Drones are the new must-have accessory for your travels. It’s easy to understand why: they allow you to shoot each destination from a unique perspective and offer the chance to get some pretty incredible shots and footage. I’ve tried and tested the leading drones on the market to help you to choose the best travel drone for your trip.
So, you’re in the market for a drone. You’ve seen the images, you’ve watched the footage and now you’re ready to take the plunge and buy one for yourself.
But which one? Fast-developing technology has meant that you have a lot of choice when it comes to buying a drone that captures great photos and video at a reasonable price.
As a professional travel writer and a photographer, I know how important it is to have equipment that is portable, lightweight and excellent quality – these are the qualities that I think are essential when you are looking at which drone is best for travel.
Ready to discover the best drones for travel? Read on to find out my favourites…
Best Travel Drone: At a Glance
|Best Travel Drone for Videography||Potensic Dreamer Pro|
|Best Travel Drone for Professionals||DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0|
|Best Travel Drone for Beginners||Holy Stone HS100G|
|Best Value for Money Travel Drone||DJI Mavic Pro|
|Best Portable Travel Drone||DJI Mavic Air|
The Best Travel Drones
Potensic Dreamer Pro – Best Travel Drone for Videography
The Potensic Dreamer Pro is one of the best drones on the market right now. A bold claim, I know – but one it’s well worthy of. This drone is ideal if you’re filming objects in motion – perfect for skiing, motorsports, or aerial shots of animals, etc.
In terms of value for money, this drone is excellent – it’s by no means the cheapest drone on the market (by no means is it the most expensive, either), but it boasts enough features to warrant this a great entry-level drone.
If you’re seriously looking to get into videography, photography or the like, this drone is going to be your new best friend. It may not have some of the fancier features that the other drones in this guide boast, but what it does, it does well.
The 3-axis mechanical gimbal ensures that images and videos are steady, resulting in high-quality footage from the sky. And, with a video transmission distance of up to 2km, you can watch the high-resolution livestream from your drone’s camera on your phone.
The clever 3 axis gimbal is what makes this drone so special. The drone has upgraded stability which ensures ultra-smooth footage no matter how shaky in flight. This means that whether you’re filming sports, animals, or vehicles, footage will be clear and dynamic.
The self-stabilising gimbal also features an anti-shake ball effect, which filters out any image vibration, whilst still ensuring the image is of high quality.
Performance-wise, there are no major complaints with this drone. The Pic Dreamer Pro records 16MP photo and 4K/30fbs video.
The video transmission distance of this drone is up to 2 km – which is possible whilst still ensuring a high-resolution livestream to your mobile directly from the drone.
The drone has a quick charging time of two hours, which gives you up to 28 minutes of fly time.
The remote control is by far my favourite feature – your mobile phone slips into what looks like a video game controller. This, along with the joystick function, makes it incredibly easy to fly the drone and remain in control at all times.
The design of the drone is a blessing or a curse, depending on what you’re using it for. At 820g, this drone is on the larger side of things. This makes it great for more rugged conditions, such as filming at ski slopes or racing tracks, however, it means it is heavier and not as nimble as other options in this guide.
I love the white colour, but it does come with its own risks – every single spec of dirt is going to be magnified, as well as every bump from dodgy landings.
If you’re travelling, the drone’s sleek carry case comes in clutch – simply pop everything away and you can carry it like a small briefcase.
Using the latest Qualcomm tech, the Potensic Dreamer Pro has a control range of up to 2km. It broadcasts on 5.8GHz for reliable Wi-Fi images and offers a live video transmission, so you can experience what the drone is seeing in real time.
- Weight: 820g
- Size – 350 X 320 X 195mm
- Flight Time: 28 minutes
- Max Speed: 5m/s (ascent ), 8m/s (flying), 2m/s (descent)
- 4K video
- F2.8/ 28mm equivalent lens
- Find my drone app
- ISO Range 2000
- Three-axis gimbal
Potensic Dreamer Pro – Pros & Cons
|– Large size means it’s able to withstand different temperatures and terrain |
– Great drone for sports videography or capturing motion
– Find my drone app is handyThree axis gimbal means you can get smooth footage
– Long flight time
– Quick charging
|– No return to home function (does have a find my drone app, though)|
– On the larger side – a little bit bulky
DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 – Best Drone for Professionals
There’s no doubt that DJI are responsible for some of the best drones on the market and, if your budget allows, your top choice should be the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 – the newest offering from their Phantom range.
I’ve raved about my love for the Mavic Air before (more on that later), but the Phantom 4 Pro kicks things up a notch.
This one’s a little bit of a beast and ideal for professionals (A.K.A, if this is just a side hobby to you, don’t bother dropping nearly 3k on a drone – go for one of the cheaper options instead).
The 3-axis gimbal and 1-inch 20mp CMOS sensor with a mechanical shutter completely eliminates rolling shutter distortion, giving you crystal clear footage every single time.
With a maximum flight speed of 72kph and a transmission range of 8km, this is one of the most powerful travel drones on the market right now.
This drone comes with an excellent 3-axis gimbal and 1-inch 20mp CMOS sensor with a mechanical shutter to completely eliminate rolling shutter distortion. In terms of this, the Phantom 4 Pro is probably the best drone available in 2023.
Probably my favourite thing about the DJI Phantom Pro 4 V2.0 is the number of intelligent flight modes such as TapFly, ActiveTrack, Draw mode, Gesture mode, and more. Draw mode, in particular, is excellent and allows you to control the flight path via a drawn route on screen.
The controller is maybe the one thing that lets this drone down – it’s a bog-standard controller with a smartphone holder. You will need to ensure your phone is compatible as you have to install the DJI GO 4 App on your phone.
While this drone might look smaller than the other offerings in this guide, it is significantly heavier. This is great if you’re a professional, but not so great if you’re backpacking around and need something light to carry with you.
In terms of transmission, the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 boasts a maximum flight speed of 45mph and an 8km range. This drone has multiple flight modes which makes creating smooth, high-quality video a breeze.
- Weight: 1360g – VERY heavy
- Size – 251 X 398 X 171mm
- Flight Time: 30 minutes
- Max Speed: 45 mph (s-mode)
- 4K video
- Transmission Range: 8km
- Three-axis gimbal
DJI Phantom 4 Pro – Pros & Cons
|– Long flight time|
– Three-axis gimbal makes recording smooth videos easy
– Great transmission range and speed
– Brilliant for professionals
|– Very heavy drone|
– Expensive when compared to alternatives on the market
Holy Stone HS100G – Best Travel Drone for Beginners
The Holy Stone HS100G has practically been created with beginners in mind.
This wallet-friendly option is currently one of my favourite drones for travel right now as it offers incredible value for money via a number of features you would normally only see on a drone three times the price.
The Holy Stone app offers plenty of brilliant features, including a Follow Me mode or the option to Draw a Route. This gives you more freedom to create great footage as you need to spend less time controlling the drone’s path.
And, with just 26-minutes of flight time available (which is actually very decent for a drone of this price), you won’t want to waste a moment.
As well as this, the GPS Auto Return function is a great addition for such a budget-friendly drone, no need to keep tabs on when battery is low to avoid crashing your drone – it will simply fly back to you when it needs to be charged (or loses signal).
This is the one thing that lets this drone down. There’s no gimbal, so footage is simple and from one angle only (but still of a high quality).
That said, if you’re looking for a beginner drone to catch holiday memories, don’t let this put you off.
The Holy Stone HS100G manages 26 minutes of flight time – though, I’ve found this actually equates to around 15 minutes before you get the dreaded low battery alarm – and performs really well.
Images are clear and although video footage can be on the shakier side due to a lack of stabilisers on the camera, if you’ve got a steady hand this shouldn’t be an issue.
Like I’ve already mentioned, this is by no means a professional drone. But, if you’re looking to dip your toes in the water without spending thousands of dollars on tech, this could be a great place to start.
This drone features one of the most ergonomic remote control designs, in my opinion. One key operation makes it incredibly easy to allow the drone to take off and land automatically.
What can I say, it’s a simple drone where the quality is in its features. It’s certainly not the best looking drone on the market, but the Holy Stone HS100G is not to be sniffed at. Simple, black, and inoffensive. The satchel-style carry case is a nice touch, too.
Boasting a 1080P HD 110°Field-of-View camera and First Person View transmission, the image quality is very, very good. Not quite 4K, but perfect for most people, nonetheless. You can control this drone from up to nearly 500 ft away!
- Weight: 182g
- Size – 270 X 270 X 120mm
- Flight Time: 26 minutes
- 1080p video
- GPS return
- Altitude control system
Holy Stone HS100G – Pros & Cons
|– Great price for features|
– Has ARH
– Number of different functions
– Great remote control
|– No gimbal|
– Battery time very low (says 26 minutes, in reality this is more like 15)
– Slow charging
– Not ideal for professionals or those looking for an advanced model
DJI Mavic Pro – Best Value for Money Travel Drone
Until the DJI Mavic Air came along a couple of years ago, the DJI Mavic Pro would have had my vote as the best drone for travelling. It still has a lot going for it, and enough differences to the DJI Mavic Air to warrant consideration.
There are several versions of the Mavic Pro – the standard DJI Mavic Pro, the Platinum, and the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. The Platinum version is quieter, can fly longer (30 mins vs 27) but is more expensive.
I don’t think the extra features would justify me upgrading my current Mavic Pro, but if you are buying your first travel drone, you can decide if you think it’s worth the extra cost. I’ve reviewed the standard Mavic Pro here and not the Platinum.
The Mavic Pro is a great option if you are looking for a drone that can perform in a range of conditions, has a large number of automated intelligent flight modes and yet is still very portable and easy to travel with.
The biggest thing for me about the DJI Mavic Pro is its wider ISO range. If you’re not particularly bothered about capturing high-quality photos or videos on your drone, skip ahead. Otherwise – read on.
The DJI Mavic Pro outperforms the DJI Mavic Air when photographing in low light conditions, thanks to its wider ISO range of 100-3200 (compared to the Air’s 100-1600). This makes it easier to capture those sunrises and sunsets, or any image/ video where the lighting is less than ideal.
Now, I’m not saying that the DJI Mavic Pro is the best drone for photography – that title goes to the DJI Phantom 4. In truth, the Mavic Pro still struggles in some lower light conditions and can come out with a grainier photo than you’d want, even when you control the drone camera manually.
That said, it is much more flexible than most of the other drones on this list, meaning that those with the expertise and know-how have a good chance at capturing the perfect shot, even when the conditions are less than ideal.
The gimbal on the Mavic Pro is one of the best, with a wider tilt, roll and pan range than the gimbal on the Mavic Air.
For me, one of the biggest pluses of the DJI Mavic Pro is the flight time. With a Mavic Pro, you get a flight time of 27 minutes – six minutes longer than the Mavic Air.
That might not sound like much but is a lot of extra footage and can be invaluable during one of those magic moments where conditions are perfect and you’re filming footage gold.
It’s also a remarkably steady drone. I’ve flown the Mavic Pro in all but the windiest conditions and it’s generally fine, with smooth and steady footage.
The system is very good at alerting you when there’s a high wind velocity and if it’s too windy to operate the drone safely. Mostly though, it’s not been a problem.
The controller for the Mavic Pro is a bit bulky. Although the phone attachment arms and the antennae fold in, the body of the controller is still quite big.
In Goldilocks terms, the Mavic Pro is just right. Larger than the DJI Spark and DJI Air but smaller and far more portable than the DJI Phantom 4 Pro.
Despite its slightly larger size, the DJI Mavic Pro is still a good travel drone – it is still very portable and easy to transport.
The transmission is another area where, on paper, the DJI Mavic Pro outpaces the DJI Mavic Air. The Mavic Pro uses both wifi and radio frequency transmissions, resulting in a flight range of 4km rather than the Mavic Air’s 2km.
Essentially, it’s up to you to decide how you plan to fly the drone and the local laws, but it is something to consider.
- Weight: 734g
- Size – Folded: 198×83×83 mm (L×W×H). Unfolded: 305×244×85 mm (L×W×H) – about the size of a water bottle.
- Flight Time: 30 minutes
- Max Speed: 65 kph (Sport mode). 36 kph (P mode)
- Forward obstacle sensing
- HDR photo shooting
- F2.8/ 28mm equivalent lens
- 11 intelligent flight modes including active track, waypoints, terrain follow and more.
- Return to home function.
- ISO Range 100-3200.
- Three-axis gimbal
DJI Mavic Pro – Pros & Cons
|– Very portable|
– Performs well in a wider range of light conditions
– Wider gimbal range – more flexibility when filming and taking photos
– Large number of intelligent flight modes – allows you to experiment more while filming
– Long flight time
– Long distance range
|– Forward obstacle sensing only – not backward|
– Larger and heavier than some other drones
– No internal storage
– No USB-C connection
DJI Mavic Air – Best Portable Travel Drone
What makes the DJI Mavic Air so special? It combines the best of two of DJI’s other travel drones – the DJI Mavic Pro and the DJI Spark.
The Air boasts the small size and light weight of the DJI Spark but the 4K camera and longer battery life of the DJI Mavic Pro (though the battery isn’t quite as robust as the Pro’s). It folds up to the size of a smartphone – so is incredibly portable.
DJI is at the forefront of the camera drone industry – they have created three out of the five drones featured on this list.
They’ve earned a stellar reputation for constantly evolving their technology to make it better – nothing demonstrates this better than the DJI Mavic Air, which they released in 2018 and it’s still one of the best on the market.
The three axis gimbal allows you to capture high quality images and video that is smooth and sharp. It’s not as sophisticated as the gimbal on the Mavic Pro, but is far better than the one on the Spark.
Smaller drones can sometimes suffer from not performing well (or indeed at all) in even slightly windy conditions, but DJI are careful to stress that this isn’t a problem that the DJI Mavic Air has.
I’ve tested this out and it’s true – despite its small size, the drone works well in light to moderately windy conditions, with consistently steady video footage and complete drone flying control.
DJI has gone for a complete overhaul with the Air’s controller.
The changes, which mainly centre around removable joysticks, should be good news for travellers as it means that the controller folds up smaller and is more portable than those of its predecessors.
As I’ve mentioned, the DJI has foldable arms, meaning it packs up super-small. It has a recessed gimbal, which goes some way to protecting it from getting damaged in transit and will help protect it as much as possible if you have a crash.
Unlike other DJI products, the Air comes with a USB 3.0 port for transferring content.
DJI has opted for wifi only transmission on the DJI Air. This essentially means that the drone has a much shorter distance range (2km rather than 4km) than the Mavic Pro.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s against the law to fly out of sight in a number of countries, so it’s up to you to decide whether the shorter distance capability really poses a problem or not.
- Weight: 430g
- Size – Folded: 168×83×49 mm (L×W×H). Unfolded: 168×184×64 mm (L×W×H)
- Flight Time: 21 minutes
- Max Speed: 68.4 kph (Sport mode). 28.8 kph (P mode)
- 8GB Internal Storage
- Forward and backward obstacle sensors
- HDR photo shooting
- F2.8/ 24mm equivalent lens
- 7 intelligent flight modes including active track, tap fly, cinematic mode and more.
- Return to home function.
- ISO Range 100-1600.
- Three-axis gimbal
DJI Mavic Air – Pros & Cons
|– Excellent value|
– Comes with 8GB internal storage – handy if you run out of space on your memory card
– Best drone for windy conditions
– Can fly at 20mph when being operated by smartphone rather than the 7mph of the Mavic Pro
– Backward as well as forward obstacle sensors
– Small sizeGesture controls for basic drone flying and photography
|– More limited gimbal range than the Mavic Pro|
– Doesn’t perform as well in limited light thanks to shorter ISO range of 100-1600
– Professional videographers and photographers will probably want to look to one of the more expensive, larger models
Best Travel Drone Guide – Things to Consider
So what should you be looking for in your perfect travel drone? I’ve set out a checklist of things you should consider before parting with your hard-earned cash.
I think this is the biggest concern. You can have the best drone in the world, but if you can’t transport it easily, it’s no good for bringing with you on your travels. It really is that simple.
Look for drones that are either really small or which fold up to a compact size.
As I spend a lot of my time on the road hiking and carrying a lot of travel gear, bringing the smallest drone that provides the highest quality is a must. If you are less bothered about this, then you can also consider bulkier drones such as the DJI Phantom 4 Pro.
Battery Life and Flight Time
Drones are power-hungry creatures. You should take a careful look at a drone’s flight time on a fully-charged battery before you buy it.
There’s no point in opting for the smallest and lightest drone if it means that you have to bring lots of spare batteries in order to capture the video footage and the photos you need.
Similarly, you should check the battery life of the remote controller. Most will last for several flights but check the stats before you buy.
How far can you fly the drone away from you? This figure varies a lot, so is one to pay attention to if you plan on doing a lot of long-distance flights.
Be aware of the local laws though: for example, here in the UK it is illegal to fly a drone out of sight and many other countries have the same regulation in force.
Unless you are an absolutely flawless drone pilot, having good obstacle avoidance on your drone just makes sense. Most drones come with some form of obstacle avoidance but some are better than others.
Is the Drone Ready to Fly?
It may come as a surprise but not all drones come ready to fly straight out of the box.
All the drones I’ve reviewed in this article do come ready to fly (RTF) but if you see the drone marked as Bind and Fly (BNF) or Almost Ready to Fly (ARF), know that you will either have to partially assemble the drone or buy the controller separately.
It’s quite unusual for camera drones to come as BNF or ARF but there are some out there.
Does it Have a Live Video Feed?
You can rephrase this question as will you be able to see what the drone “sees” on your phone or a controller? First Person View (FPV) is a must if, as I assume, you are planning on using your drone for photography or videography purposes.
Can You Film in 4K Video?
You’ll hear a lot of fuss being made about 4K video. But what is it exactly and do you need to buy a drone with 4K capability?
4K is essentially ultra high-definition video – a 4K camera has to have at least 8 million pixels, a whopping four times more than normal 1080px HD camera which comes in at two million pixels.
Sure it’s clear and razor sharp, and the footage is incredibly beautiful… but processing and editing 4K footage is difficult if you don’t have a computer or device that’s up to spec.
I don’t tend to shoot video in 4K, opting for 1080 px, which still looks great on computers and smaller devices but puts less load on my computer when I’m editing.
If you’re a professional or semi-professional videographer, you probably want to ensure your travel drone is capable of shooting in 4K. That said, 4K capability is pretty much standard across all camera drones now.
How Easy is It To Fly?
Drones have come a long way when it comes to how easy to fly they are. If you’re an inexperienced drone pilot, choosing a drone that can be partially operated through a series of gestures and comes with additional features such as return to home mode is very helpful.
Spares and Repairs?
I get it, nobody wants to think about crashing their soon-to-be-purchased brand new shiny toy, but a lot of people do crash their drone, and you may be one of them.
Having a drone that has an easy repair process (generally through the manufacturer or their official partners) and that it’s easy to buy spares for makes the whole ordeal a lot less stressful.
Summary of Best Travel Drone
Phew, that was a lot, wasn’t it? Those are my favourite drones on the market right now – but don’t worry if you’re still scratching your head as to which drone is right for you.
If you have the budget, the need, and the capabilities to handle a professional drone, then the DJI Phantom 4 Pro is the best option.
Though, if you’re looking for a travel drone to capture holiday memories and something slightly more informal, the Potensic Dreamer Pro likely has all the features you need. For a great price, too.
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