Point-and-shoot cameras are a natural choice for travel thanks to their built-in zoom lenses and compact size, making it a breeze to create travel memories without carrying around a bulky camera kit. While smartphone cameras have continued to improve, and they're more often than not the camera you've already got on you, some point-and-shoots offer improved image quality with larger sensors than the ones typically found in phones, while others offer wider zoom ranges that you simply can't get with the physically limited lenses on your smartphone.
We've bought and tested over 75 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best compact cameras to get for travel. If you don't mind carrying a larger kit with interchangeable lenses, check out our picks for the best mirrorless cameras for travel. If you're looking to take beautiful images of destination vistas, you might want to check out the best cameras for landscape photography instead. Alternatively, if you're less interested in snapping places and more interested in the people that populate them, see our picks for the best street photography cameras.
While it isn't cheap, the Sony RX100 VII is the best compact camera you can get for traveling. Sony somehow managed to fit a 1-inch sensor, pop-up flash and viewfinder, large tilting screen, and a very solid zoom lens into an incredibly portable package. While it doesn't have the widest zoom range on this list (try the Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 below if you need more zoom), it still gives you a fairly long 24-200mm equivalent range, so you can take landscapes or zoom in on subjects that are farther away.
While image quality falls short of large-sensor compacts like the Fujifilm X100V, the camera's portability and the versatility of that zoom lens give the Sony an edge for traveling. The RX100 VII also has Sony's reliably accurate autofocus system. That said, most compact cameras have disappointing battery life, including this one, but at least you get convenient USB charging.
If you don't want to spend as much, the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II is a great mid-range option. It's easily one of the most comfortable point-and-shoots we've tested, thanks to a nicely designed grip, which, along with Canon's intuitive menu and button layout, makes this camera a blast to shoot with. It also has a nearly identical pop-up viewfinder as the one found on the Sony RX100 VII, great for sunny days when it's harder to see the screen.
The built-in lens on this thing is also better than the Sony's when it comes to low light since it opens up to a wider max aperture, but the trade-off is a significantly shorter zoom range. Its AF system is also disappointing and struggles to track subjects quickly and accurately, so keep that in mind if you plan on shooting busy scenes or faster subjects. Otherwise, this camera still has a lot to offer travelers who want something compact and comfortable to shoot with.
The best small travel camera we've tested for those on a budget is the Panasonic LUMIX ZS80. Unlike pricier options on this list, it doesn't use a larger one-inch sensor, which means worse image quality overall. On the upside, the smaller sensor gives it more focal reach, giving you a much longer zoom range. If it's sheer zoom range you're after, this budget compact blows the other cameras on this list out of the water with its max 720mm equivalent focal length.
It also feels decently put-together and has a tiny viewfinder for especially sunny days. Of course, it isn't going to perform very well in low light and generally won't be a huge step up from the image quality you could get on your phone. But you won't find a compact camera with a more versatile zoom lens in this price range, making it a solid travel camera for the budget-conscious buyer.
While the previous picks are more photography-oriented, travel vloggers should take note of the Sony ZV-1, which is specifically for vlogging and is hands-down the best small travel camera for this use. You won't find a viewfinder here, but it's the only option on this list to feature a fully articulated screen, making it exceptionally easy to monitor yourself or take the odd selfie. On top of that, it has a dedicated video recording button and a detachable windscreen for its internal mic to reduce ambient noise.
Just like the Sony RX100 VII, it has a fantastic AF system to ensure you or whatever subject catches your fancy stays in focus. However, its built-in lens has a notably shorter zoom range than our other picks. While it's enough to give you a bit of flexibility for framing your vlogs, it isn't great if you need to zoom in on far-off subjects.
Sep 13, 2022: Overhauled article for clarity and to better represent user needs. Also rewrote intro and updated Notable Mentions.
Jan 28, 2022: Added the Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 as 'Best Budget Compact Camera For Travel' and moved the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III to Notable Mentions. Added the Sony RX10 IV to Notable Mentions.
Dec 01, 2021: Ensured that all main picks are still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category.
Nov 10, 2021: Checked picks for accuracy and availability; no change to recommendations.
Oct 26, 2021: Verified that picks are still available and represent the best choice for their given categories.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best compact travel cameras for most people to buy, according to their needs. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the U.S.).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our compact fixed-lens camera reviews. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.