Most people associate the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, with a long list of things they can’t take on a plane. However, the agency actually allows travelers to pack lots of weird things in their bags. TSA agents don’t want to see a gun or a giant bottle of shampoo in your carry-on, but they won’t bat an eyelash if you pack a set of knitting needles, a pair of ice skates, or even a camping stove.
Want to get the lowdown on these and other unexpected items that TSA doesn’t mind seeing in your carry-on? Read on to check out the weirdest things you never knew you could pack in your carry-on.
1. Light bulbs
Most of the time, it doesn’t sound like a great idea to pack anything easily breakable in your luggage (carry-on or checked). But surprisingly enough, the TSA doesn’t have a problem with travelers packing light bulbs in either. We’re not 100% sure why you’d need to pack light bulbs in your carry-on. But if you do, at least you know that TSA agents won’t stop you.
Whether you’re an artist or just someone who appreciates good art, you’ll be excited to learn that the TSA allows travelers to pack paintings in their carry-on baggage. In fact, you can pack a painting in either your carry-on bag or in your checked luggage. The TSA doesn’t seem to discriminate between oil paints, acrylics, or watercolors. (Go figure.) And while your airline might have a problem with you trying to cram a huge painting in the overhead bin, the TSA itself doesn’t have any regulations.
A screwdriver sounds like a tool that the TSA would prohibit completely. But as it turns out, the agency actually allows travelers to pack screwdrivers that measure shorter than 7 inches either in their carry-on or checked baggage. Counterintuitively, the TSA prohibits ice picks. Ice picks are usually a lot smaller than 7 inches, but they do have sharp ends — or at least ones that are sharper than those of a screwdriver.
4. Fishing rods
Want to go fishing on vacation? The TSA won’t stop you from taking your fishing rod with you, even if you want to put it in your carry-on bag. According to the TSA, “Fishing rods are permitted in carry-on and checked bags; however, passengers should check with the airline to confirm that the fishing rod fits within size limitations for carry-on items.” Any sharp or dangerous fishing tackle, like large fish hooks, should be sheathed, wrapped, and packed in your checked baggage.
5. Small scissors
You might think scissors are a no-go in your carry-on bag. However, U.S. News notes that you can actually take a small pair of scissors on the plane. In order to go in your carry-on without posing a problem at airport security, they have to have blades that measure 4 inches or less. That means that you can work on your arts and crafts projects on the plane — so long as you measure your scissors before you fly.
6. Knitting needles
Surprisingly enough, the TSA also allows crafty travelers to pack knitting needles in their carry-on bags. However, U.S. News notes that they might cause some concern at airport security, so be prepared to take them out of your bag to show a curious TSA agent. Alternately, you can pack plastic or wooden knitting needles, instead of metal ones, to avoid any problems when your bag goes through the x-ray machine.
7. Camping stoves
CheapFlights took a look at some of the stranger items that you can pack in your carry-on. One of the weirdest that the publication encountered? Camping stoves. The TSA allows travelers to put a camp stove in their carry-on or checked bag. However, the agency specifies, “There can be no fuel fumes emitting from the stove. The same goes with propane stoves. Propane tanks are prohibited from both checked and carry-on bags.”
8. Tattoo guns
Another surprising item that TSA agents won’t worry about seeing in your carry-on bag? A tattoo gun. The average traveler has probably never thought about whether a tattoo gun can go in their luggage. (It’s not exactly an item that most people have lying around the house.) But for tattoo artists, it’s reassuring to know that the most important tools of the trade can stay in their carry-on bag.
9. Baby necessities and breast milk
We all know that the TSA has some pretty strict regulations for the amounts of liquid you can pack in your carry-on. However, parents (and grandparents) with young kids get a pretty important exception to those TSA rules. You can carry formula, breast milk, and juice for infants and young children in larger amounts than what’s normally allowed. You can also pack baby food, which would typically count as a liquid, in whatever quantity you need for babies. (On a similar note, the TSA also allows anybody — with a baby or not — to pack medically necessary liquids and medications.)
10. Ice skates
One of the weirder items that TSA allows travelers to take onto the plane? A pair of ice skates. You can pack hockey skates, figure skates, or speed skates without encountering any major issues at the security checkpoint. However, the TSA recommends that for everybody’s safety, you should store your skates in a small bag with the skate guards on. That way, neither you nor a TSA agent who needs to open your bag will get injured by those sharp blades.
11. Snow globes
Do snow globes contain too much liquid to go through the TSA’s security screening? We thought so, but that’s not the case, according to U.S. News. The publication explains, “There is no way for TSA agents to determine the exact amount of liquid volume a snow globe contains. As long as it’s no larger than a tennis ball, your snow globe should have no problem making it [to] the gate.”
12. Christmas lights
Really excited about the holidays? Then you may want to take some Christmas lights along with your snow globe. According to the TSA website, you can pack Christmas lights in your carry-on or in your checked baggage. The agency doesn’t even seem to have any special restrictions or requirements.
On the other hand, we do have some questions, like who packs Christmas lights in their carry-on? Where are they going? Why do they need to take their Christmas lights with them?
13. Vacuum robots
Have a Roomba or similar vacuum at home? You may have never thought about it before, but if you really want to take it along to your vacation rental, the TSA isn’t going to stop you. The agency allows vacuum robots in both carry-on and checked baggage.
Surprisingly enough, the TSA allows you to pack a blender in your carry-on — so long as you take one important precaution. You have to remove the blade from the blender. Then, you have to either leave the blade behind — which would probably render it pretty useless — or pack it in your checked baggage. The TSA also advises, “Any sharp objects in checked bags should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors.”
15. Coffee makers
Another small appliance that won’t cause problems at airport security? A coffee or espresso maker. You can pack your favorite coffee maker either in your carry-on or in your checked baggage. The TSA just asks travelers to “carefully pack your electronics items and make sure all cords are wrapped.” The agency also advises, “While you can pack expensive, fragile electronics items in checked or carry-on bags, we recommend packing them in your carry-on.”
16. Whips and chains
U.S. News notes that you may raise some eyebrows if you pack adult toys and accessories in your carry-on. However, TSA agents won’t confiscate your whips and chains, “unless you’re carrying the type of gear used by Indiana Jones,” U.S. News explains. Whether you want to provide TSA agents with a glimpse into your private life is another question. But as the TSA reports, even handcuffs are allowed in carry-on bags.
17. Duct tape
Maybe we’ve watched too much Dexter, but it sounds a little surprising that the TSA allows travelers to pack duct tape in either their carry-on or their checked bags. Duct tape has a practically countless array of uses, and makes a useful addition to your bag, wherever you’re going. We’d just advise against packing too much of it, so as not to raise any eyebrows.
18. Electric fans
The TSA also allows travelers to pack electric fans in their carry-on bags (or in their checked luggage, for the record). “You may transport this item in carry-on or checked baggage,” the agency assures travelers. However, large items like electric fans are subject to airline regulations, too. “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,” the TSA explains.
19. Microwave ovens
Yet another surprising appliance that the TSA will let you take in your carry-on? A microwave. To be fair, they do warn that you need to check with your airline to determine whether you can really put your microwave in your carry-on. However, the agency reports that a “Microwave is allowed through the checkpoint.”
20. DVD players
Remember the days when people packed portable DVD players with tiny screens to watch their favorite movies when they traveled? The TSA still allows travelers to pack those DVD players, as well as the larger DVD players many of us still have in our living rooms, in their carry-on bags.
The agency doesn’t have any special rules or regulations about DVD players. Nonetheless, it does advise travelers, “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.”
Whether you like hunting or just need to transport a pair of antlers, you’ll be happy to hear that you can pack antlers either in your carry-on bag or in your checked luggage. TSA agents won’t stop you if they see antlers in your bag at the security checkpoint. However, the agency does give its usual disclaimer about items that are large or unconventionally shaped, “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.”
22. Light sabers
Are you a Star Wars fan, or do you frequently travel with one? Then you’ll be excited to learn that you can pack a light saber in your carry-on or checked baggage. The TSA explains, “Sadly, the technology doesn’t currently exist to create a real lightsaber. However, you can pack a toy lightsaber in your carry-on or checked bag. May the force be with you.”
23. Cremated remains
You’ve probably never had to think about it, but you might be surprised to learn that the TSA does allow travelers to carry cremated remains in their carry-on. U.S. News reports a TSA agent “will never ask you to open a cremation container so that they can sift through remains.” (What a relief.) However, a metal urn can cause problems when your carry-on goes through the x-ray machine. So if you can, opt for a wood or plastic container instead.