Lesson 1: It’s the Lighting, Stupid!
These photos of the Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica demonstrate one of the most basic and easy-to-follow “rules” of travel photography: Better light equals better photos. In photo #1, grey overcast lighting leaves the Georgian looking as gloomy as the weather. In photo #2, warm sunset lighting makes the bright colors of the building pop, and the shadows give dimension to the palm trees and design details of the building -- no Photoshoping or expensive gear required.
Of course, you can’t change the weather, and you’re not going to waste your vacation waiting around for the perfect light. But sunrise and sunset are reliably great times to take outdoor photos. And try to keep the sun behind you -- shining on your subject, not directly into your lens.