Photographs are an important part of the travel experience and getting great photos from our travel adventures is something all of us want, and I know that when I started travel photography, deciding what kind of camera to take with me was a big decision.

In the end, I went with a bulky digital SLR (from the Canon Rebel line) and I’m pleased I did so, because it led me to becoming a full-time professional travel photographer. In my case, the investment cost and extra weight were the right decision for me — there was no such thing as mirrorless when I started out!

However, my choice certainly won’t be right for everyone. There’s a wide range of devices on the market that can take photos — everything from smartphones and point-and-shoots to mirrorless cameras and those big, heavy DSLRs. You have to decide which is right for you.

In this post, I am going to help you do just that. And all you have to do is answer two questions.

How much money do you want to spend?

Image by Mike Finn

Your budget is a key part of choosing the right camera for travel. There’s no point dreaming about a high-end camera if you only have a couple of hundred dollars to spend.

Budget is a personal consideration, but there are a few things to remember that folks sometimes forget:

First, the accessories. When you buy a camera, you’re going to want to pick up a high-capacity memory card ($20–40), a case or bag ($10–150), a spare battery ($10–50), and maybe filters or a tripod. If you buy an interchangeable lens camera, think about the cost of any extra lenses as well.

Second, remember that travel can sometimes be risky. Things can be lost or stolen, and you need to think about what value of equipment you’re comfortable having with you. It’s also worth checking what your travel insurance will cover — most policies have relatively low single-item limits, so for high value equipment, you might have to consider specialty insurance.

There are good camera options at a variety of price points. For under $400, look at a compact point-and-shoot or an action camera like a GoPro, or spend that money upgrading your smartphone. The sweet-spot budget of $400–800 really opens up more possibilities, including some excellent mirrorless and entry-level DSLR options.

Above $800 and you are venturing into “prosumer” and professional territory. Unless you’re planning on going pro at some point, or want to really focus on night or action photography, you don’t need to spend over $800 on a travel camera.

How much gear are you willing to carry?