How to Back Up Your Photos and Videos While You Travel - 4 Easy Steps

We enjoy taking photos and have had a lot of fun learning to take video and create vlogs about our life reset experience. We also can’t wait to see what types of images we will have the opportunity to capture as we travel. Remember, we’re a couple of international travel rookies so there will be a lot of “firsts” for us! The challenge is that all of these photos and videos (particularly the videos) take up a TON of storage space. We are 100% confident that our MacBook laptops, which have 500 GB of flash storage, will not be able to store a year’s worth of footage and images. We also know that we would be devastated if we lost photos and videos from our experiences. As a result, archiving and backing-up our files is something we had to create a strategy for.

STEP 1 - Memory Cards

Our Sony RX100 cameras, Sony HDR-AS300 action cam, and Zoom H1 audio recorder all use memory cards. The first step we will take is NOT deleting the files from the memory cards once we download the files to our laptops. This is an immediate (and easy) back-up. If something happens to our laptops or the memory card we still have copies. Eventually, we will need to empty the memory cards, but not until the audio, video, and photo files have been backed up in multiple spots.

STEP 2 - Download to Laptop

On a daily basis we will download the memory cards to our laptops. As we mentioned above, this will result in two copies of the files since we are not immediately deleting the files from the memory cards.

STEP 3 - Removable Hard Drive Back-up

Each of us has a separate removable hard drive for each laptop. No less frequently than once per week, we will back-up our MacBooks using “Time Machine”. Time Machine takes snapshots each time it backs up the computer. This allows you to go back in time to various dates (hence the name “Time Machine”) and see how your computer looked on that date. Sounds great, right? 


Once the back-up hard drive gets filled, it starts deleting the old back-ups to make room for the new ones. Here is the issue with that. Once the 500 GB of storage on our MacBooks fills up, we will have to delete video and image files from the laptop to make room. As a result, new Time Machine back-ups will not have those files. The old back-ups will have them for a while, until it deletes them to make room for new back-up files. See the problem there? 


We anticipate that the problem is primarily going to be the raw video files, because of their size. We are storing them and their associated audio files in a folder on the laptops called “RAW Videos Audio”. Although these will be backed up in Time Machine, this folder will also be saved SEPARATELY on the removable hard drive…separate from the Time Machine backup. Likewise, this folder will be uploaded to the cloud as described below. Doing so will ensure that our laptop profile and documents, files, etc. are backed up completely with Time Machine, while also ensuring that we have copies of RAW footage on the removable hard drive and in the cloud if we need to make space on the laptop.

Bonus Security Tips
  1. Encrypt your removable hard drive! This keeps your data encrypted unless the user has your password.

  2. If we leave our laptops at our accommodation, we will carry the hard drives with us in our daypacks. That way the laptops and hard drives are in two different locations. 

  3. When traveling we will keep my hard drive in Rachel’s bag and Rachel’s hard drive in my bag. This way, if one of us has our bag and/or laptop stolen the other one has the backup for the other’s computer. 

STEP 4: Upload to the Cloud

Whenever we have good Wi-Fi we will back-up our files to the cloud (we decided to use DropBox). The frequency will be determined based on the Wi-Fi quality of where we are staying. It will be important to do this regularly so that we are not trying to do too many big “chunks” of data at one time. I’ll feel a lot better anytime our files are in the cloud due to the automatic back-up processes that major cloud services have in place.

We hope these procedures help you keep your valuable photos and videos safe. In the meantime, you may want to check out these related posts:

Do you have any thoughts to share about hitting the life reset button or gear tips while traveling? Please post below or contact us directly!


Todd · May 16, 2018 at 10:58 pm

Great article guys! We easily filled a 2TB hard drive on our travels. Using the cloud is a brilliant idea! The only thing I would suggest is to get some of those tough silicone covers for your external HDD. Your bags will get bumped, knocked and probably sat on as you travel along. Our drives basically rattled the internal components to bits because we didn’t have those impact absorbing sleeves. Lesson learnt for us!

    Peter · May 17, 2018 at 6:38 am

    Thanks, Todd! We hadn’t heard of the silicone sleeves/covers before. We’ll be sure to check them out!

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