There are many people out there who believe that merely having a fancy digital SLR (single-lens reflex) camera will make them a better photographer. This of course is complete absurdity. I mean, no one becomes a better chef because they have a fancy stove; skills come from the knowledge and experience of the person behind the equipment, not the equipment itself. You don't necessarily need to have the top of the line camera; in most of my travels around the world, I've actually only used a little point-and-shoot camera - after having grown tired of lugging around a big SLR on extended trips - because I've found that you can still take beautiful photos if you just know how to take one (and without all the weight). In fact, every photo in my The Global Trip "Elsewhere" slideshow of images around the world was actually shot with a pocket-sized low-res Sony Cybershot.
However, I'll admit that you definitely get a better quality image when you use an SLR with a good lens (if you have the patience to carry it with you and set up your shots, that is). A decent walkaround lens will give you options that a point-and-shoot can't, like softer focus and greater depth of field. (That's the photographer term for when subjects are in focus while everything else is blurred out.) Also, there's a certain cachet when you travel with a big camera - although if you don't know what you're doing, you'll automatically stand out as a poser (one of those frowned-upon people who think a better camera makes a better photographer).