When you’re traveling, you want to get plenty of pictures that you can bring back home and share with your loved ones. You can take generic photos of your group standing in front of a monument, or you can spice things up a little.
Using drones for travel to take aerial pics of the area will give you breathtaking results that you can show everyone you know. The question is, can you bring your drone into the country you’re traveling to?
How do you go about taking a drone on a plane? Do you need to pack the batteries separately? We have the answer to all your burning questions right here.
Check out this guide to learn everything you need to know about traveling with a drone.
Buy the Right Drone
The first rule of flying with a drone is to choose the right one. You can’t and shouldn’t take the largest drone you can buy with you. It may take some great pictures, but it’s not practical.
You won’t be able to fit it in your suitcase, and it’s not going to be easy to get it past airport security. We recommend that you get a drone that you can fold such as the Mavic 3.
It has some heft, but you should be able to fit it in your suitcase as long as you have it folded. The Mavic is also quiet, so it won’t disturb the locals or the wildlife.
Pick Up a Good Case
Buying a drone isn’t cheap. You want to protect your investment by choosing a sturdy case for travel. The last thing you want is for it to bump around freely in your bag.
That’s a good way to break it. The case will provide plenty of cushion for your expensive device no matter if you put it in your suitcase or carry on.
Packing Your Drone to Go On a Plane
Before you pack your drone, it’s a good idea to talk to the airline. They’ll be able to tell you if you should put your drone in your carry-on or suitcase.
If you have a choice, it’s recommended that you place the drone in your carry-on. It’s not unheard of for your luggage to get stolen or go missing. If that happens, you’re two thousand dollars in the hole for your device.
It’s also a good idea to let airport security know that you have a drone. These devices are still pretty new, so having one will raise a few eyebrows.
You may end up getting detained and questioned. If this happens, try to be kind and understanding. The security team is only doing their jobs.
Packing Your Batteries
Most drones use a lithium battery. You can take these on the plane, but it’s going to have to go in your carry-on bag. If they go through customs, they could catch fire.
Some airlines have other unique restrictions that you should know about concerning batteries. For example, you may only be able to take two on the plane with you, or you might have to put them in plastic baggies.
In most cases, there are watt restrictions. If your batteries are over 100 watts, you probably won’t be allowed to bring them onto the plane. No matter what, it’s always good to call and ask about your batteries ahead of time, or you may get caught up at the airport.
When you pick up a bag, consider grabbing one that’s made especially with lithium batteries in mind. If your battery does catch on fire, these bags will mitigate some of the damage away from the rest of your things.
Brush Up on Drone Laws
Before you pack up your drone, it’s good to look up the laws for the destination you’re traveling to. Most locations have drone restrictions in place.
In certain countries, it’s illegal to have one. If you bring your device to one of these places, airport security will take it from you, and you won’t get it back.
Drones are legal in the US, but there are regulations you’ll have to adhere to. You won’t be able to fly your drone over another person. You can’t place it above a person’s private property.
There are no-flight zones all over the place, and you can’t fly it over a natural disaster of any kind. Drones are small, but they can still get in the way of a rescue operation.
In some countries such as the US, you’ll have to register your drone. If you fail to do so, you’ll have to pay a fine and your drone may be confiscated.
The good news is that registering is easy. You can do it right on the FAA’s website and pay a small fee. After you get that out of the way, you’ll be good to go.
Bring Along a Few Extra Batteries
Going back to batteries for a few moments, it’s always good to have a few spares. Drones can’t stay powered on for very long without a charge. You might be able to get half an hour to 45 minutes out of it, but that’s going to be able it.
What’s annoying about it is that the batteries almost take an entire night to charge after you drain them. So, having a few spares on you will extend your flight time by a lot. When you get back to the hotel, you can charge them while you sleep.
If you’re not going to be staying in a hotel, you should pick up a car inverter before you go. It will allow you to charge up your drone batteries using your vehicle.
Bring Along Spare Propellers
The thing about drones is that propellers can be pretty flimsy. You can chip one by simply landing the device the wrong way. You won’t be able to fly your drone with a damaged propeller.
That’s like asking for an accident to happen. That’s why you should bring some spare propellers. They’re not that expensive, and having them will prevent you from having to throw in the towel when the ones that came with your drone break.
Stay Out of Crowds
Most places do have laws against sending your drone out into a crowd. Hovering it above someone is a privacy violation. There’s also the fact that drones are a piece of technology and technology tends to be pretty finicky.
It could stop working at any time and crash. If it hurts a person, you’ll be responsible for it. You should especially take this tip to heart if you’re new at operating a drone.
Have a Plan
You bought the best drone with camera for travel. It cost you a pretty penny, but you’re excited about all the great pictures that you’re going to take during the trip.
That was until you crashed it into a tree a few minutes into your vacation. This is a common scenario that you can avoid by making a flight plan before you send your drone out.
Look around for common obstacles like trees and take a mental note of them. By familiarizing yourself with the area, you’ll know exactly where not to send your device.
Check the Weather
Always check the weather forecast before flying. The best DJI drone for travel is pretty sturdy. It can withstand light rain and snowfall, but no drone is 100% waterproof.
They’re not designed to handle a torrential rain shower. You also have to be careful of the wind. A huge gust could send your drone into an obstacle.
It’s also hard to get a good picture when your device is wobbling all over the place. Taking photos when there’s a little bit of fog out is fine. You can capture some cool images.
When the fog is so thick that you can’t see your hand in front of your face, though, you should rethink your flight plan. You won’t spot obstacles in time, and you’re not going to be able to take proper pictures.
Pay attention to the weather temperatures as well. If it’s too chilly out, the drone’s propellers could freeze over, which will result in a crash.
Go At the Right Time
The best time to take your drone out is super early in the morning or late in the afternoon. For one, the lighting around these time frames is out of this world.
For two, you won’t run into near as many people. There are not many individuals that enjoy going out right as the sun is coming up. By the time the sun is going down, most people are relaxing in their homes.
Pack Basic Repair Tools
Accidents do happen when you’re flying a drone. You could accidentally fly it too far out of range and send it spiraling to the ground. There could be a random tree that you didn’t account for.
Either way as long as the accident was minor enough, having a basic repair kit with you will have your drone ready for action again in no time. Again, bring a few extra propellers with you because they tend to break.
Be Friendly to the Spectators
No matter how hard you try to avoid a crowd, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll draw in some people. This is especially true if you head to a country where drones aren’t that common.
When you begin to gather attention, it’s important that you don’t panic. You don’t want to be rude to the spectators or run them off. After all, they only want to see the device.
If someone is curious about your drone, talk to them and offer to take their picture. You’ll put a big smile on their face, and you may even make a new friend.
Maintain Line of Sight
Again, if you send your drone too far out of range, it will drop to the ground and crash. To avoid this, you want to keep it where you can see it at all times.
This way, if it does drop, you’ll be able to see where it landed and recover it. Keeping your drone in sight also makes it easier for you to avoid dangerous obstacles.
Beware of Animals
The last tip we have for you is to be on the lookout for the local wildlife. Birds and drones are not a good combo. If a bird feels threatened, it will attack your drone.
The best thing that you can do in this situation is to send your drone straight up as fast as you can. The bird will then be able to identify that it’s not a predator and leave it alone.
Land the drone once you get it out of the danger zone and take it somewhere with less avian wildlife. Birds aren’t the only animals that you should be careful about. The sounds that drones make can be irritating to dogs.
Your Guide to Using Drones for Travel
Using drones for travel can be a great way to get some unbelievable family photographs. As you can see, though, you’ve got to be careful with them.
If you take your drone to a country that doesn’t allow them, you could lose it for good. You also have to be on the lookout for people and wildlife.
It’s good to bring along a few extra batteries and propellers, and you’ll need to talk to the airport before you pack up your drone. Yeah, there’s a lot that you have to consider.
Now that you know how to pack your drone, it’s time to learn where to take it. Visit the Travel section of our blog to get ideas for your next vacation.