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The Best Drones For Travel – Tried & Tested! (2020 Update)

Looking for the best drone for travel? Here’s the rundown of 8 epic travel drones – as tried and tested on the road by some amazing content creators!

Want to capture some epic shots on your next adventure and trying to figure out the best drones for travel?

Well I chat to some awesome travel content creators to get the low down on the best travel drones – so you can pick the best option for you knowing they’re tried and tested on the road.

From beginner drones to higher end features – we’ve got all bases covered…

The Best Drones For Travel – Tried & Tested! (2020 Update)

What Makes The Best Drone For Travel?

Before we get started on the low down of the best travel drones lets chat about what really makes the best drones for travel…

Size

It might sound obvious but as with everything travel, size really does matter! You don’t want to be lugging around a huge drone setup, even if it has the best specs it’ll be more of a hinderance than a creative tool and ultimately it’ll mean you’ll spend less time using it!

Weight

And alongside size another huge factor to consider for the best drone for travel is of course the weight – especially if you’re looking to pack it into your hand luggage!

Another deal with weight is whether you need to register your drone before you fly it. All the drones in this list are under 2kg which means you won’t need a license to fly in most countries (but check before you do!).

Features

Lets not forget why you’re buying a drone either – to capture and create some epic content! So make sure you pay attention to the features each drone packs in. Things like obstacle avoidance makes it safer to fly, flight time is obviously pretty crucial, but so is the camera specs too. For those wanting silky smooth slow mo 4K @ 60FPS is a must, but many users won’t need that full spec, so look into the settings you’ll be using too.

Price

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a huge chunk of cash in your bank for travel gadgets (in which case do you want to buy me some as well?!) price is a key point to consider. Sure the Mavic Pro 2 series has all the best features, but it’s more than a $1,000 more than say the Mavic Mini.

Is the extra worth the cost and if so can you afford it?

…Be Prepared To Compromise

As with pretty much any travel gadget you’ve got to be prepared to make some degree of compromise and even though all the travel drones on this list are awesome, none of them is perfect! Smaller, lighter, cheaper and travel friendly means you’ll have to be prepared to find the best compromise for your style and of course budget.

 

The Best Drones For Travel – Tried and Tested By Travel Content Creators

Mavic Air 2 – Best Overall Option

Recommend by ME!

This is my current favourite travel drone and its a solid addition to my camera gear!

review dji mavic air 2 best travel droneTaking everything I loved about the original Mavic Air it packs heaps of incredible features and specs into a small and portable design.

4K @ 60FPS, a huge 34 mins of flight time, 48MP photos and loads of upgrades to sensors and intelligent flight modes make the Mavic Air 2 and insanely good travel drone!

I’ve been blown away with how stable and smooth the Mavic Air 2 is and the noise reduction propellors are a great little tweak as well – especially when you don’t want to draw much attention to yourself.

Sure it’s not as all as the original Air, but honestly you’ll barely notice to increase in size and weight and it’s well worth the bump in specs and flight time.

The same goes for the redesigned remote too – the top mounted phone slot makes flying that much easier and intuitive and the move to OcuSync 2.0 for increased range (up to 18km!) and much more reliable video feed is again a good trade off in my opinion.

Check out my full Mavic Air 2 review here!

  • Weight = 570g
  • Flight Time = 34 mins
  • Photo = 48MP and 12MP
  • Video = 4k @ 60FPS
  • Price = $799

Click here for more info and to buy

 

 

Mavic Air

Recommend by ME!

Before upgrading to the Mavic Air 2 the original DJI Mavic Air was my preferred travel drone and it served me well in the 2 years I was flying it.

best beaches in Byron Bay Australia the passFrom road trips in South Africa to surfing in the Mentawai Islands and resort hopping in The Maldives the Mavic Air handled everything I could throw at it on the road!

Extremely lightweight and super compact the Mavic Air folds down into a ridiculously tiny size, easily put into your hand luggage or day bag fro shooting on the road.

With 4K video (max 30FPS) and 12MP camera for most vloggers and travellers this will tick all the boxes.

There are some drawbacks to the Mavic Air though (especially against newer drones on the market), with the 21 mins of flight time and lack of OcuSync 2.0 going to be the biggest hang ups, although admittedly the flight time rarely cause any issues, especially if you opt for the fly more combo.

With heaps of inbuilt features, intelligent flight modes and easy user interface the Mavic Air is a great first drone as well as a more compact, travel friendly backup drone for those who usually fly bigger models like the DJI Phantom range.

Sure the new Mavic Air 2 provides some major upgrades over the original Mavic Air, but the compact design and lower price point still make the Mavic Air and one of the best travel drones out there and certainly fills the gap in terms of specs and price between the Mavic Mini and Mavic Air 2.

Check out my full Mavic Air review here!

  • Weight = 430g
  • Flight Time = 21mins
  • Photo = 12MP 
  • Video = 4K @ 30FPS
  • Price = $699

Click here for more info and to buy

 

 

 

Mavic Mini – Best For Beginners, Size & Price

As recommended by Chantae from Tropical Go!

As someone who travels as light as possible—usually with just one bag—it can be a challenge to find camera gear that’s both practical and lightweight. As a rule, if a camera is small and high-quality, you can bet that it’ll be expensive to purchase.  

Fortunately, this rule is broken with the DJI Mavic Mini, currently DJI’s most compact and affordable drone.

The drone weighs just 249 grams—an important number when traveling as many countries require a permit for recreational drones that weigh over 250 grams. The DJI Mavic Mini flies under the radar for these destinations. When folded up, the drone is about the size of my hand and fits neatly into a compact carrying case.

At home in Fiji, the DJI Mavic Mini is a backup to my DJI Mavic Air. I assumed that I’d only be flying the Mini once the Mavic Air ran out of battery or was too heavy to bring along.

Because the quality of the DJI Mavic Mini is surprisingly high, I find myself reaching for the DJI Mavic Mini first thanks the long battery life (~30 minutes). Rather than having to painstakingly plan each shot, I can use the extra time in the air to be a bit more experimental.

Plus, because the cost of replacing the DJI Mavic Mini isn’t as high as my other drone, I find myself being a bit more daring when it comes to flying through trees or getting shots that are far more intriguing than the ones I would get if I’d simply flown cautiously.

While the DJI Mavic Mini is an incredible drone for travel, it is not as robust as the other drones in the DJI family. The upmarket DJI drones also have more features and sensor capabilities.

However, I regularly combine video footage from my DJI Mavic Air and DJI Mavic Mini in one video and there is no obvious difference between the two.

If you’re on a budget, travel light, and want a drone that offers a long battery life, the DJI Mavic Mini is a top choice. 

  • Weight: 249g
  • Flight Time = 30mins
  • Photo = 12MP
  • Video = 2.7K @ 30FPS
  • Price = $399

Click here for more info and to buy

 

 

Mavic Pro

As recommended by Bradley & Cazzy from Dream Big, Travel Far

We bought our Mavic Pro back in 2018, and before this had never actually owned a drone before. At the time, this was top of the range, and was definitely somewhat of a frivolous expense as we had no idea how useful it would be to our travel blogging business. Well, I can safely say that 2 years on it is one of the best purchases we have made!

best travel drone mavic pro reviewWe’re always looking for ways to increase the quality of our travel photos, and the Mavic Pro is a truly epic piece of kit with seemingly endless customisation capabilities. We’ve flown it in hot, bright conditions like The Philippines, and in snowy white tundra up in Northern Norway. It has excelled in all conditions and never let us down.

One of the reasons we went for the Mavic Pro was the in-built safety features, such as obstacle detection. We hoped these features would help make it more idiot-proof and avoid us losing the drone mid-flight. Well, this is definitely the case as there have been times where a lower quality drone definitely would have been lost.

For example, just last year we were flying out over the cliffs in Nusa Penida (Bali) and I was flying with the wind. Then, when trying to return the drone back to us, I hadn’t realised I would be flying against the wind. Fortunately the incredible battery life and flying speed of the Mavic Pro was enough to get it back before it ran out of juice.

And the only reason I did bring it back was because of the automated warnings for low battery life. Another amazing feature is the “Return To Tome” button which simply sends the drone up high, and then traces its way back to your coordinates in the quickest time. Though be warned, obstacle avoidance is turned off during this process.

As of writing, we haven’t yet had any major accidents; besides once reversing it into a tree where the blades got caught up and it tumbled to the ground. Surprisingly, this caused no issues to the drone and only one of the 4 plastic propellers was damaged. In terms of travelling with the Mavic Pro, it definitely takes up more spaces than the likes of the Mavic Air.

But that being said, the storage space has never been an issue for us as everything packs away nicely into the travel case that comes with the purchase. I’ve compared the features of our Mavic Pro with newer models and so far honestly don’t feel the need to upgrade as I think the Mavic Pro is still well ahead of almost any travel drone on the market.

Instead, I am possibly tempted to also pick up a Mavic Mini which doesn’t have the same spec and capabilities as the Mavic Pro but would definitely be quicker and easier to transport on day trips. 

  • Weight = 730g
  • Flight Time = 27mins
  • Photo = 12MP
  • Video = 4K @ 30FPS
  • Price = $899

Click here for more info and to buy

 

 

Mavic Pro 2 – Best Specs

As recommended by Alexx from Finding Alexx

Three years and 50+ countries after my first drone purchase, and I’m onto drone number three, the Mavic 2 Pro.

The P4P was a big commitment to carry around the world when I often travel with hand luggage only, and the Spark was a travel-friendly option for drone fun, but nothing beats the Mavic 2 Pro for the best of both worlds: easy portability and brilliant image quality.

I travel full-time with about 25kgs of stuff, and the Mavic 2 Pro and accessories make up about 2kg of that. My drone, charger, filters, cords and remote controller all fit nicely into the carry bag that was a part of the package, and I’ve got three batteries to make the most of my time in the air while I’m on the road (each battery lasts 31 minutes).

The image quality is next level, with a Hasselblad camera capturing detailed 20MP photos, and the 4K video footage is more than good enough for the travel videos I put together.

DJI’s known for being super user-friendly in that the shooting and tracking modes are fairly easy to use, meaning even beginners can take incredible photos or videos, and the Mavic 2 Pro is no different.

The obstacle avoidance has been upgraded from the previous version, there’s some additions to ActiveTrack’s accuracy, and the Hyperlapse mode is a fantastic addition that allows for even more creativity in your content.

It’s far more inconspicuous to travel with, resulting in less time opening all my bags for airport security and more time having a pre-flight beverage. When it’s flying it’s also significantly quieter than my first drone, which is a nice change!

If you’re looking for a top quality drone with insane specs, that’s still easy to carry around, and don’t mind paying a bit more for the best camera and sensor out there at the moment, I’d recommend the Mavic 2 Pro for sure.

  • Weight = 907g
  • Flight Time = 31mins
  • Photo = 20MP
  • Video = 4K @ 30FPS
  • Price = from $1419

Click here for more info and to buy

 

 

DJI Spark

As recommended by Keith from Travellin Lite

I’ve owned a DJI Spark drone for a couple of years now, and it has been a great addition to my travel photography gear. 

It has been used to record amazing images on an 8,000-kilometre road trip across Western Australia and a Coromandel Peninsula trip in New Zealand.

It was promoted on release to market as a ‘Selfie Drone’, offering a then revolutionary hand control, along with Active Track – once a subject is selected and recognised, the subject can be tracked automatically by the drone.

I use the Spark for basic aerial photography, and at that it excels.  The 12 MegaPixel sensor on the camera captures very good images and video.  I tend to use the camera in video mode, and then take stills images off the timeline in post-production.

The things I really like about the Spark are:

  • Portability – I can tuck it into my photography backpack, and at 300 grams with a maximum dimension of 170mm it’s no problem to carry around.
  • Image Quality – I’ve taken some incredible photos with this little beast.  The camera response to automatically match light conditions is very quick and stable.
  • Flight Stability – Given its weight, it is quite stable, even in moderate cross winds.
  • Ease of Control – The DJI GO 4 app makes controlling the drone easy.
  • Bang for Buck – the full Spark kit cost me around A$600, which included everything to get me into the air.  Sure, the more professional drones like the DJI Phantom are brilliant, but you pay for that.

There are no real cons to the DJI Spark from my perspective. 

Will I upgrade to the newer DJI Mavic Mini? At this point in time, no.  The 3-axis gimbal on the Mavic Mini is a differentiator in image stability for video, and the longer flight time is always welcome.  

However, the other features on the DJI Mavic Mini don’t really change a lot for me. For example, the camera sensor is exactly the same, flying modes haven’t changed and the Spark just works beautifully for me.  

Pre-owned Sparks in near-new condition are still available on marketplaces, and represent a cost-effective way to get into drone flying.

  • Weight = 300g
  • Flight Time = 16mins
  • Photo = 12MP
  • Video = 1080P @ 30FPS
  • Price = $399

Click here for more info and to buy

 

 

GoPro Karma

As recommended by Mark from Wyld Family Travel

The GoPro Karma system is more than just a drone it’s an all-around system for filming in the air and on the ground.

The Karma consists of a Drone, a stabilization stick and a GoPro camera (although you need to buy the camera as an extra, but this does allow you to easily update ti too).

best drone for travel gopro karmaThis unique system all comes packed in its own backpack so that you can take it anywhere, through airports, hiking mountains or walks on the beach. The star of the Karma system is the 3-axis gimbal stabilization stick that keeps all your GoPro footage smooth and even.

The Gimbal is interchangeable and is used on both the stabilization stick and the Drone – making your YouTube clips look great both on and off the ground. 

The Karma Drone has a flying time of around 18 minutes and is easy to fly, however the drawback of the Karma is that it does not have an avoidance system so it won’t warn you when you are about to crash into something. The Karma has a range of 3 km, but you are not likely to achieve that.

The Drone comes with 5 preset modes for different filming experiences, alongside that the gimbal allows you to move the camera view up and down with ease during flight. You can also fly using the Passenger app – which allows a second person to connect to the GoPro camera while you are flying so they can take control of filming/pictures.

The Karma delivers amazing drone footage when filmed in 4K and with the range of GoPro camera out there you can easily pair it with the best one for your need. 

**PLEASE NOTE: The GoPro Karma is no longer current, however second hand Karmas are available on a range of sites like eBay and GumTree, with GoPro still shipping limited parts and accessories.**

  • Weight = 1006g
  • Flight Time = 20mins
  • Photo = dependant on the GoPro you mount on it
  • Video = dependant on the GoPro you mount on it
  • Price = around $350 (second hand)

 

 

DJI Phantom 3

Recommended by Vicky from Day Out In England

I bought the Phantom Standard 3 about two years ago now and it was the latest one on the market, that I could afford. I’d seen it around and was convinced I needed a DJI drone.
 
I’ve since taken it to places like the Philippines, Aruba and Greece, and used it at home on the south coast of England.
I really like the DJI Phantom 3 Standard – I think it’s a great drone in general, but of course, as with all tech, there are pros and cons. 
 
My main beef with it would be that it’s just SO big.
 
When I travel on a plane with it, it’s my main carry on luggage. With the bag I got I can fit my laptop and camera in, but that’s about it. It’s quite heavy when you’re carrying it all day, I do a lot of cycling and there’s no way I could cycle with that on my back. 
 
The other problem is the propellors being seen on the video. If you angle the camera too far up then you can see them – I think they should’ve considered that before they made the camera able to turn so high. 
 
And finally, it’s a faff to set up. I’m jealous of these recent models where you can just flip the sides out and it’s good to go. I have to use a flat service to screw in all the propellors, and get all the moving parts working. 
 
I think that’s it though for complaints – although the size of it is a big one as it stops me taking it places. 
 
Pros are that it feels sturdy as it’s so big. I took it to Finland and although the cold made the battery run out too quickly, I did get it caught in a tree and it survived. I’ve also crashed it on a stoney beach and it was absolutely fine!
 
I feel like it’s strong against the wind and it’s really instinctive to use, after those first few pointers, and the quality of the photos and videos are absolutely perfect for my needs. I was really happy with the intro shots to my recent Aruba video.
 
  • Weight = 1216g
  • Flight Time = 25mins
  • Photo = 12MP
  • Video = 2.7K @ 30FPS
  • Price = $649

Click here for more info and to buy

 

 

So Which Is The Best Drone For Travel?

Still stuck and need some quick help on deciding the best travel drone for you? Well here’s the quick guide!

 

 

 

Tips For Travelling With A Drone

Check the laws – BEFORE you travel

Not only for flying but because some countries (such as Morocco and Nicaragua) wont even let you bring them into the country and have harsh penalties if you don’t declare them!

So make sure you double check the most up to date laws – UAV Coach have a pretty comprehensive and up to date guide about drone laws for most countries

Click here for more info

You might be able to fly – but STILL need to register

On those lines it might also be the case that yes you can fly your drone BUT you do still need to register. I know this is currently the case for both the UK and USA – where you have to take a super simple and quick online test (basically proving you know the basic regulations) and pay a small fee (under $10) to be able to fly.

This can take a few days to process so again give yourself time

Drone Weight

Again under drone laws the weight of your drone could have a big impact on where you can fly. For most countries under 2kg usually means you’re good to go, but under 250g is where you need to be to avoid registration as well – which is the biggest selling point for the Mavic Mini which sneaks in at 249g!

Practice Practice Practice

The more you fly your drone the better drone pilot you’ll ultimately be, so don’t just pack your drone for travel and learn as you go – take the time to get use to how it handles and how to fly it BEFORE you head off!

The best thing I did was head to my local rugby pitch and spend a few days practicing with different modes, getting used to the controls and basically learning to confidently fly!

 

 

 

Learn The Hand Catch

One of the best skills I learnt for using my drone for travel videos was how to hand catch. It takes some confidence and practice to nail being able to safely and successfully land your drone in your hand but it’s a great skill to have. Flying from the beach and on boats it’s an absolute necessity as well as being able to take off and land in locations that dont offer an easy, flat surface.

Check out this video for a comprehensive guide and remember to turn off those downward sensors to avoid messing it up!

Take Your Drone As Carry On

You’ve spent the money on the best drone for travel so carry on is the way froward when it comes to travelling with your drone. Not only is this safer (we all know what baggage handlers are like!) but also its NEVER a good idea to check lithium ion batteries into the hold.

In fact it’s a legal requirement at check in to say you aren’t!

So yeah – ALL drone batteries in your hand luggage.
 

 

Be Sensible

Pretty much every country has the same basic laws and legislations for all drone flights – and they focus around being sensible when flying. Keeping the drone in sight, not flying at night, avoiding built up areas and also crowds of people.

It’s the small group of people ignoring the rules or being idiots that is tightening up restrictions for the rest of us – so be sensible when flying.

Are you looking for the best drone for travel?

Which option are you leaning towards?

 

 

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