I haven’t played with any of the Canon Rebel series in… 15 years? So I really can’t say anything about them.  That being said, I can’t imagine that they are bad. Pretty much any camera out there will do for 90% of people using them.  On the topic of lenses…

Wide lenses definitely excel at landscapes and wide open views in general. Some people think anything wider than 50mm is ‘wide angle’.  Personally, I think wide angle starts at 24mm and less. Example: This image on the right was shot with a 24mm lens.  You can see it is nice and wide… but it isn’t very wide.

Something to keep in mind though is that this is 24mm on a Full Frame camera, where the sensor size is the same as a 35mm piece of film.  On a more consumer oriented camera they are usually made with a ‘crop factor’ of 1.5x (a smaller sensor to keep down costs) .  What this means is that if you have a crop camera and a 24mm lens, then the output will be zoomed to look like a 38mm lens –so not as wide.  This also works the other way around.  If you know you want a 24mm lens field of view equivalent, then you need to divide to find out what you need.  So, (24mm / 1.5) = 16mm.  A crop sensor camera needs about a 16mm lens to look the same.

The lens used for this image was 14mm on a full frame body –this is what I would call a super wide.  Often it is too much for most people, as the edges can get quite distorted.  It definitely is a look you just can’t replicate, but it does have very finite use-case-scenarios.
This being said, I think one of the greatest travel lenses I have ever used was the Canon 24-105 Series L lenses.  24mm Is wide enough for most views, and that 105mm zoom was just awesome to have handy.  As a mega bonus you can find these for quite a bit cheaper than new, as they were part of the standard 5D ‘kit bundles’ for somewhere around 10 years.

If you like that kind of ‘high versatility’ range on a crop sensor, then something like a 17-70mm would do nicely.

If someone is gong to be doing some travel and aren’t as clicky as I am, then chances are something like 70-300 would be a bit of a waste.  Not that it would be bad, there is just not as much occasion to bring a super zoom like that with you when you are walking around a new town.  Using the above math. that would amount to a 100-450mm lens, which is a range that hardcore birdwatchers go for, but not tourists.

I shot the frog here from somewhere around 15 feet away @ 400mm.  Its a big zoom.  Most people don’t actually have a use for it, even when they think they do before buying it

Flashes get tough, real quick.  There are a couple golden rules about flashes

  1. Don’t ever fire a flash directly at someone
  2. Chances are it will look bad anyway.

Flashes are generally misused by most everyone out there, and 99% of the time the picture would have looked better without it.  I only ever use flashes in a studio type setup where I have light bouncers and diffusers in place.  I have never once been happy that I brought mounted flash unit with me.  That being said, there is one option that I absolutely want to try.