Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Travel pictures are a valuable keepsake that you don't want to lose. On a long trip you'll want to take extra steps to store those travel pictures.
I have a Kodak DX6490 that I purchased a couple of years ago. I have only used it here around the house and have been so pleased with it, but I do know it only holds about 400 photos. I know how to download those photos here at home to my PC with the dock that came with the camera. All I have to do is press one button and they download automatically, but I have no idea what to use on my laptop to do the same thing, other than take the dock with me and store them on the laptop. I will be away from home for a month, so 400 pictures won't do. I suppose I could buy a ton of those little cards that go into the camera and just keep the photos on those cards and not even take the laptop, but I can email back to my family here if I take the laptop.
Between your laptop, the memory cards, and emailing the pictures back home, I'll vote (strongly) for two out of three of those.
And email's not one of them.
Let me explain why ...
First, I'll tell you I face this same problem when I travel. I know that like you, I definitely don't want to lose those travel photos - they're way too valuable. That's why I'm going to suggest you do two separate things; the same two things that I do.
First, that DC6490 takes what are called "SD" flash memory cards. Yes, I would get a few additional of those. The good news here is that in the two years since you purchased your camera, SD cards have grown in capacity. I'm guessing you have a 512megabyte card based on the number of pictures you store. Cards are now available with 1 or 2 gigabytes, or in other words, 2 or 4 times the capacity. I'd grab a couple of those. (My most recent 1gig card was $60 US - they're fairly inexpensive.) Use them, fill them up, and keep them in a safe place when not in your camera.
I'd also either take along the cradle and install the appropriate support software on the laptop, or (and this is what I actually do) get a SD card reader for the laptop, and periodically copy the photos from the card(s) to the laptop for safekeeping. USB card readers are also not that expensive, and typically the contents of your SD card, once inserted, simply appear as another disk drive on your computer. Using Windows Explorer you can copy the files form the SD card to a directory on your machine quickly and easily.
Naturally I'd make sure all that worked well before you leave on your trip.
What this setup does is leaves the pictures on both the SD cards and your laptop. That way if something happens to one, you'll still have the other.
Now, I explicitly said that email's not one of my approaches. The problem boils down to the fact that pictures are large and email is slow. Or rather, uploading pictures to the internet is slow, and sending email is just another form of upload. With so many pictures involved, you could easily spend hours and hours (and hours and hours) uploading, or perhaps be throttled by whatever internet provide you happen to be using for uploading "too much".
So certainly email some of your pictures to your friends - perhaps even update a photo sharing website during your trip - I've done both. It's a neat way to let people who care know about all the fun you're having as you travel. But if you're taking hundreds or perhaps thousands of pictures, email's not an appropriate way to save them all.
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