Finding the perfect drone for your travel can be difficult – which is why we have shared with you, the best travel drones for all budgets. As eager photographers, we have tried or owned a few of these whilst others are recommended from other travel experts.
Updated April 2021
Pros: This is my favourite travel drone for a few reasons. It is small and lightweight – perfect for travelling with hand luggage only or day trips out when you want to just pop it in your backpack. It has a built-in 4K camera filming 30 fps and 120 fps. It has a maximum range of 5km, which is fantastic for a drone under $1000. There is a ‘smart’ camera mode than means amateur flyers can control this drone with ease.
Cons: Flight time is only 21 minutes. This is a cheaper alternative that is comparable to professional drones but a more expensive option for those looking to capture photographs only or those who drone as a hobby.
Learn more about this drone here. Below is an example of the DJI Mavic Air in action.
All drone shots on the Mavic Air
Pros: Stable and easy to fly – so easy that the company advertise this drone as child-friendly! If you are thinking about learning how to fly a drone, this is a good starter drone, especially if you are unsure. The price makes it a popular choice for budget travellers and the camera captures 720p HD, which isn’t bad for a drone at this price. Altair company are known for their great customer service too.
Cons: Flight time is only 15 minutes and
Learn more about this drone here.
All drone shots on the Altair Aerial
Pros: The Mavic 2 has two varieties – the Pro which offers a high-quality Hasselblad camera whilst the Mavic 2 Zoom offers a lens capable of optical zoom. They are foldable, making them easy to travel with and have a three access gimbal. It also has sensors in all directions, making your flight a safer one.
Cons: This is an expensive drone for novice flyers.
Learn more about the drone here.
All drone shots on the DJI Mavic 2 Pro
Pros: If you are looking for a camera to take some great selfies and holiday snaps with, this is the drone for you. It is pocket-sized, connects to your smartphone and is very durable – it’s blades are covered so it is protected if it crash lands.
Cons: You need a smartphone to fly this drone and the battery and flight height is limited. Don’t expect to fly this drone for much longer than 12 minutes. It also has no gimble and no built-in stabilization so struggles in the wind.
Learn more about this drone here.
Pros: This is a great drone for new flyers who want to really play around with the shots they are getting. The blades have foam guards around them, meaning they are well protected if you were to bump the drone whilst getting your shot. It is also lightweight and pretty affordable.
Pros: This drone is incredibly portable and easy to travel with whilst also having auto-following technology; meaning the camera can detect and follow your face and hand gestures. Because it is so small, it also isn’t subject to most regulations yet still shoots in 4K.
Cons: The range on this camera isn’t massive and it only shoots in 30 FPS. There is also limited stabilization, meaning you may struggle to get a smooth shot in windy weather.
Learn more about this drone here.
All drone shots on the Hover Camera Passport Drone
DJI Spark – We used this drone for some time but when the gimbal was damaged in the Sahara desert, we decided to upgrade to the Mavic Air. The Mavic is more expensive but offers better quality video but we loved the size, lightweight and easy to use controls of the DJI Spark.
DJI Phantom 4 Pro – This is a top of the line drone offering a long flight time, fantastic range, a variety of flight modes and 5 senses to ensure you don’t crash during flight. However, I felt it was unfair to include it in the main list of travel drones because it really isn’t that easy to travel with. You will need to carry this is a specially designed case or bag to make sure it is well protected during those flights.
All drone shots on the DJI Spark
Is it the right drone for me?
It may not always be easy to know if a drone is right for us. Here are a few tips to help you make a decision and also prepare your drone travels!
- Size – when travelling, size really does matter. Have a look at the sizes of each drone and decide whether you really have room for it in your hand luggage.
- Regulations – Some countries will have drone regulations and these often depend on the size of the drone. Read up on these before you travel and make sure you register your drone in your new destination if it is required.
- Practise – Drones aren’t as easy to fly as they may seem. When you first get your drone, practise flying in an open space. Try out the different settings and get comfortable using the drone before you take it in busy and/or tourist areas.
- Battery life – Most affordable drones do not have good battery life. You can buy additional batteries for most drones but make sure you keep an eye on that battery life whilst you fly your drone. If it runs out of battery in the air, it can fall and break or navigate itself back down to earth and you may not be able to find it.
- Can you fly it? – Before any flight, make sure you can check if you are allowed to fly the drone. Drones shouldn’t be flown anywhere near an airport and certain tourist sites and landmarks have banned them altogether. DJI drones have this guide built into the smartphone app but you may also choose to download apps such as the RMY Check app.
Tips for Travelling with a Drone
- Check your destination’s law – The most important thing to remember when travelling with a drone is to check your destination’s laws. Some countries allow drones into the country but require a permit but some countries may take your drone from you and store it at the airport for you to collect on your way back out of the country.
- Invest in a good case – Many drones will come with a travel case, make it easy to carry your drone around. We travel with both the DJI Spark and DJI Mavic Pro, using the cases that come with the DJI Bundle and have never had an issue with drones being damaged on a journey. Either way, you need a protective case for your travel drone.
- Plane travel – You can fly on a plane with a drone but there are a few things to remember. Firstly, batteries must not be stored in your check-in luggage so make sure to keep your drone and batteries in your hand luggage. Also, check your airlines policy; most will allow batteries but some airlines such as American Airlines do not allow passengers to travel with lithium ion batteries that exceed 160 watts.
- Insurance – Again, make sure to check your destination’s drone policy before travelling with a drone but be aware that some countries require liability insurance for your drone. Canada is an example of a country that requires this.
- Airport security – When travelling with a drone through the airport, you will most likely need to remove your drone and batteries from your bag. Remember to always be respectful and polite to the security, they are doing their jobs and may have some questions about your equipment. Also, if you are flying from smaller airports then it is worth giving yourself extra time to check in and go through security as they will be less likely to recognise your drone.
- Travel friendly size – The drones we mention above are all travel friendly because of their weight and size; this is important to consider for your travels. It all depends on how you travel though; we fly a lot but want good footage so we invested in a DJI Mavic Air but we love the DJI Phantom 4. We could use this when taking road trips with plenty of space in the car to store the Phantom but you won’t want to travel with this drone.
- Back up your memory cards – No matter how much you use your drone, make sure to back up your memory card after every flight session to avoid losing footage.
- Extra batteries – There is nothing worse than travelling somewhere stunning, flying a drone and then it running out of battery before you have all the shots you want. Most drone batteries will last 20-30 minutes so buy and bring extra batteries only our days out.
- Avoid crowds – When flying a drone in public, avoid taking off and landing in busy areas. Not only does this minimise any accidents but it also gives you plenty of head space to focus on controlling your drone properly.
- Privacy rules – Remember that flying your drone over a beautiful landscape or beach is one thing but flying it over your neighbours garden is another. When flying a drone, avoid flying it over someones property or private space, especially if you re flying it low.
- Maintain line of sight – A rule in most countries now is that you must be able to see your drone. There is always a possibility that direct video streaming could malfunction or disconnect, so being able to see your drone is essential.
- Respect animals – It maybe tempting to flying your drone near animals or birds but the noice of drones is actually scary for them. Make sure to fly your drone away from animals; especially birds – these are just as likely to attack your drone rather than fly away from it.
- Temperatures – Keep an eye on the battery life, especially in the cold weather. When taking our drone to Harbin Ice Festival in China, we learnt very quickly that drones to not fly too well in -25°C. Always check the battery life when you are in very hot or very cold weather to avoid any accidents.