Choosing the best travel drone for your trip can be a nightmare – especially if you’re new to piloting. There are so many options available and many of them are nowhere near as good as they claim to be.
Instead of letting you waste time searching for the best drones for travel, we’ve done the leg work to pick the top travel-friendly drones!
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Related: (links open in a new tab)
- Drone Laws in Southeast Asia
- Travelling With A Drone – What You Need To Know
- Backpacking Southeast Asia FAQs
As drone technology has improved, so have the required features users expect. All drones in this list have GPS and the RTH (Return to Home) function. The location can be updated manually on the map shown on the controller/phone/display. Some include tracking functionality but this is not the case for all the drones listed.
The 11 Best Drones for Travel
Much like its predecessor, the DJI Mini 2, the third iteration of this great drone is lightweight, compact and easy to fly. It’s an excellent choice for beginners thanks to its shallow learning curve and ease of use. With a flight time of 38 minutes, a 12MP camera capable of shooting 4K footage and excellent range (up to 10km), this drone is the ideal choice for shooting amazing images while travelling!
It's available with three remote controller options:
1. No controller
2. Standard controller without a screen – this includes a mounting point for a smartphone
3. Controller with an inbuilt screen
- Lightweight (below 250g which makes it exempt from registration in some countries)
- Controller with integrated display
- No obstacle avoidance
- Could be cheaper
- Struggles in the wind
DJI’s Mini 2 SE is almost identical to the DJI Mini SE. However, it features an upgraded range and the ability to connect to the DJI built-in display controller. The quadcopter legs are foldable, which makes it easy to pack. The massive 10km range and 31-minute flight time ensure you can get to those hard-to-reach shots. The camera shoots 2.7K video, which is almost indistinguishable from 4K to the naked eye. As standard, the DJI Mini 2 SE includes the normal remote control which uses your smartphone as a screen. The controller with an integrated screen is available separately.
- Good controller with phone connection
- Lightweight (under 250g so is exempt from registration in a bunch of countries)
- Easily affected by wind
- No obstacle avoidance sensors
- "Only" a 2.7K camera
A welcome addition to the DJI family, the Mini 3 Pro is an incremental upgrade from the Mini 3. It features an upgraded 48MP camera which shoots 4K footage, an improved range – up to 12km – and object avoidance sensors! The Mini 3 Pro is easy to pack and travel with and can fly at 58kph – you can get some amazing moving shots using the tracking feature and the 34-minute flight time gives you plenty of opportunity to nail the perfect composition!
- Best camera in this weight class
- Weighs less than 250g
- Tri-directional obstacle detection
- Easily affected by wind
- GPS lock-on could be faster
After DJI, Autel is generally considered the second-best drone manufacturer thanks to their reliable, high-quality drones. The Evo Nano+ is a fine example of their work and although it’s more expensive than the DJI Mini 3 (its main competition), it rivals the more established drone.
The 50MP camera can shoot 4K and the 3-axis gimble offers a range of angles you can shoot from. The 16x digital zoom means you can get great images from a distance. The Autel Evo Nano+ has a range of 10km and a slightly shorter flight time of 28 minutes. Its controller is a standard joystick setup with mounting points for a smartphone.
- Good obstacle avoidance
- Under 250g
- Excellent low-light camera quality
- Pricey compared to its rival the DJI Mini 3 Pro
- Affected by wind due to its light weight
The first medium-sized drone on our list, DJI’s Air 2S is feature-packed to help you make the most of your flying experience. The 5.4K camera enables you to take amazing photos or video and the incredible tracking ensures you get the most out of every flight. The Air 2S has a massive range of 12km and a flight time of 31 minutes. It can fly at up to 68kph and is much more stable in wind than the other drones discusses so far – it’s perfect for tracking moving vehicles or amazing panoramic shots when hiking along clifftops!
- Excellent obstacle sensors
- Superb tracking
- 5.7K camera
- Weighs more than 500g so will require a permit in some countries
- Medium price range
- Multiple features don't work with the 5K camera so it must be set to 4K mode
Holystone are more known for making drones for children but don’t let that put you off. The HS720G is a quality drone, which for the cost, competes well with the more established competitors. It packs down super small, making it easy to get into your travel bag. The tracking is excellent for a drone in this price bracket and the flight time of 26 minutes is only a few minutes short of the more expensive drones.
The downsides of Holystone’s HS720G are the limited range – less than 1km – and the outdated hardware. The 2 axis gimble reduces the drone’s overall photo quality but it would be much worse without its electronic image stabilisation.
- Awesome image stabilisation
- The controller has both an LED display and phone connectivity
- Short transmission range (under 1km)
- The 2-axis gimble is a little outdated compared to the competition
The super lightweight HS175D from Holystone is far from the best travel drone on the market. However, if you’re on a budget, it’s hard to go wrong with this entry-level option. The 40-minute flight time offers plenty of chances for you to get used to flying but beware that the limited range could be a problem. Initially, the budget drone will be in beginner mode, which only allows 30m of range. You can turn this off to increase the range to 500m but beware that the video feed is only good to 300m.
Overall, this lightweight, budget-friendly drone from Holystone is a good choice for beginners. The 4K camera allows you to get some fantastic shots and the drone itself is easy to pack. While it’s limited compared to the competition, it's far from the worst drone available.
- One of the lightest drones available
- Very beginner-friendly
- Low price bracket
- Poor range compared to the competition
- Prone to drifting in low wind
The DJI Mavic 3 Classic is entering another world of drones. It’s often considered a professional-level drone and requires a lot more experience to get the most out of. It’s heavy too, clocking in at nearly 1kg so can be costly to register when you travel.
However, the quality of this drone is hard to beat. It has a range of 15km and an advertised flight time of more than 45 minutes! The 20MP camera can capture video in 5K and there’s an option to include DJI’s HD screen controller. The Mavic 3 Classic is rapid, topping out at an astounding 75kph. It also features omnidirectional obstacle sensing to protect the drone as it zooms through the air!
- Massive range
- Superb obstacle avoidance
- Light-cut technology for better picture and video quality
- At nearly 1kg the drone needs to be registered in many countries
- The stated battery life is on the optimistic side
Available in two models, Autel’s Evo Lite and Lite+ is a good rival to DJI’s Air 2S. The 4K camera (6K in the + model), features excellent image stabilisation and delivers amazing photos. The joystick controller includes a phone attachment point, so you can always get a good drone’s eye view of what’s going on.
It can be flown in a range of conditions thanks to its high-level wind resistance and can be used for great tracking shots. The top speed is over 60kph with a range of 12km!
The biggest downside of this Autel drone is the expensive accessories. If you want a case or spare batteries, expect to pay a fair bit for them!
- Very fast
- Excellent image stabilisation
- Pricey compared to its rival the DJI Air S2
- Still need to pay a couple of hundred dollars for 'premium' accessories
Welcome to the new age of drone piloting. The DJI Avata offers an immersive first-person view flying experience. It requires the use of goggles and motion controllers, so you can lose yourself in the clouds. This makes your Oculus look like a cheap gimmick.
Awesome flying experience aside, the Avata is rapid, reaching close to 100kph before topping out! The max flight time is a little disappointing at only 20 minutes but the transmission range of 10km is more than enough.
Flying the DJI Avata is an exciting experience but not one for new drone pilots. You need to know what you’re doing before sticking the goggles on!
- Very fast
- Great goggles and motion controller
- Superb camera quality for excellent immersion
- Pricey complete set
- Requires experience to operate properly
- Can't be flown without goggles 😎
Even though it’s been discontinued by DJI, the Mini 2 was a groundbreaking drone. It’s still available from certain retailers and if you see one for sale, do yourself a favour and grab it. DJI is still offering software updates for the Mini 2, so it won’t fall out of the sky anytime soon!
It houses a 12MP camera capable of shooting 4K video and packs down small enough to get in your backpack. There’s no inbuilt tracking which is disappointing but this just forces you to get even more precise with your flying!
- Reliable communication and precise landing
- Very compact
- Easily affected by wind
- No obstacle avoidance sensors
- No subject tracking
Other Discontinued Drones
Much like the DJI Mini 2, there are other discontinued drones which, if you can still find for sale, are well worth picking up. Often, they’re discontinued because newer, updated versions are released. However, these old classics are excellent value for money and often, not much of a downgrade compared to the newest models!
The Swellpro Spry+ is a fully waterproof drone, making it excellent for use around rivers, lakes and waterfalls! It can land and take off from the water and can even survive being fully submerged. Be aware though, the Swellpro Spry+ is heavy and lacks some of the sophisticated tech in newer drones.
The Anafi drone is still one of the quietest drones out there. The camera is magnificent, with 3-axis hybrid stabilisation and exceptional range of movement. However, the drone has no flight sensors, so it’s not for beginners. Plus, additional software updates, including intelligent flight modes, must be purchased separately to get the most out of the Parrot Anafi.
Containing the now legendary GoPro Hero 5 camera, the Karma drone can capture excellent footage and photos. However, the rotors need to be unscrewed before packing the drone, making it a bit of a pain for travel with. It’s also almost impossible to find new now but you can find both second-hand and refurbished models online.
What to Look for in a Drone for Travel
When it comes to travel drones, there is no doubt that the easier they are to pack, the more appealing and usable they are. There are plenty of factors that coalesce to make a drone packable, leaving us with a lot to consider!
The weight of your drone has a big impact for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the heavier it is, the more of your luggage allowance it consumes. Secondly, a lot of countries have weight and size limits on drones you can use and the registration process for them. Often, lightweight drones either don’t need to be registered for recreational use, or the registration process is cheaper and easier than with larger drones.
- Size and Shape
Large drones, or drones that are awkwardly shaped can be a real chore to get into your luggage. Make sure the drone you’re considering isn’t too big. If you think it’ll be difficult to get into your backpack, it’s worth reconsidering and opting for a smaller model. Otherwise, you’ll be left struggling with it for the length of your trip.
Most travel drones fold down to become more packable. These are ideal because they offer the stability of a larger drone in flight while still being easy to get into your bag.
Battery Life/Flight Time
Travel drones tend to have a standard flight time of 30 minutes (give or take a few mins). Drones with a shorter flight time force you to carry loads of extra batteries.
If your drone offers less than 20 minutes of flight time, it’s not really worth considering. By the time you’ve got it in the air and worked out the best angle for your shots, it’s time to bring it down to land.
If you manage to find a drone with a longer flight time, some can go up to 45-50 minutes, then you’re in luck! You’ll find you can do so much more with a longer time in the air!
The transmission range of travel drones varies widely. The price, quality and controller setup of your drone all affect the range of your machine. Some budget-friendly drones may only have a range of 400-800 metres. Other, more expensive travel drones can have a range of over 10km!
Bear in mind that the advertised range of drones is usually measured in an ideal scenario. This means a clear line of sight and good atmospheric conditions. Used in the real world, you may find the range less than advertised.
When choosing the best drone for you, consider where you’ll be flying and how far away from the controller you’re likely to want your drone to go. If you’re looking to get some beautiful, expansive photos or videos, you’ll want a drone with a longer range. But if you’re new to drone piloting and are just looking to get some cool overhead shots, don’t let a shorter range deter you too much.
Most of the drones on our list have an excellent range – more than you’re likely to ever need – but some of them have much shorter ranges.
Although some drones are available without cameras, these aren’t what we’re talking about. Unless you’re a true drone enthusiast who gets a kick from just being able to fly, a drone without a camera is a waste of time.
When it comes to choosing a drone for travel, camera quality is important. These days, most good drones can shoot HD footage and take excellent photos. Some can capture and transmit video in 4K and a few reach up to 8K resolution!
Unless you’re a professional drone pilot shooting footage for TV or the big screen, HD cameras are more than enough but you’ll still find many of the best travel drones with more powerful cameras.
Not to be confused with the flight controller (a circuit board built to receive and transmit information from your drone as well as keep it in the air), the remote control is what a drone pilot uses to fly their drone.
Drone remote controllers differ but they all do the same thing. They work by turning your control inputs into radio signals and sending them to your drone. Radio signals travel at nearly the speed of light so, for all intents and purposes, your inputs are transmitted instantly to the drone.
Some more advanced controllers have a built-in screen, allowing you to fly in FPV (First Person View), essentially seeing what the drone sees. Others don’t include a screen but allow you to mount a smartphone to act as the screen – these tend to be the most widely used with travel drones. Finally, some cheaper drones don’t include a controller at all. Instead, they rely on a smartphone app which displays video and has touch controls built into the HUD (Heads Up Display). These tend to be less sensitive, less reliable and have a shorter range than a proper controller setup.
Availability of Replacement Parts and Accessories
Parts and accessories for drones from big brands like DJI tend to be easily available, even for discontinued models. But for smaller, lesser-known brands, you should always check to see how easy it is to get new parts if required. Getting a cheap drone from an unknown brand might seem like a good idea but if an important part fails and you can’t get a replacement, the drone becomes little more than a still-life tribute to flying.
While the availability of accessories is less important than spare parts, it’s still nice to know you can get a case, or upgrades for your specific drone. Sure, universal accessories are available but they’re never as good as properly tailored items.
As with all travel gear, the price of your drone is an important factor to consider.
If you’re just starting with drone piloting, opt for a cheaper drone – there’s no point digging too deep into your travel fund for something you’re not fully committed to. You can find good quality beginner-level drones for $150-$300USD.
But if you’re an experienced drone pilot, looking for a top-notch travel drone, expect to spend anywhere from $300-$1500USD.
Professional-level drones can reach exorbitant amounts of money but they’re not necessary for 99.9% of travellers.
The Best Drones Drones for Travel – A Round-Up
When choosing the best drone for travel, there’s a lot to consider. The size, weight, packability, camera quality, ease of use and price all play a role.
Our overall favourite drone for travel is the DJI Mini 3. The value for money and high quality of this drone is second to none. However, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, the DJI Mini 2 SE is a top choice. Cheaper still are the drones from Holystone, specifically the HS175D. However, these Holystone drones have limited functionality compared to the competition.
If money is no object, consider the DJI Mavic 3 Classic or the Autel EVOLITE+. And finally, if you’re looking for something a little different and the idea of flying with VR goggles appeals, DJI’s Avata drone is the entry point to a whole new world of drone piloting!