AIM Flyers - 40-something drone travellers!
Welcome to my blog. I am Zoë Lawrence and here I would like to introduce to you a combination of travel and beautiful drone imaging, with some insight for making a traveller’s life in your 40s and hopefully if you are looking for a new start to inspire you to take that leap!
My husband, Daniel, and I became fixed on our desire to travel full time, it was just a matter of how! How could we travel the world and give ourselves enough of an income to not worry about whether we can afford the dessert or not!
While researching for many hours (when i should’ve been working at my day job!) for ideas on making more long term travel a regular, if not a permanent part of my life, I found countless ideas and blogs on backpacking and travelling on a shoestring, gap years and teaching English abroad. But nothing that helped with strategies in what to do if you are far into careers and into your 5th decade of life!
The first lightbulb moment was coming across the wonderful Hecktic Travels blog. Now here were a couple, like me; without children, like me; with an interest in working for themselves but with the freedom to travel at the same time. Amazing!
This was my first introduction to the concept of digital nomads, “people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner” (thanks wikipedia!). However, they were at least a decade younger than me when they set out, and I wondered what a difference that can make psychologically. Does it help knowing that you can maybe sacrifice a few years to travel and regain a career back home if it doesn’t work out for whatever reason?
I was not that brave, and with Dan five years older than me, and self employed, there was a lot to give up without knowing if we could survive if we wanted to return in 1, three or five years or more! So, we invested a lot of thought and time looking at a number of different ideas and concepts over a period of time (see next blog on ideas for inspiration!).
Then came the second lightbulb moment! Dan has been flying model aircraft for a number of years as a hobby and then became intrigued by the idea of drones for commercial work. Drones are the latest in digital filming and photography, and, importantly for nomadic purposes, they are portable!
What if we could travel and get paid for drone work at the same time?
The benefits of deciding to travel later in life is that there was the potential to make a financial sacrifice by investing in an initial DJI Phantom drone to see if we could at least grasp the basics of flying an unmanned aircraft while capturing. The costs are not easily met by someone at the beginning of their career. Dan took to it like a duck to, well, air! That’s not to say mistakes weren’t made. This first drone was lost due to gust of strong wind and a dash of inexperience, RIP Phantom. However, the images we had managed to gather were utterly breathtaking and so we were hooked. The next purchase was an Insprie 1, this time with a slightly more financial investment, £3200 with dual controllers; much more experience and some insurance!
The latest addition to our drone family is a Mavic, which is ideal for our travel purposes. This came in new at £1300 for the full pack including 2 spare batteries, a car charger and a case.
While the Inspire 1 is great for more meaty, paid work, the portability and ease of the Mavic is second to none and brings in crisp, clear pictures from places where it would be hard to carry the Inspire, such as across a stream or up a steep mountain. It folds away into it’s own little carry case no bigger than an old style polaroid camera, with room for 3 spare batteries. It can be out of it’s case and in the air in under 1 minute, and folded away again with the same ease.
So we had a passion, next we needed a beginning…
One of the lessons learned from Hectick was that there are opportunities to housesit across the globe, meaning accommodation costs are minimised or negated and a way of experiencing a new area or country allows the potential to immerse into a culture as the opportunities can be anywhere from 1 day to a year or more. A huge coincidence occurred at the same time from a customer of Dan during his day job as an electrician. The customer and his wife were in urgent need of people to house sit (and dog and chicken sit!) for their site complex and smallholding in France for the winter and we took this as a timely spring board and off we set on our droning adventure!
And so, here we are, in the middle of the French South West countryside near the lively city of Toulouse, several hundred physical miles from our home city of Brighton, UK – but thousands of metaphorical miles in a beautiful, open space amongst the vines, with huge expanse of clear skies – ideal for safe and interesting drone shots!
Here I hope to inspire you, show you some beautiful aerial photography and answer any questions about drones and travelling in your 40s, or older! I would like to invite you to follow me on the journey of travelling and capturing images and exploring some ideas, as well as challenges, of travelling with a drone.