USE A GUIDEOn trips close to home, you can figure out logistics and locations on your own. But if you travel internationally, using a guide is the best thing you can do for your photography. Local guides know the language, locations and customs. They're essential in getting you photo ops you'd never get on your own.
On my recent trip to Easter Island, our local Rapa Nui guide set up locals for us to photograph and showed us locations we never would have found on our own. He also knew which Moai locations photographed well at sunrise and which locations were better at sunset. If you don't want to hire a guide for your entire trip, hire one for a day to get you oriented to an area.
GO LIGHTEvery trip I go on, I struggle with what to bring and what to leave behind. A lot depends on the trip. If I'm driving, I'll bring everything I think I may need. If I'm flying, I'll narrow down my camera gear significantly. If I'm doing a lot of walking on my trip, I'll further streamline my gear.
My basic camera gear kit is two bodies, a 24-120mm lens, a 70-200mm lens, a 1.4x converter, one speedlight and one optical transmitter. I bring a lightweight Gitzo tripod with a Really Right Stuff ballhead and some speedlight accessories, including a Lastolite TriGrip reflector and a Rogue snoot. I can easily carry this in my Lowepro Vertex 200 AW backpack. I pack the reflector in the outside back pocket of my pack.
If I'm walking in a busy market, I'll go with one body, a 24-120mm lens and my speedlight in my pocket or a photo vest. Being inconspicuous while shooting will allow you to get more intimate images.
SHOOT SKYLINES AT TWILIGHTCityscapes are a classic travel image and help orient the viewer to a location. While you can capture nice images during the day, I really like to shoot skylines at dawn or dusk. I find a location that gives a good view of the city skyline, which might be a rooftop bar, hotel room, city park or pier.
Since you're shooting at twilight, use a tripod to get sharp images. Experiment with your white balance. I like to set my white balance at incandescent to turn the twilight sky to a deep purple color. You can shoot skylines after dark, but you lose detail and color in the sky.