What Can You Not Take On A Plane? The Outdoor Woman’s Guide.

What can you not take on a plane blog post

Are you the type of packer who lays everything out 2 weeks in advance or the type that throws everything in a bag 1 hour before the flight? (Both welcome on Explorer Chick trips!)

Half the excitement of an upcoming trip is often the packing process itself. But the airport part of it? We can skip that part TBH. Prepping yourself for going through airport security ahead of time can make it easier and avoid having the TSA agent go through your stuff (yes, the 12 bars of chocolate are completely necessary).

The number of items you can and can not take on a plane, whether that be in your carry-on or checked luggage, is expansive. Just check out the massive list on the transportation security administration’s (TSA) website and you’ll see what we mean! Today we’ll be discussing a number of items on this list.

It’s also important to note that each airline may have different regulations for what is generally allowed, too. While the final decision rests on the security officer, a quick review of the carry-on and checked baggage requirements for airline approval is also a good idea.

What Is Not Allowed on a Plane (in Carry On Bags OR Checked)

gear not allowed on a plane

Restricted items that are not allowed on a plane, whether that be your carry-on baggage or checked luggage, include items and devices that can cause injury to air passengers, and the aircraft itself. These include:

  • Fireworks
  • Illegal drugs
  • Chemicals like chlorine
  • Fertilizer
  • Alcoholic beverages over 70% (The airport’s duty-free shop offers a wide selection of acceptable liquor and alcohol, providing unopened retail packaging when traveling.)

Along with these normal(ish) ones, there are also the outdoorsy camping no-nos we have to look out for too!

  • Bear spray
  • Stove fuel
  • Strike anywhere matches

A TSA officer will confiscate any of these items if you try to bring them.

What Camping and Outdoor Items Are Not Allowed in Carry On Luggage (But Is in Checked)

gear allowed in checked bag

Okay, the full list for what can’t go in a carry on is long and dreary, so we won’t bore you with all of them. Instead, we’ll skip to the important ones — AKA, the outdoorsy ones (and the ones we get asked about more often).

If you’re bringing any of these camping and outdoors gear on your next trip, you gotta pay for a checked bag:

  • Hiking poles (some lucky Explorer Chicks have said they’ve been able to take hiking poles in carry on, but to avoid potential hassle and stress, we recommend just checking them.)
  • Peanut butter (it counts as liquid, believe it or not!)
  • Knife
  • Tent poles and stakes
  • Micro spikes

How Much Liquid Can You Take on a Plane (Including Gels and Aerosols)?

One of the most common issues for carry-ons is liquids. Liquids include jam, baby food, and pudding, as well as aerosols like hair spray.

Under the TSA liquids rule, you generally get one quart-size bag to bring liquids in your carry on. Many airports actually provide a clear plastic bag of this size throughout various stages of a security checkpoint. Snagging a few as a guideline for how much liquid to take on the plane can help in the packing process at home.

But that’s not all! Each item is limited to a travel size of 100 millimeters for carry-on — any containers larger than this will need to go in checked baggage.

What Items Are Allowed and Not Allowed on an Airplane? All Your Questions Answered.

Explorer Chicks enjoying hot springs in Iceland.

Can You Bring Glass on a Plane?

Carry on: ✅ 

Checked bag: ✅

TSA glass rules permit glass on a plane in your carry on. When taking glass on your trip, select glass items are permitted in your carry-on as well as your checked baggage. 

Other items such as glass bottles or snow globes are a bit more tricky. On the one hand, they’re ideally best packed in your carry-on, to avoid breaking in your checked bag. On the other hand, if it’s a full wine bottle or full-sized snow globe you bought during your travels, they won’t make it through the liquid restriction, so you gotta check them (just make sure they are super padded and protected!).

When you bring glass items back from your vacation, ensure these are securely wrapped as separate items. These might include a single glass item such as a glass bottle, or glass paperweights. To properly pack glass, tightly secure and cover any sharp edges because they could potentially tear holes in your bag.

Can You Take a Lighter or Matches on a Plane?

Carry on: ✅ (with restrictions)

Checked bag: ❌

Each traveler is permitted one disposable lighter and one book of safety matches. However, neither of these are allowed in checked bags!

woman adventure cta

Plasma lighters are not allowed in checked bags, but with certain regulations, you can bring them in your carry on.

Can You Bring a Laptop on a Plane?

Carry on: ✅ 

Checked bag: ✅

Electronic items like laptops are permitted on a plane. However, they will have to be removed from your carry-on or checked bags, and separately screened by the TSA officer.

Airline-approved electronics containing lithium batteries with more than 100-watt hours may be allowed in carry-ons. You are also permitted to bring up to two spare batteries, not exceeding 160-watt hours each.

Lithium batteries with 100 watt-hours or less in a device, can be packed in either your carry-on or checked bag. However, loose lithium batteries are prohibited in checked bags, as there is a higher risk for the battery’s unprotected electrodes to come into contact with metal items. This reaction can cause an ignition, sparking a possible fire on the aircraft.

Can You Bring Personal Care Products on a Plane?

Carry on: ✅ (With restrictions)

Checked bag: ✅

Liquid items such as toothpaste, liquid makeup, and setting spray, can be stowed in your carry on bag for usage throughout your flight BUT there are restrictions. Each item is limited to travel-size containers of 3.4 ounces or 100 millimeters each for carry-on.

Exceptions to this rule may involve liquid medication with appropriate medical documentation, or baby formula. If ever in doubt, double-check tsa rules on the transportation security administration website beforehand.

Can You Bring Sharp Items on a Plane? 

Carry on: ✅ (With restrictions)

Checked bag: ✅

Tweezers and other personal items like nail clippers, and nail-trimming scissors are allowed through the screening process and can be brought in your carry-on bags. However, to make it on board with you, the blades must be less than 4 inches from the pivot point. Anything bigger you’ll need to stow in your checked luggage.

Hobby items like knitting needles made from any type of material, including plastic, aluminum, and bamboo are permitted either in your hand luggage or your checked bags.

Can You Bring Large Items on a Plane?

Carry on:  ❌

Checked bag: ✅

You typically can’t bring very large items in your carry-on: those size restrictions are real! That means most sporting equipment (skis, bikes, snowboards, etc.) will need to be checked. Sports equipment such as baseball bats and golf clubs also need to go in your checked luggage (the whole “this could be a weapon” thing).

You may be able to bring musical instruments on board as part of your carry-on luggage, so long as they are small in size. For these, you need to be able to fit them in the overhead compartments or stow them under the seat in front of you. You may be given special instructions in advance when flying with these items for safekeeping, especially for larger instruments like guitars or cellos.

Ready to Book that Trip?

Women holding a banner from the guided tour travel company Explorer Chick.

Now that packing is complete, who’s ready for take-off?

If you’re champing at the bit to get your butt on a plane (safely and COVID-19 permitting), check out some of our epic trips for ladies like you!

Meet the Writer

Lindsay Stroud

Lindsay Stroud is a freelance content writer and ghostwriter from Vancouver, Canada. Her published works can be found on Jiyubox and Passion Passport, in addition to producing ghostwritten content for Owl Labs and Wonderment. Her favorite destinations include Berlin, Stockholm, and Florence. In her spare time, you’ll find her exploring local foodie joints throughout her neighborhood, or planning itineraries for future trips.

Favorite Outdoor Adventure: spending time by the ocean and exploring walking trails in her local neighborhood.

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