Best Drones

The Best Travel Drones 2018 Edition

There’s no denying that a drone is capable of taking your travel videos to the next level. Your beloved memories of your latest trip abroad will be immortalized in a video of epic proportions.

Whether you’re looking to make a complete aerial video, or looking to intersperse aerial footage with your shots taken on the ground, there’s no doubt a drone is a must have piece of equipment.

But, what is the best travel drone? Where can you buy it? What are the rules about traveling with a drone?

Having just spent a year traveling New Zealand and Asia, I’ve decided to write a complete guide to buying the perfect camera drone. Stick around, and I’ll show you everything you need to know.

What Should You Look for in the Best Drone for Traveling?

Camera & Gimbal

If you’re planning on shooting aerial photographs and videos, which you probably are, the drones camera is going to play a huge role. 

The best travel drones will have a high quality camera, capable of shooting in at least 1080p, if not in 4k. If you’re wanting to slow your footage down in post-production, you’ll also need a camera of shooting in 60fps.

A drones’ gimbal is again another extremely component if you’re planning on shooting aerial video. The gimbal will keep the camera stable during flight, allowing your footage to look completely fluid and professional. Most high quality drones will come with either a 2 or 3-axis gimbal, which is perfectly suitable.


Portability

Of course, when travelling with a drone, the more portable the UAV the better. These days, drones are getting smaller and smaller in size. Although a drone with foldable rotor arms will make it way easier, I can testify to the fact that it is not a necessity.

I was able to take my Phantom with me across the world and was easily able to fit it on the plane, although it was slightly annoying having to carry around a fairly big backpack (the Manfrotto D1).

All in all, the best travel drones will be both light and compact, without comprising quality.


Flight Time

No matter when or where you’re planning on using your drone, the UAV’s flight time is a massive aspect that should always be considered. It is incredibly annoying to have to either stop flying completely or change batteries after a short time in the air.

The majority of models on our list of the best drones for traveling will have extremely long flight times. The smaller the drone however, the shorter the flight time tends to be, which is due to the fact they have smaller batteries.

No matter how long a drone’s battery life, I always like to get one or two extra batteries to double or even treble my time in the air.


Maximum Range

A drone with a long maximum range will provide you with more freedom to explore in the air and scope out new shots that you may not have seen from the ground.

It’s worth noting that when you’re flying a drone, you should keep it in line of site at all times. This means that even if a drone has a 7km range, it’s probably a good idea to not fly it that far away.​


Traveling With A Drone: What You Need To Know

There’s a lot of speculation on the internet about flying with your drone. I’ve always found it is best to contact the airline that you are with to confirm their policy of ​carrying drones as luggage.

I’ve been on a fair few flights with my drones and have only ever been asked about it once, so it really isn’t too big of a deal.

Follow these steps and you’ll minimize the chances of you encountering any issues:

  • Always take the drone and any batteries on the plane in your carry on luggage. NEVER, check these in with the rest of your luggage.
  • Remove any batteries from the drone itself
  • Put your batteries into a Li-Po battery safe bag – This one isn’t a must,  but I feel it is the most responsible way to travel with your batteries
  • Deplete your batteries to 30% - There seems to be a difference of opinion online on the amount they need to be depleted. I’ve never had my batteries checked, but they have always, always been depleted.
  • Be willing to discuss with airport security what the drone is and the steps you’ve taken to make travelling with it as a safe as possible – These days most people know what a drone is, so it’s not really an issue.

List of the Best Travel Drones

1. DJI Mavic Pro Platinum - Editors Choice

Specs

  • Flight Time: 30 minutes
  • Maximum Range: 7km
  • Camera (Video): 4k at 60 fps
  • Camera (Photos): 12 Megapixels

Features

  • Automatic take off and landing
  • One key return to home
  • GPS &VPS (Vision Positioning System)
  • Intelligent Flight Modes
  • Obstacle Avoidance Sensors
best travel drone
​100
Quality
​50
​Price
​95
​Our Rating

About

The DJI Mavic Pro Platinum is DJI’s latest instalment to the Mavic Pro series and features some upgrades from the original Mavic Pro model. The Mavic Pro Platinum is easily one of the best drones for traveling and has become the go to camera drone for aerial photographers and videographers looking for a portable solution.

With an insanely impressive flight time of 30-minutes and an equally impressive maximum range of 7km, very few drones on the market are able to compete with the Mavic Pro Platinum.

The drone itself comes packed full of easy to use intelligent flight modes that allow the drone to autonomously pilot itself. This lets even a novice pilot capture some stunning aerial imagery without even having to control the aircraft.

What’s more than drone features obstacle avoidance sensors alongside both GPS & VPS positioning, which means the Mavic Pro Platinum is extremely easy and safe to fly for first time drone pilots.

In terms of portability, the Mavic Pro Platinum’s design is a traveller dream. With retractable rotor arms and a slim body, the drone is easily able to fit inside a small backpack that can be easily carried.

If you’re looking to shoot high quality aerial photographs and video’s, you’ll be pleased to know that the Mavic Pro Platinum features a top quality camera. Capable of shooting in 4k, 2.7k and 1080p, the drone’s camera is more than adequate for both amateur and professional film making.

The camera itself is attached to the drone’s body via a 3-axis gimbal that stabilises the camera in the flight, even in strong winds.

Overall, the Mavic Pro Platinum is by far one of the best travel drones currently available. Whether you’re a first time pilot, or looking to add to your collection of drones, the Mavic Pro Platinum is an invaluable resource for any filmmaker.

​Pros:

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    ​Amazing flight time
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    ​Incredibly easy to fly
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    ​Very portable
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    ​Very far maximum range

​Cons:

  • ​More expensive than the Mavic Pro for not many more features
  • ​Can’t shoot in 4k at 60fps

​Related Article: Best Hexacopter Drones

2. DJI Mavic Air - The Latest & Greatest From DJI

Specs

  • Flight Time: 21-minutes
  • Maximum Range: 4km
  • Camera (Video): 4k
  • Camera (Photos): 12 megapixels

Features

  • 3-axis gimbal
  • Automatic take off & landing
  • 3 directional environment sensing
  • 8GB internal storage
  • Intelligent flight modes
  • Sphere Panoramas
best travel drone
​100
Quality
​65
​Price
​90
​Our Rating

About

The Mavic Air is the latest variation in the Mavic series and continues to incorporate the ultra portable design we’ve seen DJI implement into their drones. With the Mavic Air being the smallest, most lightweight DJI drone to feature a 4k camera, there is no doubt that it’s one of the best drones for traveling.

Although it’s flight time is slightly shorter than some of the other high end drones DJI have released, 21-minutes is still ample time to shoot some incredible aerial photographs and videos. This is especially true if you’re considering buying an extra battery (which I recommend), as this would give you over 40-minutes in the air.

The Mavic Air incorporates DJI’s new Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) that utilises a forward camera alongside both backward and down-facing sensors that all the drone to detect possible obstacles and adjust its flight path accordingly.

A 4km maximum control range is also ample room for you to explore the air, discover new angles and record some hard to access areas. Pair this with the drones’ 68.4kph maximum speed, and you’ve got yourself one fun flying experience.

The Mavic Air also possesses a number of intelligent flight modes such as Tap Fly, Smart Capture, six different Quick Shots and Active Track. All of these allow you to capture beautiful photographs and videos without having to manually pilot the drone.

All in all, the Mavic Air is an impressive feat of innovation and engineering and demonstrates how DJI are continuing to push the boundaries of what we thought possible in a consumer grade quad copter.

​Pros:

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    ​Incredibly portable
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    ​Easy to fly
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    ​Available in three colors
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    ​High quality camera

​Cons:

  • ​Battery life isn’t as good as other high end DJI models

3. DJI Mavic Pro - Ultra Portable

Specs

  • ​Flight Time: 27 minute
  • ​Camera (Video): 4k, 2.7k, 1080p at 96 fps
  • Camera (Photo): 12 megapixel
  • ​Max Distance: 7km

Features

  • Foldable
  • Auto take off and landing
  • One key return to home
  • Intelligent flight modes
  • Forward facing obstacle avoidance sensor
best travel drone
​100
Quality
​60
​Price
​90
​Our Rating

About

I’ve been a long time fan of the DJI Mavic Pro and it’s safe to say it has stood the test of time, still being one of the best consumer drones on the market. As well as sporting one of the best cameras currently availble on a drone, its' compact design makes it easily one of the best travel drones currently available.

The Mavic Pro is slightly different to the Mavic Pro Platinum in that is has a 3-minute shorter flight time, it’s slightly louder and it features a different color design. As such, you generally get the Mavic Pro for about $100 cheaper than the Platinum.

That’s pretty much the only difference, the Mavic Pro features the same 4k camera attached via the same 3-axis gimbal. Similarly, the same intelligent flight modes are present on both variations.

I’m not going to go into too much detail on the Mavic Pro as I’ll pretty much be repeating myself from when I discussed the Mavic Pro Platinum earlier on in the article.

So to sum it up, if you’re wanting to save an extra $100 bucks or so, and are looking for one of the best drones for traveling, the Mavic Pro is a spectacular option.

​Pros:

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    ​Top of the line specifications and features
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    ​Easy to fly for any skill level
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    ​Perfect for traveling
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    ​High quality camera

​Cons:

  • ​Doesn’t handle shooting at 60fps very well

4. DJI Spark - Beginner & Budget Friendly

Specs

  • Flight Time: 16 minutes
  • Max​​​​ Range: 2km
  • Ca​​​​mera: 1080p


Features

  • Quick launch
  • Gesture control
  • Follow me
  • Other autonomous flight modes
  • 2-axis gimbal stabilization
  • Obstacle avoidance
​75
Quality
​85
​Price
​80
​Our Rating

About

The DJI Spark is a fantastic option for beginner level pilots looking to get their hands on a camera drone without breaking the bank.

Although not featuring specifications on the same sort of level as the DJI drones we’ve just discussed, the Spark costs a fraction of the price.

The drone features an ultra-portable design and is by far the smallest drone on our list, making it a fantastic option for travellers. Despite its incredibly small design, the drone features a flight time of 16-minutes, which is completely fine if you double it up by getting a spare battery.

Attached to the drone is a 1080p camera that utilises a 2-axis gimbal stabiliser. This does a pretty good job at keeping the camera steady during flight, however isn’t as effective as a 3-axis gimbal.

You’re able to pilot the DJI Spark using 3 different methods. Firstly, you can utilise what is called ‘gesture control mode’. This is where the drone is piloted using hand signals that you direct at the drones’ camera.

Secondly, you can fly the drone directly from your smart device using the DJI app. This will give you a maximum range of roughly 100m, due to the fact that the connection is establishes via Wi-Fi.

Lastly, you can pilot the drone using a transmitter that you connect your smart device, which will give you the furtherst maximum range of 2km.

As with all DJI drones, the Spark features a plethora of intelligent flight modes, allowing you to easily put together a high quality travel video of your latest trip.

​Considering how easy the DJI Spark is to use, paired with its incredible portability, the ​Spark is easily one of the best travel drones on the market.

​Pros:

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    ​Lightweight
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    ​Easy to fly for any skill level
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    ​Compact design
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    ​Can be flown directly from a smartphone
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    ​Beginner friendly
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    ​Affordable

​Cons:

  • ​Fairly short flight time
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    ​Only 2-axis gimbal

​5. DJI Phantom 4 Pro - Professional Standard Drone

Specs

  • Flight Time: 30 minutes
  • Max Range: 7km
  • Camera: 4k

Features

  • Auto take off and landing
  • One key return to home
  • 5 direction obstacle avoidance
  • Follow me
  • Other autonomous flight modes
  • 3- axis gimbal stabilisation
best drone for travel videos
​100
Quality
​45
​Price
​80
​Our Rating

About

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro is the latest edition to the Phantom family and is the most impressive drone to date.

Although it may not seem like the most portable drone, I honestly believe it’s one of the best drones for traveling. Admittedly, it is going to take slightly more effort and require a bigger backpack, but you can definitely take it with you on your next adventure.

The Phantom 4 Pro features an incredible camera capable of shooting in 4k at 60 frames per second and able to shoot stunning 20 megapixel photographs.

With 5 direction obstacle avoidance sensors, VPS and GPS positioning, the Phantom 4 Pro is incredibly hard to crash (not impossible though).

Alongside these safety features are some fantastic specifications that make it one of the most advanced models on our list. The drone sports a whopping 30-minute flight time and an equally impressive maximum range of 7km. This in turn provides you with a tonne of freedom that you simply just don’t get with other drones.

The drone also possesses very much the same intelligent flight modes as with all DJI drones, such as Draw, Active Track, Tap Fly, Return to Home and Gesture Mode.

Quite simply, the Phantom 4 Pro isn’t just one of the best travel drones, it’s one of the best drones period.

Seriously, if you’re looking to shoot some epic travel videos, don’t worry about the size. The Phantom 4 Pro is a serious option and should definitely be considered.

​Pros:

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    ​Amazing camera (best on the list)
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    ​Fantastic flight time
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    ​Tonnes of intelligent flight modes
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    ​Easy to use
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    ​Can shoot at 4k at 60fps
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    ​Professional Standard Camera

​Cons:

  • ​Expensive
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    ​One of the larger models on our list

​6. DJI Phantom 3 4k - Great Value For Money

Specs

  • Flight Time: 25-minutes
  • Maximum Range: 4km
  • Camera: 4k

Features

  • Intelligent flight modes
  • VPS & GPS positioning
  • Automatic return to home
  • One key take off & landing
best travel drone
​70
Quality
​75
​Price
​72
​Our Rating

About

I’ve always had a place in my heart for DJI Phantom 3’s, with the Phantom 3 Standard being one of the first drones I bought back in the day.

The Phantom 3 4k, is DJI’s latest and probably last iteration of the all time classic DJI drone. Ok maybe I’m being biased, but I frickin’ love them.

Again I want to highlight that although it’s not the most portable drone of all time, you can definitely travel with it. I used to travel with my Phantom 3 Standard all the time and it’s not an issue, just make sure you’ve got a decent backpack for it.

The Phantom 4 4k unsurprisingly sports a 4k camera, mounted to the drone via a 3-axis gimbal. Now for such an affordable price tag, it’s pretty remarkable you get a 4k camera. Pair this with the drones’ 25-minute flight range and 1.2km maximum range, and you’ve got one of the best value for money drones ever released.

You also get some of the classic intelligent flight modes with the Phantom 3 4k, such as waypoints, point of interest as well as both VPS & GPS positioning.

This may sound like some crazy high end drone but I just want to highlight again that you can get this for less than $600, if that’s not value for money then I don’t know what is.

​Pros:

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    ​Affordable
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    ​Great camera for such a cheap price
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    ​Awesome flight time
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    ​Easy to use

​Cons:

  • ​Phantom 3’s are starting to get a bit dated
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    ​Not the most portable design

7. Autel X Star Premium - Great DJI Alternative

Specs

  • Flight Time: 25-minutes
  • Maximum Range: 2km
  • Camera (Video): 4k, 2.7k, 1080p
  • Camera (Photo) 12 megapixels
  • Weight: 3.1lbs/ 1.4kg


Features

  • Automatic take off & landing
  • One key return to home
  • Follow me, orbit & waypoints
  • Star point Positioning System
  • Detachable camera and gimbal
best travel drone
​70
Quality
​80
​Price
​75
​Our Rating

About

The Autel X Star Premium is often referred to at the ‘budget friendly DJI Phantom 4’. This is because the two feature very similar specifications, with the Autel X-Star Premium being significantly cheaper.

With a flight time of 25-minutes, a maximum range of 2km and a maximum speed of 60pkh, the Autel X Star Premium is a force to be reckoned with.

The drone features an extremely high quality camera capable of shooting 4k at 30 frames per second, 2.7k at 60 frames per second and 1080p at 120 frames per second. The camera itself is attached via a 3-axis gimbal that is detachable from the drones body.

This allows for the camera to be upgraded when Autel release their next model, without you having to buy an entire new drone. This is an incredibly unique feature that makes the Autel a great option for those of you who aren’t wanting to purchase another drone in the future.

Unfortunately, the X-Star Premium doesn’t have much in the way of intelligent flight modes, featuring the basic way points, follow me and orbit. Having said that, these are some battle tested flight modes that are capable of shooting some stunning aerial videos.

Overall, the Autel X-Star Premium is a fantastic, budget friendly option for those of you who are looking at getting a drone for your next time abroad.

​Pros:

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    ​Budget friendly
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    ​Easy to use
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    ​Camera can be upgraded without having to buy an entire new drone
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    ​Can shoot in 4k
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    ​Decent maximum range

​Cons:

  • ​Not a tonne of intelligent flight modes
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    ​Heavier than most of the drones on the list

​8. Go Pro Karma - Best If You Already Have A Go Pro

Specs

  • Flight time: 20-minutes
  • Maximum Range: 1km
  • Camera: Go Pro Here 4,5,6
  • Weight: 35.5oz / 1.06kg


Features

  • ​Auto take off and landing
  • ​One key return to home
  • ​Compact Design
  • ​Modular design – both a drone and a hand held stabiliser
  • ​The latest update introduced ‘follow me’ mode
best travel drone - go pro karma
​65
Quality
​80
​Price
​70
​Our Rating

About

To be honest, I would only really recommend the Karma Drone if you already have a Go Pro. This is because the drone by itself is pretty cheap considering its specifications and the fact that you get both a drone and a hand held stabiliser in one.

You’re probably aware that Go Pro had to do a recall when they launched the Karma drone, however re-released the drone a few months later when the issues were fixed.

You’ll have to get in quick though as Go Pro have said they’re going to stop making the Karma drone due to the fact that their sales numbers are down across the board.

The drone itself sports a 20-minute flight time and a maximum range of 1km, both very respectable specifications. What makes the Go Pro Karma unique, and one of the main reasons I recommend it is that you get the Karma grip alongside the drone.

The Karma Grip is a hand held stabiliser that you can use on the ground, and then attach to the drone when you want to shoot aerial photographs and videos. This is amazing for those of you who already own a Go Pro and are looking to take your travel videos to the next level.

The drone also has some pretty decent intelligent flight modes and is also extremely easy to fly, even if you’re a complete beginner. Overall, despite facing some issues along the way, the Karma’s portable and unique design make it one of the best drones for travel videos.

There’s only a limited number left though, so don’t hang around.

​Pros:

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    ​Suitable for beginners
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    ​Easy to use
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    ​Camera can be upgraded without having to buy an entire new drone
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    ​2 for the price of one, hand held stabilizer and a drone
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    ​Portable

​Cons:

  • ​Not as many features as the DJI models
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    ​Have to use a Go Pro

Useful Go Pro Karma Accessories


​9. Yuneec Breeze - More of a Selfie Drone

Specs

  • Flight time: 12-minutes
  • Maximum Range: 100m
  • Camera: 4k


Features

  • Pilot mode
  • Selfie Mode
  • Orbit mode
  • Automatic take off
  • Return to home
  • GPS & IPS
best travel drone
​55
Quality
​90
​Price
​65
​Our Rating

About

The Yuneec Breeze is definitely not a professional standard camera drone, instead it’s designed to be more of a selfie drone. I’ve mentioned this before in other posts that I’ve always been torn with the Yuneec Breeze as it possesses some awesome specs as well as some not some awesome ones….

For example, the drone features a 4k camera, which is pretty crazy considering how small the drone is. This is especially true when you compare it to its biggest rival – the DJI Spark, which only has a 1080p camera.

Then however, you’ve got to take into account the drones use of digital stabilization, that when compared to a drone utilizing an actual gimbal, is far less effective.

The drones flight time is nothing to write home about either, providing you with around 12-minutes in the air. Yoy can spend these 12 minutes implementing the drones’ plethora of intelligent flight modes that do allow you to record some awesome stuff. Unfortunately, this is kind of limited by the drones maximum range of 100m.

As you can probably tell, I really can’t decide how I feel about the Yuneec Breeze. I think it is perfect for someone who is looking to record some ultra HD footage of their holiday, perhaps post it to their social media feed and look back on it with fond memories.

I don’t think that it’s particularly suitable for anyone looking to produce a high standard video, despite the fact it has a 4k camera. It may not be the best travel drone, but it’s certainly a possibility.

​Pros:

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    ​4k camera is awesome for such a tiny drone
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    ​Affordable
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    ​Ultra portable
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    ​Great flight modes
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    ​Portable

​Cons:

  • ​Not for serious film making
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    ​Utilizes digital stabilization rather than a gimbal

Useful ​Yuneec Breeze Accessories


Useful Accessories

When you’re traveling with a drone, there are a number of accessories that make it a lot easier. I’ll list them below so you have a clear idea what else you should buy alongside your new camera drone:

  • Spare battery (at least one)
  • Li-Po Safe battery bags
  • Spare propellers – Spare props can be heard to buy in store, so it’s best to take a few spare incase you need them
  • Charging dock – if you have more than one battery, this will let you charge them up at the same time
  • Tablet – Flying a drone using a tablet compared to a smartphone is way easier and gives you a clearer view from your drones’ camera. This in turn allows you to shoot some better quality stuff.

Best Travel Drones Round Up

​So, what do we dub "the best travel drone"?

Well to be honest, all of the drones on our list are more than good enough to record awesome travel videos. With that said, I recommend the following three drones as my top choice

  • DJI Mavic Pro Platinum​Amazing camera, with an even more amazing flight time and maximum range make this easily one of the best travel drones available. ​​​
  • DJI Mavic Air​Crazy portable with a brilliant camera. Unfortunately doesn't have the best flight time on our list, however this is more than made up for with it's compact design and ease of use.​​​
  • ​DJI Phantom 4 Pro​Atlhough one of the larger models on our list, the Phantom 4 Pro is still one of the best drones for travel videos thanks to its professional standard camera. It make take slightly more effort to get it around, but the crisp footage it's able to capture is well worth it.​​​

Thanks for taking the time to read our article on the best drones for traveling, I hope you’ve found it useful.

As always, if you’ve got any questions, please feel free to comment below.

Happy Flying! (& travels)

Tips For Making an Aerial Film

How To Make Your Drone Shots Look More Cinematic

​5 Top Tips For Filming With A Drone

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James Davis

A passionate drone enthusiast, travelling New Zealand whilst blogging about the thing he loves - Drones :)

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One Comment

  1. Took the Mavic Air with me to Thailand and it was perfect! Such a good drone, especially considering the size of the drone.

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