How to be Prepared When Flying

How to be Prepared When Flying
How to be Prepared When Flying
How to be Prepared When Flying
How to be Prepared When Flying

Today’s article answers a good and important question asked by Robert S. of Texas. Below is Robert’s question regarding travel…

I travel quite a bit, and while I’m at the airport or sitting on the plane, I spend quite a bit of time thinking about how well I am prepared if something goes south while I am away from my family. I leave my weapons at home or in a vehicle, I don’t have any of my EDC knives with me.  My travel is usually a Mon-Thu travel so I try hard not to check a bag.  As much as I travel, I have learned it’s better to keep my bag with me, rather than lose it in travel.

I am wondering if you could really take this topic of air travel and expound on it more?  I don’t imagine I’m the only one with these questions.  So here are the two scenarios that I have considered that sort of over-arch the main considerations I see.

Scenario 1:  I get stranded at my client or some point in between and have to make it back home, or to an alternate location, but air travel is not possible, but I can travel by car, so I in my mind, I need at least a 24 hour kit.

Scenario 2:  I get stranded at my client, and I don’t have any self-propelled means of transportation.  I know that could be a far-reaching scenario, but I learned as a soldier it’s best to at least entertain as many scenarios as possible (if afforded the time) to minimize being caught with your pants down.

So is it even possible to create a decent kit that can make it through TSA?  Or should I start checking a bag? I almost feel that is my only viable option.  If I do decide to check a bag – what should that kit look like? I have always been hesitant to check my firearm as luggage because I am concerned it is going to turn up missing. Have you checked a firearm before – more frequently than not?”

Like Robert, I spend a significant amount of time flying around the country teaching training courses and I understand wanting to feel prepared even when you can’t have your usual supplies with you.

I also understand not wanting to check a bag so that flying is as easy as possible and you don’t have to wait for your bag or worry about it getting lost.

So, if you fly and never want to check a bag, here are my recommendations:

First, always have some food and water with you. Since you can’t get a lot of items through airport security, simply buy these in the terminal. You can also bring an empty water bottle and then fill it up at a drinking fountain once you get through security to save money (airport bottles of water aren’t cheap). If you’ve got multiple legs of your trip, just keep filling up the water bottle during your connections.

As far as supplies, there is a lot of gear that you can take on airplanes that is perfectly legal. My favorite item is the tactical pen, which I carry with me every time I fly. I also carry paracord (about 20 feet.)

Tactical Pen
Tactical Pen


Depending on what training I’m doing and where I’m going, I’ll also have zip ties, duct tape and rope, which are all legal to carry on a plane and I’ve done it numerous times.

For a unique improvised weapon consider a sock full of pennies. (Have a bag of pennies and a sock and then when you get through security you can go to the bathroom and combine them.) If you ever have to strike anyone with this sock it will not be a good day for them.

The critical thing to remember is that it’s more important to have knowledge and skills so that you can be resourceful in whatever type of situation you end up in. I also encourage taking some hand-to-hand self-defense such as Krav Maga.

So, for a 24-hour type of emergency, a carry on bag with a little food and water and a tactical pen, paracord, and some duct tape, combined with knowledge should be plenty for you to survive if you get stranded.

Now, if a long-term crisis situation is more of a concern to you then you would definitely want to check your luggage.

In your checked luggage you would want to have knives (at least one fixed blade and one folder) and a gun. Checking a gun in your baggage is very easy to do and I’ve never had a problem (even when I fly in and out of the terrible state of Maryland.)

All you have to do is have the gun unloaded in a hard side case that can be locked. When you walk up to the ticket agent you tell them, “I need to declare a firearm and ammunition” and they take care of the rest.

Also, I am not worried about the airline losing my bag with my gun because that’s the last thing in the world they want. They take a checked bag with a gun very seriously and I’ve never had a bag lost that contained one of my guns.

Sawyer PointOne
Sawyer PointOne

In addition to knives and a gun, you can also throw in some hiking shoes and some MREs, a flashlight, multi-tool, and water filter. (The water filter I like is the Sawyer PointOne.)

Obviously, you and I can’t predict the future and we don’t know when a crisis situation is going to occur. If you’re flying somewhere

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Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and author of The Covert Guide to Concealed Carry. He is also the creator of the Ultimate Concealed Carry Experience, which allows you to take your concealed carry training without leaving home. For full details about this training, please visit Concealed Carry Academy. You can also follow him on Google+ and Twitter.
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Jacob Paulsen

Jason, Tactical pens are not consistently permitted by the TSA. Their official documentation only refers to sharp objects and doesn’t mention tactical pens directly but there are a ton of recorded instances of the TSA confiscating Tactical Pens and not allowing them.


I personally use a Cross “Morph” pen. the design appears ambiguous, however it almost perfectly matches the dimensions of a traditional “tactical” pen


TSA also allows a flat blade screw drive that does not exceed 8″ in length.

John Havercroft

And to think all these years I have survived without taking duct tape and rope with me on airplanes….
One must pause and ask…..SERIOUSLY?!?


If you are searching for extra cash of about 50-300 bucks a day for freelancing from your house for 3-4 h daily then this may interest you…

Jason Newstedt

“Obviously, you and I can’t predict the future and we don’t know when a crisis situation is going to occur. If you’re flying somewhere”

This article is missing an ending to the last sentence.


Jason Hanson is way too busy to proofread his articles before posting them. It’s just like Obamacare, we need to pass it to find out what’s in it, or in Jason’s case, we need to post it on USA Carry before we can figure out if it makes any sense.

Jason Newstedt

I don’t care why.


Apparently you have not flown through New Jersey, or heard about the woman who spent time in jail, lost her job, and thousands of dollars in legal fees because of their lack of recognition of federal laws permitting travel with firearms

One item you did not mention that would be almost fool proof through TSA is a good hardwood self defense cane. You can fake the need for it through TSA if need be. I have never heard of TSA taking ambulatory devices. With a little training it can be a deadly tool for travel with no complications, and it does not have to be packed in baggage The best way to travel, and my preferred means, is any way but air. Less hassle, more scenic, and more relaxing.


I take my “real self-defense” umbrella. Its construction materials give it the same cross-sectional density as a 1/2″ steel pipe; it would cause some serious pain to anybody getting whacked with it. Plus, it is a great umbrella.


Self-defense umbrella is a great low-profile option for non-permissive environments.
The Penguin had the right idea. Nobody’s going to take your umbrella.


Can you provide us more information on this “tactical” umbrella?


If you are looking for extra profit of about 50-300 dollars on daily basis for doing work over internet from your home for few hrs each day then try this…


Not only did that NOT answer my question, it triggered Disqus to email me letting me know that someone replied to my post and I come here to find this useless and off-topic posting. Thanks for wasting my time and cluttering my in box with useless junk.


I thought about a cane, as well.

You mention a “Hardwood” cane. Does that mean that canes made of other materials, such as polymer, fiberglass, or aluminum, are not allowed?


I’ve read quite a number of horror stories about people flying through or near some of the nasty states (seems any state that demands the Firearms Owners’ Identification Card”, a sort of Mother May I Card that is a prerequisite to own, purchase, or possess any firearm) wil be amongst the nasty ones. New Jersey’s Newark Airport os legendary, but both the NYC airports are within NYC limits and no one can be in possessioin of a handgun within that tragical kingdom. In these three fiefdoms anyone forced to take control over their checked luggage (as when a flight is delayed cancelled, etc and the traveller is forced to stay overnight anywhere) the gestapo agents will know YOU, by name, have a checked bag with a handgun inside, and will diligently appear at your checkin gate to arrest you and seize your bag with the “offending” handgun within. In NJ, non residents cannot get the Mother May I Card (FOID) and possession of any firearm without also haeveing that is a felony. Also, in NJ, hollow point defensive ammunition is illegal, each round is one more felony count. NONE of these states honour the meaning or intent of the federal Firearms Owner’s Protectioin Act, designed to preclude inocent travellers being arrested for simple possession when travelling… provided the specific weapons possesed are lawfully possessed in the jurisdiction of the start and end of the complete journey. NJ and NYC courts have consstently held that the FOPA does not protect because the overnight stay, even when forced due to uncontrollable circumstances, makes it not “one continuous journey” but a trip of two legs, each distinct, and too bad one end of each of those legs happens to make you a felon in our state.

My policy? I will NOT fly through or even near (flights CAN and are diverted due to whatever) New Jersey, New York, Chicago. Haven’t looked into other New England states’ laws such as Conntcticut, Massachussetts, or other beltway states, as Virginia, Maryland) Check the rules of each state you will be landing, and particulary in winter, other states near enough the route you could be diverted into.


I don’t believe it’s illegal to own HP ammo in NJ, just to use. As long as NJ is not your final destination and your ammo is still properly packaged for travel you should be fine.


I travel with a Leatherman Style PS that is okay for carry on. Not a weapon, just a tool. Powerful flashlights are okay too.


What’s your recommended tactical pen?


I find, when i declare my firearm my luggage never gets lost. They assure me a airline agent personally walks my bag to the airplane, and it’s usually one of the first to be taken out of the airplane. Bigger airports said they even take declared bags to baggage claim and personally deliver it, if the passenger isn’t there, they take it to lost baggage to be held.

I recently flew to St Louis, MO. I missed my connecting flight in MSP, and STL did exactly that, held my bag upon arrival the plane.

Granted coming back from STL was a bad experience…as the TSA agent had no idea what he was doing, harassed me for not giving him the code to my lock box even after showing him the federal law prohibiting him from knowing, and threatened to not clear my bag because of it. So far, STL has been the only airport/TSA agents to play God, otherwise i haven’t had a problem flying.