10 Surprising Things You Can and Can’t Take in Your Carry-On

10 Surprising Things You Can and Can’t Take in Your Carry-On

What you can and can't take in your carry-on

As a regular traveler, you always make sure all of the liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in your carry-on follow the 3-1-1 rule (you’re allowed to take liquids in 3.4-oz or smaller containers as long as they fit into 1 clear plastic bag that holds no more than 1 quart). You dutifully pour out your water bottle and chug your coffee before putting your luggage on the conveyor belt. And you always remember to leave your Swiss Army Knife keychain at home.

But what about when you’re making a special trip, say, to Alaska for some backcountry hiking or to Ohio to help your brother remodel his kitchen? Can you take your hiking poles on board? What about your Craftsman screwdriver set? Here are 10 surprising things you can and can’t take in your carry-on bag.

Hiking poles – No; Antlers – Yes

Hiking poles go in your checked luggage, along with walking sticks, ski poles, and any footwear with cleats or spikes.

However, if the purpose of your trip is hunting or fishing, you’re in the clear. You can take fishing poles on board. And if you catch any big game, you can bring the antlers back (presumably, they’ll still need to fit into the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you).

Drills and drill bits – No; Small screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers – Yes

All power tools must be checked. No exceptions.

For handheld tools, it depends on the size — screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers under 7 inches are allowed in your carry-on. Note that the 7 inches is measured from end to end when the tool is assembled. So, if the handle and shaft of your screwdriver are 6 ½ inches combined and the bit is 1 inch, you’ll need to check it.

Mini alcohol bottles – Yes/No; Wet pet food – Yes, with restrictions

Raided the hotel minibar? No problem, unless your minibar contained grain alcohol or 151 proof rum. You can pack mini liquor bottles into your carry-on as long as they aren’t more than 140 proof and can fit into your 1-qt bag. However, while you can bring the alcohol on board, it’s illegal to consume it on the plane.

Although it’s not technically a liquid, aerosol, gel, cream, or paste, wet pet food must also follow the 3-1-1 rule. This is true of pretty much any food item, whether it’s for you or your pet. Also, be aware that there is no medical exemption for prescription pet food, so if Rover requires a special diet, pack it in a travel-sized portion.

Medical marijuana – No; Syringes – Yes, with restrictions

Marijuana possession is still illegal under federal law. So, even if you’re traveling from Denver to Portland, leave all cannabis items at home — they aren’t allowed in your checked baggage either.

You’re allowed to take both used and unused syringes in your carry-on as long as they meet certain requirements. Unused syringes must be accompanied by an injectable medication, and you must declare them to a security officer. Used syringes must be in a Sharps disposal container or similar hard-surface container.

Nerf gun, squirt gun – No; Rocks – Yes

With very few exceptions, no firearms or parts of firearms are allowed in your carry-on. The prohibition extends to anything that even resembles a firearm, like a Nerf gun or a squirt gun.

You can, however, carry on rocks, as well as bocce balls, basketballs, and baseballs. Just no bats.

Are you traveling with unusual cargo? To avoid delays (or having to leave your recreational equipment at home), check the TSA website’s What Can I Bring? section and make sure you’ve packed everything in its proper spot.

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