It's often said that you won't get great photographs unless you move out and get going. Sitting back at home has no chance of coming across any opportunities to photograph. Once you move out, be it anywhere, you will spot opportunities to cover. before you venture out, do keep in mind the following aspects.
When I travel, I take along two cameras with me. One is a professional SLR whereas the other is a compact camera that can fit into a pocket. Of course you can use one of the Smart phones with a good camera but somehow I personally prefer a dedicated camera as compared to a mobile phone. When you are in "shooting mode" so to say, you roam around with your camera and are ready to shoot. When you are in the more family and personal mode, you can make use of the compact camera to click quick family photographs, in case you plan not to use your main camera. It's interesting that we do street and travel photography with a superior camera and end up shooting our own photographs with a compact or mobile phone camera. Keep an extra standby camera if you have one. Just in case your main camera is causing some error, you have the second camera to fall back to. You do not have to carry around the weight of the second camera every day and leave it in the hotel room. You need it only in case of a problem.
This is an endless area and if you have all lenses, you will be too tempted to take along all. If this is not an exclusive photography trip but a blend of photography and personal holiday, take along only the lenses you would actually want to use as anyways you will be carrying along all the weight by yourself without any assistants. There are certain lenses which you may even take along with you but may not carry around on every day basis. However, as you grow older and wiser, you know which all lenses exactly do you need in your trip.
personally as well as Professionally.
Unless you want to appear like this, carry only the stuff that you actually need.
Carry as many as you can because it's a bit difficult to get an idea about your actual schedule on the ground. It's a good practice to transfer all your exposed cards once you are back in the hotel at night. In earlier times, cards used to be very expensive, and the number of cards one could carry was restricted in terms of budget. Now since the cards are relatively cheaper one can always carry as many as one has. Initially, I had invested in storage devices but with the passage of time, their storage capacity is hardly anything as compared to a single card. Today even a 128 GB card is quite affordable whereas these storage devices often had a capacity of just about 60-90 GB
I carry a small 13-inch laptop with me whenever I travel. I don't use the same laptop for everyday professional editing but being a compact size it is best for transferring images and for general internet surfing while traveling. Ipads are not a good idea in general as these do not allow the transfer of cards as such and have bare minimum internal storage.
Do not forget that you will be required to take out all your electronic items out of the bag at the Airport security check. Put all your equipment in clear plastic bags. If you have quite a number of lenses, cameras and accessories, it is safer to shift them all in a clear bag before placing them in the tray to pass through the X-ray machine. It will ensure that you do not accidentally leave something behind after clearing the security as your own line may be moving slow.
Though I personally don't use, many photographers add an extra layer of protective skin to their cameras, especially to safeguard against any accidental falls.
Security concerns in flights
Do check the exact rules before traveling as this can cause a lot of inconveniences if not followed properly. There are specific rules around Batteries and all sharp objects. The Batteries are not allowed in the check-in baggage and can be carried only in the handbag. Photographers carry extra batteries to ensure a smooth workflow but the rules do not allow loose unfitted batteries so these should be fitted into something. This is why you have an extra plastic cover that comes with your new battery. The battery could be inside the camera, fitted in the charger or its plastic cover. The rechargeable cells could go inside the Flash or on its charger.
Certain equipment does not allow the battery to be removed and is fitted internally like in many Gimbels. the battery should be discharged to a certain extent as mentioned in the instruction manual of the gimbal and the same can be carried in the Handbag.
For all international travel, make a list of all the items you have along with the serial numbers. These should be endorsed at the customs office before going for immigration. You do not need the original proof of purchase or invoices. This allows for a smooth clearance when you return back in the country. Because your bag is full of electronics, it may be flagged and specifically checked to ensure that you are not importing the stuff without paying the relevant customs duty. The endorsed list will help out here to prove that the stuff was actually taken out of the country by you and is not now being imported. Make sure not to miss out on any item as they very thoroughly check each and every item depending on the situation.
Should you click the standard shots? yes, why not. Since you are already there, you can explore all aspects of that place. You can shoot these spots in your own creative manner but do click some simple ones as well.
Shoot for Stock Agencies
Since you are in those tourist spots anyways, keep in mind the kind of photographs, stock agencies may be looking for. You may add those types as well to your shooting. As a student, in 80's I sold one of my transparencies of a helicopter flying over a vast ocean. It was quite a simple image with even a bluish cast over it. But it was purchased by one of the leading communication brands to portray the idea that the pilot is not alone even in the remotest areas. What works where, you never know.
Since you are in a new place and obviously do not know anyone, its a good chance to click a lot of candid and natural photographs of people wandering around, many of them with cameras as well if you are in one of the tourist spots anyways.
Best time to shoot photographs
Unless you have gone to an exclusive Photography trip, you can't do much about the time of the day to check if a particular time is good for photography or not. It all depends on your travel itinerary and schedule as you move around from one place to the other. You may not have a lot of time at all the destination, even though you may plan out this aspect better as your do the groundwork before the actual trip. Good Planning helps out there. Keep more time for places that have a better scope of having opportunities to shoot.
If you are a good photographer, you will try to make the best of the available light, what so ever it may be. Shortcomings often turn out to be good creative opportunities to explore and challenge your creative side.
Understand local culture and respect it.
Tripod versus High ISO
Higher ISo does not replace a tripod if you are shooting a landscape of any still life. If you have time and if using a slower shutter speed is not an issue, go for a tripod. If you are in a hurry and may also have people moving around in your frame, increasing the ISO is a good option as you will atleast get the shot as compared to not clicking due to time constraints. Note that carry a lightweight tripod with you and not your heavy-duty studio tripod. Since you won't have any support as such to step up on, a tripod that just about reaches your height should be good enough as that's the maximum you can reach up.
A tripod is also unavoidable if you plan to shoot "HDR" images or manually create High Dynamic photographs with multiple exposures of the same scene.
Include the Human Element
Adding a human element in a photograph makes it all the more interesting and makes it a unique photograph as compared to a more static composition. We relate to it better and this makes it different from photographs taken by others of the same spot. In many situations, it also helps understand the whole scale of the scene and other elements within that frame as we know the human size for comparison.
Learn the skills and Apply them
Usually, when you travel, you venture out with your camera to satisfy your creative hunger to add some great shots to your collection of photographs. Always keep learning and your holiday will be a good time to apply your learnings. You have the time and nothing to lose as such if your experiments do not turn out to be as expected conventionally. BUT your images may turn out to be even better aesthetically sometimes with failed experiments and thats why experiments are called experiments as the idea is to innovate and try out something new and different.
Should you do the regular postcard shots?
In terms of being a creative photographer, you would like to be creative and thoughtful with your shots in every frame but it often helps to shoot a few regular ones as well. Many stock agency may be looking for very basic standard shots also. Since you are there anyways, might as well do a couple of standard pictures a swell.
Be open to the idea of leaving certain things to post-processing on the computer as well. A good photographer would generally shoot images perfect in all aspects straight out of the camera but if there is anything left less than perfect, its not a crime to correct it in the RAW processing software or photoshop later on, as long as it is correctable. Even otherwise, there are a lot of things that can be enhanced on the computer and the images can start to look even better.
Do not overdo it
However, do not get too excited to apply and overdo with each and every filter and effect available with you. Not everything works everywhere and being subtle is the key to retain the originality of the photograph while still giving it a little bit of a dramatic visual effect.
ENJOY - If carrying all the weight of the cameras and lenses is too much for you, Travel photography is not really for you if you are not enjoying the sudden gush of adrenaline at the site of a good subject and the urge to capture the same in your camera.
Journey versus Destination
And remember, the journey is as important as the destination. be ready to shoot as you travel and approach for another destination in your itinerary. You don't have to reach there and take out your camera. You may get even more interesting shots on the way and the actual spot you had planned to visit might be boring, dull and not as expected.