As drones are becoming more popular, the diversity of drones for sale is increasing and more people than ever are posting drone pictures or even selfies on Facebook and Instagram. You may just decide to buy your own drone to take snapshots from angles never before possible or simply to show them who’s the better photographer. I am convinced that over the next 5 years, a drone with an HD Camera such as the DJI Phantom 3 will be as important to the professional photographer as the tripod has been for the past decade.
Although it is easy to pack a drone in your car and take it out for a flight by the beach, park or anywhere local, there are a number of other points to take into consideration if you are planning on travelling internationally with your drone. In fact, most of the points below apply even if you are taking your drone with you on a domestic flight.
Are you planning to make your brand new DJI Phantom drone part of your holiday gear? Then read below to find out how to turn your vacation into a safe one without any inconveniences.
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Know the local laws before traveling
At the moment, it is perfectly legal to travel with a drone across state lines in the United States. However, flying abroad to some countries may land you in trouble or with a hefty fine or customs duty. This may either be because local laws have not yet been finalised or because even consumer drones can be regarded as a surveillance tool.
List of countries with known rules on travelling with your drone:
- The Bahamas: It has been known to require duty to be paid before clearing customs.
- United Arab Emirates: It is not allowed to bring your own drone into the country. Previous reports noted that although no fines were issued, the drone was confiscated and held in the airport until the return flight.
- Australia: No problems
- Japan: No problems
- Tunisia: A fellow traveller has had his drone confiscated by authorities upon entering the country – so no drones allowed to enter the country in Tunisia.
- Have you had any experience with other countries? Let us know by commenting below or emailing us and we’ll add it to the list!
Find a suitable drone case
Unless you are feeling brave, you should always take your drone as hand luggage in a special case. We recommend the following drone cases with top notch reviews on Amazon:
- DJI Phantom 2 drone case – $139
- DJI Inspire 1 drone case
- DJI Phantom 2/ Phantom 3 backpack carrying case – $149
This makes sure your drone is well protected against external damage. Like with other electronics (laptops, iPad), you may be asked to take your drone out or be selected for extra screening during the security check.
Although there are currently no formal guidelines for how a drone should be screened, this may change in the future. As a result, your results will vary depending on the airport or even the local screening personnel. There shouldn’t be a problem though as you are not carrying anything illegal or banned in the hand luggage. Do mind the batteries though, as you may not be allowed to fly with extra batteries in your hand luggage or even checked in luggage, and these should be declared. Here is a link to the FAA website detailing what type of batteries you are allowed and are not allowed to take with you on the plane.
Discharge your batteries to storage level: 40-50%
Here is a photo of a DJI Inspire 1 that caught fire on a KLM plane (luckily whilst still on the ground) and there were no injuries. It is not yet sure why this has happened. Some say that the drone was left on and it was the owner’s fault. Others blame DJI of course for making unsafe drone batteries.
However, it is also likely that the batteries were charged to 100% before the flight. In DJI’s wiki pages, it is recommended that the batteries are discharged to 40-50% for long term storage, and in this case before taking your drone on any flights.
Make sure you also check the type of battery and any regulations the airline may have for your battery types.
Finally, remember to keep it safe for everyone when flying at your new destination!