Guest post by Paul Archer from DronesGator.com, check out his YouTube channel!
Heading off somewhere? Carrying a drone with you on holidays could be the best travel buddy to capture your most unforgettable moments and take shots of places beyond your reach. There might be precautions to take, though when traveling with a drone through security.
Before starting, you should know what drone to pick. My main recommendation for a compact, foldable yet amazing camera drone would be the DJI Mavic Air. However I have also created a tool for searching drones for sale so you can filter them by price, battery life, camera quality and a lot more!
Here are some essential travel tips for you to know when traveling with a drone:
1. Check first whether flying a drone in the place you are going to is allowed
Know and respect the drone laws of a country. Having a drone nowadays is becoming popular and its practical, commercial and even personal usage have prompted new rules and regulations around the world. The legal regulations for drones in countries may vary, but generally most nations permit ‘unmanned aerial vehicles’ to operate in their airspace with conditions. Some countries may require drone operators to acquire a mandatory license from their respective defense and civil aviation office. It is your responsibility to know and follow the domestic drone regulations in a country. Otherwise, you might end up getting penalized or being legally liable for the irresponsible winging of a drone in restricted zones.
Determine the policies and requirements on carrying a drone in the country you are visiting. You may check with the country’s defense or civil aviation office for rules and regulations to find out the processes for accomplishing all requirements.
2. Have information checkpoints and provide documentation
Majority of encounters happen in the airport when drone operators traveling abroad are asked for licenses and other documents to carry drone equipment. Although drones are widely used nowadays, information about policies for carrying and usage have not been standardized globally, especially at airports. Most owners may find themselves in the situation of explaining why they are allowed to travel with a drone to security officers, flight personnel, and customs officials. So it is important to carry with you all necessary documents and you should have some references ready when asked for drone guidelines in the country you are visiting.
3. Travel with your drone as carry-on luggage
Equipment such as a drone is really expensive and fragile, so it needs careful handling. Avoid checking in your drone, when possible, unless the airline policy requires all equipment to be transported in the cargo hold. Make sure also to determine the allowed number of batteries you can have as carry on luggage, and how they should be stored.
4. Use an appropriate bag or case
If you are checking in your drone, you need to decide whether to choose a bag or a hard case. For security, a suitable hard case with a lock pin is recommended for use. There are many types of bags and cases you can find online and in store. Costs may vary depending on brand and quality. You may also consider buying those with battery safety compartments as these can mitigate damage of your equipment from combustion and reduce the risk factors of igniting surrounding objects.
5. Make sure to bring extra batteries
The amount of battery you use depends on the flight lengths of your drone. Certain drone brands such as DJI Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 have a flight duration averaging around 20-25 minutes, and these drones usually take up to an hour to charge. When possible, do not check in your lithium ion batteries, as they will not be pressurized or in a controlled temperature. Otherwise, put your batteries in a safety bin when going through security, as inspectors would most likely pull them out from your luggage for checking. Bring rechargeable batteries for easier and environmentally-friendly usage.
Based on regulations stipulated under the Federal Aviation Agency and Department of Transportation, lithium and LiPO batteries must be carried, not checked. If airline regulations are strict on hand luggage, you may place the batteries in a bin to save trouble when going through airport security.
6. Plan ahead and carry a repair kit
Before visiting a new place to fly your drone, study its terrain and environment. Check out possible fly zone areas to save time and avoid any risks of liabilities and penalties for violating a drone policy. It is also advisable for drone owners to carry a repair kit and some extra propellers at all times, especially when flying in a remote location.
It is always good to bring only necessary and lightweight materials for your kit. A good rule of thumb would be to identify basic repairs for your drone and have the right tools to fix them.
7. Enjoy the travel and collect memories
Traveling with a drone requires extra effort to ensure that your equipment is good and you are safe from any possible risks. But after everything, having your wonderful memories taken and those aerial shots make it all worth it for your vacation.
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