February 26th, 2014
TSA Carry On: What Can You Pack in Your Travel Bag?
Save yourself a lot of time and hassle at the airport by knowing exactly what you can pack inside your carry-on.
These days, savvy travelers often head to the airport with nothing more than a carry-on bag. Not checking luggage saves time and money—and it’s easier than ever to travel without checked bags given the quality and selection of today’s carry-on bags. But many travelers are still confused by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations regarding what you can bring on a plane with you. The TSA has very specific guidelines on just about every possible carry-on item you can imagine. We’re not sure why anyone would feel the need to bring a cattle prod, billy club, pool cue or stun gun onto a plane, but rest assured that the TSA has given each of these items a great deal of discussion and consideration. (They’re all banned from carry-on luggage but allowed in checked bags, by the way.) Generally speaking, anything that falls into the categories of sharp objects, sporting goods, firearms, tools, self-defense items, flammable materials, and liquid items may not be packed in carry-on luggage. There are some unexpected exceptions, though, as noted in the TSA’s Prohibited Items document. That’s why we’ve converted the rules into an easy-to-read Carry-On Infographic. There’s also a bit more detail on what to take—and what to leave—below.
Sporting Equipment When it comes to sporting goods, forget about carrying on baseball bats, hockey sticks, or ski poles. Tennis rackets and ice skates, however, are just fine.
Tools and Weapons Guns and weapons are forbidden (naturally), as are most tools, such as hammers, crowbars and axes. Attention carpenters: Wrenches and screwdrivers are allowed as long as they’re no more than seven inches in length.
Sharp Objects Leave the box cutters and utility knives at home, but scissors with blades less than four inches long (such as cuticle scissors) are acceptable. You can bring nail clippers and basic disposable razors as well. Flammable Items Most of flammable items are an absolute no in both carry-on and checked baggage, but basic lighters are one notable exception: the TSA relaxed its ban on common lighters in 2007. You may now bring a standard lighter in carry-on luggage, as well as one book of safety matches.
Toiletries and Liquids Most frequent travelers are aware that liquid and gel items such toothpaste, cosmetics, and shampoo may be carried on as long as each item contains less than 3.4 ounces (100 ml) and they fit together in a clear, one-quart bag (3-1-1 bag). Interestingly, that restriction also applies to snow globes. You’ll only be allowed to take a snow globe in carry-on baggage if it’s small and fits inside your one-quart bag of liquids and gels. Medically-necessary liquids and baby formula, however, are not subject to the 3.4 ounce rule. TSA rules and regulations are subject to change, so try to stay on top of any changes in the regulations. For more information, take another look at Eagle Creek’s Carry On Infographic or the TSA website.
Scott Shetler is a freelance journalist and frequent traveler who enjoys national parks, urban nightlife, and everything in between. He blogs about his adventures at http://quirkytravelguy.com.