Thinking about buying a drone to take with you on your travels? Wondering which is the best travel drone and which works for road trips? We share our experiences and review the best and affordable travel drones here
If you follow us on Youtube, you'll know we LOVE to use our drone while travelling.
You'll also know that we managed to sink our DJI Mavic Pro into Lake Annecy (Seriously. It went straight down into the lake. We have it on video. We're pretty sure it's still there…! ?)
But, if you need proof on how much we love our travel drone, we bought another one within 2 weeks of losing that one in the lake. We even paid extra to upgrade to the DJI Mavic Pro 2.
So yes, for us it's a travel essential- especially on our road trips around Europe.
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Why do we have a travel drone?
So, why do we even bother travelling with a drone? What are the pros and cons?
Well, the main reason is for fun and to record our adventures. Ever since we first started travelling, we've taken a drone on our road trips. And we've never been disappointed by having it. (you know, except for that time it sunk in the lake…)
Don't get me wrong, there have been times where the weather hasn't played nicely, and there were times when we wanted to fly it but the airspace was restricted but, on balance, it's been an excellent addition to our travels.
There are HUNDREDS of photos on this website- and most of our favourites are taken using our drone. For us, that's reason enough to keep bringing it along.
Best travel drone- how to choose
However, we know that when you're considering buying a travel drone, it can be DAUNTING to pick one.
So, here's a handy set of questions to help you:
1)- Is the drone for an adult or a child? (If a child, go cheap to start)
2)- Have you flown a drone or model airplane before? (If no, go cheaper until you build your confidence)
3)- Is it for fun, or do you want to get incredible photos that you will use on a blog/ video/ for future reference? (If so, choose the best you can afford)
4)- Will you be unbearably heartbroken if it drops/ crashed/ sinks into a lake? (If so, go for a cheaper model)
So, which is the best travel drone?
There are many drones on the market which claim to be affordable travel drones? However, let's be honest. If you're looking for anything more than a fun toy, you need to look at a DJI. There's a reason they're the biggest name in drones- their products are awesome (and no, I don't have shares in the company… might be an idea though!)
DJI Mavic Pro Review
The DJI Mavic series is AMAZING. Seriously, worth every penny. The camera is incredible, the functionality great and they are very easy to use, charge on the road and get the footage off. If our drone crashed tomorrow (please please please find me some wood to touch) we would buy another one without hesitation- they're that good.
As I mentioned earlier, we've had the DJI Mavic Pro and the Mavic Pro 2, and the Pro 2 is worth the extra money in our opinion- a little bit more stable, better camera and a little quieter.
If you get one, go for the Hasselblad cameras (which apparently were used to capture the moon landing!) The camera on the Pro 2 allows for gorgeous 20-megapixel aerial shots (and the 1-inch CMOS sensor has an active sensing area four times more effective than the original Mavic Pro.) The large sensor also means better performance in low-light environments. .
The f/2 8-f/11 adjustable aperture delivers incredible images both in high and low light environments. When shooting in low light, set the aperture to f/2 8 to allow more light in and to capture bright and clear photos. When shooting in well-lit environments set the aperture to f/11 to lower the shutter speed and make videos smoother.
- Dimensions: Folded: 214×91×84 mm Unfolded: 322×242×84 mm
- Take off Weight: 907g
- Max Flight Time: 31min
- Max photo Resolution: 20MP
- CMOS: 1″ CMOS
- Max Video Resolution: 4K @30 fps
- Max Transmission Distance: 5 km 1080p Video Transmission
- Max Speed: 72 km/h
- Obstacle Sensing: Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing
- Control Modes: Remote Controller
Other Kit you need with the DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone:
You will need a MICRO SD card. We also recommend a couple of additional batteries and DEFINITELY a case– if you're going to be travelling with your drone a case is essential. Lastly, we highly recommend some decent lens filters– it makes a huge difference while filming on sunny days or over water.
Best affordable travel drones
Ok, but what if you fall somewhere on the ‘I want to try it, but I don't want to spend THAT much money/ I'll cry if I break it/ the kids/ wife/ dog wants a go too…” scale??
The short answer is get a more affordable travel drone- at least until you've tested whether it's right for you or not.
Again, there are several makes available, and many have good reviews. However, we've only ever used DJI and there are plenty of cheaper options available from them- at least you'll be able to guarantee the quality!
DJI Mavic Air
One step down from the Mavic Pro is the DJI Mavic Air. This drone is also amazing- we have several friends who rave about it. You can capture impressive 48MP photos while the 3-axis gimbal lets you create extra smooth 4K/60fps video in 1080p (you can also live stream)
The battery life of up to 34-min allows you to pull off epic shots while the obstacle avoidance system uses forward, backward, and downward sensors for improved safety
Spotlight 2.0 keeps the camera locked on a subject while you fly freely. ActiveTrack 3.0 keeps the subjects in the centre of the frame.
- Dimensions: Folded: 180×79×84 mm Unfolded: 183×253×77 mm
- Take off Weight: 570g
- Max Flight Time: 34min
- Max photo Resolution: 48MP
- CMOS: 1/2″ CMOS
- Max Video Resolution: 4K @60 fps
- Max Transmission Distance: 6 km 1080p Video Transmission
- Max Speed: 68 km/h
- Obstacle Sensing: Forward + Backward + Downward Obstacle Sensing
- Control Modes: Remote Controller
Other kit you'll need with the DJI Mavic Air:
DJI Mini/ Mini 2
Next in the lineup is the DJI Mini (recently updated to the Mini 2). If you want decent footage, this is probably the lowest I'd go- and it's a great starter drone.
Weighing just 249 grams, it's one of the best and most affordable travel drones and is placed inside the lowest and safest weight class of drones. The camera can shoot 2.7K Quad HD videos and has a 3-axis mechanical gimbal to allow super-smooth footage of your adventures.
The new DJI Fly App is great for beginners- there's even a flight tutorial to help you get started quickly and safely.
- Dimensions: Folded: 140×82×57 mm Unfolded: 160×202×55 mm
- Take off Weight: 249g
- Max Flight Time: 30min
- Max photo Resolution: 12MP
- CMOS: 1/2.3″ CMOS
- Maximum Video Resolution: 2.7K @30 fps
- Max Transmission Distance: 2 km 720p Video Transmission
- Max Speed: 46.8 km/h
- Obstacle Sensing: Downward Obstacle Sensing
- Control Modes: Remote Controller
Other kit you'll need with the DJI Mini:
The littlest member of the DJI family is a great starting point for kids or for fun. The camera is still decent enough not to be a waste of time, and it will get you used to flying if you've never done it before!
What stands out
- Lightweight, durable and packed with tech – all skill level of pilots can fly with confidence
- Micro design makes the Tello perfect for flying indoors and out
- Start flying by simply tossing the drone into the air
- Perform awesome aerial stunts with just a slide on your phone screen
- Bounce mode enables the drone to fly up and down from your hand automatically
- Land safely even if you lose connection with Failsafe protection
- Program your own flight patterns and learn coding basics with the Scratch coding system
- Flight time: 13 min
- Speed: 8 m/s
- Body dimensions: 98 x 92.5 x 41 mm
- Propellers: 3 inch
- Weight: 80g
- Camera: 720p
- Video transmission range: 100m
Where to buy affordable travel drones
There are lots and lots and LOTS of drone packages and deals you can find online. Might I suggest that you buy either directly from the DJI store, or from the DJI store on Amazon. That way you know you'll get a reliable product. Sure, you can probably find cheaper deals- but often those products are refurbished and not always 100% genuine.
Travel Drones- staying legal
It's all well and good buying a drone- but your next step is to make sure you are flying it legally.
I'm not going to list step-by-step instructions here, in case things change and the information goes out of date, but it is essential that you find out and comply with not only the laws in your home country, but also in any country you will be visiting with your drone.
It's also extremely important to obey local laws and airspace restrictions, such as not flying too close to airports, parachute drop zones, hospitals and military airspace- to name a few!
(Seriously, as an ex-air traffic controller who once had to hold 50+ aircraft over London who were all running out of fuel and couldn't land because a drone was playing over the runway at Heathrow, I cannot stress this enough!!)
UK legalities for drones
In the UK, we have it very lucky. NATS (National Air Traffic Service- my ex-employers) and the CAA want to work WITH drone operators of all types and make it easy for everyone to play in the skies. They have created the Drone Safe website and the Drone Assist app, available for download to all smartphones.
DJI also work hard to ensure that their maps stay up to date, so when you switch it on, it will tell you if you are in a restricted area, near an airport etc etc. PLEASE pay attention to this- drones into plane engines do not work well. (This system is also another reason we choose DJI- it's been excellent so far across Europe.)
Using your travel drone
Having said that, even in open airspace, you need to be vigilant. A drone can shred a hang glider and cause huge damage to a light aircraft or helicopter. Ideally, you need one pilot and one spotter- someone who keeps an eye out for anything else happening in the skies.
You will probably also need to legally mark your drone with the appropriate information. The Drone Safe website will tell you what you need to do and how to register your drone in the UK.
Don't forget to research BEFORE you travel. Some countries do not allow drones AT ALL (such as Jordan, which we visited in 2019 and had to leave our drone behind.) Although many airlines will allow you to fly with a drone (be careful about the batteries), that doesn't mean the government will allow you to enter with one.
Best & Afforable Travel Drones- final thoughts
Despite my rant in the previous section, it's not as terrifying as it sounds. Again, the authorities try to make it easy for people- both from a legal and a safety standpoint- so don't let it put you off.
All in all, we LOVE travelling with a drone and highly recommend it to EVERYONE. If you do get one, we'd love to see your photos. If you're on Instagram, feel free to tag me and I'll share them!
How else can I help you today?
- Show me more road trip kit
- Help me create the PERFECT road trip playlist (100+ driving songs)
- What are the essential accessories for motorhomes and campervans?