Flying with camping gear can be challenging. If you are flying with camping gear for the first time or traveling in an area with limited access to gear, this guide will help you through the process of choosing your luggage, packing your camping equipment, and getting it checked by airport security. This is a step-by-step guide on how to fly with camping gear.
- Step 1: Choose your luggage
If you choose, try to get the biggest bag that will fit in the overhead compartment. You can check on some airlines how big a bag it usually fits in the airplane’s overhead compartments. This information is available on their website. If you’re going somewhere where you won’t have access to camping gear, you might need a bag that fits under the seat in front of you. You can find out how big is your airline’s allowed carry-on by checking their website or asking at the ticket counter.
- Step 2: Packing your camping equipment
How you pack your camping gear depends on the type of luggage you choose in Step 1.
If you’re going on an adventure and have access to a car, using a sturdy suitcase with compartments and pockets is more convenient. If you’re traveling somewhere where you won’t have access to camping gear, choose a bag that will fit under the seat in front of you or might not be allowed on board by your airline.
When packing your camping equipment choose items that can do multiple tasks, if possible. For example, don’t pack a manual can opener if you can find a more efficient electric version of it.
If your camping gear is bulky or heavy, make sure to remove any excess packaging. If your camping equipment has straps or cords, use twist ties or wire to secure them in place while packing, so they don’t get stuck inside the luggage during transit. If your gear is fragile or expensive, make sure to pack it in a bag with paddings like bubble wrap, pillows, or towels.
Remember to bring everything you need, such as batteries for your flashlight, lantern, and CPAP Machine(if you have one), extra o-rings and clips for your inflatable sleeping pad and pillow if they’re not included, and batteries for your tent lamp.
- Step 3: Getting your camping equipment checked by airport security
Unfortunately, different airports have different procedures for how they handle camping gear. Sometimes you are allowed to bring camping equipment on board and sometimes you have to check it.
If your camping gear is a liquid, make sure to keep its volume under 3oz. Otherwise, you’ll need to put it in a separate container and take this with you on board the plane. If you’re allowed to bring camping equipment on board, check in the luggage and take it with you on the airplane.
- Step 4: Smoothing the bumps into your flight
Sometimes your luggage will be placed on a conveyor belt, picked up by a forklift truck, and placed in tight spaces under the airplane. It is important to use soft materials when packaging your camping gear to avoid getting dirty or damaged items such as water bottles and clothes.
If you have a soft backpack that you can use as your item, consider using this instead of a hard suitcase. If not, pack your loose items into a plastic bag, so liquids and dirt from the conveyor belt don’t damage your gear.
Can I bring Camping Gear on a Plane?
Different airports have different rules for carrying camping gear on a plane. For example, some allow you to bring all your camping equipment on board, while others ask you to check it in. You might be able to carry camping equipment in your hand luggage, but this depends from airline to airline, so contact them directly if you have questions about this.
Pack Light and Smart
Some camping gear can be bulky and heavy, especially if you have several items. It is a good idea to remove any excess packaging from these supplies before packing them in your suitcase.
The Gear You Can NOT Fly With
You will not be allowed to take camping equipment as a carry-on if it contains liquids, aerosols, or gels as these are restricted from being taken on board. Ensure you read the rules for carrying your camping gear on a plane before boarding your flight.
The Gear You Can Fly With.
You’ll be allowed to take camping equipment as a carry-on if it has less than 100 ml of liquids, aerosols, and gels. Aerosols can be pressurized, so make sure you pack this type of gear in your checked luggage and not your hand luggage.
- Step 1: Prepare for Customs:
When arriving at the airport you will need to go through customs. This is where most people get caught as they don’t know what paperwork they’ll need to provide and the items they’ll be asked to declare. Worse still, if you didn’t declare something prohibited in the country you could be fined or even spend time in prison.
When arriving at customs, be prepared to answer questions about your camping gear. It’s important to declare any food items, and for this reason, it makes sense to pre-attach a label onto all your food packets with a list of what’s inside. Ensure you contact the country’s embassy to find out about any restrictions or special requirements for your destination before packing your camping gear.
- Step 2: The Camping Gear You Cannot Bring Into the Country
Make sure you read up on these rules as they can change from time to time and by region. For example, if you are heading to India, it is illegal to take the following types of camping gear into the country:
- Alcoholic beverages (only retail sales within airports)
- Arms and ammunition (declare on arrival; handguns prohibited; exceptions for sporting guns with permits; must be packed in hardcover locked cases)
- Meat (export permit required)
- Narcotics and psychotropic substances (criminal penalties)
- Step 3: Book a Hotel Instead
Sometimes even if you have the correct paperwork, you’ll still be stopped at customs for your camping gear. If this happens they may ask you to open your suitcase for inspection, in which case it makes sense to book a hotel room instead as you won’t have to drag your gear with you.
- Step 4: Check Your Camping Gear Before Flying.
Depending on the airline you’re flying with, there may be restrictions on what type of camping equipment is allowed onboard. You’ll need to check this before you fly, so contact your travel agent or airline directly for more information.
Alternatives to flying
Alternative options are available if you consider traveling with camping gear but aren’t sure whether it will be allowed on board. You can ship your equipment to your destination before flying or even rent the supplies you need when you get there. This is a great option if you’re not quite sure what type of camping gear will be required for your trip and don’t want to pay for any unnecessary excess baggage.