When traveling with a drone, there are many things you need to put into consideration if you want to get the most out of your drone.
Drones are, without doubt, one of the greatest inventions in the 21st century. They allow us to view the world from a perspective that was either too expensive or impossible before drones.
If you love traveling, a drone can quickly become one of your most prized possessions as it helps you capture beautiful moments and places you encounter during your travels to different corners of the globe.
In this post we’ll share 19 tips to help you take your drone on the road and travel confidently, taking some amazing footage for memories that will last a lifetime. I’ve also included a bonus treat at the bottom of the page, my own embarrassing efforts while leaning how to fly a drone.
But before we get going, let’s just have a quick look at a few FAQs about traveling with a drone.
FAQs on traveling with a drone
Can you travel internationally with a drone?
It depends on the applicable laws in the country you are traveling to. Some countries do not allow drones at all while most others have their own laws regarding drone use. Check the drone laws for the country you plan to travel to and follow them to the letter. Don’t forget to bring your license with you.
Can I take a drone on a plane?
It depends on the rules of the plane. For instance, American Airlines doesn’t allow passengers to travel with drones that exceed 160 watt-hours. Always check the airline’s policy before taking your drone with you and stay below their watt-hour limit.
Are drones allowed in hand luggage?
Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which is what your drone uses, must always be carried in your carry-on bag. You should never check the batteries in as they can be a fire hazard when scanned with x-rays. The drone itself, however, can be carried in your carry-on bag or in checked luggage. You should always check the airport’s policy.
Do I need special insurance to fly my drone?
It depends on the country you are in. In the US, you don’t need insurance to fly a drone commercially or for recreational purposes. In Canada, you need liability insurance to fly a drone commercially but none for recreational purposes.
How much does drone insurance cost?
Drone insurance policies range from around $600 to $1,000 per year with $1 million in liability coverage. This is for lightweight drones weighing less than 15 pounds and used for commercial purposes. Most policies don’t cover loss or damage of a drone.
The following are 19 tips for traveling safely with a drone:
1. Learn and respect all the drone laws for every country you will be traveling to
This is very important. As drones become more popular all over the world, different countries are finding it necessary to come up with drone laws to govern what people can and can’t do with drones, and they are all different. People who don’t respect the rules give all drone fans a bad name and run the risk of encouraging even tighter regulations, so it is important to respect all drone laws.
When traveling with a drone, you have to do your due diligence about the drone laws applicable in the places you’ll be visiting so that you abide by them. It is certainly worth checking if you are required to register your drone, in many places it is one of the first things you’ll have to do.
2. Travel with your drone as carry-on luggage
A drone is an expensive and fragile piece of equipment, and you don’t want it being handled by airport luggage staff. Also, drone batteries are made of lithium, and they can easily cause a fire hazard when scanned by x-rays.
As such, you should avoid checking in your drone and instead, carry the drone and accessories with you in your carry-on bag. You will have to check the airport policy first though as some may require you to transport your drone in check-in luggage.
3. Be nice to airport security
With airport security, cooperation and politeness can really go a long way. Drones are not common, and there’s a high chance that airport security will have a lot of questions for you before allowing you to pass through their checkpoints. Being polite and responsive to their queries will make your experience faster.
4. Buy a travel friendly drone
Drones come in different shapes and sizes. For instance, the Phantom 4 and Mavic Pro are both popular drones that are both made by DJI. However, the bigger size of the Phantom 4 makes it difficult for traveling with across multiple countries even though it is an excellent drone. The Mavic Pro, on the other hand, is an excellent drone for traveling due to its compact size.
5. Have a good case
A drone case is essential when traveling with a drone as it protects your drone and makes it comfortable to carry around. With a case to protect it, you can throw your drone into any bag without worrying about anything happening to it.
6. Have extra drone batteries
The best drones in the market right now average about 20-30 minutes of flight time on a full battery. Often this is not enough to record everything you need to. Therefore, extra batteries are vital to avoid losing flight time.
With additional batteries, you can easily switch batteries then continue recording your videos or taking pictures as the other batteries charge up.
You might also need to pack a car inverter to help you charge your drone batteries in vehicles.
7. Use neutral density filters
Neutral Density filters are a must-have item for your travels. Most drones come with fixed aperture leaving the shutter speed and ISO to achieve a balanced exposure. When in bright sunlight, the footage quality can decrease as the shutter speed increases leaving you with shaky footage. This is why you need neutral density filters.
8. Know your charging time
How long does it take for your drone battery to charge fully? You should know this so that you can plan accordingly for your flights.
9. Avoid crowds
First of all, flying a drone near crowds is usually prohibited under most countries’ drone laws to protect people’s privacy. Also, flying your drone near a group puts them at risk if anything goes wrong. Drones can run into technical difficulties any time, and even though a drone is small, it can cause terrible injuries if it crashes into a person.
10. Always have a flight plan
Before sending your drone up in the air, particularly in a new place, it is important to first come up with a flight plan. This allows you to plan for how you will record the footage you need in time and also ensures that the drone stays in range during the entire flight. Take note of trees, power lines, buildings, and other large objects that you need to stay away from.
11. Learn how to fly your drone manually
Sometimes you may not have direct video streaming when flying your drone or even worse, you could lose it mid-flight. If you know how to operate your drone manually, you can quickly fly it back to your location for a safe landing.
12. Maintain line of sight while flying
You should always keep your drone within your visual line of sight so that even if your direct video streaming is inactive or malfunctioning, you may still be able to see the drone and bring it back to you safely.
13. Be aware of animals
Some animals, particularly birds and dogs, don’t really like drones as the sound they make may be scary to them. Some bird species, such as seagulls, may actually attempt to attack the drone thinking it’s another animal.
You should always try to be aware of any animals in the area you are flying in and keep a safe distance from them. This also applies for game drives, and most wildlife parks will already have strict guidelines regarding drones.
14. Be cautious in cold weather
We all know that there has never been a friendship between electronics and cold/wet weather. Consumer drones are not really designed to operate below freezing temperatures or in rainy conditions. If you are visiting a cold region, be careful as sometimes drones can fall out of the sky in extreme conditions.
15. Fly at the best times to shoot
According to most drone owners, the best time to take drone photos or videos is early in the morning, during or just after sunrise, and in the evening, during or just before sunset. This is because the lighting is fantastic during these times and there will likely be fewer people around.
16. Allow additional time for flying
You should not be so occupied with setting up the drone and capturing footage that you miss the experience of the location you’re touring. Setting up your drone and capturing footage will take some time, so make sure you allocate enough time for that and still leave enough time for you to enjoy your moment too.
17. Carry basic repair tools
You never know what will happen during the trip. Your drone could crash or get damaged while in the middle of nowhere. If you have repair tools with you always, it is possible to fix your drone wherever you are.
You’ll also need to carry extra spare parts, especially the propellers, since they are usually the first part to get damaged after a crash.
18. Have enough storage space and back up memory cards
One of the things you want to avoid is being unable to record due to insufficient storage space. You don’t want to be forced to delete some items to create room for more. If you can, bring an extra memory card to be on the safe side.
19. Be friendly to spectators
There’s a high chance that many people you will encounter during your travels have never seen a drone in action. As such, you will likely attract some attention from the locals who also want to view outstanding drone images or footage. Take this as an opportunity to chat with them and even offer to take their photos or videos with your drone. You could make lots of new friends by being polite.
*Bonus tip: Have Fun!
Your trip is not just about flying drones and recording footage. Take the time to enjoy your trip and all it has to offer. Don’t forget to take amazing dronies to show off to your friends on social media!
My personal drone skills
I can’t finish without sharing my little montage. This was back with my first drone that didn’t even have altitude hold. The difference with modern drones is amazing, but learning t fly with one of these was certainly a challenge.