Traveling with the DJI Mavic Drone!

Hello Travel Pandas,

A mere week prior to us leaving for Maui, we received our very first drone the DJI Mavic. We had pre-ordered it from the Apple store online and were lucky enough to get it here on time for our vacation! This blog post will be a combination of unboxing, review and tips on the DJI Mavic and how it can really impact your vacation.

WHY did we chose the DJI Mavic?

After drooling over DJI’s Phantom 2 for years then 3 then 4, I’ve always wanted a drone. That, however didn’t resonate well with the Mrs.Panda HAHA. So I waited and waited. I was finally about to pull the trigger on the Phantom 4 aka P4, it had the latest and greatest but what I couldn’t deal with was it’s size. Outstanding performance but too big to lug around in my opinion then I hear rumours of a new super compact drone. Sure enough, the GoPro Karma was launched and I thought “DONE DEAL! Imma buy one! Especially since it had a handheld gimble included, it was a killer value”, but then DJI launched their spectacular DJI Mavic just days after GoPro. That was the end of that GoPro dream for me LOL

The DJI Mavic was smaller, more compact but also it already had a proven past of previous generation drones that were spectacular in the field and used by thousands of professionals. The Mavic was a no brainer with it’s collision avoidance system (more on that later…), portability/mobility and it’s included remote controller. All I needed to add was my Samsung Galaxy S7 phone.

Here’s the launch video for the DJI Mavic

So what do you guys think? This sold it for me. As travellers, we always look for new ways to improve our vacation experience but not at the cost of inconvenience and weight. Here is what we got in the mail.

djimavic1djimavic2 djimavic3

At first glance, the box is actually pretty small. As you see in the last picture, you can see my Soy A7r in the background and our 12 week old puppy Tony Bark (IG @tonybarkthefrenchie) in the foreground. Already super impressed, upon opening the box, it was actually almost surreal how small and compact the drone was. Stunning!

Fit & Finish and overall build quality – This drone is built to withstand some serious weather! It is built VERY well with ZERO play within the parts. The “wings” that fold out are very solid and fold out nicely. Everything looks super sturdy and DJI really put some effort designing and manufacturing this drone. The remote control is even better in my opinion. It almost feels like a more battle ready controller than the Xbox controller. The joysticks feel very good on your thumbs and the buttons are top notch (I set my remote to “controller 3” which is the same controls as Call of Duty controls on my Xbox controller hahaha). The remote is also partially coated in this rubber feel to prevent any slippage from the hands and dropping it.

If you end up getting one (good luck… pre-orders are filling into Feb 2017), there are a few things you need to do first before flying it.

  1. Download the DJI Go app on your phone

  2. Put on the propeller

  3. Turn on the Drone and the controller

  4. UPDATE THE FIRMWARE while you are on a WiFi connection as this can eat up a LOT of data from your cell phone plan

  5. Once the update is done, plug in your charger and charge both the drone battery and controller to 100%

  6. Insert 32GB or 64GB micro SD memory card. I highly recommend 64GB quality micro SD as this drone can do 4k video and that’s massive data

When all of these steps are done, it’s not time to calibrate some settings

  1. You will be logged into beginner mode once you turn on the drone and controller for the first time

  2. Go ahead and set up your controller preferences aka how do you want your joysticks. Me, I prefer the Mode 3 which is pretty much Xbox controls for Call of Duty

  3. Then go and switch to your preferred video settings. Me, I set mine at 4k quality at 24fps. This gives it the really cool Hollywood style look

  4. Go and switch to your still images settings. Me, I set mine at RAW+JPG as I want the highest quality images possible

  5. If you are not entirely comfortable flying yet, turn OFF Sport mode that is a switch on the right hand side of the controller. This will make the drone slower and if anything, it will help you learn how to fly better

  6. Before taking off, don’t forget to remove that clear plastic cover in front of the camera

  7. Ensure that you are taking off in a safe space, away from crowds/people/vehicles and obviously indoors (preferably haha)

  8. Once everything is set up, then you are good to go, just make sure that the controller states “GPS” and has more than 11-13 satellites in range for optimum performance

Flying Experience

The Mavic is an absolute joy to fly, it’s super easy to learn and to get used to. Keep in my mind that this is my first drone. The controls are smooth, the camera is stunning and the features on it allow you to focus on filming. Speaking of features, do you guys remember about it having collision avoidance?

This is where all the sensors are located


They help you avoid hitting trees, rocks, cliffs, anything basically. It is VERY accurate and it saved my bacon once when I got too close to a palm tree thinking I was already flying high enough. HAHA This system is state of the art and many try to copy it but only DJI has it this good. So feel confident about flying your brand new drone!

Another amazing feature is the return to home feature which allows you at a single push of a button, to retrieve the Mavic back to where it took off. It makes landing the easiest thing you’ll ever do.

This drone is pack full of stellar features that I won’t dive into all of it.

Portability and mobility aka Is it travel friendly?

The answer is a resounding YES. I wanted something small and compact, I GOT IT. I wanted something that could take stunning videos, I GOT IT (4k vids). I wanted something easy to fly but also safe, I GOT IT! It’s not heavy, it packs well into my backpack, although now, I may break out my very unused carry-on LowePro Roller camera bag and stuff both my Sony camera gear AND the drone with all of its accessories. Here it is folded and unfolded


Some tips before, during and after flight

  1. Buy extra batteries – 2 or 3 AT LEAST! Even with a flight time of 25-27mins, it’s easy to drain that battery quick. (I couldn’t buy more batteries before leaving for vacation as nothing was in stock anywhere)

  2. Buy extra memory cards – 2 or 3 64GB cards is what I recommend. I have 3 of them and it’s always a safe bet to spread out the footage into different cards in case one gets lost, corrupted or filled up.

  3. Download the B4UFLY app ( as this app will help you fly safely

  4. It is prohibited to fly in ANY North American national park (I learned that the hard way, but the gentleman was super nice about it)

  5. DO NOT fly near airports within at least a 10 mile radius (each country’s law will be different) but this is common sense

  6. Fly responsibly, do NOT go near crowded areas. I actually witnessed some douchebags with their DJI P3 drone flying at 2-3m off the ground and scouting female beach goers. That pissed me right off. If I were those ladies, I would have thrown sand at it. No place for people like that anywhere.

  7. Understand your piloting limitations and don’t go too far off or in too windy conditions as this will draw a lot of battery power. Even though it can travel up to 4miles out (7.1kms), I only pushed it to about 1km this trip.

  8. Take your time flying and learning BEFORE leaving for vacation if you can, it will make for smoother operation

  9. Finally just enjoy this new experience, it’s breathtaking. I also got to meet many other VERY friendly Mavic owners or just curious standbys, and it was a treat meeting new people because of my drone

So that’s about it guys! I hope this was informative! I’m sure I’ve missed a few things on here but feel free to comment and let me know what else you’d like to know


The Travel Pandas

PS. I don’t have the footage edited yet but here are some still shots!

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