How to Safely Transport All Your Geeky Comic-Con Gear – Info Computing
San Diego Comic-Con is upon us. And if you’re flying to this, or planning a trip to another geeky convention, you probably already know what you should and shouldn’t try to pack in your luggage. (It’s not in your best interest to surprise the Transportation Security Administration with a thermal detonator, Gom Jabbar, or Lawgiver replica when you’re putting your arms in the air like you just don’t care in the body scanner.)
While lightsabers are fine to travel with—and foam swords are not (at least, not as a carry-on)—what about all the other stuff you’re going to bring back from a convention? Expensive autographed comics? Priceless collectibles? Costume accessories?
Over on the TSA’s blog, the agency has a few helpful suggestions for how you might want to treat the items you’re taking to and from this year’s Comic-Con. These rules are applicable to any geeky convention you attend, and they’re worth filing away in the back of your mind the next time you suit up as Stormtrooper number 81310.
If you don’t want the TSA to break the seal on a product, ship it
Shipping items back home from a convention (or a vacation) can be a pain. It costs money, there’s no guarantee your carrier of choice won’t wreck your precious item (unless you protect it with all the bubble wrap ever), and someone might steal it off your doorstep even if it safely makes it to your house or apartment. Still, if you don’t want the TSA to open up something precious, don’t pack it in your luggage. As the TSA’s blog notes:
“There’s always the chance that a packaged item might have to be searched and opened, which would cause us to have to break the original seal. If you’re a collector, the last thing you want is a broken seal.”
Don’t pack items that might cause a crazy amount of panic at the airport
You’d be surprised—but probably not that surprised—at what the TSA finds in bags. (Its Instagram account is a gold mine.)
I’ll quote the TSA on this one, since it’s important (and some people still seem to think you can just bring whatever on a plane):
“If you’re not checking a bag and you have a realistic replica of a weapon or an actual weapon, you’ll want to ship the item. If you are checking a bag, replica weapons and actual weapons may be packed in your checked bag. Replica firearms can be placed in your checked baggage with no declaration or packing guidelines, but actual firearms must meet packing guidelines and be declared. Anything looking like an explosive (whether real or not) is strictly prohibited from air travel.”
Comic Books are OK, but …
The TSA has no issues with you flying with stacks of comic books—aside from the aforementioned bit that they might crack the seal on your pristine collectables if they need to search your gear for whatever reason. However, the agency recommends that you carry your comics with you, rather than packing them in a checked bag, to prevent problems:
“Packing these items in checked bags may cause alarms leading to bag searches that can cause a significant slowdown in the screening process leading to delays and bags possibly missing their flights.”
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What about costumes?
If you’ve been working for the past 11 months on your gorgeous replica costume of a Warhammer Space Marine—first, I’d love to see it, because that’s awesome. And second, you might want to take a little extra care when traveling with its parts and pieces. (And consider creating items that can be disassembled and reassembled, which might make your travels a lot easier.)
If you’ve shipped the bulk of your gear and are hand-carrying some of the more critical props, consider leaving the TSA a little love letter when checking your luggage. Maybe you’ll get a screener who’s also a sympathetic sci-fi fan:
You should also consider adding some reference photos or anything else that might be able to help prove that your gear is for an authentic costume you’ll be wearing somewhere, not… well, whatever else the TSA thinks it might be.
You could also try bribery (or asking for an in-person inspection of your gear):
Also, don’t forget to bring along a kit for basic (or emergency) repairs, just in case a TSA screener isn’t kind to your gear:
If a wig is a make-or-break part of your costume, Annemarie from Travel on the Brain has a few helpful ideas for getting it safely to your final destination:
“Turn your wig inside out (unless it’s heavily styled or spiked, such as with cosplay wigs), carefully curl up long tresses and place it gently inside the wig top. Then put a hair net around it to keep everything in shape.
Now, store it in a zippable plastic bag to avoid moisture or at least put it in a (silky) scarf for protection. If your wig is very dear to you, pack it in your carry on. Alternatively, you can also wear it on your head. More wig packing ideas include special hair packaging boxes, hair extension or wig travel case or wig packing bags.”
Article Prepared by Ollala Corp