With the Holiday season under way many of us are traveling home to see family and friends. Exploring the outdoors is a great way to spend time with the ones we love but with the hassle of airport security Holiday travel can make your holiday more stressful than it needs to be. To ensure a stress free holiday (well that is until you spend a week with the family) follow these three easy steps this Holiday travel season.
As with all wilderness adventures it is always best to be fully informed of the rules and regulations. Good places to start are the Transportation Security Administration and your airline carrier websites. The TSA has a mobile app called myTSA available for both Apple and Android devices that is great to quickly look up regulations and items that may be in question. While TSA regulations supersede airline regulations many airlines may have tighter restrictions on prohibited items so be sure to check with both your airline and the TSA before you even start packing. Bellow is a quick summary of some common camp gear that currently have restrictions under the TSA:
Once you know the current flight restrictions of your gear the next thing to do is plan ahead. While stoves and empty fuel bottles are allowed by the TSA, some airlines prohibit them unless they are new in unopened packaging. One alternative is to mail your stove and fuel bottles and canisters ahead of you, but be sure to check with the United States Postal Service, UPS or FedEx for their regulations. One easy trick is to call up a major retailer such as REI and ask for their opinion; they maybe able to ship fuel to your destination or at least tell you if an item in question has special shipping requirements. Be sure to call ahead and ask if your hotel will hold a package for you before you mail out anything. For the most part hotel staff are more than willing to help you out. Another option is to buy your fuel at a local outfitter; be sure to get store hours and locations before you leave home. On my most recent trip I avoided all the hassle by using the Mountain Oven by Mountain House which is approved for your checked baggage by the TSA and most airlines. Being a good chemist I contacted Mountain House for a copy of a Materials Data Safety Sheet (MSDS) and attached it to my mountain oven with a rubber band so a TSA officer could easily see what was in it, just in case they checked my bag.
When you’re packing your backpack as a checked bag focus on putting fragile items in the center of your pack (cookware, food, etc.) and surround it with clothing and anything soft to protect your gear. Remove batteries from your flashlights and other electronics that can turn on in your pack. Otherwise they could leave you in the dark on the trail with a set of dead batteries. Pack your clothing and other items in zipper-top bags just in case something spills in your pack. This also makes for quick easy repacking if you need to grab something last minute.
For your carry-on I like to carry my light fleece jacket, a change of clothes and personal items I might need for a day, just in case my luggage does not make it to my destination with me. Be sure to pack your 1-quart-sized clear plastic zip-top bag filled with liquids 3.4 oz or less before you arrive at the airport (3-1-1 Rule). If you are traveling with your computer or other electronics be sure to carry them in your carry-on and keep their cords neatly wrapped up. Double check to make sure you don’t have your knife or other prohibited items in your carry-on, especially if it is your day pack.
For your checked baggage use your internal or external frame backpack, but stop by an Army-Navy store and buy a large canvas duffel bag to slip your pack in. The duffel bag is by far the best trick of the trade because you can carry your pack on your back until you check in then all you have to do is slip it in the duffel bag, zip it up and you’re ready to go. Once you get to your destination and claim your baggage, unzip the duffel bag, pull your pack out, and you’re on your way. By using the duffel bag there is no need to tie up your straps or pack everything in a separate bag. This gives you easy of mind knowing that your pack is stowed safely. These duffels are usually $15-25 so they won’t break your wallet.
By following these three simple steps you will save yourself time, stress and money on your next flight.
If you have any trick for flying with your camping and hiking gear leave us a comment below!