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Thread: What is the *ONE* "unusual" item you always travel with?

  1. #31
    Registered User marbenais's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lani View Post
    I've heard that some people have had their hummus confiscated!
    The worst TSA experience I have ever had (and I've had some doozies, traveling to and from the UK during one of the hoof & mouth times) was with my small, sealed, just-bought jar of peanut butter. They made a huge public scene and yelled about how I was holding up the entire airport (keep in mind this was at BWI, where there are many security checkpoints for each terminal) and insisted on unpacking the stuff sacks within my Smart Alec and then sending me to the back of the line with my belongings falling out of my arms. They threw out the peanut butter, even though I pleaded with them to let me go give it to someone, anyone, so it didn't go to waste. I was crying by that point, from humiliation, and they mocked me, even though I easily looked like I was sixteen at most (I've always looked at least a decade younger than my actual age -- I know this will be nice when I'm older!).

    So, now, I am paranoid about carrying ANYTHING remotely less than solid unless it's in the small quantities in the 3-1-1 bag.

    I can't think of an unusual item I take with me when I travel . . . I used to always take all of Amy Tan's novels (well, however many had been published at that point) with me and reread them on vacations. Now most of my spare packing space holds various "long-lasting" treats for Rosalind (keep in mind she shreds toys -- not just treats -- meant for dogs three times her size in a matter of minutes, so finding these treats isn't easy) and many extra towels and blankets for her.
    I have : many pouches & wallets & 3D Cubes & CQPCs & Stuff Sacks & Shop Bags, plum & black Side Effects, steel/ultraviolet Citizen Canine, black FJN, plum/wasabi SCB, Cork Little Swift, black/steel Co-Pilot, old plum/olive LCB, plum/black (C) Swift, old plum/olive (C) Imago, old plum/wasabi Ruck's Sac, steel WF/TS PCB, plum/solar & black/ultraviolet (C) & steel/ultraviolet (D) Synapses, black/iberian Smart Alec, steel Brain Bag.

  2. #32
    Registered User Lani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhiteStar View Post
    Which is why I have Flash!
    SQUEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!
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  3. #33
    Registered User Lani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marbenais View Post
    The worst TSA experience I have ever had...and they mocked me...
    I think that's one of the reasons I'm generally not a fan of the TSA. This is not a blanket statement about all of their officers, but I think there are enough of them who signed up because they wanted to play hero wanna-be cop and they just want to bully people. Plus, the philosophy from at the very top is that they don't empower the officers, so you wind up with jack-booted automatons wanting to feel up little children and force old ladies to remove their diapers in the name of security.

    Quote Originally Posted by marbenais View Post
    I used to always take all of Amy Tan's novels (well, however many had been published at that point) with me and reread them on vacations.
    It's a lot easier to do now if you load them up all on your Kindle/iPad/Nook/e-reader of your choice.
    Lani Teshima: A Dyneema diva with a closetful of Tom Bihn products!
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  4. #34
    Registered User marbenais's Avatar
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    Yes, Lani, I agree. I've had wonderful experiences with TSA agents who were patient, helpful, and kind, but I think someone carrying sealed food shouldn't be screamed at for taking something which didn't appear on any of their big signs. So much of their literature is about toiletries and weapons and flammable items, I honestly didn't think that anything edible AND clearly unopened would be a problem. All they had to do was tell me I couldn't take it, let me give it to someone (or take it themselves! I would've given it to the agent to take home, gladly!), and then run my bag through the machine again right away, instead of what they did. Ugh. It's been so long since I've flown (almost two years, I think) since we are so not up for dealing with flying with a dog (yes, it will happen eventually, just not now) so we drive.

    I do have many books on my Kindle application on my iPhone now! I'm hoping to get a basic Kindle sometime soon.
    I have : many pouches & wallets & 3D Cubes & CQPCs & Stuff Sacks & Shop Bags, plum & black Side Effects, steel/ultraviolet Citizen Canine, black FJN, plum/wasabi SCB, Cork Little Swift, black/steel Co-Pilot, old plum/olive LCB, plum/black (C) Swift, old plum/olive (C) Imago, old plum/wasabi Ruck's Sac, steel WF/TS PCB, plum/solar & black/ultraviolet (C) & steel/ultraviolet (D) Synapses, black/iberian Smart Alec, steel Brain Bag.

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    It's so simple....no liquids, no gels, no pastes. If it's not a solid, and it's not a prescription, don't bring it in your carry-on.

    A jar of peanut butter could be opened, something put in it, covered over with peanut butter, and then resealed. (There are machines that do this.) A piece of C-4 explosive, small enough to fit in jar of peanut butter, if exploded on a flying plane, could bring it down.

    Or, you could have tampered with it another way. A tiny pinhole in the metal lid, would be enough of an opening to inject something into the peanut butter via a syringe. You want to kill people so you inject the peanut butter knowing it will be taken from you but you hope you can pass it to someone else thus spreading whatever it is you've injected. Try it. A normal thumbtack will make a very small hole in most metal jar lids. Or you could inject something clear and flammable. They allow the jar on. You take it to the toilet while cruising, open it, light it, and you have a molotov cocktail. Not a good thing at 35,000 feet.

    That's why currently, there are no liquids, gels or pastes allowed on board. There are new detection machines being developed that can detect explosive so we should, eventually, see these restrictions removed.

    It is, however, inexcusable to mock you or belittle you. If it was me, I would have called a supervisor over and filed a complaint.
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  6. #36
    Registered User Lani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marbenais View Post
    I honestly didn't think that anything edible AND clearly unopened would be a problem. All they had to do was tell me I couldn't take it, let me give it to someone (or take it themselves! I would've given it to the agent to take home, gladly!), and then run my bag through the machine again right away, instead of what they did.
    Indeed.

    Like their current policy--if you trigger the metal detector, you're automatically flagged for a manual inspection. That's just stupid. Someone may have forgotten to remove their belt. Give the passenger the benefit of the doubt and treat them like human beings, instead of automatically pulling them over because OMG THEY MUST BE A TERRORIST.

    The irony is that the shoe bomber, underwear bomber, and water bottle explosive bomber were all unsuccessful in their attempt, but those three parties were successful in inconveniencing millions of travelers everyday. Some might argue that that means they won.
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    Lani Teshima: A Dyneema diva with a closetful of Tom Bihn products!
    Publisher, The Travelite FAQ: Don't get saddled with baggage—free yourself & your mind by packing lightly!
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  7. #37
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    The reason no gels, liquids or pastes are allowed is simple--they can be tampered with. Like the jar of peanut butter. While it may look like it's never been opened, that doesn't mean the contents haven't been tampered with.

    I'll give you an example....take a sealed jar of peanut butter. Get a very small thumb tack. Poke a hole in the lid. It will hardly be noticeable. Nothing will spill out. Now, if you're a terrorist, you could have access to some type of biological agent like, say, smallpox. Put it in a syringe and inject it into the peanut butter. Once on the plane, you break out the crackers and become the favorite passenger in your area because you're sharing the peanut butter and crackers. And all those people are getting infected. And to make matters worse, they are all probably flying to different parts of the country, if not the world, and spreading the illness. That's how epidemics are started.

    All food confiscated by TSA, Customs, U.S. Dept of Agriculture is destroyed. None of their agents would chance taking it home or eating it.

    Another red flag is why someone would get so upset about losing a small jar of peanut butter? They understand people getting upset over items of real value but to become emotionally upset over peanut butter?

    Some of the rules TSA has make sense. And some, like automatically sending you for groping after alerting the metal detector, don't. Well, actually it does...it lets you know they have the power and you don't. Not necessarily in regard to the individual agents but the agency itself. It wants to put fear into people so they submit.

    Take away peanut butter, well, they're following the rules. They didn't make them so I can't really argue. However, if they mock or belittle me, I'm filing a written complaint. That they don't have the right to do.
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  8. #38
    Registered User Lani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank II View Post
    Now, if you're a terrorist, you could have access to some type of biological agent like, say, smallpox. Put it in a syringe and inject it into the peanut butter. Once on the plane, you break out the crackers and become the favorite passenger in your area because you're sharing the peanut butter and crackers.
    The problem is, one can make the same argument for just about everything. If a terrorist were truly intent on wreaking havoc on an airplane, I would hire a nursing mother to carry all of the virus/agent in the bottles of baby formula--which you are allowed to carry on. And if I were intent on spreading something so lethal, I could easily pack a concentrated batch in my 3-ounce shampoo bottle, 3-ounce conditioner bottle, 3-ounce body wash, 3-ounce hair spray bottle, 3-ounce body lotion, 3-ounce body spray... you get the idea.

    The question becomes, at what level does it becomes so absurd that it's just dog-and-pony security theater?

    As for being upset at having your peanut butter confiscated, you obviously have never tried Dark Chocolate Dreams !! :-) Mmmmmm!!
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    Lani Teshima: A Dyneema diva with a closetful of Tom Bihn products!
    Publisher, The Travelite FAQ: Don't get saddled with baggage—free yourself & your mind by packing lightly!
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  9. #39
    Registered User marbenais's Avatar
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    Well, I was upset because the peanut butter was to be my sustenance for the flight & following train ride (I have intolerances & allergies, it isn't easy to just buy the overpriced fast food in the airports), as well as being publicly screamed at and shamed. But the reason they took it was that it wasn't small enough to fit in the 3-1-1 bag. If it had been the same exact product, in a tiny Tupperware or something, they told me it wouldn't have been confiscated, and that would've been much easier in which to mask something bad. Like Lani said, it's easy enough to spread a viral agent if that's what someone wants to do. On all the TSA signs, they go into exhaustive detail about the toiletries one can't take, but nowhere did it say "peanut butter, hummus, Vegemite, Power Bar / Gatorade gel, etc" is forbidden. Maybe they've updated their paraphernalia (I hope so!), but, at the time, I had no idea.

    The only thing that I can think of that's unusual that I carry with me . . . still isn't coming to mind! I mean, I always have one of the smallest GoToobs with Dr Bronner's soap, but that lives in the Side Effect which goes EVERYWHERE with me, because I'm allergic to most available soaps, so it doesn't seem unusual.
    I have : many pouches & wallets & 3D Cubes & CQPCs & Stuff Sacks & Shop Bags, plum & black Side Effects, steel/ultraviolet Citizen Canine, black FJN, plum/wasabi SCB, Cork Little Swift, black/steel Co-Pilot, old plum/olive LCB, plum/black (C) Swift, old plum/olive (C) Imago, old plum/wasabi Ruck's Sac, steel WF/TS PCB, plum/solar & black/ultraviolet (C) & steel/ultraviolet (D) Synapses, black/iberian Smart Alec, steel Brain Bag.

  10. #40
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    marbenais, I always carry peanut butter with me! I buy the JIF to go packs, you get 6 or 8 in the box. I usually stick a couple in my 3-1-1 bag and then move them once I get through security. I have issues with food as well, especially breakfast so I eat a lot of peanut butter.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by marbenais View Post
    Well, I was upset because the peanut butter was to be my sustenance for the flight & following train ride (I have intolerances & allergies, it isn't easy to just buy the overpriced fast food in the airports), as well as being publicly screamed at and shamed. But the reason they took it was that it wasn't small enough to fit in the 3-1-1 bag. If it had been the same exact product, in a tiny Tupperware or something, they told me it wouldn't have been confiscated, and that would've been much easier in which to mask something bad. Like Lani said, it's easy enough to spread a viral agent if that's what someone wants to do. On all the TSA signs, they go into exhaustive detail about the toiletries one can't take, but nowhere did it say "peanut butter, hummus, Vegemite, Power Bar / Gatorade gel, etc" is forbidden. Maybe they've updated their paraphernalia (I hope so!), but, at the time, I had no idea.
    Just reviving this thread, which was active during a period when I didn't have time to post (although I was reading). I usually carry some Lärabars with me when I travel, but I put them into the 3-1-1 bag. The moisture content is high enough that it it will usually flag a more detailed search. (I always assumed that this could be confused with plastic explosives based on the X-Ray scans, rather than a food product where a viral agent could be introduced, according to Frank's explanation.) I think that I could just as easily put them into bags that I place in bins for electronics (e.g. Clear Quarter Packing Cubes or 3D Clear Organizer pouches for hard drives -- again, usually not necessary, but I'll sometimes do this on interisland flights), as long as they can identify the product, but it's simpler to keep this in the 3-1-1 bag.

    I suppose that one "advantage" to having to go through TSA screening on all interisland flights is that you become more habituated (I won't say inured) to the practices, and when you encounter these incidents the circumstances are less traumatic than the situation marbenais described. The week before this thread started I was traveling interisland with someone who had an unopened package of cheese in his carry-on -- a sealed wedge of Cran-Wenesleydale from the local Foodland. That's high enough moisture content to set off the detectors. They let him through after a search of his bags (he was going home, and the item would have fit in his 3-1-1 bag). We have to fly to travel interisland in Hawaii. There are also stricter agricultural quarantines about what can be brought into the state. Still, you develop habits that don't necessarily apply outside of the US -- like taking your shoes off as part of the screening.

    moriond

  12. #42
    Registered User Lani's Avatar
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    Oh moriond! How did I not notice you live in Honolulu! I used to live there (I wen' grad Pearl City High, li'dat).

    Foodland. Ahhh the memories!

    /wave
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  13. #43
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    Sorry for the awful TSA experience, marbenais. I have had plenty of issues with them, despite never carrying anything 'illegal', because I opt-out of the advanced imaging equipment, and so am routinely pulled aside for the pat-down. I have to exert some polite but insistent pressure to stay in a position where I can keep an eye on my belongings, while they find a female agent to do the pat-down. I've found the best approach is to treat them like the under-educated and often power-hungry people that they seem to be. I use simple words, am polite, but don't let them bully me either. If I feel I've been mistreated I follow up with their on-line complaint form, and the last time I did so, I got a call back by a supervisor who took detailed notes. I follow the rules about what I can carry-on assiduously, but they are changing all the time, but if someone deliberately tried to humiliate me as a result there would be real pushback.

    There are a ton of ways I could smuggle a weapon aboard, were I so inclined, while still following every silly TSA regulation. It's a circus designed to assuage the fears of the public and line the pockets of certain vested interests, not make us safer.

    Oh, and the topic of this thread: my personal indulgence? I take instant coffee (Starbucks VIA packs), an insulated thermos, and a 220V instant water heater. No caffeine withdrawal for me when traveling in one of those places where they serve coffee by the thimbleful.
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    My knitting or crochet, and if it's a car trip, my espinner.
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    If traveling by car, I always take diet cokes with me. I am not a coffee drinker and this is how I get my daily intake of caffeine. It is easier just to pick up a 12-pack at the store before I hit the road and much cheaper than vending machines and gas stations. I also always take my pillow with me, but I think a lot of people do that when travelling by car. I don't really take anything unusual when flying. I'm always trying to get down the the bare minimum essentials so my bag isn't too heavy for me to haul all over the Atlanta airport.

    @bchaplin - I think it is a little funny/ironic that you opt out of the advanced imaging scanning. Mostly so because I am never forced to go through it and all of my frequent travelling companions hate me for it. It is seriously the running joke between me and the BF and my boss. I don't know if I just don't look threatening or I look like an old pro flyer, but when the line for the advanced imaging starts to get backed up, I am always waved through the regular metal detector while everybody else with me has to wait. *knocks on wood* The last time I went through the big machine, it said I had something on my ankle...but then it also said the same of the person before me and 2 people after me. Crazy machines.

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