To think that drones attached with cameras for the consumer did not exist 10 years ago. Now we have drones that we can fit into our pocket. Traveling with a drone has never been easier.
However, as these pieces of equipment grow in popularity, so do the laws that govern them grow. There is so much you need to know before you pack your drone up for your next trip, and we want to start with our story of traveling with a drone during a multi-country trip.
Traveling with a Drone: Our Story
On our final day in South Africa, I was met with a problem. Something I had been dreading for the entire journey throughout the country. That was the dilemma of what to do with my drone.
We were flying out of Durban, South Africa to Casablanca, Morocco. The latter of the two destinations is a country with very strict drone laws. To the point where they wont even allow you to bring your drone into the country.
How do I know this? Research.
And if you plan to travel with your drone, I suggest you do the same for each country you are traveling to.
See, our plan was to fly from South Korea to South Africa to Morocco, cross the channel by ferry into Spain, fly to Portugal and then to Canada. With so many changing rules regarding flying a drone, it dawned on me about a month before our trip to do some research on what each country’s laws are on flying a drone.
I thought right away that South Africa would be an incredible spot to capture some aerial footage. Amazing landscapes and the possibility of getting wildlife on aerial footage just had me drooling.
Unfortunately, the next destination on our journey had a very strict NO drone policy. To the point where if you are caught bringing one in, it will be confiscated. If you were lucky, you could pick it up on your way out of the country. From the same airport where it was taken from you.
Well, that would not work for me as our plan was to fly into Casablanca, Morocco, but to take a ferry from Tangier, Morocco to Spain.
The next option. Get written consent from a higher authority from within Morocco. So right away I tried my luck on writing a polite email to see if they could forward my email along to get this written consent.
The problem with this was that I had not received any response until less than a week before my departure for South Africa, and even then the email did not get me anywhere.
My next option was to send it to my AirBnB in Portugal while in South Africa with hopes that it gets there and I would be able to receive it. Alternatively, I could just cut my losses and send it straight from South Korea to Canada and not be able to capture any of that incredible South African scenery from the sky.
I really wanted that footage and decided I would try to send an email to my AirBnB host in Portugal to see if it would be okay to send a package to their place with the hopes that they could receive it. That never turned out, and I was nervous with trusting someone else that I had never met with this task, let alone how bad they may feel if it did not work out.
I was down to my last option. Sending it from South Korea to Canada. A fairly inexpensive thing to do. But, I was determined. And stupid. And thought. What if I took it to South Africa and sent it from there to Canada? I checked the price and it was astronomical. $250 USD to send it as opposed to $100 USD from South Korea.
But like I said before, I was stupid and really wanted to capture South Africa from the sky.
So, I went with that option.
What You Should Know
In retrospect, I should have cut my losses and just sent it from South Korea to Canada. Two of the four countries we were traveling to, I was either not allowed to fly in or was not able to bring it in. In Spain there is a strict no fly law with fines in excess of $10,000 USD and the military being called in some cases.
This is not the only country that has a drone ban. It is important to know where you can and cannot fly when you are traveling with a drone. Check out this list of countries that have drone bans.
You should also recognize the laws of countries you visit regarding the flying of drones near airports, structures, public spaces, and whether or not permits are required. The same website linked above also offers a comprehensive list of country laws regarding drones. It is also important to do further research beyond this as drone laws are always changing. Remember that these pieces of equipment are still relatively new, and so are the laws that are developing in response to them.
Understanding and doing the research on before traveling with a drone will save you from getting your drone confiscated at customs or much worse like getting hit with a massive fine.
Best Drones to Travel With
I am a big fan of DJI. I think what they are doing with drones is incredible. When they came out with the Mavic, I thought that was groundbreaking how small they could make a drone capable of so much. Then the Spark came out and I was blown away. They are the leaders in this space, and why I trust them most when looking at new drones to purchase.
There is no limit to what these drones can do for your videography and photography as a travel content creator. You can now have something that is smaller than your DSLR camera to fit right in the same bag as your camera that allows you to get a stunning birds eye view.
These are a the best drones to travel with that you can consider taking along with you on your next trip.
- DJI Mavic Air
- DJI Mavic 2
- DJI Mavic Pro
- DJI Spark
From 10 years ago not having the ability to get sky high with your camera to today where one of these pieces of equipment can fit in your pocket, innovation in this industry has never been better.
However, as this industry grows, so do the laws that govern the flying of drones. It is important to understand these laws, especially when traveling. Otherwise, you will be looking at getting your drone taken away at customs, or much worse like getting a large fine.
Know what you are getting into when traveling with a drone.
Have you ever traveled with a drone? Have you ever had any complications in the airport or while flying?
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