How To Capture The Perfect Travel Selfie As a Solo Traveler

It seems travel is on everyone's lips. Everyone wants to talk about, be a part of it, make money from it, or simply escape into their own travel-centric world. It's one of the biggest global industries in dollar's ( 7.6 trillion U.S. ) and popularity. Besides the economic and employment benefits it provides to many, it allows people time to reconnect to self or others. It opens up languages, cultures, new foods, inspiration and many ways to refresh our lives. 

I've spent the better part of the past 20 years in travel and tourism. It captured my heart a long time ago and I have plenty of unforgettable memories. But most of us want more than memories, we want the perfect photo. The one that captures our emotion about the place, preferably one with us in it, looking completely, perfectly, instagramable, right?

But what if you're passionate about solo travel? That means amazing travel experiences on your own, and no on demand bestie or instagram husband for daily photo shoots. That's o.k. because, digital timers, go pros, and selfie sticks have your back, and you can still capture envy worthy photos on your own.

travel photo tips for solo travlers*Pre-Set Focus and Timer

travel photos and selfies with affordable gear

* Many Times Your Distance From Your Camera will Determine Your Position


how to take the perfect travel selfie

*Create Movement and Motion Even If It Feels Un-Natural

Power Pack Your Smart Phone 

I'm an Android user, I know, I know, we all have our opinions, but the newer Samsungs have great new capture modes, that include portrait, and selective focus so you can mimic sharp focus on your chosen subject, and improve your overall photography. Plus it's simple to capture mini video clips with slow mo, and video mode to put into your photo apps later for a multi media travel memory.

With solo photography it's about capturing the angle that is different and looks natural. It could be one that makes the area look larger, or from the ground for a different POV. Use your backpack, water bottle, a rock, tree, or other item to find a good angle and prop it anywhere. Set your timer and position yourself, or use a blue tooth phone or camera remote. These fit in your palm, and are easily hidden when you're ready to capture that moment.

Whatever your angle, there's no getting around sharpening your smart phone skills with practice. But you can use a few tricks to make your smart phone a more powerful photo tool. One of my go-to's is a simple flexible tripod with phone and go pro attachments. I've used mine to grab selfie angles and videos from trees, boats, cliffs, and plenty of uneven ground. Other affordable smart phone tools that are easy to travel with include, a portable selfie light, and removable cell phone camera lens. I recommend one with a tripod. I don't love the fish eye lenses with these but the telephoto ones can give you new selfie options with little gear or investment. 

When I'm traveling I organize my phone captures in google files to work with later. I then add them into free or affordable creative apps to add my personal brand look depending on where I'm posting. The ones I'm using lately are In Shot, Go Pro Quik, and Canva. 

how to create travel selfies that sell

 *Use Cliffs, Rocks, or Backpacks to Prop Up Your Phone Without Tripods

*You'll Run Back & Forth Between Your Camera Many Times to Get A Look You Like

*Sometimes It Helps to Have a Story in Mind. This Selfie Captured Fruits I Talked About for Health.

The Best Poses Look Candid 

Candid photos by definition are catching someone ( in this case yourself) unaware, or at least looking like you are. This is why most travel bloggers, brands and influencers include themselves in their photos engaged in something we are inviting people to do. Most interesting pictures seem to tell a story or capture an emotion we can relate to. So when we travel we have more options to capture new faces, cultures, and snag a selfie in epic places. Take as many as you like to get the look, angle and lighting you like. You'll get better at it as you play.  Practice new style and let go of caring if people are looking at you. They are going to look, but hey, you've had the courage and flexibility to travel on your own, and you deserve any photo you want. 

A lot of times I get up before the crowds to hit popular photo spots. If I know I want to create a look or spend more time setting up my shot without others in it, this works well. Plus not fighting crowds makes you feel more natural, allowing you to practice your "candid" poses. 

Part of the fun in photography is being creative and developing your own style. Get inspired by looking at others photo styles and then just step in front of your camera and shoot. Then reset and repeat. 


*Choose One That Seems Like No One is There. Twenty Tries On This for An Influencer Brand

*Pick Your Angle With Your Timer & Run To Position

Wide Angle Lenses & Go Pros

Over the past couple of years I've become a Go Pro convert. Plus the Go Pro HERO quality and small size allows me to take it anywhere, including my active outdoor lifestyle and my favorite underwater spots. Plus the app connects right to your smart phone to download new media (a good backup) and gives your video creation options. 

Many times I use a go pro stick and remote to capture both static photo and video. The video option is great since you can play back video and snap shot any photo you'd like. I also suggest playing with you POV, from narrow to wide angle for different moods. 

I like to use the wide angle to make the area look bigger, and the subject farther away, and the narrow angle for my intimate moments and close up's without my go pro stick. 

Here are a few more suggestions to keep in mind: 

  1. Play with shutter speed (like night lapse mode)
  2. Adjust white balance for color temperature
  3. Use a tripod (with a level) for time-lapse and night photography
  4. Use burst mode: action, pets, outdoors
  5. Get better selfies with new angles and go pro stick remote
  6. Use time-lapse photo mode for clear images
  7. Shoot in burst mode to capture more (more chances of capturing that good selfie angle)
  8. Include shots in RAW to edit your photos with more options later

 My Go Pro is used under water a lot, but doesn't need any additional housing, so less gear. Plus it has an optional attachment for snorkels, headstraps or wrist attachments. Whatever your activity, its a great addition to your travel selfie arsenal. 

top travel photos and how to capture your own

Your Point & Shoot or DSLR Timers Are Your Best Friend

After plenty of years of feeling inadequate behind a camera, I decided to take a photo class and buy my first grown up camera to expand my skills. It definitley gave me more confidence and technical skills.There is still plenty to learn, but having the option to use my DSLR has been freeing, and I have additional lens options like telephoto, macro, and wide angle. Ok, those may not all be selfie modes, but you can be playful with them. 

Your camera's timer is your best friend with solo travel, and while you may feel weird running back and forth between your camera, it gives you additional options. Plus you can use a blue tooth remote that connects to your phone or handheld mini remote to reset your DSLR. 

I recommend a tripod with your digital camera for low light and slow shutter speed options. You can still use most point and shoots for these too. Be prepared to put it into checked baggage, because several countries, Including China, Bali, Mexico & Peru will not let you take a tripod in your carry on luggage. I've had mine confiscated through security, and other times had to purchase an additional bag, and check a second bag just for tripods, go pro sticks and selfie sticks. Those aren't allowed either. 

Embrace the timer, and don't forget to do a few burst mode and video captures while you're at it. 


*Set Your Mood & Angle That Offers Contrast (Then Run Into Place)

*Try Different Points of View. Not My Legs, But Your Can Take Your Own

*Recreate Well Done Photos or Ones That Fit Your Personality, Brand or Story

Air Selfies, Drones, & Hover Camera Options

New technologies have created more photography and videography options for solo travelers with small drones. Warning here, check the rules of the country you are visiting on their drone laws. Some more popular countries like Nicaragua, France, and Fiji have drone bans, other bans are more predictable like Korea, Kenya, Egypt & Cuba. 

Still, if you plan ahead and take care of a few details, you will be creating some of the most interesting travel photos for yourself. This is especially good if you are an active traveler who will be rafting, kayaking, hiking, or other outdoor ventures that are a bit more intense to capture. Again, practice, practice, practice. You don't need a unmanned aircraft license with a lot of hover cameras, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared. 

So how do you go about jumping into air selfies for solo travel? It doesn't have to be intimidating, and options can range from a drone the size of your palm, to one with a larger travel case. Other's you can try for $40 to $1000 with the average price being $300-500. You can usually practice with your new drone at home, or find a local camera supply store that provides drone lessons. 

What I love about air selfies is the freedom to be active, hands free and capture more candid moments that I can keep for myself or re-purpose for articles or videos later on. It gives me more creative options, and I'm careful not to utilize it in areas that would be restricted or an annoyance to other travelers. 

If you're looking for the next step, I encourage you to try your own air selfies. Soon you'll be at the level of top travel brands, bloggers and influencers who keep these on their gear list. 


*Make It Look Like You Have Every Angle Covered With Air Selfie Cameras

*Drone Shots (Self Follow) Can Create A More Commercial or Professional Look That is Still A Selfie

Create Your Own Style

Use details, accessories and other items to create more stylized and interesting photos. Jewelry, hats, purses, food, etc., are all great to include. If you're in Paris grab a basket with baguettes for additional interest. At a tropical pool? Use a smoothie, cocktail, floating toys, or other playful items to create action and storytelling in your photos. Look around, and use what you have a create a signature style with a few key elements.

Candid photography also relies on the light, but you'll have to play around with that on each device.  As a solo traveler you know the importance of choosing your angle, and playing around with your posing to seem more natural. I like to do a lot of outdoor shots in live mode and play with different angles. Many times I'm more focused on a closer shot that fits with an article, retreat or adventure I'm doing. 

The entire point of candid photography is to gain the unguarded moments of a person’s emotions, whether it is tears, happiness, love, or other emotions.  While it is true, you need to have light, angle, and a good camera to catch great shots too. Most photographers are trained observers. But as a long time solo traveler, I know you become a keen observer or people and elements. So observe your own photos, and then adjust and keep practicing. 

*Live Mode on Timer for Our Retreat

*Go Pro On Video with Wide Angle 

*Smart Phone Capture with Sunrise Light on Timer

*Create Exaggerated Movement Just Before the Shutter Clicks

There are plenty of ways to get creative and create your travel photo lifestyle just like your own personal paparazzi. Solo travel continues to grow, so don't feel envious when you see others taking group photos, you've got plenty of skills of your own. Solo travel is a lot of fun, and I hope to see you out on the road!

Want to get more pro photo tips? Sign up for our partner Stunning Photography Edits How To Course with instructional online videos to master your DSLR with editing tips. This expert course focuses on landscape photography, but uses edits you can use for any photo dynamic.