Traveling with a drone: How to avoid all problems

Drones are getting more and more popular. All the amazing drone shots you see popping up everywhere isn’t really helping. There are even a lot of big Instagram pages dedicated to the most epic drone shots. It comes as no surprise that more and more travelers are carrying around drones trying to capture something epic. This post is dedicated to how I use my drone in a responsible matter to avoid any problems.


While my Instagram account is growing, my drone pictures are too. I’d say that they are one of my best performing Instagram posts. While everyone is traveling to the famous spots to take the same pictures everyone else is taking, drone pictures are still very unique.

I’m sure a lot of you have seen this picture of Kelingking beach. But how many of you have seen this drone shot?

Exactly.

Bringing a drone on the plane

Bringing a drone on a plane is actually very easy. It’s easier than bringing a laptop! My first time traveling with a drone I was very uncertain if I’m even allowed to even bring it.

That was one year ago and there wasn’t that much information out there. But things have changed and luckily now there is. I have a DJI Mavic Air and here’s how I bring my drone.

Quick law check

Please check the laws of the country you are visiting. It is rare, but some countries ban the ownership of drones and make them completely illegal. Morocco is one of those countries. I kind of illegally imported and exported a drone into Morocco last year. Luckily I didn’t end up having troubles.

A quick law check can be done on uavcoach. They have a list of all laws for each country.

Carry-on luggage

I always bring my drone in my carry-on luggage. Airline companies lose luggage all the time and I don’t want to lose my drone. Please, always keep your most valuable items in your carry-on luggage.

I keep one battery in my drone, I don’t detach it. I never ran into any problems with this. My drone stays in its carry case. The extra batteries I also keep in my carry-on luggage. Never keep batteries in your checked luggage! It is illegal and dangerous. Your checked luggage goes through big temperature changes. This can make batteries explode!

The same counts for the remote. I keep the remote in my carry-on luggage. Most drone remotes, if not all, have a built-in battery. The only way you can bring it is in your carry-on.

Checked luggage

I don’t recommend you to put your drone in your checked luggage. But it is possible and allowed. I had to do it once before to get it back out of Morocco without it being confiscated.

If you choose to put your drone in your checked luggage, make sure to detach all batteries and bring it in your carry-on luggage. That’s all.

Going through security

This part is actually super easy. I just have my drone in my carry-on luggage like any other electronic device. Unlike laptops, you don’t even have to take it out! You can keep it inside your bag while going through the scanner. This why I said that bringing a drone is easier than bringing a laptop. You just put in your carry-on and forget about it.

One thing to look out for is the number of batteries you bring. Airline companies have a limit on the amount of Wh (Watt-hour) you can bring. Wh is the measurement of how much energy your battery contains. I never had any problems with 3 Mavic air batteries, MacBook Pro and 10,000 mAh power bank.

Where to fly

Now that you successfully brought your drone with you to your destination, you should know where and when to fly. So far, I haven’t registered my drone in any country nor did I buy any licenses. I just use it with common sense in mind and have never run into any problems. However, this can change in the future as drones are getting more and more popular. Resulting in the number of irresponsible drone owners rising too.

I never use my drone in busy cities, on busy streets, in overcrowded tourist spots, etc. Modern drones have a lot of safety features built-in, but they do crash. You don’t want your drone crashing into a motorbike, car, or even worse, a person!

I use my drone in open areas and nature spots. Usually, I go early, before tourist time and I have the whole place for myself or other photographers. Some places are better when you go in the evening, closer to closing time. It all depends on the situation. For most places, the tourist flow starts at 10 am and ends at 4 pm. Some places differ from this like famous sunrise spots can have thousands of tourists at 6 am!

Look at this shot in Venice. San Marco Square is completely empty! Flying a drone is illegal in Venice without approval or license. Waking up before sunrise solved all problems. There is no one here, I’m not bothering anyone and I cannot hurt anyone. Also, there is no police around!

Conclusion

I find that traveling with a drone is fairly easy. Security doesn’t give a glimpse at a drone. It’s just any other electronic device. Just make sure to always put all batteries in your carry-on luggage. And make sure your destination country doesn’t have a full ban on the ownership of a drone and everything will be fine. You can check all drone laws for each country at uavcoach

If you’re not getting an approval letter, permit or license, please be responsible. Fly in open area’s where tourism is low. Don’t fly in busy streets, hot tourist attractions or anywhere where people can get hurt.

Most importantly “Have fun!”. Owning a drone is a lot of fun. It’s a relatively new way to explore an area and to get creative. Drone shots are wonderful, many people love them. Getting a good shot can give your Instagram account a big boost.

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