My friend has a rebel xt (not xti) and is going to India. She wants to know if, for $200, it's a better idea to buy a point and shoot or another lens to compliment her 18-55mm. My problem is I don't believe there is a good answer to this question. She says used lenses are not an issue, but $200 will still only get you so far.
As you can probably tell she really isn't that into photography as much as she just wants a record of her trip, but I would still like to give her good/correct advice. What say you CR braintrust?
Just how not-into-photography is she, exactly..? The fact that she's curious about other lenses sounds like she's more into it than not into it.. Does she use her camera regularly for fun, and does she use it much in non-auto mode? Personally, I'd say unless she's really into it, going to India with a DSLR with multiple lenses is going to be more trouble than it's worth.
What's she going to be doing there..? Is she going to be doing tourist-ee stuff? Or doing some what of a cultural exchange, and hanging around indoors with family/friends? Visiting historic sites is a day-time thing, and high ISO won't be a problem.. Pretty much all the temple and palace type places that I went to were all open-air outdoorsie. And unless she's in the mountains, it's probably going to be hottt, and maybe humid, if she's on a coast. Maybe this time of the year isn't so bad, though?
Also, if she's just there on vacation, and she's not that into photography, she should be focusing on her trip, and not on taking pictures of her trip.. She doesn't want to get done with her trip and realize she missed the experience because she was too busy with her camera. However, if she's going to be there a while, actually living there, then by all means definitely bring the camera and use it when she can, if that's what she's into.
When I was there, I used my 17-85mm for like 90% of my shots.. I did throw on a telephoto when I was taking pictures of palace details, or monkeys and what not, but most of the time not so much.. I also traveled alone, so I could take my sweet time and not be rushed by anyone, or slow anyone down..
I also had a point and shoot with me, which I used a whole bunch. There is ALLL sorts of crazy stuff going on in the streets of India, and point'n'shoot in hand is waaaaay easier than DSLR in hand. And it's also inconspicuous, which is a GOOD thing in a lot of situations.
Also, in India, a big camera is a magnet for people wanting your money. They're going to get in her shots and then demand money from her, if she's doing tourist-ee stuff, haha. To avoid it, she's going to have to tell them to get lost. A LOT, haha. But they move along.. Or at least they moved along for me (a guy). They'll probably do it if she's got a point and shoot, too, but they probably won't notice quite as quickly..
Anyway, these are things to consider.. If she's really into it, then by all means I highly recommend she brings her Rebel! But if she's not, and just wants pictures for memories, and doesn't really care, I'd really recommend just a point and shoot..
IF she's set on bringing the Rebel, I'd really really really recommend getting the 18-55mm IS. It's all over eBay and craigslist for ridiculously cheap.. And, I'd ALSO recommend the 55-250 IS as others have said, too.. It also is extremely available on the used market.. I wouldn't recommend a prime just before going on a big trip. That's going to be a lot of time playing/messing with camera instead of focusing on the trip! (but again, if she's INTO photography and isn't just there for a quick visit, then sure, a prime is a great lens to play with and use.. But not so much otherwise..). A 50mm prime on an XT for a travel lens? I don't think so. And don't forget, multiple lenses plus camera most likely means a dedicated camera bag.
If she's going to get a point and shoot, I can't say NO to an s95 or s100.. they are awesome... I have an s90.. but if she really isn't THAT into photography, and doesn't really live for RAW format, I don't see why she shouldn't get something like an sx230 or sx260 (affordable travel zoom!).. People are going to tear me a new one for such a suggestion, probably, haha, due to some idea of "questionable" image quality.. but what ever.. We all used ancient point and shoots years ago that were just fine... I had my SD630 with me in India, and that thing rocked. If you buy an s95, you're not going to be zooming in to see the crazy detail work on the Taj Mahal, etc.. All us s90-s100 users are already carrying our DSLRS on trips with us, so we don't need that extra zoom a travel zoom will give you.