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Thread: Traveling Wth All Your Expensive Gear

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Traveling Wth All Your Expensive Gear

    Barring any developments with my wife's bum knees requiring surgery, I may finally have the chance to travel out West and try some hiking. I've really never done any traveling other than loading up the car and going camping so I've had several thoughts pop up regarding this. Specifically, I have a lot of expensive gear and I don't want it to get lost or damaged. So with that in mind:

    1) Are there items that are "red flags" or "deal breakers" to have in luggage? I'll be traveling in the warmer months so things like traction, ice axes, etc won't be in my gear (and I'm not talking carry ons here but checked baggage) but what about stuff like survival knives, insect repellent, stove fuel (I assume not allowed), etc? A lot of past TSA related posts I've seen make it sound like the "rules" are more like guidelines and vary from trip to trip and airline to airline. What types of items should I be concerned about?

    2) Can I insure my gear with the airline? I have a lot of high end gear (shells, mid layers, boots, etc). My air travel pretty much consists of an annual trip to Las Vegas with a bunch of t-shirts and shorts so I really have no clue what is involved in bringing expensive toys cross country. Any feedback on best practiices for long distance travel with toys would be much appreciated.

    3) As far as packaging said toys goes, are the usual expedition duffel bags sufficient for getting stuff to your destination via standard airline handling or is there a better option? Is it worth it to have your gear shipped to where you are going via UPS, etc (and insured) in boxes or some sort of hard container? (I work for a calibrating firm and we generally UPS our stuff out to the client when it is not practical to drive because it tends to be more convenient and reliable versus rolling the dice with the airline). I can think of no worse option than to take the trip of a lifetime to Alaska and have all my stuff get lost.

    I know there are a lot of very well traveled people here on VFTT so any feedback on this topic would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member bignslow's Avatar
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    RE: #2

    If you buy your airfare with a high-end credit card, it typically includes some form of insurance. The airlines also have their own.

    For really big trips, I tend to buy travel insurance to make sure that I can recoup some trip costs if my plans get derailed due to missing luggage.

    https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/cred...age-insurance/
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    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    I have a lot of expensive gear and I don't want it to get lost or damaged. So with that in mind:

    1) Are there items that are "red flags" or "deal breakers"....
    For a month in Montana last summer we loaded up a large duffle to 49 lbs and paid the $25 extra checked bag fee. The duffle had all our hiking stuff, (boots, poles, tent, pads), expensive fly fishing gear and lots of outdoor clothing. No problems. Despite bad press I think most airlines are generally pretty good in getting people and their stuff places.

    We had one connection on the way to Bozeman that required a plane change and all bags made it.

    Obviously don't pack stuff that can explode like fuel canisters, bear spray, etc. and leave the handgun at home.

    And remember that part of the fun of travel is shopping when you get there (if you have any $$ left).
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    Senior Member MikePS's Avatar
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    I have had success using UPS to Jackson Wyoming, usually send 5 days in advance pack things in my metal cooler and box with bubble rap, insured and reliable. Buy fuel and disposables in Jackson, ship it home at the end of the trip. A friend did a similar thing to Estes Park Colorado, for Rocky mtn Nat Park with good results, makes the airport trucking easier. Usually check my backpack packed with clothes with the airline.

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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    I hadn't even thought of electronics. I have quite a bit of gadgets. Does that draw attention from TSA's havng PLB's, GPS units, inReach, etc having those items in a carry on?
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

  6. #6
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bignslow View Post
    RE: #2

    If you buy your airfare with a high-end credit card, it typically includes some form of insurance. The airlines also have their own.

    For really big trips, I tend to buy travel insurance to make sure that I can recoup some trip costs if my plans get derailed due to missing luggage.

    https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/cred...age-insurance/
    Thanks for the link.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    I can think of no worse option than to take the trip of a lifetime to Alaska and have all my stuff get lost.
    I've taken a trip to Alaska and had my hiking gear arrive two days after me

    RE: electronics and TSA. I haven't had a problem with this. Typically, TSA will quickly realize the GPS is legit when they see it next to a tent and boots. Also, if you're flying into a mountain town they will be used to handling this type of stuff. For example, J-hole is used to handling ski gear, Kalispell knows hiking gear. And it's a common sight in the Anchorage airport to see rifles, antlers, and ice-packed salmon being checked. I've also flown in and out of SEA TAC with plenty of climbing gear. I have checked the axes and crampons, but carry on the ropes, etc.

    My few tips. from my meager experience:
    1) try to schedule your flight so you have ample connecting time. If it's tough for you to run gate to gate, it will also difficult for your luggage to make it as well.
    2) consider checking luggage curbside. Slip the valet a $20 and he'll be more likely to tag your bag with a priority sticker that will help ensure it's the last one on and first one off. It's comforting to look out your plane window and see your bag coming off the belt first with a priority sticker on it.
    3) don't bring flammables.... no fuel, bear spray, or even a lighter. No need to make TSA look in your bag.
    4) take a picture of your gear next to you bag before you pack it. A friend of mine lost his bag and the airline gave him the standard $500 replacement fee. However, as you can imagine, the value of the contents was much higher than the $500. Not a bad idea to show an inventory of the equipment so you have more bargaining power in the event of the unfortunate!

    I'm certainly no travel expert but those are a few things I've picked up from my adventures.

    Have fun!

  8. #8
    Senior Member KRobi's Avatar
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    As thebigmo13 stated "I'm certainly no travel expert", but one tip that paid off big time was given to us by our very well traveled friends. Pack everything for at least one day of your vacation in your carry on (ours was our 33l backpacks). Because of thunder storms we just barely caught our connection from Newark to Zurich. When you are walking through a foreign airport and hear your name called you know it isn't going to be good news. Sure enough we caught the connector but our checked bags (15 days of stuff to hike in Switzerland) did not. Because we had hiking clothes etc. in the carry on we were able to not lose a day of hiking before the airline delivered our checked bags. The friends that gave us the tip did have to buy new hiking boots ( we just used the trail runners we wore on the plane) but we were able to get out and enjoy. While they are easier for TSA checks flip flops would have been useless and we would have had to buy new boots/trail runners, but as one poster stated buying new stuff is not the worst think.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    It can be unnerving for a new traveler, but just check it all in a large duffle bag. I never insure anything and have never had a problem.

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