Travel, With a Drone

Howdy all and happy Friday wherever you may be. Yes, it’s Friday and the end of the working week of sorts. Except who knows what that is these days and I work weekends and… okay anyways, I wanted to write about something you can’t help but notice if you check out enough travel vlogs, and that is simply this – everyone is using drones these days!

Drew Binsky is a vlogger I have mentioned before. He makes incredibly slick and indeed sleek videos from his travel as he is attempting to visit every country in the world. Like we are talking the sort of quality you might get on tele. And clearly he uses a drone (or possibly two) to help achieve a feel of polish. Take Mr Bald of Bald and Bankrupt fame, and he goes the other way, however he still shoots in HD or even 4000K and there is a certain crispness to his videos which makes them look better. Otherwise, he uses limited editing, background music or titles.

Personally I prefer Bald and Bankrupt to Drew Binsky, but Drew’s channel is incredibly successful so what do I know? Personally, with my vlogging/travel video efforts, I am now shooting in HD from my Nikon D5600, and also find that it gives (as did my D3300) excellent, crisp HD video quality. However, they are large and hard to keep steady. Previously I shot with camcorders, cameras specifically designed for shooting video rather than photos. Whereas the picture quality was not as good, even when claiming to be in ‘HD’, camcorders work better to video things I feel. You rob Peter to pay Paul I guess in some ways. Finding the perfect camera for this stuff is half the battle I suspect.

But then we get to the issue of drones. They have become an important weapon in the armoury of the travel vlogger in the last few years. I have never travelled with one and at this stage, I doubt that I would because, well, I’ve had some rather disappointing experiences with drones in the past which I will go into in a paragraph or two.

I have to say the idea of carrying a drone with me as I travelled sounds like one item too far. You’ve got your normal camera, possibly an action camera too, plus a laptop for editing, that’s got to weigh you down. On top of that your phone, probably a spare charger, so much electronic equipment to look after and worry about, and it’s going to make you a target too. Officials aren’t always happy about drones, and you need to have a permit in some places.

One such place is Iran, and a case in point is the one where two Aussie backpackers/vloggers were flying a drone without a permit. They were held for quite a while – for around two YEARS in fact. You don’t want that, and as the following article details, they basically were released thanks to a deal struck with the Australian Government (and all charges dropped). But if it wasn’t for that, they might still be there.

Australian couple released from Iran detention, Jolie King and Mark Firkin back in Australia in ‘good health’

Now though, for me, apart from issues about knowing when and where you can legally fly a drone, and the bother of carrying it, looking after it etc, there is one major factor that leads me to think drones are not for me. And that’s my past experience with drones.

You see, I had two drones, once. Well, it was 2018, and I bought them for shooting a little story for my Doctor Who Fan Fiction – Professor Who. If you watch some of the below video, you may be able to find the first one. I wanted to use it both as a prop, as a ‘killer drone’ shall we say, and to grab footage as well, mostly as a point of view shot.

Well, I took it out to the national park we were shooting in to test it out and get a few shots in the can. It was tricky to manoeuvre, that’s for sure. I think that some drones you can sort of program through an app, but this one didn’t have that capability. It was – they both were – cheap drones I should say. The first was just over $100AUD and the second was more like $70AUD. I thought I was just getting the hang of it when it got stuck in a tree, fifteen metres high.

It wasn’t the first time it had gotten stuck. I was there with a friend and we got it out before by throwing sticks at it! But this time it got firmly wedged. I went back with another mate and we actually brought the branch down! But no drone. It had been four days and there had been some wild weather, so I guess, it had come down and someone had found it.

Go to 30’22 to see my inept handling of a drone!

I replaced it with a cheaper drone. It had the app feature to control the flight, but it was the first time out of the box. I went to a soccer field and had a fly, it was possibly harder to control than the first drone. It takes practice to get the controls right, work out which way the thing is facing and all that. In the end, a gust of wind took it off in one direction and I couldn’t bring it back. It fell into a private tennis court. I tried to contact those running the court, but to no avail and I never saw it again. I admit, I could have done more to try and get that one back, but I was basically fed up with drones and had decided ‘what’s the point’?

Honestly, it would be like taking something incredibly easy to lose with me travelling. I never retain a pair of sunglasses through a trip. NEVER. Or hats, I always lose my hats. But I do have to say, some of the shots the vloggers achieve with drones are pretty amazing. But they must know what they are doing as well.

At least for now, drones are not an option for me. I think ultimately you need to spend more to get one that’s easier to control, but I’d worry about buying an expensive drone and losing it. Actually, what prompted me to write this article was this add I saw for what looks like a ‘mini-drone’, not much bigger (if at all) than your hand. In fact, it’s on sale for around $32AUD which suddenly seems very tempting. It also boasts it’s easy to control. What do I think? Maybe I’ll give it a go at that price. Because as far as I am concerned, it’s almost a guarantee I’ll lose it. A 4K drone for $32??? Seems ridiculous…

So dear readers – who out there has drone experience, recommendations and thoughts? I would really LOVE to hear from you so please do comment!

Thanks for popping by today – May the Journey Never End!

3 thoughts on “Travel, With a Drone

  1. But Andy drones actually have some of the best aerial shots and do the best tricks! I think mastering a drone can even make an amateur look like a professional. And as for Drew Brinsky, I thought he was done travelling to all countries around the world. Well, maybe I thought wrong.

    1. Yes Im not really advocating for or against drones, and they certainly can really enhance videos. but i do think about the weight and carrying them on a trip, and looking after an expensive piece of equipment. Ideally if you were doing some sort of epic trip, and you could take everything you thought you might need, then why not take one? The reality though is it could be a major hassle to carry! Drew was DUE earlier this year to complete every country, but because of corona I think he stopped with five (?) countries left.

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