6 tips for travelling with a drone on a plane

Thinking about getting a drone camera? It’s fast becoming a must-have for taking your holiday snaps to the next level, but here’s what you need to know before taking it to the skies.

A little girl flies a drone on a sunny day
  • Sarah Reid
  • July 2019

Drones can be a great travel companion, allowing you to capture stunning videos and photos not otherwise possible with handheld cameras. There are quite a few rules and regulations to keep in mind, however here are some top tips for travelling and photographing with a drone.

A drone flies in the sky at sunset with a city skyline in the background
A drone flies in the sky at sunset.

Go compact!

If you’re buying a drone specifically for travelling, go for a super-compact model that doesn’t eat too much into your luggage allowance. Ensure it comes home with you in one piece by putting in some practice hours before you leave – flying an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) takes some getting used to.

Don’t forget the accessories

With the average battery life for a mid-range drone currently being around 20 minutes, you’ll want extra batteries for travelling. Investing in a travel case, as well as a fireproof bag (also known as a LiPo bag) for storing and transporting batteries, is a good idea. Don’t forget to check the safety rules around flying on Jetstar with batteries too. Finally, as your smartphone acts as the screen for your controller, consider bringing a power pack for your phone and don’t forget to load it up with apps which can provide useful information such as no-fly zone maps.

A drone capturing aerial images of green fields
A drone capturing aerial images of green fields.

Be transit smart

Still on the subject of batteries, drone batteries must always be packed in your carry-on luggage. Some airlines also require the battery terminal points to be covered (tape them or bring a fireproof case for each battery) to prevent them from coming into contact with other metal objects in your luggage, which can be a fire hazard. Like all camera equipment, it’s best to also pack the drone itself in your carry-on. Make sure you know your carry-on size and weight limits too.

Put safety first

Be mindful of children and animals around your drone, particularly when launching and landing. Catching your device should always be a last resort, as even a small gust of wind could see you lose a fingertip. Always keep your drone in your line of sight and ground it on windy days to avoid accidents.

Man and child play with a drone on the beach
Man and child play with a drone on the beach.

Know the local laws

Many countries are still in the process of legislating drone use, so check ahead. A few nations have banned drones entirely, while some others, such as Fiji, require drone owners to apply for a permit or register their device in advance. As a general rule, never fly near other aircraft or airports, or over events or groups of people. Australian drone laws are spelled out on the Civil Aviation Safety Authority website, while the UAV Coach website opens in new window maintains a handy global directory.

Brush up on drone etiquette

Don’t be that person who ruins everyone’s day at the beach by flying a noisy drone low overhead. Always seek permission before flying over private property (this includes your hotel), and if curious locals approach, answer queries respectfully, keeping in mind that a drone can look pretty scary to someone who hasn’t seen one before.