TSA Travel Tips - Travel Tips for Backpackers, Campers and Fishers

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014
a family camping
trekking and hiking

We are well into the Spring travel period and many are getting ready for some outdoor getaways. If you’re flying to your camping/hiking/fishing destination,this post is for you!

Here’s a list of common camping and fishing related items that you can and can’t bring on a plane:

Backpacks - Be sure to contact your airline in advance if you’d like to gate check your backpack or carry it on the plane.TSA does not regulate the size of carry-on baggage.If checking your backpack, it’s a good idea to ask your airline if they have a container to place your backpack in, or if you will need to place it in a durable plastic bag to keep the straps from getting caught in the conveyor belts.

Crampons and Pick Axes - Crampons are permitted in both carry-on and checked baggage, and pick axes are only permitted in checked baggage.

mosquitos Trekking & Hiking Poles - These can only be packed in checked baggage.

Animal Repellants - You can bring chemical repellants in your checked luggage if the volume is less than four ounces and less than 2% active ingredient of either CS or CN. Most bear repellants exceed these limitations. We suggest that you buy these items once you arrive at your destination and leave them behind when your trip is over.

Insect Repellents - They arepermitted in your carry-on bags and checked baggage. The liquid limits apply when carrying these in your carry-on bags.

portable camping stove

Insecticides - Ant killers, cockroach killers, spider killers, etc., are prohibited from both carry-on and checked baggage.

Camp Stoves - These can go in either your carry-on or checked bag. There can be no fuel fumes emitting from the stove. The same goes with propane stoves. Propane tanks are prohibited from both checked and carry-on bags. Empty propane or gas cylinders are allowed in checked or carry-on bags as long as our officers can see inside.

Camping Fuel, Burning Paste and Gel Fire Starter - These are prohibited from both carry-on and checked baggage.

Flare Guns - These are allowed in your checked baggage, but they have to be stored and declared just like a firearm. The flares are a no go.

fishing hook

Fishing Rods/Poles/Tackle - TSA allows fishing poles, but if you’re taking them as a carry-on, you might want to give your airline a call and see if the pole exceeds their carry-on limits. Tackle is ok as a carry-on, but be sure that you don’t have any knives or large deep sea fishing hooks. Also, tools can’t be larger than seven inches.

Dry Ice - Dry ice is permitted in both carry-on and checked baggage. Read this post for more information.

Spear Guns - These can’t go in the cabin, but you can check them in the belly of the plane.

Bows and Arrows - These items should be packedin checked luggage. Any sharp objects packed in checked luggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury.

lighter fluid

Lighters are permitted in your carry-on. Torch lighters are still prohibited.

Safety Matches - Permitted in your carry-on luggage one pack per passenger per FAA safety regulations. Strike anywhere matches are never permitted.

swiss army knife

Hatchets & Knives - These are permitted in your checked baggage, but not in your carry-on.

Guns & Ammo - Allowed to be checked in the belly of the plane as long as you follow the guidelines outlined here: Traveling with Firearms and Ammunition.

Batteries - Read this post for a detailed list of batteries that can and can’t go.


Medication - One of the more popular questions we get from travelers is: “Can I travel with my medication.” The answer is yes, with some qualifiers. Here are a few tips that you might find helpful.

Hand Warmers - Read our travel tips post for more information about traveling with hand warmers.

liquids powders

Liquids, Gels & Aerosols - If you’re checking a bag, make things simple by packing liquids in your checked luggage. That way, you don’t have to worry about the liquids rules.If you’re concerned about them leaking, do what I do and put them in a zip-top bag. However, I know that doesn’t work for everyone if you’re only bringing a carry-on bag.If you have to take liquids in your carry-on, please continue reading… You can read here for more details: each passenger is allowed to take as many 3.4 ounce or less sized containers that will fit in one sealed clear quart-sized zip-top bag - and one bag per person. Make sure you take the zip-top bag out of your carry-on prior to sending it through the X-ray.

Here is some information on frequently asked liquid, aerosol and gel items:

  • Deodorant: Stick deodorant is not limited to 3.4 oz. or less, but gel or spray deodorant is.
  • Powdered Toothpaste: This is fine in both checked and carry-on bags and does not apply to the 3-1-1 rules.
  • Suntan & Sun Block Lotion: Lotions - both pump and aerosol - fall under the procedures that I mentioned above. Sun block sticks do not fall under this rule.
  • Beverages: Wine, liquor, beer, and all of your favorite beverages are permitted in your checked baggage. You can alsobring beverages packaged in 3.4 oz. or less bottles in your carry-on bags in the baggie.
  • Gel Inserts for shoes are now permitted.
  • Foods: Here is a list of items that should be placed in your checked bags or shipped: creamy dips and spreads (cheeses, peanut butter, dressings), jams, jellies, maple syrup, oils and vinegars, sauces and soups.

Lastly, if you have any questions that aren’t covered here, please reach out to the TSA Contact Center. The hours are Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 11 p.m., Eastern Time; weekends and federal holidays, 9 a.m. - 8 p.m., Eastern Time. The TCC can be reached at 866-289-9673. Passengers can also reach out to the TSA Contact Center with questions about TSA procedures, upcoming travel or to provide feedback or voice concerns.

See you next Tuesday with more travel tips!

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Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

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