One of the pieces of equipment that we recommend on all our hiking vacations is hiking (also called trekking) poles. If you can't remember why we recommend them so highly (no, we don't own a Leki franchise) then read this blog on the 10 uses of hiking poles. So assuming we have sold you on why they are so critical, the next question is how to get them to your destination. Basically you have four choices:
- Send them ahead to your destination, either by US post or UPS. The chances they'll get there are quite high. The only downsides are that it takes more advance planning and costs money.
- Put them in your checked baggage. If they don't fit into your suitcase when they are collapsed, pull them completely apart. Also make sure to cover the tips with duct tape or something to keep the points from ripping your clothes or suitcases to shreds. The likelihood they will get there is quite high and it takes no advance planning. If you would otherwise not be checking your bags, then the additional cost is the baggage fee you'll have to pay unless you're traveling on Southwest.
- Pull your poles completely apart and put them in your carry on luggage (if your luggage is designed to fit the requirements of carry on baggage, they will just fit). The main drawback to this is that TSA may not let them through. One of our guides recently made inquiries at three diffferent airports. She talked to the head TSA honcho at each one and they all told her that hiking poles do not fall within TSA guidelines of allowed carry-ons, since they are over 7 inches and have a sharp point. Personally I have carried them on this way over a dozen times and I have never been stopped (except in Europe). But it could happen - and if carrying them on is going to make you feel nervous and guilty, don't bother trying it. If it doesn't, then leave yourself enough time to go back and check them through if you're stopped. The advantages are that your hiking poles will definitely get there and it won't cost anything. The downside is that you could get stopped and have to go check your bag.
- Wrap them in socks, stick them in your daypack, and sashay on through (see the picture). This should not work! I was absolutely shocked when someone on a hiking trip did this exact thing. I can't say I recommend it but everyone has their own tolerance for risk!
So here are four ways to transport your poles on your hiking vacations. There are only two serious mistakes you can make: 1) not bringing trekking poles; and even more serious - 2) not going on hiking vacations!