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How to Travel and pack your Phantom and Mavic drones

How to Travel and pack your Phantom and Mavic drones
August 26, 2015 ghung
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How to Travel and pack your Phantom and Mavic drones

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Shelling out over $1000 for your Phantom drone will give you everything you need to fly. However, if you are going to travel and pack your drone to an exotic destination you are going to need to transport it safely somehow. You can’t be carrying around some bulky pelican case if you’re going to be riding on a scooter.  I’m going to share the different options I’ve used to travel with my drone from Siem Riep Cambodia, Chiang Mai Thailand, to the snow-capped mountains of Whistler Canada.

Let’s first look at some potential requirements for transporting the drone

  • Protection for aircraft, vital accessories, and room for a laptop and slr is nice
  • Has some waterproofing protection
  • Impact proof protection
  • Allows you to walk or hike to your location
  • If you are traveling you will need to get it to your destination safely
  • You should be able to transport it with your choice of local transport
  • Doesn’t advertise that you own a drone

Included box (free)

How to Travel and pack the Phantom 3 drone

Packing the drone with the included box and a big bowling bag for to protect it

The included box is a sufficient short-term cheap solution. If you put it in check in luggage and lock the suitcase I’ve had success with this. However, I don’t like advertising that I own a drone so I like to have a big duffel bag to fit the box. This isn’t easy because it’s a big box. I purchased a big bowling Burberry knock-off bag from Thailand for $11US. The box may eventually wear down and the handle will come off the box. When I was temple hunting in Bagan Myanmar or riding the Tuk Tuk and E-bike in Cambodia it takes a toll on the box.

 

DJI Mavic Drone

The DJI Mavic drone is small enough to fit in a number of bags including the DJI one. Chances are that you may not just be carrying the DJI Mavic. In this video I’m going to demonstrate how you can use the DJI hard-case to transport the mavic with some accesories. You’re also going to see a larger travel backpack that could transport a camera,laptop, accessories, and DJI Mavic.

DJI’s hard case backpack $70US

How to Travel and pack the Phantom 3 drone

DJI hardshell backpack does the job, but no room for much else

On April 2017 I updated to the hard case backpack. I wish I had done it sooner. The solid hard cased plastic protects it from water and impacts. I like the fact it has foam inserts to protect the gear. This backpack is light and with just the DJI it is subtle enough to carry just about everywhere. I repurpose the backpack for use with my laptop on coworker space days and it managed to fit my MacBook pro 15-inch laptop, external hard drive, and accessories just fine. The only problems with this back pack is the handle at the top is not as thick to carry around the airport while I’m wearing my primary backpack. Also you have to open the backpack while upside down otherwise it is easy for your drone and everything to fall out. It also doesn’t have room for a laptop and SLR, which would have made this perfect.

How to Travel and pack the Phantom 3 drone

If you just need to carry the drone and want extra flying time this combo if the package to get. Click to buy from this affiliate link

Think-tank Airport Helipak $110 US

I admit I’ve been following the products from Think-tank for a while. They seem to cater to travel videographers. The problem is their products are usually more on the expensive side of things. Their heli-pack is a bit larger than Dji’s choice and looks like it has room for a laptop and some accessories. After watching a video by Brian Matiash Photography it looks like the Think-thank could a great all-in-one solution to carry a laptop, camera, and drone. The question is can you attach a tripod to the side?

Carry-on suitcase $45 US

I had to figure out a solution for my upcoming trip. My drone box was in bad shape, but the cardboard was still in good condition. I ended up taking my camera gear and Phantom 3 with cardboard insert to the luggage stores. I was able to check the fit while in the store. I settled with a carry-on from BP-World that seemed to carry higher quality luggage. This case has a 2-year warranty, a lock, 2 wheels, expandable zipper, and room for my camera. It’s only 50% waterproof and is not a solution if I need to go hiking. However, at least I can transport my drone safely on the plane. The cardboard cutouts will protect it for now and I will try to work with a 3d-printer makerspace to get a strong plastic mould or foam cutouts.

Sling Bag Foam Cutout $60

I purchased this Sling Bag from a drone hobby store in Singapore. It is a decent price and features a shoulder strap and a velcro handle for hand carrying. The foam cutouts fit all the parts for the Phantom 3 including room for batteries, remote, charger, and propellers. I like it because it is discrete, good value, and functional. The downside of this solution is that isn’t waterproof and it’s not a hardcase.

Manfrotto D1 Backpack $200 US

This is a new drone backpack made by Manfrotto. I first saw in person in Bangkok at the Phantom Thailand store. I think this is he ultimate solution for carrying a Phantom drone, SLR, tripod, laptop, and accessories. The problem is the price tag. Check out the review

 

Do you have a different setup to pack your Phantom 3 drone?

Remember you need to carry the battery on-board the plane as opposed to check in luggage, which has a higher risk. I’m not sure of the exact reason.

Gear I recommend

This is the gear I recommend. These are affiliate links that I get a commission from. Thanks if you decide to click and buy from this link

Phantom 3 Professional

It allows me to film 4k aerial videos and photos. It’s easy to travel with and as a 1st generation flyer I appreciate all the safety and technology improvements it allows. The integrated camera allows me to get great stable videos and photos that I can control from the app on my ipad mini 2.

My drone of choice photo credit:Landon unevensidewalks.com

My drone of choice photo credit:Landon unevensidewalks.com

Phantom 3 Professional battery

The battery gives you 23 advertised minutes of flight time, but in reality with the critical battery warnings you want to bring it down sooner than this. I recommend that once you hit 10% battery you should be coming back to land. If you buy the Phantom 3 pro drone the battery is definitely a smart purchase if you want more flight time. It will save you the hassle of leaving your flight location to find a coffee shop to charge for an hour. Purchase the battery here.

Bring battery on carry on luggage-1

Getting a second battery is a good idea

Phantom 3 Professional with Extra Battery and Hardshell Backpack

While I don’t personally use this setup yet this would be a great setup for someone who is doing a lot of traveling and filming or someone who is mobile.  I converted from travel luggage to a Costco kirkland hardshell suitcase and they are great for water protection and protecting delicate things like beer bottles. This hardshell backpack will offer water and piercing protection for your Phantom 3. If you are traveling in countries like South East Asia you may need to ride an e-bike or scooter this is right product. The extra battery will also come in handy as I’ve had too many times where I easily used up the battery power and struggled to find a power point or had to go back to the hotel to charge.

How to Travel and pack the Phantom 3 drone

If you just need to carry the drone and want extra flying time this combo if the package to get. Click to buy from this affiliate link

 

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  • I’m afraid the hassles of trying to transport it are why I’m interested in the P3 but just can’t pull the trigger on it. I want to do my traveling and hobbies for their own sake, and take a drone to record it, not just go somewhere with the drone. If DJI don’t produce something more travel-friendly I’ll have to go elsewhere.

    • Well Alan it looks like traveling with the drone has become easier with the DJI Mavic, but I’m not sure about the quality difference between the Phantom 3. The Phantom 3 is still ok to pack around, but not requires its own bag and backpack

      • Well yeah, right on cue they produced exactly what I wanted, a small, compact and travel-friendly drone. Unfortunately it seems full of bugs and rushed to market. In the end I bought a Phantom3 Standard, for a fun trip to Iceland, and then sold it when we returned. Great craft but yeah, a nightmare to lug around. It took up an entire carry-on bag, ie 50% of our allowance. We did get some great footage, but in hindsight was it worth carrying, constantly having to charge, then now and then dragging the suitcase out, setting it up, getting cold battery warnings… finally getting the thing in the air..? Yeah, just about, because the scenery was so spectacular. Anywhere else, not so much. I’ll wait until the Mavic or something similar is polished and fit for sale, which the Mavic isn’t right now.

        • I guess you’re referring to the Mavic as having bugs? I think it was rushed out in time for xmas. Traveling with the phantom and in the cold does have its challenges. Would be great to see your footage? Of course I have to ask you what you’re doing with the footage. If you’re just leaving it on your hard drive after all that then that would be a shame.

          • On DVD for friends and family 🙂 I added drone footage to other footage and photos, like adding hot sauce, rather than the main dish.

          • Yes that’s a great idea using drone footage with regular footage. A video with just aerial footage can get boring to watch. I loook to use them for establishing shots and then zone in with ground footage