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Guru Tips

Do you travel seasonally with your local sports team? Are you an amateur snowboarder with Olympic-sized slope dreams? Were you thinking of going golfing on your next vacation? Whatever your sports travel goals may be, you’ve got an even bigger question to answer. How are you going to be able to travel on an airplane with your sports gear? If you have a sports-inspired trip coming up, check out these flight tips about flying with sports equipment. 

When to Stay and When to Go

If you have ever had to board a plane with someone trying to lug around a surfboard as their carry-on, then you’ll agree that some things should not be attempted. Examples of sporting equipment you might want to rent or buy abroad, even though it is allowed in both checked and carry-on luggage, include:

  • Bicycles
  • Canoes
  • Longboards
  • Surfboards
  • Skates
  • Fishing poles

On the other hand, there are some things you want to take along for safety purposes and to make your travel life easier:

  • Ski boots
  • Snow cleats
  • Sports cleats
  • Goggles
  • Football helmets
  • Safety gear

Bring your own to ensure you have the right fit—and so you don’t spend half of your time searching for specialty sports shops in a foreign land. 

Balls of All Sizes

According to the TSA, you can always bring balls, from basketballs to bocce balls, on a plane or checked in your luggage. However, who wants to lug around a 14-pound bowling ball, especially during a layover situation? And we don’t even have to mention the issue with going over your weight limit on your checked baggage. Unless you have a good luck charm of a ball, or you will not be able to find a type of ball at your destination, leave your balls at home. Save the weight for other types of sporting gear.

Bats, Bludgeons, and Boxing Gloves

If you are going to enjoy a sports activity that involves hitting something, you’ll have a more difficult task of choosing whether to take your gear. After all, a baseball bat, bowling pin, bludgeon, or pair of boxing gloves are compact and lightweight enough that these don’t take up a lot of space. Plus, these aren’t exactly the easiest of items to find at stores in other countries. Here’s the rule for sticks in sports. If you have sports equipment that hits something else, whether that is a ball or a person’s face, it must be checked in your luggage. 

Sharp, Pointy, and Potentially Dangerous

Now we get to the sports equipment that you feel iffy about. Take a look at the sports equipment you might think are banned by the TSA, but in fact, can be checked in your bags:

  • Bows and arrows
  • Canoes and their paddles
  • Crampons
  • Golf clubs
  • Hiking poles and ski poles
  • Pool cues
  • Nunchucks and other martial arts weapons

Also, did you know that Nerf guns, as well as rocks, are permitted in both check-in and carry-on bags? Not quite sure how rocks factor into sporting equipment, but c’est la vie!

Bonus Points

While the information from this list is sourced from the TSA list for sports equipment, you should always check with your airline regarding their policies. Sure, the TSA says you can bring a bow and arrow but does Delta? Being on the up-and-up regarding the rules will save you a heck of a headache and possible delays on your next sporting adventure.


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