped. If a failure or malfunction happens you can lose your data. You could purchase two or three hard drives to store a copy of your images on each one. The prices have come down dramatically so this might be a viable option.
There are several types of photo and media storage devices that have viewing screens. They start at $100 and run well beyond $500. At the higher end price point I don’t see the purpose, you might as well purchase a notebook with similar storage capacity and benefit from all the other features. FotoSafe , Wolverine Multimedia Storage and Epson Photo Storage are some examples.
Pay Internet Cafes To Burn Your Photos
Most internet cafes will have a service available to burn your images for you. This means you don’t have to carry around any extra equipment to do it yourself. The drawback is it can get expensive, especially if you want to have duplicate copies made. Some cafes we came across only burnt onto CD’s, it can take a lot of them to hold your images. Make sure your images are being burned at the same resolution as you took them. You don’t to lose image quality by having them reduced in size.
Use Digital Memory Cards As Your Storage
With the price drop of digital memory cards you can use them as your storage option depending on the size of your images and the length or your trip. If you shoot in RAW it doesn’t take long to start filling up cards. A lot of people including myself don’t think it’s a good idea to buy large size GB memory cards. If something goes wrong the card it means a larger amount of images to lose. I would rather own a lot of smaller cards. The biggest cards I purchase are 4GB, I might consider buying some 8GB. The drawbacks to using only memory cards for storage would be having only one copy of your images. If they are lost, stolen or damaged you have no backup.
Store Them On Your Laptop
There are laptops with large enough storage space to do this, but of course the drawback is what if something goes wrong and you lose the data. Using your laptop as storage in combination with another method would be a safer choice.
Upload To An Online Storage Or Photo Hosting Site
Uploading to some kind of backup or photo storage service while on the road could be a good way of dealing with your images. Or it could be used as a back up in conjunction with another method. The drawbacks are if you have a slow internet connection it could make it a painful process. If you have a lot of images to store or shoot in RAW you might need to pay for a premium account to upload your files. Some options are Flicker, Google Picasa Web or Smugmug. Here is an informative article on using Amazon S3 as photo storage.
USB Flash Drives
USB Flash drives are quite reasonably priced. They are very small and quite reliable because they have no moving parts like a hard drive. You can purchase ones with up to 64GB of storage capacity. They can only be used with the use of a computer. If you are traveling with a lap top they can be a good source of secondary storage. Otherwise they are not going to be very useful. Most internet cafes won’t allow you to upload your photos onto their computers. That’s the only way you are going to be able to get them onto the USB flash drive.
Ipod As Storage
There are several devices available that with allow you to upload your photos onto you Ipod. Apple sells a camera connector. The drawbacks are that the transfer rate is slow and it will quickly eat up your camera and Ipod battery. You can’t view RAW images on the Ipod screen. The Belkin media reader for the Ipod allow you to insert your memory card into it so you don’t have to drain your camera battery. The transfer rate is much faster so it will save your Ipod battery too.
With So Many Storage Options, What’s The Right Choice?
For shorter trips we just use our camera memory cards, but we make sure we guard them with our life! I know everyone doesn’t want to carry around a laptop, but I think using one for storage in combination with another method as backup works well for longer trips. There is no one right storage solution, you need to choose what ever method works best for you.