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How to Travel With a Drone

The aerial view of the new vertical lifting drone with back <a  href=
propelling rotor called 'CORA'" width="300" height="120" /> The aerial view of the new vertical lifting drone with back propelling rotor called 'CORA'

Travel-friendly options

You’ve done your investigation, you’re free to fly, but which one to fly? A small, highly-portable drone might be a better option for travel. Wirecutter, The New York Times firm that reviews products, recommends a few camera drones, including the DJI Tello, for within U.S Dollars. The photos and videos produced won’t be quite as high quality as their larger counterparts, but their low cost and small size make them a great option for travel.

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The eVTOL Passenger drone
The eVTOL Passenger drone

On the plane

Drones typically use lithium-ion or lithium polymer batteries, and the F.A.A. prohibits any type of spare lithium batteries in checked luggage. Batteries in a device are fine, but spare ones are not. You can bring most of those in your carry-on, nevertheless. The F.A.A. has a handy PDF to explain what’s allowed and where, but check your actual airline for any additional rules.

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What to expect if you get caught

Law enforcement authorities and governments of all sizes take the potential threats drones to pose very seriously. Hovering your drone in a national park, for instance, is classified as a misdemeanor, with a maximum fine of U.S Dollars, and six months in jail.

Countries have implemented similar fines. Depending on the infraction, in Britain, you could be fined between a few hundred British pounds on the spot to £, over U.S Dollars. In Japan, it’s up to, yen, or concerning U.S Dollars. Motherboard, part of Vice Media, applied a Freedom of Information request to get a list from the F.A.A. of all the fines it has levied so far.

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If your drone is confiscated by the police or local authorities, there’s no guarantee you’ll get it back. So it’s smart to determine local laws before you fly and look for any “no drone” signs, often very visible near parking lots, entrances and ticket booths.

Always consider your fellow travelers

Signe Brewster, a Wirecutter staff writer, and expert in drones wrote the Wirecutter guide referenced above. She offers one last piece of advice:

“I like to err on the side of extreme respect once hovering drones. If I’m at a tourist destination and other people are within earshot, I won’t fly. I wouldn’t want to hear drones buzzing within, so I’m not concerning to be the first. Never fly over crowds and always heed signs banning drones.

“Public opinion is still developing on U.A.V.s, and I want to do my part to ensure I can still be hovering years from now.”

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