It’s no surprise that my DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone is my most prized physical possession. It is the #1 thing at the top of my packing list for every single trip I take. Not only does it offer a different perspective for my travel videos, it also captures breathtaking bird’s-eye photography. If you would like to know more about how easy it is to travel with a drone, see the post below!
Get a Quality Hard Case
You’ll want to get one that can hold all your accessories and drone without moving around. I personally recommend this one. You’ll want to make sure it is very mobile so you can easily carry it onto the plane. Yes, you MUST hand carry your drone onto the plane. I’ll elaborate further in the ‘At the Airport/On the Plane’ Section. Make sure you have ALL your accessories needed to fly it, especially including the cord that connects your phone/tablet to the remote controller.
KNOW HOW TO FLY IT.
Obviously, this is incredibly important. Learn all the features, especially the Intelligent Flight Modes such as: Follow Me, Course Lock, Waypoints, Home Lock, and my personal favorite: Point of Interest. These can take your videos to the next level and give a professional feel to them. It’s an amazing way to include yourself in shots showing the 360 degree view of utter beauty around you. Practice as much as you can and get super comfortable with the controls.
Look Up the Laws of your Destination
Drones aren’t exactly allowed everywhere. People have abused them and caused strict laws to be put into place. Make sure you know what you can and cannot do in certain countries PRIOR to getting into trouble. If something isn’t specifically written but it may cause trouble, just don’t do it. If it’s dangerous, especially don’t do it. People who abuse the laws are the reason why they become more strict and some people fear drones.
Register your Drone
If the law requires it, go ahead and register your drone. It’s always better to do it ahead of time when you know you already have internet access than when you’re ready to fly it but cannot because you have no data to complete the task. Do not try and skip out on this step or your drone could be destroyed or confiscated by police.
Check the Firmware
I prefer to do this a week in advance and double check the day before departure. Make sure your drone is operating on the latest firmware so that you can be allowed to actually fly it. I didn’t realize you needed to do this before flying it the first time and was utterly disappointed when I took it to a field to test it and it would NOT work at all. Updates don’t come out terribly frequently, but lots of times they include awesome new features and bug fixes. Check the site here for updates!
Perform Preflight Maintenance
Make sure you have all the elements needed to safely fly your drone. Clean camera lenses and make sure you have enough space on your memory cards. If you have a Mac, just deleting photos from your Memory Card isn’t enough. It won’t completely delete it and give you room unless you clear your Trash Bin on your computer also. Make sure you have all your propellers as well as a few spares. Make sure that all your camera parts are firmly attached and ready to fly.
Drain your Batteries
Make sure your batteries are drained to >30%. According to this site, you are required to drain your batteries.
Print off this Airworthiness Certificate
If you run into any issues at the Airport, this certificate could save you. While it is ultimately up the discretion of the security agent. I have not run into a single issue flying with my drone, nor have I ever needed it. Drones have been allowed on every airline I have flown on.
When taking a drone through security, I have gotten stopped every time to have my baggage searched. This should not cause any panic. It’s just to make sure it’s not a bomb. Most of the time people are genuinely curious about it so you may get a small crowd asking questions about it as security goes through your bag.
Take your Drone in Your CARRY ON: DO NOT CHECK IT.
Extreme temperatures in baggage areas of planes can ruin your batteries and even cause them to explode. Several planes have been grounded due to ruined batteries making smoke. Baggage is thrown around quite violently and your drone could easily be destroyed by people transporting your things. In addition, I have heard horror stories of people getting their drones stolen from baggage claim or even being held by customs for no reason at all. I would not let my precious drone out of sight, especially on a flight. If you check it, you could cause extreme damage to the plane. Heed my advice and just take it as a carry on!
Adhere to Laws and Fly Safely
Once you arrive at your destination, please follow the rules! If you break the law, you are being selfish and are ruining the fun for the responsible drone operators out there. Keep a distance from any buildings or people and do not film anywhere that is off-limits. Keep your drone within your line of sight and don’t fly too close to objects you could damage.
Have fun with it!
Don’t forget to enjoy every moment capturing the beauty of this world. There is no doubt that the most unique and gorgeous shots in many videos come from drones. Get creative and don’t take yourself too seriously. Be sure to leave links to your drone videos in the comments below!