Backup your travel photos for free

How-to, Tips & Tricks

How-To: Backup your travel photos for free

11 Jul , 2016  

As travelers / backpackers one thing we all do is take a massive amount of photos. These photographs are precious. Capturing the moment, enabling us to look back and enjoy that memory forever. Photo storage and backups are important. You can spend a lot of money keeping those memories safe. But in this post I will explain how you can backup your travel photos for free!

I am going to assume that you will be traveling with a smart phone at the very least. Maybe even a camera and laptop too. If you plan to take photos with film. Or won’t have access to the internet at all (where are you going by the way?). I’m afraid this guide isn’t for you. Nevertheless, most travelers will have some technology, and limited access to the internet. So let’s get started on how you can backup your travel photos for free!

Google Photos

If you have read my post on how to take better travel photos you will know I have already sung Google’s praises for photo storage. But I thought that this was such an important issue to warrant a post of its own.

To get access to Google Photos you will need create a Google account, its free and easy to set up. Once you have your Google Account you get 15gb storage for free, this is spread across Gmail, Google Photos and Google Drive. 15gb doesn’t sound like a lot, because it isn’t and this will fill up rapidly.

But the ace up Google Photo’s sleeve is that it offers free unlimited photo and video storage if you select its “High Quality” option.

The alternative – “Original” option, keeps the file in its raw state, but counts towards your 15gb total storage.

Google Photos’ High Quality implications:

This is where it gets (a bit) technical. If you do select the “High Quality” option, Google applies lossy compression to the files. Basically this means it reduces the file in a way that it cannot be reversed. Now do not fear, it will not ruin your photos! From my research (and reading more professional opinions) I haven’t seen it make a noticeable difference to any photos. It will only affect professionals who need to print in large formats or do some fancy edits etc…

  • Photos are capped at 16 megapixels

    So if you take a photo on a 20mp camera, it will reduce it to 16mp. And if you take a photo on a 12mp camera, it will remain 12mp, but with some compression to reduce the file size.

  • Videos are capped at 1080p

    So a video with a higher resolution such as 4k will be reduced to 1080p. From my research it is inconclusive whether Google Photos stores videos with 60fps or more (such as slow mo), or will reduce them to 30/24fps. Some say it reduces them online, but if you download the file the original fps remains. Once I have tested this myself I will update this post.

Google Photos – Bud rating: 4/5

For most people the above compression will not be noticeable and your photos will look as beautiful as when they were taken. Even if you use a fancy DSLR such as the awesome P900 like Kyle does.

My only concern is over how Google Photos store videos and their FPS. However 1080p is still good enough for most purposes.

The IOS and Android application both offer an automatic backup option, with an additional WiFi only option. Which is perfect for when you get onto the hotel/hostel/cafe/airport WiFi.

Google Photos ability to backup your travel photos for free is reason enough to recommend it, but the praise doesn’t stop there. The application has a very intuitive, simple, and easy interface. The search function also deserves special mention. You can search for anything that appears in your photos, so if you want to see all your beach photos, you just search “beach”, it’s that simple! And if you geo-tag your photos (which most phones and cameras will do automatically now) you can also search by place. Google Photos will also automatically create albums and the whole application is very easy to navigate around.

In addition to Google Photos, the whole suite of Google products: Gmail, Google Drive and Google Documents etc are equally as impressive. I have recently ditched Microsoft office, and started using Google Docs instead. Another great feature that we have covered before, is the ability to create your own maps using Google Maps. Which is such an awesome planning tool! #GeographyNerd


As the paragraph above explains, Google Photos is the best option to backup your travel photos for free. But I did mention the compression and in particular my concerns over videos.

Luckily there is a simple solution to combat this, and that is Flickr. Its free and easy to sign up for. You just need to create a Yahoo account and you get 1tb of storage for free – with no compression on the files stored, although some compression is present when viewing online.

The only upload limitations are:

  • Photo max file size: 200mb
  • Video max file size: 1gb

I have very little experience using Flickr, hence no bud rating yet. But from what I have seen it works in a very similar way to Google Photos. Its “Magic View” enables you to search your photos by what is in them. The Auto-Uploadr automatically backups all your photos, with a WiFi only option as well. You can also set which photos (if any) you would like to be public. There is also an option for only friends and family to be able to see different photos. This is a feature I really like. I can set all my beautiful beach shots to public, and keep the selfies for my friends and families. (Who am I kidding? The world needs to see my selfies too!)


So with Google Photos unlimited storage that is where I plan on storing all my photos. However videos are still a concern, if Google Photos wont store videos with FPS > 30 I will start to use Flickr to store all those files – All for free!!

Both of the above methods require an internet connection and whilst traveling you cannot be certain of stable, if any internet at all. So it is important to have enough physical storage to see you over until you can back your files up online. Therefore I would always recommend taking an external hard drive with you, in addition to the normal storage on you phone, camera, laptop and various SD cards etc.

All of this is just how I plan to manage and store my photos and videos. If you do anything differently, or have any great ideas / methods it would be great to hear them. So please leave a comment below! Happy snapping and storing!


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1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

24, Geography Graduate, Colouring-In Enthusiast, Amateur Cartographer, from the south east coast of England, seeking the ultimate adventure and sharing those experiences.

1 Response

  1. Thumbs-up. I use Dropbox (well, three accounts for various things) for my life and my specific filing of pics and videos along my way. I think it’s excellent when used on my Windows where it can be used like a folder… but even though it swears it does backup uploading of your files/pics on your mobile items I have found for about a year-ish now that this doesn’t actually happen more than 95% of the time. Heck, even when it’s open and you manually Tell it to upload items.

    But, for a over-all cheap storage it’s great, just be ready to backup on a non-mobile-app item(s).

    Agree totally on thinking well of Google’s photo backup and storage. Is what I use and find it very reliable and quick. Ideal, to me, in the options out there.

    I, too, am not very familiar with Flickr even though I’ve had an account for ages. Just never put it through a real use trial and really should now, as yet another backup.

    I work with my pics on Windows, I-devices, and an Android device. Google photos works so very handy on all and the fact I use them all.

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