1. Don’t assume the regulations of the country you are in/visiting. In planning our SE Asia journey, we knew we would be spending at least two months in Thailand. With all the majestic scenery, stunning coastline, and fascinating culture – how could we NOT want to film this all from above? Our initial thoughts were – as we are doing filming for our own personal “hobby”, we won’t need to request any special permissions or registrations, as long as we observe the same “gold standard” guidelines set out by the British Civil Aviation Authority. BUT, just three weeks before our arrival Thailand introduced new strict drone registration and licensing laws. Although drone registration had been compulsory for almost a year, only 350 out of an estimated 50000 owned drones nationally had been registered. The upcoming commemoration of the Kings death in 2016 highlighted this lack of regulation and the law will now be enforced by a 100000 baht (£2300) fine and/or 5 years in prison!
2. Allow for more time at airports. Don’t assume that the airports know (or care) about your equipment. Although many airport personnel are aware of drones, some individuals may not be. In our very early days of drone ownership we took our Inspire 1 on an internal UK flight. While we checked the drone into the hold, we took the batteries in our carry on luggage. Naiivity on our part meant that we did not use lithium battery bags (horror!). We did, however, declare the batteries and were informed by the staff that they were happy for us to take them aboard! Which leads neatly on to…
3. Lithium Battery bags are essential for transporting batteries while travelling! There is nothing more likely to put a damper on your travels than being responsible for a fire inside your aeroplane cabin! Lipo Bags are relatively inexpensive and available from places such as Amazon.
4. Check with your individual airline policies. Most airlines are happy with you bringing your small drone, such as the MavicPro, as cabin luggage, however airlines such as Emirates expect you to check the drone into hold luggage. This means that you may want to invest in some special hard shell cases to protect your expensive equipment from the riggers of air transit and baggage handlers. You may even compromise the safety of your equipment if you are forced to check your drone in and don’t have suitable protection to ensure the drone is undamaged once reaching your destination!
5. Invest in some great bags/luggage and take drone on as carry on wherever possible. Peli cases do some really great, waterproof, hard shell cases,. These have customisable inserts in order to allow you to fit your specific equipment and extras in to your case.
6. Check online for each individual airport’s security policy. One travelling drone lady was made to check her drone into the hold by airport security at Budapest airport. This is on their website as official security policy now, although it wasn’t at the time she tried to travel. For extra security, especially if you don’t want, and are not required, to check your drone in, it could be sensible to pack your blades into the hold luggage if at all possible.
7. Take extra blades! It may seem obvious, but if you break your blades in a foreign or remote area, it could be a long time before you can replace them. Imagine finding the perfect spot to film and photograph, but not be able to fly because you simply didn’t have spares!