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Flying a Drone in Honduras

Our trip to Honduras in April was my first opportunity to travel with the DJI Mavic Pro since I purchased it, so I thought I’d write a little bit about the process of traveling with a drone and share some of the images I took with it. (All photos in this post are from my trusty little Mavic.)

I actually bought the drone before we left for our trip to Peru last summer, but I didn’t yet feel confident about flying it at home let alone in another country, so I decided not to bring it despite all of the amazing photo opportunities we would have had with it. And then our next trip after that was to New York, where my understanding is that drones are pretty much a no-no in the entire city. The whole reason I settled on the DJI Mavic Pro, though, was for its highly portable design, so I’ve been itching to take it somewhere scenic. Enter Roatan, Honduras!

So my first order of business before packing the drone was to research the country-specific guidelines and laws for entering the country with a drone and for flying an unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV. I have no interest in breaking any rules and ending up starring in an episode of Locked Up Abroad. I’m a very law-abiding traveler.

Simply doing a search on “drone laws Honduras” provided enough sources to verify their general drone laws, such as not flying over people or large crowds, respecting people’s privacy, and stay out of areas like airports and military facilities. We follow their same guidelines here in the United States plus some additional laws, so after some thorough reading I felt comfortable packing the Mavic in my carry-on camera bag and heading off to Honduras.

Law review, check. Next up: general safety. The Mavic operates on Lithium-ion Polymer batteries and since they can (very rarely!) be hazardous, I purchased a LiPo safety bag and port covers for extra safe transport of the batteries. For anyone wanting to travel with a drone, keep in mind that LiPo batteries are not allowed to be packed in your checked baggage, so you’ll need to plan to carry them on with you. The fire resistant safety bag keeps the batteries contained if they should short-circuit and spark. I also read that the batteries travel best if they’re partially or mostly discharged, so I let them drain before the trip.

Going through security at our airport, Dulles International, was a breeze, or at least as much as it can be these days. I took my Mavic out of my bag along with my other electronics that are larger than a cell phone, and everything cleared the security process with no issues. And just a quick note on going through security, Chris and I have been using CLEAR for almost two years and we absolutely love it. We’ve never had to wait in line, and that gives me plenty of extra time to unload my electronics for the x-ray and re-pack afterward. If you sign up through my link, you’ll receive two months free (and I will, too)!

When we arrived on Roatan, we didn’t have to do any paperwork or processing on the drone like I’ve heard some other countries require. For instance, in Peru you need to apply in advance to receive approval and there is a tax assessed and charged that gets refunded as you exit the country. Bringing the Mavic to Roatan was easy breezy! But since drone laws are constantly evolving, we’ll check the laws again if/when we return to Honduras someday in case anything has changed.

Our rental villa in Camp Bay was the perfect spot to practice flying without disturbing a soul. The last thing I want (besides breaking laws) is to make anyone feel like I’m being a creepy spy, or to bother people with the noise. Once the Mavic is up in the air you can’t hear it, but the take-off is a little loud.

We even had plenty of time and resources to get a little creative with the aerial photos. I had a version of the image below in my head ever since we planned this trip and I had a blast executing my vision! Now I just need to learn how to take images with the Mavic on a self timer so I don’t have to be holding the controls.

This area just down the beach from our rental home was also a fantastic spot to fly. We had the beach all to ourselves one afternoon! I’ll never get over how gorgeous it was from all angles – on the ground and from the air up above, Camp Bay is simply stunning.

I’m really looking forward to traveling with the Mavic more in the future! I also brought it with me on a recent trip to St. John, USVI, with no issues at all and those posts are coming soon. If you are a drone pilot and have any good travel tips or recommendations, please let me know in the comments or send me an email!

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4 comments
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  • Jaimye - Glad to hear I can bring my Mavic to Roatan in October.  I’ll also be in St. John next May also.  I hope you saw great recovery happening.
    The drone shots are such a great new perspective for vacation photos. I just had my first trip with it in Italy on Amalfi coast and had a blast. 
    Happy Flying.ReplyCancel

    • Susan - Yes! You’ll get some amazing shots on Roatan! St. John is steadily recovering. I’m behind on blogging about it, but we had a wonderful time. And how cool re: Italy. I’d love to fly there!

  • David Mathieson - Did you fly into San Pedro Sula? I’ll be flying there at the end of the month with my Karma drone. I’m not interested in getting hassled nor having it confiscated. It’s too big to carry on, so I’ll pack the drone but carry the batteries. Any tips or advice?ReplyCancel

    • Susan - Hi David! I flew into RTB on Roatán. I think as long as you cover/protect the battery terminals you should be able to carry them on with no issues. To be even more safe, you can put them in a safety bag like the one mentioned in my post. (And don’t forget to really secure the gimbal on the drone in your checked bag.) Have an amazing trip! I’d love to see your drone footage!

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