Sure, your smartphone can take a decent picture and is always with you when you travel. However, if you want more options in low-light situations and better quality photos, it’s still best to have a stand-alone camera.

Cameras That Are Easy to Carry While Traveling

Digital photography gives you plenty of options to enhance your photo with software, but the key to a good photo is the lens. This is an area where a smartphone just can’t compete with a stand-alone camera. If you don’t want to lug around a large DSLR camera, check out these pocket-sized cameras that will give you better quality pictures than your phone without the bulkiness of a more professional camera.

Sony RX100 20.2 MP Premium Compact Digital Camera

This is a great camera in a compact design that you can easily slip in your pocket or stash in your day pack to better capture your travel experience. The bright F1.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens combined with the 1” Exmor CMOS sensor allows you to capture more light, which means better photos at sunset or other low-light scenarios. You can save RAW images and compact JPEG files both at once so you have easy to share photos and high quality files that you can edit on your PC later. The camera also shoots full HD 1080 video at 60 frames per second allowing you to capture fast-moving subjects.

Amazon User Review: Extremely portable and easy to use. Has the features of bulky camera while maintaining an awesome size and quick use.

Price: Starting at $275.01 on Amazon

Average Star Rating: 4.3

Panasonic Lumix ZS50 Camera

Another quality camera in low-light situations, the Panasonic Lumix also features a 30x optical zoom, which is good for capturing clear images of far-away objects. It’s image stabilization compensates for blurring and ensures leveled photos and video. The camera also has a manually controlled focus to make sure you’re capturing the intended object with precision.

Amazon User Review: This is a great little camera. I own several cameras from DSLR to advanced point and shoots and Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras. Photography is a hobby. I wanted a camera with a long zoom and with advanced control features that could fit in my pocket and at a reasonable price.

Price: Starting at $250.00 on Amazon

Average Star Rating: 4.2

Canon Powershot G9X Mark II Compact Digital Camera

If you’re looking for a stylish camera that is packed full of features, this lightweight, pocket-sized Canon is a great choice. It has a higher price point than some others on this list, but the features are comparable to cameras that are priced even higher. In addition to its large 1.0 inch, 20.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor, it has wireless connectivity and a touch screen panel. The built-in WiFi and Bluetooth means you can transfer photos and videos directly to the web or your phone without the need of a laptop.

Amazon User Review: It is convenient to take on vacations and you will be glad you bought it after looking back at higher quality photos compared to any smartphone camera could ever take.”

Price: Starting at $449.00 on Amazon

Average Star Rating: 4.5

Sony DSCW830 20.1 MP Digital Camera

A simple point and shoot camera that is on the affordable side of things. If all you want is improved images and don’t need all the bells and whistles of the higher priced cameras, this small camera from Sony will do the trick. The Sweep Panorama mode makes it easy to take in sweeping landscapes. It also has a bunch of great auto features such as face detection and smile shutter technology, which will take a shot as soon as your kid shows you that hard to get smile.

Amazon User Review: I have purchased several Sony Cyber-shots over the years. I like that they take warmer quality photos, and are affordable.

Price: Starting at $128.00 on Amazon

Average Star Rating: 4.3

Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera

This rugged waterproof camera from Olympus is perfect for the adventure traveler. It can be used in just about any setting—even in freezing temperatures. It’s waterproof up to 50 feet and can withstand a fall up to 7 ft. It has an extremely fast shooting speed to capture those critical moments that last only milliseconds. The Ultra HD 4k video gives you life-like memories of your most daring activities. And it’s also easy to use while wearing big gloves, making this a great camera to capture those epic vistas when you’re hitting the slopes.

Amazon User Review: I love this camera! It rocks! It constantly amazes me at what it can do. I also have a Nikon D-800 I use for my more serious photography, but this thing is my stuff in my pocket and travel camera. Of course it blows my iPhone away no matter what Apple says.”

Price: Starting at $294.00 on Amazon

Average Star Rating: 4.3

Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 Digital Camera

Here’s another great point and shoot camera if you are on a tighter budget. You can’t beat the value with this Canon Powershot that has a 10x optical zoom, built-in WiFi, and cool features like shooting scenes with a fisheye effect or a vintage pinhole camera look. The camera comes in three different colors (black, blue, and red) if you prefer to have a colorful device instead of the standard black or silver style of most other cameras.

Amazon User Review: A great value pocket/purse camera for very good 'basic' POINT & SHOOT performance at a stunning price. Well exceeding cell phone camera performance at a fraction of the price.

Price: Starting at $159.00 on Amazon

Average Star Rating: 4.3

Nikon Coolpix S9900 Digital Camera with 30x Optical Zoom

The best feature of this Nikon is the 30x optical zoom. Catch wildlife in their natural habitat with clarity and from a distance. The swivel display allows to you catch photos at many angles and still be able to see what is in the frame. It also has full manual exposure control so you can turn off the auto settings and set up the aperture and shutter speed to your liking. The built-in GPS keeps track of where your photos were taken so you can easily share your travels and whereabouts with family and friends.

Amazon User Review: This is the most incredible point and shoot camera you will ever have. A little heavier than the average point and shoot but this one has 30X wide optical zoom which means the photo with the nest and eggs is something you can take from a long distance away. Definitely worth the money.

Price: Starting at $210.00 on Amazon

Average Star Rating: 4.2


The smallest camera on this list may not have the biggest lens, but it is the most versatile camera and an excellent choice for adventure travelers. The HyperSmooth video stabilization will make your shaky experiences bearable to watch while you are sitting still. It’s rugged and waterproof to bring in any situation from your first surf lesson to a bike ride in the mountains. The GoPro HERO7 is packed with features like a time warp video to capture the full extent of a sunrise or sunset and voice control so you can attach the GoPro to your body and use hands free.

Amazon User Review: As an avid traveler I want smooth videos without dragging along more weight and components and The Hero 7 fits the bill perfectly!”

Price: Starting at $250.00 on Amazon

Average Star Rating: 4.6

Header image by Dinga via Shutterstock. Product images courtesy of Amazon.

All products and services mentioned on Airfarewatchdog are independently selected by our team of expert travelers. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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