Airline travel is complicated, even more so if you plan on being prepared in flight and at your destination. Sometimes traveling light is a necessity and checking bags isn’t in the cards. Sometimes the airlines can misplace your bags for a day or more.
Regardless, it’s a good idea to have some items in your carry on that are approved for TSA.
Carry-On Emergency Kits for Before the Plane Ride
During my last trip to West Virginia, we hit a deer not 5 miles from an international airport, totaling the car with the airbags deployed.
I have since added my tactical flashlight to the mix, since the deer ran off into the night (a nice 8-pointer, might I add). We were able to drive to a garage (with a deployed airbag, and one headlight), no thanks to roadside assistance.
So having an emergency kit ready to go in the carry before the plane ride is a good idea, too.
TSA-Approved Carry-On Emergency Kit
This list of items is put together for someone planning on spending a good amount of time outdoors. I have given some alternatives for someone wishing to pack a bit less, or don’t plan to venture outside too much once they reach their destination.
- Field Trauma Kit, including athletic tape, extra Advil, Benadryl, and extra Quikclot
- 75 feet of paracord (550) (or 50 feet to go light)
- Lighter (tinder can be made out of gauze and Chapstick in a pinch) with zip tie around button
- Tactical flashlight with adjustable brightness and a strobe function. A carry pouch is nice to tether onto equipment so that you don’t lose it, and so that you can easily pull it out of your bag.
- Spare batteries with the terminals taped off with either gaffers tape or electrical tape. Duct tape residue can make them worthless. Check the expiration date.
- Signal mirror (mine is in a duct tape case with Velcro) Polycarbonate mirrors are lighter weight and won't break with rough handling, but they don’t last as long as their glass counterparts, nor do they transmit as much light from the sun.
- Signal whistle
- Two (2) space blankets
- TSA-approved multitool, such as the Style PS from Leatherman.
- Small LOKSAK (for smaller items, and can be used to flush wounds)
- Large LOKSAK to carry it all in
- Two (2) Nalgene bottles with duct tape (or gorilla tape) and paracord loop, or an MSR Dromedary if going to a hot climate.
- One (1) glacier cup
- Water filter or purification tablets
Dealing with the TSA
The first thing to know about TSA is that items that are questionable, yet permitted, are judged based on the appearance of the person carrying them. I have carried a tactical pen on 10 or so flights. On the 11th flight, I was told it was prohibited, and TSA proceeded to take my boarding ticket and ID, then had a sheriff run me through the system for warrants. (Great news, I'm not wanted for any crimes!)
This sort of special treatment is usually reserved for people carrying illegal items. Things like the Bic lighter and the multitool should be declared at the x-ray machine (along with your keys and coins) to make the screener’s life easier, and to cut down on your time through security.