Tent camping is a lot of fun, and there are a lot of great places to do it around the world. But, sometimes you need to fly to get to a good camping destination, which means bringing all your camping gear, including a tent.
So can you bring a tent on a plane?
Here is what the TSA website says about bringing a tent on a plane:
You may transport this item in carry-on or checked bags. For items you wish to carry on, you should check with the airline to ensure that the item will fit in the overhead bin or underneath the seat of the airplane.
Tent stakes and poles must be packed in checked bags.
So, yes, you can bring a tent on a plane. If you would like to bring it as a carry-on, make sure to leave out the tent poles and stakes; or you can pack it all together in your checked bag.
Here is a recent post from @AskTSA as well.
In general, larger tents are best to check, as long as they are not heavier than the airline’s weight limits. And smaller tents are easy to have as your carry-on item because they are easier to carry around the airport, and they will fit in the airplane’s overhead bin.
This article will explain how to pack a tent for travel and if tents are allowed in carry-on luggage.
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Are Tents Allowed in my Carry-on Luggage?
Yes, you can bring a tent in your carry-on luggage. But remember that airlines restrict the size of carry-on items, so you might have to check larger tents.
If you are packing your tent in a carry-on bag, there is no weight limit, but make sure the bag is not bigger than airlines allow for carry-on bags. Otherwise, it will not fit in the overhead bin, and you will have to pay to check it.
Items like tent stakes and tent poles need to be placed in a checked bag, even if you are bringing your tent on the plane as a carry-on item. This rule is in place for all metal pole-like items, even hiking poles.
How to Pack a Tent for Travel
First, you can pack your tent in your suitcase. Putting it in a suitcase only works if you can get it to fit in a bag that meets the airline’s baggage size restrictions, and you do not have too much other stuff to pack in your bag.
If you want to pack your tent in a checked bag, the total bag weight needs to be less than the airline’s maximum weight limit, which is usually 50 pounds.
Packing a tent in luggage is a good idea if you have other camping gear to bring with you. If all your gear is separate, each item will count as a different checked bag/item.
Here is American Airlines’ policy on tents and camping gear:
Each piece of camping equipment, such as a tent, sleeping bag, or backpack will each count as a separate checked bag.
So, if you can condense your tent and other gear into a single bag, you can save money since airlines usually limit you to one or two free checked items, if any.
The second way to pack a tent for travel is by putting it in a bag or tent carrying case. Your tent might come with a bag, or you can buy one. Using a carrying bag does not provide much protection when you check a tent, but it is great for a carry-on since a bag is easy to carry around, especially if you have a small, light tent.
Finally, if you check your tent, you can pack it in a cardboard box. Using a cardboard box is a great packing method if you have a new tent and have not taken it out of the box yet, or can repack it in its original packaging.
Read more about using a cardboard box as checked luggage and what exceptions there are to the rule.