How to Pack Camping Gear for a Flight

If you’re an urban dweller, chances are you sometimes find yourself dreaming about a camping trip to a place like the Grand Canyon. 

But before getting carried away, let’s have a quick reality check. Booking your flight is one thing, but packing your camping gear is another. 

So we’ve compiled a cheat sheet to help ease your pre-travel worries. Just sit back and relax… read the following guide to flying with your camping equipment. 

How to Pack Camping Gear for a Flight

  1. Get rid of unnecessary gear. Luxury items need to go.
  2. Don’t bring extra food.
  3. Bring 1 extra change of clothes (you can wash the other set outside)
  4. Buy Lightweight camping equipment.
  5. Rent some of your camping gear

Pack and go like a pro

If you want to have a good camping experience, leave your luxury items at home!

It’s no secret that traveling lightly is key to a more pleasant flight. Who wants to end up unpacking/repacking their bags at the airport anyway? Or unwillingly paying for excess baggage fees, or worse, leaving some of our things behind.

Bringing one checked backpack for your camping gear and then one carry-on for your essentials is a good rule of thumb.

While many camping items are now designed for backpacking, we still need to keep our carry-on or check-in bags to the minimum to move around as smoothly as possible.

packing light
© Image by Th G from Pixabay

Tips to Minimize Luggage

  • Consider renting outdoor gear (if available at your camping destination). Trust me – this saves you from backache (literally).
  • No extra clothing. Keep in mind that you are going on a camping trip! Avoid packing more than a week’s worth of clothes. It’s much easier to hand-wash clothes than to carry them around as you travel. Just be sure to bring warm clothes or climate-appropriate clothing.
  • Narrow your camping list down to the essentials. style=”font-weight: 400;”> Consider a “minimalistic” approach when you can. Resist the tendency to bring your “luxury or comfort” items. Review your list if possible. Keep the must-haves and eliminate the non-essentials. 
  • Go for versatile or multipurpose products. Shop for compact, travel-size, and lightweight camping necessities. Invest in multipurpose camping products to save luggage space.
  • Don’t bring a whole pantry! Well, obviously, we can’t do that when we’re off to Southeast Asia to go camping. On-the-go “pouch meals,” breakfast bars, and dry packaged snacks are ideal. They’re usually lightweight and can be stashed away easily with your checked bag. 

Finally, be a smart & happy camper. You’re setting out on an exciting journey. Leave unnecessary baggage behind and look forward to a romantic, stargazing adventure!

Prep, Plan, and Pack

Seasoned traveler or not, there is no such thing as perfect travel. But we can always save ourselves from major headaches down the road if we prepare and plan out ahead before packing our suitcases.

Never go camping unprepared. Research your camping location before you head out. Ensure you know how to get to the area, what facilities are available at the site, any potential risks (e.g., dangerous wildlife), and the fees involved.

Prepare a list of your must-have items and take special note of those you still have to purchase. Some items may not be readily available at your camping site, so be sure you have everything you need before hitting the trails!

Know what you can bring when boarding

To ensure a smooth-sailing pass through airport security checks, know what you can and can’t bring to the airport and aboard an aircraft long before your flight.

Sometimes, even if we make it through transportation security, airline companies may have their list of prohibited items too. In that case, we need to check with our airline company, in addition to following TSA (Transportation Security Administration) guidelines. 

Also, be aware of your airline’s updated carry-on luggage size and weight limitations to avoid paying excess fees for checked luggage.

List of camping items you can fly with according to TSA*

ItemCarry-on BagChecked Bag
Air mattressYes – check with your airline for special instructionsYes
Camp stovesYes – must be clean & empty of fuelYes – must be clean & empty of fuel
CoolerYes – emptyYes – empty
Dry batteries (Double/Triple As, C, D)YesYes
Fishing poleYes – check with your airline for special instructionsYes
FlashlightYesYes
Hiking polesNoYes
Safety matchesYesNo
Sharp objects like cutlery, camping knives, razor blades, and scissorsNoYes – must be sheathed or wrapped for safety
Sleeping bags and pillowsYesYes
TentCheck with your airlineCheck with your airline
Tent stakes & polesNoYes – check with your airline for special instructions
Tent spikes & polesNoYes – check with your airline for special instructions

 

*Please note that even if the TSA website says you’re allowed to bring a particular item, ultimately, it’s still the TSA officer’s final call to allow an item through or not at the checkpoint.

Can I bring a tent in my carry-on
© Gripped Magazine

List of banned items when flying:

  • Bear spray
  • Butane
  • Emergency flares
  • Fuels
  • Gas torches
  • Strike-anywhere matches
  • Torch lighters

 

Can’t find an item? Look it up on TSA’s website.

Can I bring camping gear on a plane?

There are certain types of outdoor equipment that you can bring and can’t bring on a plane. As listed above, most essential camping items are permissible. 

However, suppose you want to bring any particular item and am not sure whether it is allowed on a plane. In that case, you can always check out the TSA search site and ask your airline company for a complete list of allowed and banned items. 

Can I bring a tent in my carry-on?

Typically, yes, you can. But be sure to ask your airline company for specific instructions. They may have to check whether your tent fits the aircraft’s under-seat space or overhead compartment. Take note. However, that stakes and poles have to be packed in your checked luggage. 

Can you take a tent through airport security?

TSA doesn’t prohibit you from transporting or taking a tent to US airports. But you must check with your airline before checking in for storage space requirements inside the aircraft.

Can you drive?

If driving to your camping site is possible, then do so as opposed to flying. But obviously, if your destination is on the other side of the globe, that’s a different story. By all means, fly and make your dream camping experience come true.

But suppose you’re only traveling cross-state, for instance. In that case, driving your car or truck is much easier to transport your outdoor equipment and avoid usual airport protocols.

Tips when camping overseas

Tips when camping overseas
© Tatonka Blog

Rules may vary per country.

TSA or Transportation Security Administration is a US-based government agency. Keep in mind that when you reach your country of destination, they may have a different (and even stricter) set of rules and regulations for foreign visitors.

So always do your homework. If you’re heading for a camping trip outside the US, check out that country’s guidelines and what items they allow you to bring on board an airplane and into their territory.

Consider the local mode of transport.

When flying overseas for camping, we also need to consider the local means of transportation. Specifically, we get around town, especially that we also have our camping equipment to haul around while traveling. 

Be sensitive to local tradition.

Camping sites are most likely located in remote regions. So there’s a big chance of meeting very conservative locals. It’s best to learn about them before your journey. Be sure to know the dos and don’ts when visiting foreign territories and also their customs and traditions.

Mind your carbon footprint

We must always hold close to our hearts the value of nature. Suppose we want to continue enjoying the beauty and splendor of nature. In that case, we should respect and contribute to its preservation. 

Let’s try to not leave or at least reduce our carbon footprint. We must practice cleaning as we go and, if possible, use organic products to avoid contaminating our forests and waters. 

 

Final Word

Are you the adventurous type and always dreamed about camping out in a foreign land? Then you should go for it. YOLO! 

But it’s a good thing to be a smart and mindful explorer/camper. This should not stop you from having the best camping experience in your life!

Know what rules and camping etiquette are in place in your local camping destination. 

Another thing to keep in mind is let’s respect other campers. We can always have outdoor fun while being respectful of others and nature. 

And finally, do you want to have a pleasurable and stress-free flight? Then fly like a bird and avoid traveling like a donkey!

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