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The best travel drones in 2022

Best travel drones: DJI Mini 3 Pro
(Image credit: DJI)

If you want vacation photography that really stands out, why not take it from the sky with one of the best travel drones? Easy enough in theory but holidays often mean cramming a lot into a small space. That doesn’t stop you taking a drone though; many quadcopters are designed to fold and pack into a small space and in this list we’ve highlighted some of the best travel drones available today.

Other crucial criteria for travel-friendly drones we’ve looked at include ease of use – there’s no way your friends and family won’t demand a go. Similarly crucial is battery life, and of course how easy it is to charge on the go. A thoughtful travel case – even if it is an option – is something to think about. Manufactures often do a good job accommodating their gear, and their bag can safely be placed in your suitcase.

Finally the means of sharing content is a crucial factor. Even if you can carry a drone, that doesn’t mean you’ll have access to all your computing gear. Many drones record to MicroSD, but are there easier solutions to get to Instagram without card readers?

The best travel drones in 2022

(Image credit: Adam Juniper)
Ultralight folding drone with all the professional features

Specifications

Weight: 249g
Size (folded): 145 x 90 x 62mm
Stills resolution: 48MP
Video resolution: 4K @ 60fps
Battery life: 34 minutes (standard battery)
Max speed: 16 m/s (35.8 mph)
Subject tracking: Yes, smart
Charging method: USB-C (power-brick not included)
Travel case: Optional (part of Fly More kit)

Reasons to buy

+
All-round collision sensors
+
3-axis mechanical gimbal + GPS return to home
+
DJI Fly app can export to phone photo 
+
QuickTransfer Wi-Fi transfer
+
Alternative 47-min battery available (at cost of weight) 

Reasons to avoid

-
Cost of entry high - Screw-in control sticks could get lost
-
You need to supply a 30W USB-C Charger 

A light drone that folds up small, yet has camera and safety specs that can compete with the big boys? Absolutely. It does, of course, also come with a similar price tag so choosing the Mini 3 Pro is all about maximising the camera at a minimum of size and, significantly, sub-250g weight. The camera is excellent, and even features the unique ability to switch to portrait mode – ideal for social-media focused content creators on the go. 

With GPS return-to-home as well as the ability to automatically circumnavigate obstacles there are very high safety marks. The long battery life and 10km radio range further increase confidence. These features combine to make it an ideal drone to learn on. We were also impressed with how this ultralight handles wind, though obviously there are limits.

If you stump up for the Fly More Kit you get a case with room for controller, three batteries and the device as well as spares. Choose the RC Pro remote with built-in screen and the system is a ‘closed loop’ – no need for a phone to fly. Whichever remote you opt for you can still transfer images & video to a device using QuickTransfer.

(Image credit: Adam Juniper)
Ultralight travel drone ideally suited to narrating flights

Specifications

Weight: 249g
Size (folded): 140 x 90 x 50mm
Stills resolution: 48 MP
Video resolution: 4K 30fps
Battery life: 28 mins
Max speed: 15m/s (33.5 mph)
Subject tracking: Yes, smart
Travel case: Yes, in standard and premium bundle

Reasons to buy

+
Travel case includes wealth of compartments
+
3-way obstacle avoidance
+
Flight narration feature
+
2.7K30 live view on monitor
+
No geofencing 

Reasons to avoid

-
Fewer subject tracking features than some
-
US power brick supplied, even in Europe/UK
-
Cheaper version with smaller image sensor late to ship
-
Nowhere in controller to store the sticks

The Autel EVO Nano is another ultralight drone which can circumvent registration regulations, at least in some territories. It’s available with a half-inch or a 0.8-inch image sensor (as the Nano or Nano+). Both can shoot 4K. 

Drawing on the firm’s other drones, there is a wealth of software functionality including the option to record sounds from your phone to link to your flight, narrating it. There is also smart subject tracking, so you can get some nice action shots.

We also like the choice of colors as well as the forward/backward/downward collision sensing system. Together with the GPS the drone does a good job of being safe and easy to fly, and the controller’s shape make it easier to hold than many. The drone can charge the battery (a hub comes with the Premium bundle) when connected to a USB-C cable. Only the premium bundle has a US power brick, but when traveling it’s nice to stick to a single USB-C charger if your gear supports it. 

(Image credit: Adam Juniper / Digital Camera World)
Budget GPS 4K drone with a great travel case

Specifications

Weight: 478g
Size (folded): 173 x 106 x 51 mm
Stills resolution: 8MP
Video resolution: 4K 30fps
Battery life: 26 min
Max speed: -
Subject tracking: Yes, dumb (follows controller)
Travel case: Yes, included

Reasons to buy

+
Core features including GPS
+
Optical sensors 
+
Waypoint mode
+
Limited follow mode tracking
+
4K video with Electronic Image Stabilization

Reasons to avoid

-
No mechanical image stabilization
-
GPS drift more pronouncedRelatively short range (800m theoretical)Convoluted calibration before each take off
-
Controller uses AA batteries – it is not rechargeable
-
Over 259g

 The Holy Stone HS720E lacks the elegance of drones from the firms, like DJI, which its design has clear echoes of. It doesn’t have the same range, or smooth user experience, but it does produce 4K video for a budget price. Not only that, but it comes in a good quality travel-ready hard case.

The main battery is rechargeable, and supplied in the box are two batteries and a charging hub which can handle both in sequence. That means the total flight time, even accounting for a land-and-swap is more than most drone’s standard bundles. We also like the controller’s display screen, which makes feedback easier to see, and while the GPS is prone to a slight drift, the hover and return-to-home works.  

Video might not be slick, especially at speed, as the camera must lean with the drone as it combats the wind, but after landing it is possible to download the clips. On the plus side there is a version of subject tracking which can follow the GPS position of the remote – no AI cleverness but it has uses, and there is a waypoint mode unlike nearly any other consumer drone. 

(Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital Camera World)
Slightly weightier semi-professional drone

Specifications

Weight: 595g
Size (folded): 180 x 97 x 77 mm
Stills resolution: 20 MP
Video resolution: 5.4K
Battery life: 31 min
Max speed: 19 m/s (42.5mph)
Subject tracking: Yes, smart
Travel case: Optional, with Fly More Kit

Reasons to buy

+
Balances size and weight with specs
+
5.4K Video
+
Copes well with wind 
+
Fly more kit includes case and filters

Reasons to avoid

-
Power block adds travel weight/volume
-
Environment sensing doesn’t cover left/right
-
Pilot assist is APAS 4; Mavic 3 has newer APAS 5

The Air 2S is an incredibly capable drone which is only a tiny bit bigger than the DJI’s ultralight Mini 3 Pro, but offers more capability at the cost of moving up a weight category. That extra few grams mean the drone can carry a 1-inch CMOS sensor which can capture video at up to 5.4K. That might seem excessive, but it allows for digital cropping /digital zoom at spectacular quality too, and the 12.6-stop dynamic range RAW stills are striking. From this list, only the Mavic 3 competes in low light.

Extra weight also makes the drone even more sure-footed against the wind (if ‘foot’ can be the appropriate analogy!) In terms of smart features it is comparable to the Mini 3 or Mavic 3, though its object circumvention is a generation older. Like the bigger Mavic 3 this drone comes with chunky brick to charge the 3750 mAh batteries from the wall, which will add to your carrying weight.

(Image credit: Adam Juniper)
Ultralight budget drone which still produces slick imagery

Specifications

Weight: 249g
Size (folded): 138x81x58 mm
Stills resolution: 12 MP
Video resolution: 2.7K 30fps
Battery life: 30 min
Max speed: 13 m/s
Subject tracking: No
Travel case: Optional, with fly more kit

Reasons to buy

+
Best flying camera available at the budget
+
Well-suited to daylight use
+
Some social-suited automatic flight features
+
Drone can act as charger

Reasons to avoid

-
11mm image sensor not ideal in low light
-
Range sensibly limited to around 500m
-
Lacks QuickTransfer so copying content can be slow

If you’re looking for something to give you good-looking pictures from the near sky, the Mini SE is ideal. It isn’t the best camera but it’s broadly similar to many cellphones and – crucially for a drone  – it is supported on a gimbal. This gives real image stabilization which makes for better video at 2.7K than you’d get at 4K with no, or only electronic stabilization.

What you don’t get is the latest when it comes to DJI’s remote controllers. Even this, could be seen as a bonus (the older design is smaller and still grips a big phone as monitor). Inside, however, the lower power means the live video is 720P and in real-world conditions struggles to reach 500m (DJI say 2500m in perfect conditions). In practice, though, you’re unlikely to want to go that far. It’s more fun to create cinematic videos effects (the ‘Dronie’ or ‘Helix’). They’re not technically subject tracking, but the drone can keep the camera on a spot and orbit it or shoot upward while panning the lens down, which all looks good on social media.

You can copy content from the MiniSE card using the app – not as fast as ‘QuickTransfer’ but perhaps something to do as you sip a drink at the end of a day on the beach and, if you want more time in the air and a nice hard case, the Fly More kit will oblige.

(Image credit: Insta360 )
A way to capture drone-like video without letting go

Specifications

Weight: 149g
Size (folded): 113x30 mm
Stills resolution: 18.4 MP
Video resolution: 5.7K 30fps
Battery life: 80 min (30 min max per recording)
Max speed: n/a
Subject tracking: Yes, AI
Travel case: Optional, with Pro kit

Reasons to buy

+
No drone regulation issues
+
Re-focus on your chosen subject later 
+
Waterproof to 10m
+
MultiView captures face and another subject at once
+
Image stabilizing and multiple view options

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't fly - this is not actually a drone
-
Requires editing time to get the best results
-
App benefits from a powerful phone
-
Better with Pro kit for an extra cost

Okay, not actually a drone, but – in certain circumstances – the 360˚ camera can give a similar perspective. Not only that, but its smaller than an ultralight drone and won’t challenge any aviation regulations, nor mind going underwater.

It records from two opposing fisheye lenses (and a gyroscope), so the ONE X2 can see in every direction at once and captures good color and detail. It can use this to crop and stabilize the video. This affords a good amount of creativity and when paired with Insta360’s simple invisible selfie stick (opens in new tab). Better still, the software eliminates the stick itself from the view, giving the impression from flying.

This Insta360˚ can also capture normal widescreen video if needed, potentially saving your phone from risky days out. The real fun, though, is using the fairly memory-hungry app to explore the results, selecting subjects to track, and extract cropped video into something you can share.

(Image credit: Adam Juniper/Digital Camera World)
The ultimate folding drone for professional-quality imaging

Specifications

Weight: 895g
Size (folded): 221x96x90 mm
Stills resolution: 20 MP + 12MP
Video resolution: 5.1K 50fps
Battery life: 46 min
Max speed: 19 m/s (42mph)
Subject tracking: No
Travel case: Optional, with fly more kit

Reasons to buy

+
Best flying camera available at the budget
+
Well-suited to daylight use
+
Omnidirectional collision sensors
+
Dual cameras offer quality or impressive zoom

Reasons to avoid

-
A hefty investment for casual use
-
The zoom views are (relatively) disappointing - Power block adds travel weight/volume
-
Main camera can capture RAW images, but zoom is JPEG only

At 221mm (8.7 inches) long, this isn’t a tiny drone when folded, but the clip-on cover DJI supply protects its delicate parts without occupying much more space. Weight-wise, too, it certainly isn’t light, but that is buying staggering flight times and a Hasselblad-branded dual lens camera system. The large 4/3rds sensor captures gorgeous detail in typical wide view (84˚FOV / 24mm efl), while a 12-megapixel offers 7x optical zoom (162mm efl) and 28x digital).

As this sits at the top of DJI’s consumer/pro range (as opposed to enterprise), it’s no surprise that it features all-round collision sensors, smart collision avoidance and a theoretical 15km (8 mile) range. In other words, there are safety features you’d trust with the kids, were it not for the price tag!

If you’re vacationing in beautiful, scenic and slightly remote locations away from crowds (where weight regulations matter more) you could ask for little more. We wanted the zoom camera to be as good as the main one, but it is still better than most.

How we test drones

Our drone tests are carried our in the field (opens in new tab), allowing us to assess the quadcopter for its flight performance, easy of use, and its image quality. All our drone reviews are overseen by Adam Juniper (opens in new tab) who is one of the UK's leading experts in drone, and who has written several books on flying drones, including The Drone Pilot's Handbook.

Read more:

Best accessories for your drone (opens in new tab) 
The best drones for beginners (opens in new tab)
Best drones for kids (opens in new tab)
The best DJI drones (opens in new tab)
The best indoor drones (opens in new tab)
The best underwater drone (opens in new tab)
Best drones for fishing (opens in new tab)
12 things you need to make money from a drone (opens in new tab)
The best camera insurance for photographers (opens in new tab)
The best camera backpacks (opens in new tab)

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