You decided to go traveling with your drone. Until you suddenly ask yourself: is it actually allowed to bring your drone on a plane or, what are the rules for drones in the country you are visiting?
Don’t worry this and other questions I will be covering in my 5 tips to travel with a drone smooth and without stress.
Check the drone regulations
in most countries, it is allowed to bring your drone but there are some countries where drones are banned. I would suggest doing good research on this as it can cost you your drone. In Asia, it is not allowed to fly around temples and other holy places. Here is a list of 15 countries where drones are completely banned:
- Cote d’Ivoire
- Saudi Arabia
Put your batteries in your carry-on
It is important to put your batteries in your carry-on because they are not allowed in checked luggage. This has to do with safety reasons so keep that in mind. Your drone itself is up to you if you want to put it in your checked or carry on luggage. If possible I would always suggest bringing it with you because drones are expensive and you don’t want to risk losing it. If you do decide to put it in your checked in luggage put it in the middle of your bag. Wrap some clothes around it so it’s hard to reach and it won’t get damaged.
Take travel insurance for your drone
If you have a travel insurance chances are that your drone will fall under the coverage. It is a good idea to check your insurance policy before you leave. If your drone falls in the water or gets stolen you will get your money back. Is your drone not covered? maybe it’s a good idea to put it in your insurance. (moment of silence for the fallen ones..)
Use a case to protect your drone
Protection for most drones is easy to find on Amazon and everyone who is traveling with their drone should be using it. I always like to go with hard cases since it also prevents bending and breaking in your bag. The soft ones are more against scratches but they work less effective in a full backpack. There are a lot of portable hard cases for every drone.
Buy the drone that fits you best
If you already have a drone you can skip this section. If you don’t have one, it is important that you pick the right one. At the time of writing this article, there are three real options to choose from. Dji spark, Dji Mavic air and the Dji Mavic pro/pro 2. Notice that they are all by Dji this is because at this time I would say there is no reason to pick another drone company. The drones from Dji are reliable and offer a good value for money.
I’m using the DJI Spark and I think it is the best drone money can buy. The size of this drone is perfect and fits in every bag. The biggest plus I find is that you can charge the Spark with a USB. This means you can use a power bank to charge your drone. For someone who is traveling to remote areas, this is by far your best and most portable option. The Spark looks like a toy and people will not be intimidated by it. Great because you will not get unwanted attention when flying.
The camera of the spark is not to bad either. It films in 1080p and the quality looks pretty decent. The biggest downside of the camera is the missing log profiles. If it would have those profiles it would have been easier to color grade your video in post-production.
Unfortunately, the battery life of the spark is not that good. Also, the legs are not foldable. Still, it’s way more compact than the Mavic air because of the charger.
- Small and lightweight
- Silent and undercover
- Video compared to price and size
- charge with USB
- Not foldable
- No 4k and no Picture profiles
- Short battery life (about 10 minutes)
Dji Mavic air
Some say the Mavic air is the “Spark 2”. And in some way it is. The Mavic air has more battery life, you are able to shoot video in 4k (with picture profiles) and the legs are foldable. Overall the Mavic air is a great performer and the video quality is just amazing. If you are looking to get the best video out of a portable drone than you can not beat this one.
The biggest downside for me from the Mavic air is the charger. Unlike with the spark you are not able to charge the Mavic air with USB. The charger that comes with the drone is huge and is almost the size of the drone itself. So although this might seem like a portable drone, in the end, I would say it really isn’t. Another downside is the price, at about $900 it is almost double the price of a spark.
The battery life of the Mavic air is significantly better than the spark. One battery gives you about 15 minutes of flight time. All three drones have smart batteries. This means if they run out of power they will return to the point where it took of.
This drone is for people who mostly use it around their house or take it with them on a short trip. I would not advise this drone to backpackers who have to carry it in their backpack.
Dji Mavic pro
This was Dji’s first portable drone and it was a great success. Like the name says this drone was made for the pros. But since DJI released the Air there is not much reason to buy this drone. The Mavic pro also shoots in 4k and has the same picture profiles as the Mavic air has. The pro shoots at a bitrate of 60Mbps and the Air at 100Mbps. This means that the Mavic air stores more information in the video than the pro does.
Besides the battery life which is best of all three at 27 minutes, there is not much reason to still buy this drone. The price goes down slowly. If you want the cheapest portable 4k drone with good battery and decent portability than maybe you should consider it. Else just go with one of the others.
Dji Mavic pro 2
The latest release from Dji is the brand new Mavic pro 2 and Mavic pro 2 zoom. Both two excellent drones with premium features. The difference between the two, like the name says, is that the zoom version is able to zoom and out in the air. The original Mavic pro 2 has a better sensor which means the video quality is slightly better.
They have the best battery life of all drones on this list. Each battery can last up to 31 minutes according to Dji. This is a drone for you if you are looking for the best of the best. Portability of this drone is about the same as the original Mavic pro (about the size of a pack of milk).
Portability and price: Spark
Video quality and size: Mavic air
Cheapest 4k: Mavic pro
Video and newest: Mavic pro 2 / pro 2 zoom