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Traveling always brings on exciting adventures. Oftentimes, you’ll want to bring back novelties and stuff that you’ve found or purchased during your travels. The question of whether or not you can bring back items such as rocks on planes is a question that is asked more often than one may think. Rocks are one of the most popular items that people will either pick up or purchase from places across the globe, but carrying them back on a plane may be trickier than you think.
You can bring rocks on the airplane as acknowledged under the artifacts section on the TSA’s own website. There, they agree that you are allowed to bring rocks on the airplane both in your carry-on bag and in your overall luggage. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule such as distinguishing between rocks and ancient artifacts, and any health risks that may occur.
Understanding that you can bring rocks on the plane can alleviate the stress you may have been having as you were busy packing from your trips in the Middle East, Europe, or parts of Africa. It is also important to understand that there can be a few things to consider when you are packing away those massive (or tiny) rocks in your luggage as well.
If you are interested in checking out the best rockhounding tools you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
Bringing Rocks Onto The Airplane
Even though the TSA does allow you to bring rocks onto the airplane does not mean that you should go loose with your rock finding.
As much as it is okay to bring them, it is still important to understand the other factors that are taken into consideration when traveling.
This includes the following:
- Distinguishing between rocks and ancient artifacts
- The total weight count of your luggage
- Customs if you are flying internationally
- Possible health risks it can contain
- The reason for bringing the rocks
Knowing these four main possible factors should help to aid you in your ability to bring as many rocks as you would like among the other great souvenirs that you are bringing from your travels.
Distinguishing Between Rocks And Ancient Artifacts
Sometimes we may not realize it, but rocks can sometimes be considered ancient artifacts in some countries and states if you are flying domestically.
As much as it is allowed to bring ancient artifacts onto an airplane with the provided care, it is important to note that sometimes depending on where you travel; these artifacts can be confiscated due to their own laws and regulations.
Sometimes when you are visiting a national park or sacred historical grounds, they do ask you to not take even the rocks on the ground due to how holy the place can become.
It’s important to note the overall difference between a rock and an ancient artifact:
- The location of where the rock was found such as if it was in an excavated site
- If the rock has a receipt and was bought at a gift shop
- The rock’s overall appearance
Knowing this can help you avoid the possibility of endangering yourself to international law and getting yourself into customs. This can also be an added bonus for future traveling as well.
TIP: Can you imagine 300 kg of rock moving in a desert and leaving tracks behind without any help? Sounds ridiculous. But it has a rational explanation. Find out more in the article below:
Sailing Stones Explained: Why & How Do They Move? (7 Facts)
Make Sure To Keep In Mind Of Your Luggage’s Total Weight
As much as it is enjoyable to bring back home all the possible rocks and other goodies from your travels, you do have to understand that there are a few limitations towards how much you can carry.
Most luggage has a maximum weight of about 50lbs, and anything above that can lead to additional money or removal of certain items so that they can be safely placed as part of the airplane’s cargo.
These items are usually things that are non-essential, such as toothpaste or shampoos. Rocks and souvenirs can fit that list as well, so be mindful when packing them.
The best way that you can avoid spending additional money and throwing out these rocks you’ve collected from your travels in the Sahara desert, make sure to consider alternating in terms of storage between both your carry-on and your overall luggage. That way, they don’t fill up too much space in your luggage.
Are geodes/rocks allowed in carry-on luggage?
According to the TSA rules, geodes (or generally rocks) are allowed in carry-on luggage. They are also allowed in your checked luggage.
Customs Can Become A Crucial Factor
Going back to the first point, sometimes even if the TSA says you are allowed to carry rocks onto the airplane, customs tend to do things differently, depending on the situation.
Also, depending on the country you visit, they tend to ask questions and thoroughly scan your luggage without so much as a question of why.
Taking that into consideration, it is also important how important customs are in the country you are traveling to and from so that you know how to dodge these uncertain bullets.
And if the off chance you do end up being called into question, just relax and explain kindly to them about what you are taking with you. Sometimes they may let it slide, and other times, they may need to ask for those rocks.
After all, your safety is more important than a few rocks!
TIP: Safety is not only important when transporting rocks by plane, but also when searching for them. Therefore, I recommend you read this article on recommended safety equipment for rockhounding.
Recommended Safety Equipment & Tips for Rockhounding!
Understand There Are Health Risks Involved
Since we live in a world where everything is connected, the same occurs in the world of health issues and possible sickness.
Even if you want to bring a nice rock with you back home, it is important to take into consideration your health and the health of others.
Sure the rock may look like a nice good to take, but who knows what it may have had? Perhaps that rock could have a virus or some bacteria that can make you sick.
With that said, it is important to disinfect the rock before you leave back home. Buying some convenience store alcohol from where you are staying and rubbing it with cotton swabs or cotton balls should do the trick towards cleaning it. That way, you can safely carry it with ease to the airport and back home.
However, if you cannot disinfect it during your travels, make sure to keep it separate from the rest of your items. Place the rocks in a nice airtight bag, and before you return home, disinfect them there.
BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
Why You Are Bringing The Rock Back Home
As much as we want to bring back goodies from our travels, in this particular case, we do have to ask ourselves why we are bringing these rocks back home with us.
Sure they are from the places we visited, but at the same time, they can seem rather worthless in most cases, and the hassle to bring them back home doesn’t seem worth it in the long run.
However, if you are someone who collects rocks for a living, then it would make sense as to why you want to bring these rocks back home.
The same can be said for botanists as some rocks provide a nice change of scenery and brilliant aesthetics for many plants.
In the end, though it is possible to bring rocks onto an airplane, it is often best to leave them alone unless you are really to take these factors into consideration.
Sometimes you can become lucky and be allowed to bring the rocks, and sometimes, especially if you are flying internationally, customs may raise a burden on you if you are not on your toes.
Still, it is noted that if you do plan to collect rocks from your travels, feel free to collect them as mementos from your adventures.
TIP: Check out the best places for rockhounding in the United States by each state.
Rockhounding Near Me: Best Locations State-by-State (Map)