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How to Travel with a Drone?

  • By Finnoy Travel
  • Updated: 12/20/19 | December 13, 2019
Castillo de Santa Barbara in Alicante, Spain

We took this aerial shot of Castillo de Barbara in Alicante, Spain. You must familiarize yourself with local laws and carefully abide them when flying a drone.

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Table of Contents

  1. A Drone for Traveller
    1. Our Drone: DJI Spark
  2. How to Buy a Good Drone?
    1. Physical Size
    2. Flying Time
    3. Camera
    4. Flight Range and Modes
    5. Remote Controller
  3. Drone Travel Tips
    1. A Drone inside an Airplane
    2. Memory Cards and Backup Capacity
    3. Local Laws and Insurances
  4. Which Drone to Buy for Travel Shooting?
    1. Cheap Drone for Learning
    2. DJI Spark
    3. DJI Mavic Mini
  5. Frequently Asked Questions
  6. Bottom Line

A Drone for Traveller

Camera drones have become affordable that many travellers are considering to buy one. With a drone, you can to record holiday memories into a different level. However, due to the wide availability of many kinds of drones in the market, finding a good one isn't that simple. In this article, we give you tips for buying a good travel drone suitable for your budget. Continue reading to get learn also our advice how to travel with a drone safely.

Our Drone: DJI Spark

Finnoy Travel have had DJI Spark more than half a year now. So far, we have been flying it only in Finland and Spain because of practical problems we have faced. Travelling with a drone is sometimes complicated due to certain factors. Continue reading to find out.

Green field in Helsinki

A drone's camera works best on a bright summer day. This photo was taken by DJI Spark in Helsinki.

In May 2019, we headed to Israel. We were planning to do aerial photographing there but according to Israeli law, we would have needed to obtain a license. Getting a license was too complicated and would have cost so we decided not to take a drone with us that time.

During our summer trip around the Mediterranean Sea, we had a plan to fly our drone again. We had mistakenly booked a flight by Volotea which does not allow to carry drones inside the cabin or in the hold. The only obvious option for Finnoy Travel was to leave the drone home again. Usually, all airlines allow to have drones on-board but Volotea is an unfortunate exception.

We have also been in Germany but we left the drone home while we would have needed a liability insurance. Actually we have one, but we ran out of time to collect all the needed documents.

This introduction may sound pessimistic but actually we have just been unlucky and we hadn't done our background job well enough. When travelling with a drone, you just need to prepare well to avoid such mistakes. A good research to your travel destination regarding the existing laws for flying drones is an important part of your travel itinerary. Finally, for our recent trip, we were able to fly our drone in Alicante, Spain without any incidents and we are planning to do the same during our Portugal trip soon.

How to Buy a Good Drone?

If you do not own a drone yet, your first tasks will be to buy one and learn to fly it. We list the most important things that you need take into account when choosing your first drone.

Physical Size

As a traveller, you do not want to carry a drone that takes much space in your luggage. The drone should be physically small as possible but still, to have all the functions you need. So skip looking for all the heavy and big drones but start looking and comparing for only small sized drones.

Our DJI Spark is small weighing less than 300 grams. Another good and more modern option would be DJI Mavic Mini which is weighing even less. Just ignore all drones weighing multiple kilograms if you are concerned about your luggage weight allowance.

Flying Time

Flying a consumer drone drains the drone's battery fast and the flight time with a single battery is often less than 15 minutes. While travelling, charging the batteries is not always feasible as when being home.

Choose a drone that has a long enough flying time with a single battery.We do recommend to buy at least 3 spare batteries to carry along with for every single flying session to maximize your potentials of getting the desired quality videos. Make sure that you buy also a good charger to be able to charge all the batteries simultaneously and quickly.

Camera

Let us be honest. Nobody wants poor quality photos! Every traveller wishes for clear and sharp photos and at least full HD videos. When buying your first drone, take note that the drone's camera plays an important role.

It is necessary that the drone's camera has enough pixels. 12M pixels are often enough but more is better. There are also two other things you need to take into account.

The drone is vibrating a lot while flying. It must have 3-axis gimbal to stabilize the image. For example, our Spark has only 2-axis gimbal and digital stabilization for the 3rd axis. The image quality is good enough with digital stabilization but it would be much better with a real 3-axis gimbal. DJI Mavic Mini has a real 3-axis gimbal.

Another important thing is the camera's ability to perform in bad lighting conditions. Most likely, you are not flying the drone during nights but you may fly in the winter or during a cloudy weather. The camera must be good enough to film in poor lightning conditions.

Flight Range and Modes

The drone must have a long enough range. We recommend to buy a drone that is able to fly at least 1,000 meters away. The drone should have automated flight modes to make flying easier and to automate simple tasks. Get familiar with the drone's functions before making a purchase decision.

We think that the following functions are absolutely the minimum to have: An accurate GPS, an ability to hover in windy conditions, an automated return-to-home function and automated functions to fly straight.

Remote Controller

Drones come usually without a remote controller and you need to pay more for it. Almost all drones can be flown with a mobile app but it is much more complicated than using a remote controller combined with the mobile app. Pay 50 to 100 euros more and buy a remote control too. The flying will be much more easier and also safer. A remote control normally increases the drone's range too.

Drone Travel Tips

You have now an idea what kind of drone you should buy. The next thing is to learn to fly the drone in your home country in good weather conditions.

Finally, if you have purchase your own drone, we assure you develop your skills fast. When you are ready to travel with the drone, you need buy a few extra items. You must have a bag or box for your drone not to break it during transportation. Also, lithium batteries must be stored in fire proof cases/bags while travelling with an airplane. Buy also spare parts as propellers because they may get broken easily.

A Drone inside an Airplane

Not all airlines allow you to carry drones. Consider this when booking for your flights. So the simple rule is, Don't fly with airlines that prohibits you to take drones with!

The drone must be taken inside the cabin. The batteries are not allowed to be attached to the drone but they should be stored in fire-proof cases. It may also be enough to use tape to prevent batteries to get short-circuited.

Fireproof drone battery bag

We ordered fire-proof battery bags for our Spark's lithium-polymer batteries.

It is not allowed to fly with batteries that have more than 100 Wh energy. Usually, small drones' batteries have much smaller capacity so this should not become a problem. Always check the capacity limit from the airline.

Battery capacities are often measured by mAh. You can convert mAh unit to Wh with the following formula: mAh x Battery voltage / 1000. Airlines are usually using Watt hour (Wh) as unit of measurement for batteries in their written guidelines in contrast to what is indicated in the batteries.

Memory Cards and Backup Capacity

Photos and videos consume a lot of memory capacity. You should have at least two separate memory cards for your drone. The cards must be fast enough to store 4K video. Always follow the manufacturers recommendations, but a memory card with at least 30 Mb/s write rate should be enough for Full HD videos. It is also a good idea to take a portable hard disk with to backup videos already while travelling.

Local Laws and Insurances

The last but not the least important thing is to get familiar with your destination's existing laws concerning drones. Flying a drone is not allowed in every country. You may even end up to a jail after flying the drone in a wrong place!

No flying of drone sign in Helsinki

If you see a 'No drone zone' sign, comply with it to avoid troubles with authorities.

Use internet to find out information about the destination's laws. Make sure that your drone will fulfill the requirements. Get familiar with the maximum flight altitude and distances. Find out if there are no-drone zones nearby the destination or airports.

UAV Coach is a good starting point to find information about drone laws.

When you are sure that flying a drone is legal, consider having a liability insurance. You may be able to cause a lot of damage to third parties with your drone so an insurance will protect you. In some countries, it is mandatory to have an insurance. Of course, if you are flying far from the cities and people, the risk will be significantly lower.

Which Drone to Buy for Travel Shooting?

There are multiple good drones in the market, but we introduce two good options.

Cheap Drone for Learning

In the beginning, we recommend you to buy any cheap and simple drone for learning to fly with it. Don't pay more than 100 euros for a learning drone. Flying a drone isn't simple in windy conditions so practicing is needed.

Check drone prices on Amazon UK.

DJI Spark

When your skills have developed, you may buy your first real drone. We have DJI Spark that is quite inexpensive but still of good quality. DJI is globally one the best drone manufactures so the drone will give great value for your money.

Serena in Espoo

A drone gives you a chance to photograph from new perspective. This aerial view of Serena Waterpark in Espoo has been shot by our DJI Spark.

DJI Spark has been in the market already a few years. If the products is still available and the price is good, it may be a good choice.

DJI Spatk

DJI Spark weights less than 300 grams. Without its propeller shields, it is really compact to take with.

Check DJI Spark prices on Amazon UK.

DJI Mavic Mini

Because DJI Spark is not a so new model anymore, DJI Mavic Mini may be a better choice. The price level and the functions are quite similar the but the drone is of better quality.

Check DJI Mavic Mini prices on Amazon UK.

Bottom Line

A drone will take your holiday photographing to a next level. Before buying one, compare the market carefully. Learn to fly in your home country before heading overseas to ensure you can fly a drone safely!

Before a journey, do a background work well. Learn to pack the drone safely. Investigate the laws and airline's regulations as well. Take an insurance if required.

After good preparations, travelling with a drone will be rewarding. Those instagrammable photos and videos you will take with a drone will surely make great holiday memories.

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If you found this information interesting or useful, please remember to SHARE the article with your family and friends on Facebook!

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