You Can Bring It in Your Carry-on, But You're Not Allowed to Check


Did you know there are several items that you can bring onto an airplane in your carry-on luggage, but you are not allowed to check? We’ve been so indoctrinated into the whole 3-1-1 liquids rule and other banned substances from our carry-on luggage, that we forget there are items that are banned in reverse.

This week’s announcement that the airlines will ban checked “smart” luggage, but allow it as carry-on started me researching what else can be brought aboard, but not checked.


Smart luggage, if you don’t already know, is luggage with GPS and other technology embedded into the bag. Now your bag can find itself when lost (even if the airline can’t), charge your phone, open with a fingerprint, and even weigh itself.


Unfortunately, once again, our convenience technology has a dangerous side. And, it isn’t a new danger. Remember the Samsung Galaxy 7 Note and hover boards? The same culprit is to blame with smart luggage - lithium batteries.

The FAA already bans spare lithium-ion batteries in checked luggage because of the potential to overheat. The batteries pose a higher risk in an aircraft's cargo hold because a fire could go unnoticed. 

Airlines will begin the checked “smart” luggage ban in January. Batteries must be removed for the bag to be allowed in a cargo hold. And, they can go as a carry-on only if the batteries are removable – in case there is a need for the bag to be gate-checked.

What other items are not allowed in CHECKED luggage, but can be brought aboard in a carry-on?

  • Butane curling iron. OK, I confess to not knowing there was such a thing. Apparently, it is one form of cordless curling irons.
  • Electronic cigarettes. You still can’t smoke them!
  • Live fish. Why would anyone want to fly with a live fish? Is it a therapy fish? Additionally, the fish must be in water in a clear container. Does that mean the fish has to fit in 3.4 oz. of water?
  • Safety Matches. Only one book, though.

The following are forbidden in both checked and carry-on. But, I found them odd/interesting so thought I’d pass along.

  • Alcohol greater than 140 proof. Think twice about buying that bottle of Absinthe in Prague or strong rum in the Caribbean.
  • Bear bangers. I had no idea what this was and had to look it up. It’s some special type of flare used to scare away bears. Wow, who knew?
  • Bear spray. Really. Apparently, there is huge demand for anti-bear stuff on airplanes of which I was completely unaware. How many bears have you seen on a plane?

In a nutshell, if you’re planning on buying smart luggage this holiday season, be sure the batteries are removable. Get a pet sitter for your fish. And, the bear should be safe, since bear spray is forbidden!

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Travel Gift Ideas - No Matter Who's On Your List


Are you struggling with trying to find a unique and appreciated gift this season?

Do you have everyone from bookworms to adrenaline junkies on your gift list? Everybody has a special interest or hobby and travel is a great gift to acknowledge that activity, provide a new and unique way to enjoy that pursuit, and create lifetime memories.

While major milestones are often celebrated with bucket list vacations, you don’t need a momentous occasion to give the gift of travel. Here is a sampling of a few travel experiences sure to be loved and remembered that might not come immediately to mind when constructing your shopping list:

  • Animal Lovers - visit the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre in Malawi; volunteer for Sea Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica
  • Adventure Junkies – bungee jump off the Victoria Falls Bridge; live in a yurt on the Mongolian plain
  • Book Lovers – Da Vinci Code tour; Literary Pub Crawl in Dublin; tour the Alexandria Library
  • Culinary Fans – truffle hunting in Italy; cooking class with Michelin star chef in Mexico
  • Dance Enthusiasts – enjoy Tango lessons in Buenos Aires; Salsa clubbing in Havana; learn to Waltz in Vienna
  • Fun Seekers – Zipline thru the Rainforest;  race rickshaws through the streets of Siem Reap; drive a dog sled in Alaska
  • Sports Enthusiasts – golf at St. Andrews; ski the French Alps; learn to scuba dive off the Great Barrier Reef
  • Speed Demons – drive a Ferrari racing car on a track in Italy; participate in an America’s Cup style race in New Zealand
  • Theater Fans – see a production at the Globe Theatre in London; a play at the Odeon in Athens; opera in Venice.
  • Well-being Enthusiasts – learnTai Chi in Beijing; practice yoga with a guru in India
  • Wine Lovers – learn to blend in Provence; harvest grapes in Chile; tour the Australian Wine Country

The list of unique experiences available while traveling is limitless. And, the memories will last a lifetime, unlike most of the “stuff” that we buy?

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How Will the New Cuba Travel Restrictions Impact You?


Charming, culturally and historically rich, and proximity to the US (90 miles from Key West to Havana), makes Cuba a desirable tourist destination for US citizens. Add the mystique of its “forbidden” status for over 50 years and you can be sure that when travel restrictions to Cuba were relaxed two years ago, it fast became one of the hottest destinations for US travelers.

No longer required to have advance permission and a special license, US citizens were free to participate in individual “people-to-people” travel. Cruise lines added port stops and Cuba-only itineraries while airlines added regular, passenger service originating in US.

With the announcement of new travel restrictions, confusion reigns supreme on who, what, where, and when travel to the island is allowed. Two primary changes went into effect this month that impact casual travel to the island.


One, is the removal of the individual “people-to-people” allowance. Travelers must be part of an organized group with an educational or cultural component.

Second, the new regulations include a ban on Americans doing business with some 180 Cuban government entities, holding companies, and tourism companies. The list includes 83 state-owned hotels, including famous hotels in Old Havana such as Ernest Hemingway’s erstwhile favorite haunt the Hotel Ambos Mundos.

The purpose of the ban, per the US Treasury Dept, is to keep cash away from enterprises owned or controlled by Cuban military enterprises.

Does that mean no rum and coke during your trip?


“Americans may still consume those soft drinks and rums” — as long as they don’t buy them directly from the companies on the list, Treasury says. They can buy a Tropicola from a street vendor, for example, and they won’t have to tell a bartender: “No Varadero or Caney rum, please.” You can legally purchase a rum and coke at many Cuban hotels, but if a hotel is one of the 83 hotels that are banned, it’s off limits for not only drinks but also lodging.

Are you confused yet?

Besides the beverage companies, there are also stores and shops on the list that you might not readily associate with the Cuban military. “Travelers are expected to consult the Cuba Restricted List to ensure they are in compliance as they make their travel arrangements and during their trips,” Treasury said.

In other words – you figure it out.

So, what are your options if you are planning to visit Cuba? First, I strongly recommend you work with a professional travel consultant. This isn’t a vacation to DIY or plan as you go. Independent travelers must prove a schedule of interactions with Cuban people and not patronizing hotels/restaurants that are government owned or managed. Who wants to deal with that?

Here are three options for Cuba travel:

  1. If you made and paid for your arrangements prior to the announcement, your trip is grandfathered under the previous regulations. Be sure to carry proof of the payment or deposit date with you for your return to the US.
  2. Consider a cruise. Cruises and cruise stops are not affected. Cruise lines have vetted their shore excursion offerings to meet new regulations.
  3. For land trips, use a reputable US licensed tour operator (they don’t have to be US based, but should be US licensed). Using a tour operator doesn’t mean you have to be part of a tour group. They can assist you to form your own group, legally. A tour operator that specializes in Cuba can help you plan an approved itinerary and ensure your personal group meets the “significant cultural and educational” requirements.

Is Cuba on your bucket list?

Holiday Travel Survival Guide


Can you name the three busiest travel days of the year, in order? (Answers are below)

It’s that most wonderful time of the year. Sleigh rides, mistletoe, pumpkin pie, roasting turkey, family reunions, and….. holiday travel. Gulp.

Thanksgiving to New Year is the busiest travel stretch of the year. And the week of Thanksgiving is unrivaled for the number of people taking to the skies. But, holiday travel doesn’t have to turn you into a Scrooge. With a little planning and the right attitude, you can survive any crowded airport or travel delay the season brings your way.


Early, early, early to the airport. There is no such thing as too early for holiday travel. If all is seamless, you’ll enjoy a croissant and coffee as you watch fellow passengers stress out. If the security line is longer than expected or you run into a traffic delay en-route to the airport, you’ll have a safety cushion built in.

Take advantage of all possible shortcuts. Check in on line – and make sure your cell number is in your ticketing record. Print your boarding pass or download it to your phone. Avoid parking at the airport – taxi, Uber, or have a friend drop you off. Pre-program necessary numbers into your phone so they are handy - airline, car rental, hotels, family/friends. Download the airlines’ app - there isn’t a faster way to get updates if you are delayed.

Pack light. Ship the gifts ahead; don’t bring them with you. If you only have a carry-on, you’ll save the time and cost of luggage check and collection. You’ll avoid the stress of a misplaced bag. And, you won’t worry about what the luggage handlers broke when they dropped a bowling ball on your bag.


Stay well-fed. Low blood sugar will make you cranky and stress you even more. Bring some nutritious snacks (no – gummies and goldfish crackers do not qualify) to munch on. Enjoy a meal during that long layover I recommended you build into your holiday flight schedule!

Keep your sense of humor. It’s crowded, flights are full, delays are inevitable, tempers are short. But, hey, it’s the holidays. Smile. Take a deep breath. Relax. Enjoy.

Answers, in order:

  1. Sunday after Thanksgiving (Nov 26)
  2. Wednesday before Thanksgiving (Nov 22)
  3. Friday before Thanksgiving (Nov 17)

Are you planning to travel during the holiday season this year?

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Unique Treasure Hunt


This treasure is found in certain forests of France and Italy (no, not a snipe hunt). Legal hunting requires a license. And, specially trained dogs are a must to successfully find this valuable loot. Do you know what this treasure is?

Truffles! And we don’t mean chocolates.


Truffles are a very special delicatessen from the mushroom family, sometimes referred to as “diamonds of the kitchen” due to their scarcity. Naturally occurring only in specific regions of Italy and France, they grow underground and are among the most expensive foods, with certain varieties selling upwards of several hundreds of dollars per pound!

Often sprinkled over dishes to elevate a good meal into something much more extraordinary, or blended into oils and salts, truffles have been highly sought after since Greek and Roman times.

Truffles are so elusive that neither man nor machine can locate them on their own, relying on canines’ or pigs’ keen sense of smell to find them.

Pigs or “truffle hogs” were the traditional choice for truffle hunters for generations because they have a keen sense of smell and naturally seek out truffles without needing training. Unfortunately, their natural affinity for truffles means they like to EAT them!


Dogs are more commonly used nowadays because they don’t particularly care for the valuable delicacies. Dogs though, unlike pigs, require truffle training. There are specialized dog training universities for truffle hunting in France and Italy. We all need a specialty – right?

Truffle treasure hunting is a popular activity if you are traveling to certain regions of France or Italy, including Provence and Tuscany during the late fall and winter hunting season. Some river cruise itineraries also offer it as an excursion.

If you are a foodie or just want to participate in a unique activity on your next trip to Europe, truffle treasure hunting could be just the thing for you! One of many unique experiences I’d love to help you discover.

Have you ever been truffle hunting?

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