21 Things You Need to Know About Easter Island Before Visiting

Anytime you head to a far-flung, bucket-list destination like Easter Island, you want to do your research to make sure that you have a smooth and enjoyable experience.

In the case of Easter Island, there are quite a few things you will want to know before you visit.

Below, I’ll highlight everything that you need to know about this amazing place so that you’ll be fully prepared on your first visit to make the most of your time!

For information on the documents needed and getting through the airport, check out this guide right here.

It feels very safe

One thing about this little island in the middle of the Pacific is that if you commit a crime, there’s nowhere for you to run. I mean, you could always live the rest of your life inside a lava tube I guess but that doesn’t necessarily sound ideal. 

As far as humans went, the island felt very safe. We didn’t feel the need to constantly watch our back or anything of the sort.

Obviously, you don’t want to let your guard completely down but the experience is very different from visiting some islands in other places of the world such as the Caribbean where you still have to remain vigilant.

Easter island lava tube

Seat belts are entirely optional

Wearing seatbelts is not really “a thing” in Easter Island. And we never even heard a seatbelt alarm/reminder during our entire time, so I’m not even sure the vehicles have those built-in.

Because it’s rare for anybody to drive with any real speed they’re probably not really needed in most cases. But this is something that takes getting used to.

You can always strap in if it makes you feel better, but I enjoyed going without a seatbelt just because it felt so different (and a little liberating).

Animals roam free

Animals, including dogs, cats, chickens, horses, and cattle have free reign on the island. You’ll find dogs hanging out at seemingly every corner and majestic horses trotting along the coast.

If you’re a dog lover (or just animal lover in general) you’ll really enjoy seeing so many of them. According to locals, most of these animals do have owners but they are just allowed to roam where they wish.

This means you need to be extra careful when you’re driving. Lots of the dogs like to sleep in the street and other times the animals just sort of come out of nowhere, especially at night.

On a couple of occasions we did encounter a couple of dogs that made us a little bit nervous but they were mostly just aggressive watch dogs being territorial.

I don’t think they would do non-intruders any harm but when a large dog jumps up on top of a fence post and lets you know that you are not welcome, it makes you a little uneasy.

Easter Island horse

You have to have a guide for most sites

To see the vast majority of the sites on Easter Island, you will have to accompanied by a guide or local host. This can get expensive over the spans of a few days and really limit your exploring abilities.

A private guide for two people for a full day will run you about $200 USD. If you want to see all of the sites, you will need at least two days so be prepared to spend some cash on guides.

Related: Complete Guide to Exploring Easter Island’s Rapa Nui National Park

Easter Island, tour guide

It’s expensive 

Related to the above point, Easter Island can be pretty expensive.

Just getting there can be pricey because of all of the connecting flights and the hotel prices aren’t exactly the cheapest.

But when you throw your park pass and guides on top of everything, you’ll quickly be spending a nice chunk of change.

Related: How to get to Easter Island: Everything You Need to Know

Easter Island cave

You can easily find markets

On Easter Island, it’s not very difficult to find markets and mini markets where you can buy produce, snacks, essentials, etc.

To help ease the cost mentioned above, we made our way to the markets quite often. For about half the time we spent there, we just ate sandwiches and soups which helped us get by.

If you need anything medical related, such as sunscreen, you can get that at the pharmacy.

Internet is iffy but can be quite good

Starlink recently made its way to Easter island and some lodging places and businesses now have high speed internet. It’s been a game changer according to many locals.

We tested out Starlink for a few days and it was awesome out there. I was even able to conduct video conference calls without any type of issues.

However, a lot of places still do NOT have Starlink. For those places that don’t, the internet connection is seriously lacking. It makes it very difficult to be productive. Don’t even think about streaming anything.

So my suggestion would be to be prepared to embrace being largely off the grid or if you need to get some work done doing your trip, find a place with Starlink.

Starlink sign

Cell phone service or data is really hard/impossible to get

Depending on your provider, you might be able to get cell phone service but if you’re hoping to use your data on your phone to help you get around just know that there’s a good chance you won’t have access to it. We have Verizon and were never able to access our data. 

To make it easier to navigate around the island just download the Google Maps offline version for Easter Island. You probably won’t be able to pull up directions but you can still pretty easily navigate by following your little blue dot on the map. 

Just be aware that Google Maps is not fully updated with the latest business locations on Easter Island. On a number of occasions, we ventured to a location shown on Google Maps that was no longer there!

As things kick back up after the closure from the pandemic, I imagine the maps will get cleaned up.

Power and AC limitations

If you are accustomed to keeping your house ice cold like us, you might want to start turning up the temperature in your house in the weeks leading up to your trip.

That’s because some hotels and lodges don’t have AC and some don’t even have the power capacity to run fans all the time. This means that you could be running very warm and humid during your stay.

The temperature will cool down in the evening and with a breeze, it can feel heavenly outside or an a patio but inside of your room, it can be a real challenge to remain comfortable.

Little tree cover

Although the island was once home to huge palm trees, it no longer boasts thick forest canopies. You’ll find some pockets of thick eucalyptus forest, but the vast majority of the island is barren.

It’s still a beautiful site with green volcanic slopes rising and falling along the horizon but you’ll be hard-pressed to find shade in most spots (unless you’re standing next to a giant moai!). 

Don’t be surprised by insects or other critters

Lots of the lodging and other buildings are very open to the environment on Easter Island.

This means that you can expect to find bugs and other little creatures making their way into your hotel. We saw lizards, roaches, and other little bugs in our hotels.

We never had an issue with mosquitoes although the flies did come out pretty hard on a couple of occasions when dinner was served.

So just adjust your expectations accordingly and try not to be shocked if you wake up to find a roach in your bathtub!

You’ll want to rent a car

I strongly recommend renting a vehicle while in an Easter Island.

For us, this was vital to getting to sunset and sunrise locations and enjoying our early morning stargazing sessions. While you are still limited in what you could see due to the guide restrictions, it’s still a fun place to drive around in.

Another option could be to rent an ATV or scooter but we went with a four-door vehicle because we knew we would be riding around with a tour guide and we wanted to be comfortable.

A lot of the vehicles are manual but you might be able to find an automatic which is what we were given (even though we ordered manual).  

Credit cards are widely excepted

Most of the places we went to accepted credit cards, including American Express. You’ll just need to let the place know that you are using a credit card and not a debit that requires a pin.

A couple of places did not accept cards but they made it clear that they only accepted cash from the beginning. If you need cash, there is an ATM machine in the middle of town.

The sun sets late

The sun sets really late in Easter Island. 

In December, sunset will be around 9 PM, while in the winter it is still around 7 PM.

This gives you a lot of time to explore and then relax around sunset time.

But if you are coming from North America, the shift in daylight can be more dramatic than what you may have expected. You might even need an eye mask if you plan on getting to sleep at your usual time.

They have cool souvenirs

I really love the souvenirs at Easter Island!

It’s going be almost impossible for you to leave that island without some type of moai-inspired souvenir.

You’ll find them in all different types of shapes and sizes. Take your time and check out several different shops to see what you like the most.

The skies are ridiculously dark

If you’ve never experienced truly dark skies, Easter Island is the place to do it. 

Even better, if you’re coming from the US or an equivalent latitude in the northern hemisphere, you’ll be able to see the Southern night sky!

My biggest regret was not doing a stargazing tour with a telescope but our plans just didn’t align with the open dates for that. But even if you don’t book a proper stargazing tour, you can just go out to any area on the island and appreciate the beautiful night sky.

Watching shooting stars blaze through the night sky over towering moai is a true bucket-list worthy experience.

Roads are not the best

The roads are not the best and mostly consist of what looked like set stone roads but they are still very doable and not as bad as I thought it would be.

Some of the dirt roads are pretty bumpy and quickly get filled with large puddles — the potholes can be a little treacherous so watch out for those!

But unless you are traveling around during or after heavy downpour, you won’t have issues getting around, even without having a 4×4.

There’s great seafood

If you like seafood, Easter Island will impress. We had some fantastic ceviche, tuna, lobster, and shrimp and there are plenty of other tasty food options out there.

Spanish is the way to go but you can get by with English

If you can speak Spanish, or just broken Spanish like me, that can get your pretty far on Easter island.

Some people do speak the “Chilean style” of Spanish which is pretty fast and that can be difficult to communicate with for people like myself.

But a lot of the locals also know a bit of broken English so you can generally work out transactions without much of a problem.

The only issue is that because you probably won’t have access to data on your phone, it can be hard to translate things whenever there is a problem.

Beaches are few but beautiful!

Easter Island does not have a lot of beaches.

It’s mostly jagged volcanic cliffs along the coastline, which are quite stunning. However, there are a couple of beaches that I thought were pretty beautiful and they are right next to each other. You want to check out: Ovahe and Anakena.

You might also find come across a couple of hidden cove with beautiful mini beaches, so be on the lookout for those!

The annual festival is in early February

Easter Island puts on an annual festival in early February called Tapati Rapa Nui that celebrates their history and culture.

It looks like an enjoyable time filled with nighttime festivities and daytime competitions, but it can be hard to find flights during this time so if you plan on visiting the island during the first couple of weeks of February you need to make operations well in advance!

Final word

As you would probably expect, Easter Island is a very different place. I’d suggest really thinking about all of the factors above and how you can best prepare for them.

If you do that, I can guarantee you that you will have a smoother stay as you’ll be much more prepared than the average tourist!

How to get to Easter Island: Everything You Need to Know

Easter Island is one of the most remote islands on Earth and as a result, it’s also one of the most difficult places to get to.

You most likely will have to deal with a number of connecting flights and as of early 2023, potentially a limited number of flights.

But, if you can have some flexibility with your schedule and are okay with enduring lots of hours in the sky then getting to Easter island is actually not that difficult.

In this article, I’ll break down how you can get to Easter Island as of 2023.

How to get to Easter Island by plane

If you want to get to Easter Island by plane, chances are you are going to have to go through Santiago, Chile. If you are headed from the US then that means you likely will be flying on one of the following airlines:

  • American
  • United
  • Delta

If you’re trying to book a nonstop flight to Santiago, then the following airport hubs may offer that:

  • ATL (Atlanta)
  • IAH (Houston)
  • DFW (Dallas/Ft. Worth)
  • JFK (NYC)
  • LAX (Los Angeles)

There were once flights between Easter Island (IPC) and Papeete (PPT) although it’s not clear when those will return.

We happened to be visiting Mexico City so we booked a nonstop directly from MEX with LATAM, which was about eight hours.

Once you arrive in Chile, there are some specific measures that you need to follow to make sure that you get through the airport successfully en route to Easter Island. Be sure to check out the full guide here.

As for getting between Santiago and Easter Island, as of early 2023, there still are only flights going out about three days a week and it’s strictly with LATAM (unless you’re flying private).

The plan is for LATAM to ramp up flights to the island throughout 2023 so more flights should be heading that way during the fall. The good news is that they fly a widebody Dreamliner to Easter island which is one of the more pleasant aircraft to fly.

If you want to use award miles to get to Easter Island on this segment, it’s going to be very difficult (especially for business class).

Over the years, I’ve looked for award seats for this route and while I have come across them on occasion, it’s usually been very rare. Perhaps whenever the flights ramp back up it will be doable but I would not count on finding award seats for business class for now.

Related: Complete Guide to Exploring Easter Island’s Rapa Nui National Park

If you don’t like to deal with connections then I would recommend that you consider staying in Santiago for a few days before heading over to Easter Island. This is because the flight is about five hours between Santiago and Easter Island.

So if you already have had to deal with a couple of long connecting flights, the thought of going through yet another flight may be a complete turn off.

There are a lot of things you can do in Santiago like check out some of the museums or just stroll around the city which is quite nice as it is surrounded by beautiful (and huge) mountains. It’s a great “stop over” city.

Santiago Chile

Santiago Airport also has a nice airport hotel located right outside the exit (the Holiday Inn). You could simply stay at that hotel for a night and recharge for a flight the next day.

Purchasing your flight

One really interesting thing about purchasing a flight with LATAM while based in the US is that you could be paying a lot more than someone based in Chile!

When I was looking at flights from Santiago to Easter island, I noticed that the prices on the US website were twice as expensive! See the screenshot below.

You could utilize a VPN or just use the Chile LATAM website and go through the booking process in Spanish in order to take advantage of the cheaper rates.

In the past, I always heard about officials at the airport catching people doing this and forcing them to pay the difference. I believe that this enforcement practice was ruled illegal at some point although I’m not completely sure.

But I can tell you from personal experience that as US citizens with US passports we did not have any issues purchasing the cheaper tickets and getting through the airport.

Landing in Easter island

As you would probably expect, the airport on Easter island is very small.

Interestingly, the landing strip is actually longer than usual because it was modified to be able to accommodate emergency space shuttle landings! Pretty cool.

Lots of the hotels provide transportation from the airport to the hotel and will even greet you with a lei! It’s a really cool experience.

How to get to Easter Island by cruise

Another way to get to Easter Island is by cruise ship. I don’t have experience with taking cruises to Easter island so I honestly don’t know much about them.

However, I do know that sometimes Easter island is one stop among many on some very long cruises that go between places like the US and Australia. Some of these cruises can be over 100 nights! However you can find some that are just 2 to 3 weeks.

Coming up on Easter Island via the ocean would be epic because it would take me back in time to when early explorers first came across the island.

But we noticed that some of the sites were substantially busier when the cruise ship was in town so your experience will likely not be as quiet if you go to cruise route. Just something to think about.

Easter Island is by cruise ship

Final word

Getting to Easter Island is a little bit of a challenge.

You’ll need to be ready to deal with a few connecting flights and try to plan ahead so that you are not stuck with limited flight inventory due to the small amount of flights going to the island each week.

Complete Guide to Exploring Easter Island’s Rapa Nui National Park [2023]

Want to explore Easter Island’s famous Rapa Nui National Park and get captivated by its mysterious allure?

In order to do so, there is a fair amount of information you need to be aware of to make sure that you don’t make a costly mistake or fail to enjoy some of the best sites it has to offer.

Below, I will tell you everything you need to know about visiting Rapa Nui National Park!

Get your Rapa Nui National Park pass

If you want to explore all of the different sites on Easter island’s Rapa Nui National Park you’re going to first need to purchase a Rapa Nui National Park pass which will cost you about 74,500 CLP or about $90 USD. Kids between the ages of seven and 12 get a 50% discount.

If you’re from the US, this price probably seems pretty expensive considering that it is more expensive than the annual national park pass you can get that provides you access to all parks across the country!

The Rapa Nui National Park pass will be good for 10 days from your date of entry.

You can purchase your national park pass online here. (Note: I struggled to purchase the park pass with my mobile device so you may want to try this on a desktop.)

When you purchase your ticket you will need to carefully select your arrival date so that you don’t trigger the pass sooner than necessary. And make sure that you have your passport number handy because you will have to input it.

You can also purchase a park pass in person at the national park building located in the middle of town next to Feria Artesanal.

The drawback is that there could be a long line when you get there (as was the case with us) and they still don’t provide you with a physical map so I would just purchase it online.

Rapa Nui National Park is not a single region of the island like you would expect a US national park to be. Instead, it is made up of different areas and consists of many checkpoints (like the one pictured below) where you will be asked to show your pass for entry.

That’s usually the case, at least.

Not all of the checkpoints required us to show a pass for each person.

You can print out your national park pass or you can keep it digital on your mobile device and show it. (I would recommend you do both.)

If you go with the digital option, take a screenshot of your park pass and then create a special album on your phone for your park passes. This will make it easy to pull it up since you most likely will not have service.

Related: Guide for getting through Santiago de Chile Airport (SCL) to Rapa Nui/Easter Island

Sites you can only visit once

There are a number of different sites for you to explore but it’s really important to know that you can only visit two of them one time during your stay. These are, as you would probably expect, two of the most popular sites:

  • Rano Raraku (the quarry where they made most of the Moai)
  • ORongo (the historic Village were participants of the Birdman competition lived)

I believe that if you purchase a second park pass, you can get entry into these a second time.

Also, I’m not sure exactly how they enforce this single-entry rule because at the checkpoints they simply were taking a photo of the QR codes of our pass, so it sounds like this is sort of an honor system thing since the scanning is not real time.

Rano Raraku easter island
Rano Raraku.

Bring your passport

Some of the checkpoints will require you to show your passport while others will not. Also, some of the checkpoints that do require passports don’t always ask for them.

It’s a bit of a nuisance to carry around your passport and constantly retrieve it because it is just asking for you to accidentally misplace it but if you want to visit all of the sites you will need to carry it with you.

Rano Raraku easter island

Get familiar with the different open hours

Most of the Rapa Nui National Park sites are open from about 9AM to 5:30 PM. For lots of people, 9AM is actually pretty late for national park open times which limits the time you can spend exploring with cool temps during hotter months.

However, sometimes the hours can vary.

For example, at the popular sunrise spot Ahu Tongariki, they might open the gate at 6 AM depending on whenever the person stationed at the checkpoint wakes up. (Sometimes it’s just a matter of someone knocking on the window of the checkpoint to wake them from their slumber.)

Some places also might have earlier open hours around 7AM.

And finally, it’s not always clear that access is not allowed even during off hours.

We wanted to do a hike to Tere vaka so we arrived at one of the checkpoints, Ahu A kivi, during the early hours before the checkpoint was open and proceeded to make our way to the trailhead.

Multiple guides told us that this would be okay but it did still feel like we were trespassing and like we might have to deal with some type of confrontation. So the boundaries are not always so clear.

Ahu Tongariki milky way

Secure a (quality) guide/local

After Easter Island closed down for over two years during the pandemic, they re-opened with a new policy that requires you to be accompanied with a guide or local host for virtually all sites.

This, in my opinion is one of the biggest drawbacks of visiting Easter island. It’s understandable that they want to prevent damage to sites and yes some tourists are idiots but this makes visiting everything a lot more challenging.

The reason is that you cannot visit all of the sites that require a guide in one day so if you want to see everything (and not be rushed) you will have to tether yourself to a guide for at least two to three days.

That means that you have to pay for a guide which starts to add up in cost pretty quickly. If you wanted a private guide for two people for a full day, you’re looking at about $200 USD.

Also, if you are like us and enjoy traveling on your own this means that you will be forced to have someone join in with you for a substantial part of your trip. Something that sort of dampens the fun for more independent-oriented explorers.

You can search for accredited guides here and filter by things like language and nationality.

My advice would be to do some research or speak with your hotel reps to find a quality guide.

There is a lot of mystery on this island and you will undoubtedly find yourself wondering all sorts of questions as you explore these places.

Since you are required to have a guide, you might as well make sure that they are proficient in the language that you speak and that they really know what they are talking about.

Because this guide requirement is relatively new, there are lots of new guides that may not be so experienced and that can lead to an underwhelming experience. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you are more knowledgeable than your guide!

This guide was awesome!

Figure out your itinerary

Related to the point above, you really want to spend some time figuring out your itinerary to make sure that you can see everything while you have a guide.

Easter Island can be a difficult place to communicate with people before you arrive.

In the weeks leading up to our visit, I had many different email threads that were never completed due to the other person not responding. So you might find it difficult to put together an itinerary that works with a potential guide.

One thing you can do when you arrive is go to the Tourism Information Office (SERNATUR) and pick up one of the maps or print out a map from the national park site.

Then, visually confirm with your guide all of the sites that you will be seeing so that you can start checking them off and making sure that you don’t forget about any of the key sites.

One thing: some of the guides will take you to sites that do not require a guide. While there are not many of those, you may want to avoid doing that because you can always check those out on your own, especially if you rent a car.

For example, you need a guide to see the Moai near the beach of Anakkena but you don’t need a guide to visit the beach itself. So I would recommend you to NOT spend time at the beach with your guide if you are trying to be efficient.

Time with your guide is precious so don’t “waste it” on sites where they are not required unless you know you will have ample time with them!

And finally, some guides will drive your rental car for you. Other times they will have a vehicle to take you around in. Make sure you always have clarification on that.

Be aware of the rules

You need to keep a safe distance from the ceremonial platforms (ahu), statues (moai), and petroglyphs (rock carvings).

Typically, you will see signs or rock borders that indicate as far as you can go. Sometimes these blend in with the terrain so you need to be very mindful anytime you approach the ahu. Err on the side of caution.

Avoid standing or sitting on these borders because this has led to confrontations in the past.

Also, do not touch the moai or any other archaeological sculptures, no matter how tempting it may be. They will consider that to be “damaging” the object which can get you in criminal trouble.

And remember that you are not allowed to take things like sand, stones, obsidians, or any other similar goods from the island.

Final word

Easter Island’s Rapa Nui National Park is an incredible place to explore. The overwhelming sense of mystery is a huge draw and you will likely leave with more questions than answers after your visit.

But it’s also a place that requires a good amount of planning if you want to see it all in a cost efficient way.

Can You Bring CBD on a Plane? (TSA Rules) [2023]

Cannabidiol (CBD) is an absolute lifesaver for many people facing serious medical conditions but can you actually bring it on a plane legally or will TSA confiscate it and potentially arrest you?

In this article, we’ll take a look at whether or not you can bring CBD on a plane and I’ll give you some tips and insight into bringing the different types (oils, creams, tinctures, etc.) with you so that you’ll know exactly what to expect.

Can You Bring CBD on a Plane?

Cannabidiol (CBD) products containing less than .3% THC are legal on the federal level but several states have specific laws regarding CBD that might be more strict. This means that bringing CBD on a plane could require you to break the law in some states and risk getting fined or arrested.

With that said, TSA is not actively looking for CBD and so many people are able to bring CBD on a plane with no issues.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

cbd tincture

TSA’s purpose

TSA stands for “Transportation Security Administration” and the purpose is to “strengthen the security of the nation’s transportation systems while ensuring the freedom of movement for people and commerce.”

TSA is concerned about dangerous threats such as explosives and not with enforcing laws and penal codes. This is why they do not check for arrest warrants.

So TSA agents are not actively going to search your carry-on bag or personal item for CBD. Plus, because CBD is not psychoactive like marijuana containing THC, it’s considered less of a “drug” to many.

Therefore, individuals may have more leeway when it comes to CBD even if they are operating in somewhat of a gray area of the law.

Related: Do TSA Officers Have Guns & Arrest Powers?

The federal status of CBD

Thanks to the 2018 federal Farm Bill, hemp-derived CBD is legal at the federal level. However, these CBD products must contain less than 0.3% of THC.

Keep in mind that the law applies to hemp-derived CBD and not marijuana-derived CBD. According to the USDA:

“Marijuana and industrial hemp are different varieties of the same plant species, Cannabis sativa L. Marijuana typically contains 3 to 15 percent THC on a dry-weight basis, while industrial hemp contains less than 1 percent (Blade, 1998; Vantreese, 1998). Most developed countries that permit hemp cultivation require use of varieties with less than 0.3 percent THC. However, the two varieties are indistinguishable by appearance. DeMeijer et al. (1992), in a study of 97 Cannabis strains, concluded that short of chemical analysis of the THC content, there was no way to distinguish between marijuana and hemp varieties”.

So the bottom line is that if your CBD is extracted from a cannabis plant that has more than .3% THC, then the DEA will consider it to be a federally restricted Schedule I substance.

Since you are in a quasi federal jurisdiction when going through airport security, you should be aware you’re violating federal law with CBD containing over .3% THC.

With that said, unless your packaging explicitly indicates that the CBD contains more than .3% THC, it doesn’t seem that TSA or law-enforcement would have the ability to know the THC percentage without conducting some type of testing.

And because TSA is not primarily concerned with finding drugs, from a federal perspective, traveling domestically with CBD is usually not very risky.

Related: TSA Marijuana Rules Explained (Flying with Weed)

State laws

Just like with marijuana, state laws can differ widely when it comes to CBD. The good news is that compared to marijuana, more states have legalized CBD in at least some forms.

The trick is to be aware of what type of forms are legal and any conditions attached to the legality.

For example, some states may not allow CBD in edible forms such as in gummies or in drinks. Sometimes these laws are directed more towards restaurants and cafés but they could still apply to individuals.

States that are strict on CBD legality may require some type of diagnosis such as epilepsy in order to legally carry CBD.

They also might limit the type of CBD to hemp-derived CBD and to CBD that has a THC content no higher than 0.3% (i.e., the federal standard).

If a state has fully legalized marijuana for adult consumption, you can probably bring CBD products with any % of THC with you, subject to any limitations placed on quantity/age/etc.

You can use this map to help you check on the different laws for different states.

Just be aware that these laws can change rapidly so I would always advise to do a state specific search before traveling to see what the latest developments are.

Airport rules

Some airports have specific rules that prohibit marijuana within an airport. However, I’m not aware of airports that have CBD-specific rules.

Bringing different types of CBD on a plane

Since CBD can come in so many different forms you have a lot of different options when transporting it through airport security and on to a plane.

CBD oil

If you want to bring CBD oil to through airport security and onto a plane it’s going to be considered a liquid and be subject to the TSA liquids rule.

This means that your container can be no larger than 3.4 ounces and technically you should place it into a clear, quart size bag.

Because CBD oil could be medically prescribed, you might be able to utilize an exception to the liquids rule which allows liquid medication containers to be larger than 3.4 ounces.

Due to the somewhat gray area of CBD in certain states, this could be something that is YMMV. In other words, it may not be enforced consistently.

Although TSA does not require you to carry prescriptions with your medications, I would probably bring any supporting documentation such as a prescription, doctor’s recommendation letter, and medical marijuana license if I was worried about my CBD getting through.

CBD tinctures

Tinctures are one of the most common ways to take CBD since it only involves taking a couple of drops in the mouth.

These will also be subject to the liquids rule but typically tinctures come in small containers no larger than 3.4 ounces. Therefore, a lot of the containers will comply with the liquids rule by default.

The packaging on tinctures is usually pretty descriptive and specific so it will often clearly spell out that it contains CBD and perhaps even a percentage of THC.

CBD creams

CBD creams would also fall into the liquid category so the same 3.4 ounce rule would apply and medical exceptions could also apply.

Lots of CBD creams will explicitly state CBD on the label so there’s a good chance that if someone inspected your cream they would see that you are transporting CBD.

Because it is considered a liquid it’s possible that that could cause the cream to be given a closer look although the vast majority of TSA agents probably could not care less that you are traveling with CBD.

CBD vapes

You are allowed to bring vapes on a plane and CBD vapes can look like any other type of vaping instrument so you may not have any problems bringing a CBD vape on a plane.

Just be aware that the batteries used in the vapes may not be allowed in your checked baggage. So while you could place a CBD cartridge in your checked baggage, you may need to bring the battery with you in your carry-on.

And in case you were wondering, you cannot vape CBD on a plane.

CBD gummies (edibles)

Lots of people rely on gummies or some other type of edible to take their CBD.

This is probably one of the easiest ways to transport your CBD because gummies and edibles can look like any other type of food or snack.

They can also easily be placed in either a carry-on or checked bag. And if you need to take some on the plane, it’s one of the easiest ways to discreetly consume your CBD.

Unless there is labeling on the food or packaging, somebody would have to test your edibles to verify that they contained CBD. That would be extremely unlikely when flying in the US as that is not a top concern for TSA.

CBD drinks

CBD drinks are obviously going to be subject to the liquids rule. Drinks in the original packaging will probably display the CBD content.

Because of that and the liquids rule, it might be easier to transport CBD drinks in your checked baggage.

CBD flower

You are definitely allowed to bring plants on a plane so CBD in flower form is not off-limits.

The problem is that hemp-derived CBD flower can look just like marijuana which is 100% illegal in many states and airports.

Because it can be easily detected by the look and potentially the smell, you could run into issues with someone thinking that you are bringing marijuana illegally.

As the statement by the USDA states, it could require a chemical analysis to distinguish the two.

For that reason, I would probably try to avoid transporting CBD flower right now unless you are flying between two states that have completely legalized marijuana. And even then you need to be aware that some airports may restrict marijuana, not to mention the federal status of MJ.

cbd tincture and seeds

Knowing what is in your CBD

Unfortunately, not every manufacturer abides by the highest standards when producing CBD products. This means that in some cases your CBD may contain more or less THC than the label states or that you were led to believe.

In some cases, it might even contain enough THC to be tracked down by a drug dog (although that seems unlikely).

But you could imagine an instance where you believe you have legal CBD based on the perceived THC level but a chemical test is done that shows the substance has higher than .3%. After all, that is a very low number.

So the point is just to be extra careful about the type of CBD products you bring through the airport.

How much CBD to bring?

Anytime you’re bringing something through the airport that is potentially problematic you should always seriously consider limiting the quantity you bring with you.

It’s one thing to get through with a couple of CBD vapes and some CBD gummies, but it’s quite another to transport pounds and pounds of CBD through TSA.

It’s just a matter of bringing attention to yourself and getting questioned about why you are taking such a high volume of CBD with you.

When it comes to medication, it’s usually acceptable to bring a quantity needed for the duration of your trip.

This rule of thumb may not apply when you are traveling for extended periods of time such as several months but for your average trip of a few days or maybe a couple of weeks, this rule allows you to offer a reasonable explanation for the quantity of drugs you have with you.

International travel

When traveling internationally, you really have to be careful with any type of drugs.

Some countries have some extremely strict rules for drugs that are otherwise 100% legal in the US. In some countries, getting caught with CBD could land you in jail with a hefty sentence.

For example, there was the soccer coach from the UK who was initially sentenced to 25 years when caught with CBD in Dubai (his sentence was brought down to 10 years, but still… wow).

My recommendation is always to avoid bringing banned substances into other countries.

Also, you need to be equally as careful entering the country as you would be leaving. For example, there were reports as recently as 2019 of people getting arrested at the airport with CBD when coming back into the country.

It seems many of those cases did get dropped eventually but some people have had to spend some time in jail during that process.

A lot of the CBD arrests seemed to be happening in 2019 which was just after the legalization of hemp-derived CBD in late 2018.

Since then, it appears things have potentially gotten better but you still need to remain aware that things might come up, especially if your CBD is confused for marijuana containing THC.

What if you are caught with CBD?

If you are caught with CBD the situation could play out a few different ways.

First, you may be questioned about it and have the opportunity to provide an explanation. Perhaps you could remind a TSA agent or officer that it is legal because you have under .3% THC.

Or maybe you have a prescription or doctor’s note that you can show and you can explain that you use CBD for a specific medical condition.

In another situation, an agent could throw the CBD out (rightly or wrongly) on the basis that it’s an illegal drug.

And there is always the scenario where you get referred to law-enforcement. As mentioned above, it appears law-enforcement is getting better about recognizing the legality of CBD.

However, if you were in a state where you are in possession of a prohibited type of CBD you could get fined, arrested, and taken to jail.

Final word

All forms of CBD are not legal in every state and only forms of CBD containing less than .3% THC are legal on the federal level. This means that you need to be careful when bringing CBD on a plane.

However, TSA is not actively looking to find drugs (including CBD) and there are several ways to transport CBD discreetly. Because of that, many travelers can carry CBD with them on a plane with very little to worry about.

United Airlines Premier Access Benefits Guide: (Worth It?) [2023]

Getting through the airport can sometimes be an extremely stressful experience. Whether it is dealing with those dreaded long security lines, trying to secure valuable overhead storage bin space, or waiting for what seems like an eternity to get your checked baggage from baggage claim, frustration can mount at various times.

Luckily, there are some programs that can help remedy these situations. One of these programs is called United Airlines Premier Access, and I have had a lot of experience with it.

In this comprehensive article, I will discuss all of the benefits of United Premier Access and give you some insight into whether or not these benefits are worth it. I’ll also show you which airports offers these benefits and what to expect.

What is United Premier Access?

United Premier Access is a collection of benefits that allows certain customers to have a more convenient airport experience from the time of check-in, through the time of boarding, and even when picking up their luggage. These benefits are only offered to specific United customers and I’ll discuss who is eligible below.

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United Premier Access line
United Premier Access at IAH.

How do I get United Premier Access?

United Premier Access is available for the following customers:

Customers traveling on the same reservation as someone who is eligible to receive complimentary Premier Access will also receive complimentary Premier Access.

MileagePlus Premier members

If you are a MileagePlus Premier member (meaning you hold elite status with United Airlines), then you will be offered United Premier Access with all of your tickets. 

Here are the different elite statuses with United Airlines and how to achieve them.

Premier levelPQF and PQP Requirement
Premier Silver12 PQF and 4,000 PQP or 5,000 PQP
Premier Gold24 PQF and 8,000 PQP or 10,000 PQP
Premier Platinum36 PQF and 12,000 PQP or 15,000 PQP
Premier 1K54 PQF and 18,000 PQP or 24,000 PQP

There is also the invite-only status of Global Services as well.

Travelers in United Polaris business class, United First and United Business

If you are flying business class or first class, then you will be offered United Premier Access. This includes domestic flights so you do not need to be taking an international flight to get access.

In addition to the Premier Access perks, you will also be able to check in free baggage with an increased weight allowance. For example, on a typical domestic flight you could check two bags in for free and their weight allowance would be up to 70 pounds (up from 50). To find out more about United baggage fees click here.

United Airlines first class
United business class on the 787.

Star Alliance Gold members

If you are a Star Alliance Gold member, then you should be given access.

United Club Infinite Card and Presidential Plus credit cardmembers

If you are a United Club Infinite and/or Presidential Plus credit cardmember, you will get access. 

The United Club Infinite Card is a great card for people who fly United and are interested in taking advantage of perks like free bags and priority check-in and who value United airport lounge access.

In addition to Premier Access, you’ll earn 4X United miles on all United purchases which is nice but the biggest perk is that you get access to United Clubs, which are United airport lounges found all across the country. (You’ll also get access to participating Star Alliance affiliated lounges worldwide.) 

Purchase Premier Access

You can now purchase Premier Access. A Premier Access purchase includes priority check-in, security lane access (where available) and boarding, but it does not include priority baggage handling. Prices, starting at $15, are segment-based, and subject to change.

You can purchase Premier Access on united.com anytime from booking through check-in. This means that you can call the United customer service number and request this purchase or you can even make the purchase at a check-in kiosk at the airport.

You may have the option to purchase Premier Access for one segment of your trip or all of your segments — it just depends. You can also purchase it for multiple people on your itinerary. Keep in mind that Premier Access purchases are generally nonrefundable (unless a flight is canceled).

Also, remember that if you purchase a basic economy ticket you cannot purchase Premier Access.

Whether paying $15 dollars for this benefit is worth it or not will depend on the person and on the airport that they are traveling through. For example, if you are traveling through a major airport that you know is backed up during the peak holiday travel season, then it could absolutely be worth it to pay $15 to avoid those depressingly long lines.

However, if you are just traveling through an ordinary airport at non-peak/busy times and you already have something like TSA Pre-Check, then you likely won’t get that much benefit from this.

United Premier Access check in area
United Premier Access check-in.

How do I know I have United Premier Access?

You can verify that you have United Premier Access by checking your boarding pass. You should be able to see it on your mobile boarding pass or if you have printed out a boarding pass it should be on the top of the boarding pass as shown below. 

United Premier Access boarding pass
Boarding pass showing Premier Access.

United Premier Access benefits

Here are the United Premier Access benefits:

  • Premier Access check-in
  • Premier Access security lane
  • Premier Access priority boarding
  • Premier Access priority baggage handling

Premier Access check-in

The first benefit that you will notice when you arrive at an airport that has Premier Access perks, is that you will have a dedicated area to check in.

The Premier Access check-in lines are often very short compared to the standard check-in lines available to the public. In fact, most times I have checked in, I have been able to go immediately up to the desk at IAH.

There will usually be lines for different levels of elite status at the Premier Access check-in. For example, you might see a line for 1K and a line for Global Services. But if there are no elite members in those lines, you should be able to check in at those desks even if you have lower elite status.

Premier Access priority check-in lines are available at all airports United serves.

Premier Access security lane

You will also have special access to the Premier Access security lane. This security line should be much shorter than the standard security lines available to the public. Also, sometimes the Premier Access security lane is shorter than the TSA Pre-Check line.

So, you often have to make a judgment call on which line to go into. I would typically choose the TSA Pre-Check line because those are usually quicker and you will not have to take off/out your shoes, jacket, electronics, and liquids. The exception would be if the Premier Access security lane is just moving much quicker than the TSA Pre-Check line.

Some airports provide you with TSA “light” benefits when you go through the Premier Access security lane. For example, you may not have to remove your laptop or remove your liquids or something along those lines. You might even be funneled into the TSA Pre-Check screening.

So getting the Premier Access security lane is nice, but TSA Pre-Check will often be better. To read more about TSA Pre-Check, click here

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Premier Access priority check-in airport locations

Premier Access priority check-in and boarding are available at all airports United serves, but access to priority security lines is offered only at the following airports:

  • Albuquerque (ABQ)
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands (AMS)
  • Anchorage (ANC)
  • Austin (AUS)
  • Baltimore-Washington International (BWI)
  • Boston Logan (BOS)
  • Brussels, Belgium (BRU)
  • Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
  • Cleveland (CLE)
  • Columbus (CMH)
  • Dallas Fort Worth (DFW)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Detroit (DTW)
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Fort Myers (RSW)
  • Guam (GUM)
  • Harlingen (HRL)
  • Hartford (BDL)
  • Honolulu (HNL)
  • Houston Intercontinental (IAH)
  • Jacksonville (JAX)
  • Kansas City (MCI)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Melbourne, Australia (MEL)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • Milan, Italy (MXP)
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP)
  • Nashville (BNA)
  • New York LaGuardia (LGA)
  • New York/Newark (EWR)
  • Oklahoma City (OKC)
  • Orange County (SNA)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Panama City, Panama (PTY)
  • Paris, France (CDG)
  • Pensacola (PNS)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Phoenix (PHX)
  • Pittsburgh (PIT)
  • Portland, Oregon (PDX)
  • Providence (PVD)
  • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ)
  • Quebec City, QC Canada (YQB)
  • Raleigh-Durham (RDU)
  • Reno (RNO)
  • Richmond (RIC)
  • Rochester, NY (ROC)
  • Sacramento (SMF)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • San Antonio (SAT)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Savannah (SAV)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • Singapore, Singapore (SIN)
  • St. Louis (STL)
  • Sydney, Australia (SYD)
  • Tampa (TPA)
  • Tulsa (TUL)
  • Washington Dulles (IAD)
  • Washington National (DCA)
  • West Palm Beach (PBI)

Additional airports may be added in the future. ​​

Priority Boarding

Your boarding group will be determined based on the way that you obtained United Premier Access. If you have elite status, then you will board according to the established boarding groups that United publishes. Depending on your status, you could be boarding with pre-boarding, Group 1, or Group 2.

If you purchased United Premier Access or obtained priority boarding via a United credit card, then you will be boarding in Group 2. Here is a look at all of the United boarding groups to give you an idea of how the boarding process works.


  1. Unaccompanied minors
  2. Customers with disabilities
  3. Active members of the military
  4. United Global Services members
  5. Families traveling with children age 2 and younger
  6. Premier 1K members

Group 1

  • Premier Platinum members
  • Premier Gold members
  • Star Alliance Gold members
  • Customers seated in premium cabins: United Polaris, United First and United Business

Group 2

  • Premier Silver members
  • Star Alliance Silver members
  • Customers who have purchased Premier Access or Priority Boarding
  • United Explorer, Club, Presidential Plus and Awards Cardmembers

Groups 3 – 5

  • Economy Plus
  • United Economy
  • Basic Economy

Tip: As you might be able to tell, there are a lot of people who can board with Group 2. As a result, if you want to take advantage of the priority boarding then you should try to get in line for Group 2 as early as possible.

The line is not always that long but it can get pretty backed up at times, especially with big aircraft.

United boarding signs.

Premier Access priority baggage handling

When you check your bags, the agents should place a specific tag on your luggage for priority baggage handling. In theory, this tag should allow your bag to be one of the first bags that is unloaded off of the plane and so you should be able to be one of the first passengers to pick up your bag.

However, this does not always work out and so this benefit can be a bit hit or miss. In fact, many report that their bags are rarely the first to come out so I would be reluctant to place a lot of value on this perk. In my personal experience, my bags have come out first over 50% of the time.

Do I get lounge access?

Unfortunately, you will not get lounge access with United Premier Access. However, if you had one of the credit cards like the United Explorer Card, then you can get a couple of annual complimentary lounge passes and also get some of the Premier Access benefits like priority boarding.

United Club Lounge at IAH.

Premier Priority Desk phone number

If you are a Premier customer and have questions you can call the Premier Priority Desk phone number — the number is listed on the back of the membership card or you can call the United Customer Contact Center at 1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331).

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United Airlines Premier Access FAQ

How can I get United Premier Access?

United Premier Access is available for the following customers:

– MileagePlus Premier members
– Travelers in United Polaris business class, United First and United Business
– Star Alliance Gold members
– MileagePlus Club and Presidential Plus credit cardmembers
– Those who purchase Premier Access for a particular flight.

What credit card offers United Premier Access?

You can get United Premier Access with the United Club Infinite Card.

Do travel partners also get United Premier Access?

Yes, people traveling on the same reservation as someone who is eligible to receive complimentary Premier Access will also receive complimentary Premier Access.

Do business class passengers get United Premier Access?

Yes, If you are flying business class or first class, then you will be offered United Premier Access. This is true even if you are flying domestically.

Can I purchase United Premier Access?

Yes, you can now purchase Premier Access. 

A Premier Access purchase includes priority check-in, security lane access (where available) and boarding, but it does not include priority baggage handling. 

Prices start at $15.

Note: If you purchase a basic economy ticket you cannot purchase Premier Access.

What are the United Premier Access benefits?

– Premier Access check-in
– Premier Access security lane
– Premier Access priority boarding
– Premier Access priority baggage handling

When does Premier Access get to board?

Your boarding group will be determined based on the way that you obtained United Premier Access.

Depending on your status, you could be boarding with pre-boarding, Group 1, or Group 2.

If you purchased United Premier Access or obtained priority boarding via a United credit card, then you will be boarding in Group 2. 

Do I get lounge access with Premier Access?

No, unfortunately you do not get lounge access.

What is the Premier Priority Desk phone number?

The United Customer Contact Center is 1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331).

Final word

Overall, United Premier Access offers a lot of benefits that will make your airport experience much more convenient and streamlined. However, the value that you get from these benefits will often depend on the the times of the day and year that you travel, how frequently you travel, and also will be dependent upon the airport that you are frequenting.

Guide for getting through Santiago de Chile Airport (SCL) to Rapa Nui/Easter Island [2023]

Getting through Santiago de Chile Airport (SCL) on your way to Rapa Nui/Easter island is a little bit different from a typical domestic flight and in this article, I will break down everything you need to know.

Filling out the Rapa Nui Entry Form

First, you probably want to fill out your Rapa Nui Entry Form before you ever arrive at Santiago de Chile Airport (SCL). You can fill out the form online here.

It only takes a couple of minutes to fill out but you will need to know:

  • Flight departure number and date
  • Seat (optional)
  • Country of origin or previous connection
  • Country of nationality
  • Document type (e.g., passport)
  • Document number (e.g., passport number)
  • Phone number
  • Flight departure
  • Contact information
  • Hotel

You will need to select the type of visiting status you have which will be “tourist” for lots of people.

For your hotel status, you can just select the first hotel that you will be staying at as we had three separate hotels during our stay.

Very shortly after you submit your form, you should receive an email confirmation. It is this email confirmation that you are going to print out and show at the airport so be sure to have it ready. (It basically summarizes all of your key details.)

We actually struggled to receive the email confirmation on a couple of occasions so if that happens to you, try to fill out and submit the form with a Google incognito browser. As soon as we tried that, it worked.

(We ended up submitting several forms but it did not end up causing any issues thankfully.)

When you arrive at the airport, you will need to head to the terminal for domestic flights known as Terminal Nacional (T1). Even though it is a domestic flight, LATAM recommended us to arrive four hours early due to potentially long lines.

We were arriving at around 5AM so I thought this was overkill but the airport was actually pretty busy during those early hours.

The reason why you would want to arrive early is because after you drop off your bags, you will have to go through an additional checkpoint which I will talk about in a second.

Checking bags to Rapa Nui/Easter Island

If you have bags to check, you can head to the standard check-in area for LATAM. We were flying business class so we took advantage of a very short line in the Premier check-in area but the line was already pretty long for economy.

Make sure that you have your Rapa Nui Entry Form ready because you will need to show it here at baggage check-in as well as at the security checkpoint later on.

We checked our bag and then headed back down some stairs and through a couple of long hallways to get to the checkpoint specifically designed for Easter island.

You will know whenever you hit the checkpoint because other domestic passengers will be directed to go in a different direction. Also, you can look for the signs which should be easy to find and those will direct you where to go for Rapa Nui/Easter Island.

We arrived at the security checkpoint a little under four hours prior to departure and there were already a dozen or so people in this area.

It’s essentially a small waiting area with some seats but they get taken up pretty quickly so you might have to be standing around or sitting on the floor if the area is particularly busy.

The checkpoint is directly adjacent to this area and the speed at which you go through may vary similar to customs and immigration.

At this checkpoint all we had to show was our passport and the Rapa Nui Entry Form. They did not ask us to provide any verification status for our vaccine status or even itineraries for the hotel stay or round trip.

That’s not to say that they won’t ask you those things, so it will be best to come prepared with all of those printed out and organized inside of a folder.

At the time of this article in February, 2023, they require proof of a negative Covid test if you do not have a vaccination but it’s possible that it could be changing.

While we were able to get through quickly, there were a couple of passengers who took a lot longer to get through. Why exactly that was the reason, I’m not sure. (From the time that they opened up the station to the time that we got through, it was about 15 minutes.)

After you get through the checkpoint, then you are free to head to your gate. You’ll be happy to know that there are no further checks for anything until you arrive in Easter island!

Just be aware that this process could be changed in the future. I have a feeling that Easter island will always require additional documents or verification so that they can keep extra close tabs on who is entering the island but the exact process could change.

Final word

Overall, the process of getting through the airport at SCL to Rapa Nui/Easter island is not quite as bad as it might appear. As long as you fill out your form, and have the requested documents on hand, you should not have a problem.

18 Arizona National Parks & Monuments to Explore [2023]

Arizona is home to some of the most stunning landscapes on the planet. From the jaw-dropping cliffs of the Grand Canyon to the arid and rocky terrain of southern Arizona, there are endless scenes of natural beauty to admire and explore. And when it comes to national parks and monuments, there’s truly something for everyone.

Here’s a quick guide to some of the major attractions you’ll find at Arizona national parks and monuments.

You might also be interested in checking out national parks in New Mexico.

Arizona national parks map

Arizona is the sixth largest state in the US so there’s a lot of real estate for its numerous national parks. These sites can be found spread out across the state and it takes about five to seven hours to get from the southern portion of the state to areas up north where parks like the Grand Canyon are found (depending on how scenic you want to make the route).

Interestingly, Arizona is actually the only state in the US where parts of all four of the US desserts can be found: the Great Basin Desert, the Chihuahuan Desert, the Mojave Desert, and the Sonoran DesertBut even with so many deserts spanning the state, the climate in Arizona can vary dramatically. For example, Flagstaff Arizona is home to a very cold and snowy winter and is the only city in Arizona where temperatures have not exceeded 100ºF.  

Below is a map where you can see most of the Arizona national parks and national park sites listed.

Map of Arizona National Parks
Map of Arizona national parks. Map via the National Park Service.

Arizona national parks pass

Currently, there is no state-wide Arizona national parks pass. Instead, if you want to visit multiple Arizona national parks you probably want to look into the America The Beautiful annual pass. It allows the pass owner and accompanying passengers in a single, private, non-commercial vehicle to enter Federally operated recreation sites across the country, which means you get access to many different types of federal lands.

The annual pass can be purchased for $80 online at the NPS store here.

America the Beautiful Annual Pass

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Arizona State Parks pass

Although you can’t get an annual pass dedicated solely to Arizona national parks, they do offer an annual pass to Arizona State Parks.

There’s both a standard annual pass and a premium annual pass.

Standard annual pass

The Standard annual pass is $75.00 plus a $7.00 handling fee.

It allows day-use access at all Arizona State Parks for pass holder and up to three additional adults in the same vehicle, except at Lake Havasu, Cattail Cove, Buckskin Mountain, Patagonia Lake, River Island and Slide Rock State Parks on weekends (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) and state holidays from April 1st to October 31st.

Premium annual pass

The Arizona State Parks Premium Annual Pass is $200.00 plus a $7.00 handling fee.

It allows for access at all Arizona State Parks for the Pass Holder, and up to three additional adults in the same vehicle. You want to go with this option if you want to include access to Lake Havasu, Cattail Cove, Buckskin Mountain, Patagonia Lake, River Island and Slide Rock State Parks on weekends and State holidays from April 1st to October 31st.

Arizona national parks

Below is my quick guide to Arizona national parks. I’ll start with the actual national parks in Arizona and then get into all of the different types of national park sites, such as national monuments and national recreation areas.

This article barely scratches the surface in terms of what these sites have to offer but you should have a good idea of what some of the major highlights are after reading this article.

1. Grand Canyon National Park

You might have heard of this place before…. Grand Canyon National Park is the second most visited national park in the entire country (behind Great Smoky Mountains National Park) but it’s arguably the most iconic US national park.

At a mile deep, it’s a surreal feeling to look out to something so vast and it’s difficult to comprehend its massive size and geological history which spans millions of years.

It’s a little hard to believe but the average visiting time to the Grand Canyon is under 20 minutes!

But you can get a lot more from the park by exploring one of the many trails. There are several easy trails that you can explore and also some strenuous trails that will require overnight camping in the canyon. Beyond hiking you can explore the canyon via mule trips, helicopter rides, scenic drives, and whitewater and smoothwater raft trips.

The Grand Canyon is divided into the South Rim and the North Rim. The South Rim is more popular as it’s often easier to get to but many people prefer the North Rim since it can be less crowded and some even say the views are better.

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Photo by faungg’s photos. 

2. Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park is home to some fascinating geological terrain and there’s a tremendous amount of things to do at this Arizona national park.

First, you might want to explore it via automobile, hitting up all of the fantastic scenic overlooks along the 28-miles scenic drive. If you catch it shortly after rain comes through, you won’t believe how colorful some of the terrain can be like the “Teepees” pictured below.

If you want to get out and move around, there are some maintained trails where you can get up close to this otherworldly terrain with hikes like the Painted Desert Rim Trail or Blue Mesa Trail. Or if you’re in the mood for something a bit more adventurous, you can look into a number of backcountry options and camping.

Petrified Forest Teepees
Petrified Forest Teepees. Photo by Mobilus In Mobili.

3. Saguaro National Park 

The nation’s largest cacti grow in this national park outside of Tucson, Arizona.

These majestic plants are known as Saguaro Cactus and can hold up to 200 gallons of water. These giant cacti take their time to reach their peak heights as they only grow between 1 to 1.5 inches in the first eight years of their life.  And branches don’t even appear until the saguaro reaches 50 to 70 years of age!

Saguaro National Park is divided into two districts: East and West (but you only have to pay the entrance fee once). Together, they offer more than 165 miles of hiking trails, which can range from short hikes on interpretive nature trails or backcountry excursions. Both districts have scenic drives worth checking out, too.

The East District has the 8-mile Cactus Forest Loop Drive while the West District has the 6-miles unpaved scenic Bajada Loop.

You can view maps of these parks here.

Saguaro National Park
Photo by Larry Lamsa.

4. Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Located in northeastern Arizona, Canyon de Chelly National Monument is home to some stunning canyon scenery. Even if you’re on a road trip with limited time, it’s worth stopping by this place to appreciate its natural beauty on one of its two major scenic drives.

I’d recommend devoting a couple of hours to the many overlooks found on the South Rim but the North Rim can be worth your time, especially in the morning when the lighting is ideal.

The south Rim is also where you’ll find Spider Rock which is a massive rock spire that sits in the middle of the canyon, rising to 750 feet. There’s also some interesting ruins to check out on the South Rim called the White House ruins, which can be accessed on a hike via a 600 feet down and back up switchback trail.

The park has a lot of other great hikes but you’ll probably need a park ranger or authorized Navajo guide to get around.

Double Rainbows at Spider Rock, Canyon de Chelly
Photo by tsaiproject.

5. Case Grande Ruins National Monument 

Case Grande Ruins National Monument is home to one of the largest prehistoric structures ever built in North America. It was built by ancient Sonoran Desert people who were sophisticated enough to develop wide-scale irrigation farming and extensive trade connections which remained in existence for over 1,000 years until 1450 AD.

Stop by the Visitor Center and pick up a guide to learn about the Hohokam Culture and watch the short orientation video and then take a short tour of the Casa Grande and learn all about its fascinating ancient history along with all of the mystery that Case Grande still holds today.

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6. Chiricahua National Monument

Chiricahua National Monument is known as the “Wonderland of Rocks” and for good reason. It’s home to some of the most beautiful rock formations in the country, which often come in fascinating shapes and sizes like the famous “Big Balanced Rock.”

You can embark on a beautiful 8-mile paved scenic drive to take in many of the viewpoints, some of which offer panoramic views of these beautiful rock formations. If you really want to get up close to these volcanic rock formations, there’s plenty of great hikes (both easy and strenuous) for you to choose from. Camping is also a major attraction here and now you can make your reservations online.

And although it gets warm in the summer, the elevation and cooling monsoon rains often keep the temperatures within reason as summer highs don’t usually stay over 90ºF for very long.

Inspiration Point - View to west - Chiricahua National Monument
Photo by Al_HikesAZ.

7. Coronado National Monument

Coronado National Memorial was created to educate the public on the Coronado Expedition, which was led by captain general Francisco Vázquez de Coronado in 1540 and which changed the dynamics in this region both culturally and biologically.

The monument offers a great view of the San Pedro River which was likely the same corridor that the Coronado Expedition used on their way to the mythical “Cíbola,” believed to be one of the Seven Cities of Gold.

It’s also home to Coronado Cave which may have been used by humans as a shelter and hideout by middle archaic people as long as 8000 years ago and by more recent cultures such as the Chiricahua Apache and Mexican and European miners. It’s now one of the few undeveloped caves in southern Arizona, which you can explore today.

Arizona - Coronado National Monument - Looking to Mexico - January 2006
Photo by Barbara Ann Spengler.

8. Fort Bowie National Historic Site 

Fort Bowie was a 19th-century outpost of the United States Army near the present day town of Willcox, Arizona. The fort was created as a result of violent clashes like the Battle of Apache Pass in July 1862.

Today, Fort Bowie National Historic Site commemorates the conflict between Chiricahua Apaches and the U.S. military, which was one of the major conflicts that existed between US soldiers and Native Americans as the US expanded west.

In addition to learning more about the struggles of western expansion by touring the ruins of Fort Bowie and viewing the exhibits inside the visitor center, you can do a bit of hiking at the park and check out some of the interesting local flora and fauna. The park is also known for having great bird watching.

Trail to Fort Bowie
Photo by Al_HikesAZ.

9. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Spanning part of Arizona and Utah, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is home to Lake Powell, which is a stunning man made reservoir (with a controversial past) that lies between the beautiful red rock canyons.

Due to the presence of the lake, this is a very popular boating destination — you’ll find everything from luxury boats to fishing boats with several launch points.

There are no maintained trails in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area but if you’re down to go camping there you can explore all of the canyon’s crevices and slot canyons all day if you wish.

There are also several day hikes in the nearby area that you can take advantage of. You can also try one of the scenic drives, some of which are a mix of paved and dirt roads so there’s a chance that you’ll need a 4×4 on some of those routes.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is also close to several stunning natural wonders like Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and the natural bridge at Rainbow Bridge National Monument. If you travel to the area, I highly recommend combining a few of these destinations together into a multi-day trip.

10. Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site is home to the oldest operating trading post on the Navajo Nation, which has been in service since 1878.

Today you can visit the Hubbell family home to check out their collection of Southwestern Art and Native American Arts and Crafts and historic farm equipment, horses, chickens, and Navajo Churro sheep.You can also get some shopping done if you’d like some locally crafted souvenirs or goods.

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, Arizona
Photo by Jacqueline Poggi.

11. Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail is a 1,210-mile that takes you on a journey from from Nogales on the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, through the California desert and coastal areas in Southern California and the Central Coast region to San Francisco.

The trail traces back one of the pioneering journeys of Juan Bautista de Anza, who In 1775-76, led around 240 men, women, and children through New Spain to establish the first non-Native settlement at the San Francisco Bay.

There are many historic sites to see along the way in both Arizona and California. Along the way, you’ll learn about the stories of the expedition, gain a better understand the Native American cultures who provided guidance on the expedition, and better understand the influences that Spanish colonial settlements have in present-day Arizona and California.

To see a map of this long journey you can click here.

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, Arizona
Photo by Bob Wick, BLM.

12. Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead National Recreation Area straddles the border between Arizona and Utah is a vast and diverse recreation area offering a little bit of something for everyone.

With two lakes, Lake Mead and Lake Mojave, the site offers some of the best sport fishing in the US along with boating and other water activities like kayaking, canoeing, and water skiing. And if you’re feeling a bit bold, there’s also excursions through the national water trail, Black Canyon.

You can also get going in your car on one of the many scenic drives in the park. There’s plenty of places to hike as well though note that temperatures can get to 120ºF in the summer even in the shade! So make sure you pick a good time of year (anytime but summer) to get your hiking fix.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area 3
Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Photo by Travel Nevada.

13. Montezuma Castle National Monument

This place was one of the four original US national monuments and gained its status via a declaration in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. The monument houses well-preserved dwellings from the Sinagua people, a pre-Columbian that existed here between approximately 1100 and 1425AD.

The name Montezuma Castle is a bit misleading, though. When European-Americans first discovered the site in the 1860s, they named the ruins after the famous Aztec emperor Montezuma since they mistakenly believed he shared a connection to the dwellings.

And this wasn’t exactly a castle but more of a “prehistoric high rise apartment complex.” Still, it’s one of the best-preserved ruins in the region and worth a visit.

Montezuma Castle National Monument
Photo by Matt Kowalczyk.

14. Navajo National Monument

Navajo National Monument preserves the sandstone remains of villages built by prehistoric Puebloan Ancestors, which date from 1250AD to 1300AD.  Today, the monument is home to three well-preserved cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloan People: Broken Pottery (Kitsʼiil), Ledge House (Bitátʼahkin), and Inscription House

Broken Pottery and Ledge House are two structures worth checking (look into free ranger-led tours). Both structures were constructed of sandstone, mud mortar, and wood. Some of these have remained completely unchanged for 700 years, a testament to how skillful these prehistoric people were. They were also incredibly resourceful as they thrived in a high desert environment, where they hunted wild game and grew corn, beans, and squash.

Betatakin Talastima - Navajo National Monument
A look at the Ledge House. Photo by Al_HikesAZ.

15. Old Spanish National Historic Trail

Old Spanish National Historic Trail will take you through several states including: AZ, CA, CO, NV, NM, UT. It follows along the Old Spanish National Historic Trail between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Los Angeles, California. Take a look at some of the route maps here.

You’ll cross over 40 sites where you can get your national parks passport book stamped. Obviously this isn’t a hike that you’re just going to take on a whim but it’s one of the most historic trails in the American Southwest and worth looking into if you’re into long-distance hiking and camping.

Old Spanish Trail, Mission San Gabriel, San Gabriel, California
Photo by Ken Lund.

16. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is located at the extreme southern end of Arizona and shares a border with the Mexican state of Sonora. It is the only place in the US where the organ pipe cactus grows wild. Organ Pipe Cactus are fascinating plants and can live to be over 150 years old, and they produce their first flower near the age of 35.

The park is known for being a UNESCO biosphere reserve. That status has helped preserve pristine ecosystems all around the world and attracted scientists from around the world to Organ Pipe Cactus who have helped us better understand the Sonoran Desert along with the impact humans have made on this landscape.

Scenic drives are very popular at this park and there are a hand full to choose from. The most popular drive is the 21-mile Ajo Mountain Drive with the Puerto Blanco Drive coming in a close second. There are also many hiking trails, which range from easy to strenuous that you can choose from.

Organ Pipe Cactus NM
Photo by Christopher Rosenberger.

17. Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument

Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument is truly an off the grid experience. It’s a very remote site where you won’t have cell phone service, paved roads, and other luxuries you take for granted each day.

The monument is found on the northern edge of the Grand Canyon. If you have a high clearance 4×4 vehicle, you can explore its beautiful scenic drives, some of which will take you through southern Utah and to some stunning Grand Canyon overlooks. Other sites you might come across are volcanoes, Native American petroglyphs, cattle and cowboy line shacks, and historic schoolhouses.

The monument also boasts some of the best conditions for viewing the night sky. The combination of a lack of light pollution, clear skies, and high elevation plateaus earned this site Gold-tier status from the International Dark-Sky Association.

#conservationlands15 Social Media Takeover, Feb 15th, BLM Winter Bucket List, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona for Its Dark Sky Park Status
Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona. Photo by BLM.

18. Pipe Spring National Monument

Pipe Spring National Monument is a national monument known for being rich with American Indian, early explorer, and Mormon pioneer history. The water found at this desert oasis supported life dating back to the Ancestral Puebloans and Kaibab Paiute Indians, who lived off the spring for at least a thousand years.

The monument will educate you on pioneer and Kaibab Paiute life by allowing you to explore its museum, historic fort and cabins, garden, orchard, and Ridge Trail. You can look into things like the daily tours of Winsor Castle, “living history” demonstrations during summer, and a half-mile trail that offers a look into the American Indian and pioneer life as it existed in the Old West.

East Cabin
The East Cabin. Photo by Wayne Hsieh.

Final word on Arizona national parks

As you can tell, there’s no shortage of interesting things to see and learn about at Arizona national parks. Because some of these parks and monuments are clustered together, it makes sense to go in with a plan to visit these together and often makes sense to go with the annual pass for $80 to save money.

TSA Rules for Vapes and e-Cigarettes [2023]

As people return to traveling, a lot of passengers will be asking about the TSA rules for vapes, mods, and e-cigarettes.

The rules are relatively straightforward but there are some specific requirements that you need to be aware of when it comes to things like cartridges and batteries.

In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know about bringing your vape pens or e-cigarettes through airport security.

What are the TSA rules for vapes and e-cigarettes?

TSA allows passengers to bring electronic cigarettes and similar devices (vaporizers, vape pens, mods, atomizers, and electronic nicotine delivery systems) through airport security as a carry-on.

However, these devices are prohibited in checked baggage.

The FAA banned e-cigarettes in checked luggage in 2016 after there were reports of small fires that broke out in the cargo holds. So this restriction is for the safety of all passengers and crew.

Please do not attempt to get around this restriction as it will put everybody at risk.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Bringing vapes and e-cigarettes through airport security

When taking your vapes and e-cigarettes through the airport, you can bring them inside your carry-on or inside a personal item (such as a backpack) no problem.

(I don’t recommend putting them in your pocket while in the airport because you might forget as you go through airport security scanners.)

Some airlines, such as American Airlines and Delta, recommended that you store them in a designated carry case that may have come with the original vape packaging.

If your mod/vaping device has multiple parts then it is recommended that you disassemble your vaporizer prior to entering the security line.

Even better is if you have all of the parts (atomizer, tank, mouth piece, batteries, etc.) neatly placed within a carrier for easy inspection.

When you are actually going through security, it’s recommended to remove your e-cigarette/vape, place it in a tray/bin, and put it through the x-ray scanner separately from your carry-on bag.

If you keep it in your bag, it could look suspicious and cause you to undergo additional screening.

Generally speaking, the larger your device the greater your chances of a TSA agent wanting to take a closer look.

If they want to take a closer inspection, just let them do their thing. If you don’t have any illegal substances, you don’t have anything to worry about.

Note that if you are bringing special pods or packs that contain liquid vape you need to comply with the liquids rule which I will talk about below.

Related: Bringing a lighter through airport security

Remove your vaping device from your carry-on when going through security for a smooth experience.

Liquid vape cartridges

Liquid cartridges such as JUULpods that click into the top of the JUUL devices and other similar containers that contain e “juices” are considered a liquid and, therefore, they will be subject to the TSA liquids 3-1-1 rule.

The liquids 3-1-1 rule requires all liquid containers to be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or smaller and for them to be stored in a quart sized bag (preferably a clear Ziploc bag).

This means that if you are transporting JUULpods or other juice packs, you need to transport them in a very specific way.

First, the vape cartridges need to be smaller than 100ml.

Many vape juice cartridges are much smaller than 100ml so it should not be difficult for you to find TSA compliant vape cartridges.

In some cases you may need to remove your vape cartridge from your device so that the device has no attachments containing liquid.

Second, you need to place these cartridges in a quart sized Ziploc bag.

The key thing here is that the cartridges must fit “comfortably” inside the bag which means the bag cannot be overstuffed or almost bursting at the seams.

If you do not have TSA Pre-Check, you will need to remove your liquids bag from your carry-on as you make your way through the airport screening process.

Because of this screening process you might be better off just transporting your pods in your checked baggage where you can transport unlimited quantities.

There are reports of the pods leaking at high altitudes so having them in a sealed bag is highly recommended. It is also better to transport a partially used cartridge that has room for the liquid to expand to avoid leakage.

Related: TSA Checklist (Tips & PDF)

Checking your bag at the gate

Sometimes your plane may not have room for your carry-on, especially if you are towards the back of the boarding process.

If this happens to you and you are traveling with your vape, be sure that you remove your vape and batteries from your carry-on bag that they are checking because they will not be allowed as a checked item.

Related: Can You Take Cigarettes on a Plane?

Vape pen chargers

If you are bringing a power charger or power bank that contains a lithium ion battery it must also be packed in your carry-on bag.

This is because such battery packs can cause risks of explosions and fires in the cargo hold. So to be on the safe side, bring your spare batteries with you on your carry-on.

Keep in mind that TSA can apply extra scrutiny when traveling with multiple spare batteries because the batteries can pose a risk. This is especially true if your lithium batteries have more than 100 watt hours.

For that reason, you may want to only travel with one spare battery or pack your multiple batteries delicately so that they cannot come in to contact with each other.

Related: Bringing Batteries on a Plane: TSA’s Rules for Staying Charged Up

Flying with marijuana/THC vapes

With the growing legalization of marijuana in different states, a lot of travelers are now curious as to how they can legally fly when carrying marijuana on them.

The first thing to note is that marijuana is still illegal on the federal level which makes it illegal to fly with.

Reportedly, regardless of what airport you are departing, TSA’s response to finding marijuana will be the same.

“It is important for me to note that TSA’s response to the discovery of marijuana is the same in every state and at every airport – regardless of whether marijuana has been or is going to be legalized,” TSA spokesperson Lorie Dankers explained. 

“This also covers medical marijuana.”

But in practice it’s not clear that this is the case.

If you are flying from a state that has legal marijuana, such as Colorado, and you were caught with marijuana at the airport, it is possible that they will simply request for you to dispose of the cannabis.

But if you were traveling from an area where marijuana is not legalized, the response could be much different.

The bottom line is that this is still a bit of a gray area that is still developing and so there are basically no guarantees as to how TSA will react upon finding marijuana in your possession during the security screening process.

The second thing to note is that TSA is not actively looking to discover marijuana or other illegal drugs that might be in your possession. The TSA website states:

TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs

However, they do note that if illegal substances are discovered during the security screening process the TSA will refer the matter to a law-enforcement officer.

Many vapes containing THC are pretty discreet so they may not always be easily detected.

So if you are traveling with (small amounts) of marijuana/THC vape pens you may not encounter any problems but you should be prepared to have to dispose of your marijuana if it is detected by TSA and in a worst-case scenario, be prepared to explain why you have it in your possession to a law-enforcement officer.

Related: Can You Smoke Weed in a Hotel Room?

Related: Can You Bring Food on a Plane?

The back up plan

Some travelers who are weary about losing items when going through security will bring a self-addressed envelope with postage so that they can mail off any item that would be confiscated.

I’ve personally never tried this before but I have seen reports online of people doing it successfully. While a rare occurrence, it could come in handy when a TSA agent uses discretion to confiscate your vape due to some unknown reason or suspicion (TSA agents have discretion to prevent you from bringing items through security).

I don’t see any reason why the self-addressed envelope route could not work in many instances but if you are trying to mail off illegal substances such as marijuana then it could obviously be very problematic (and illegal).

TSA rules for vapes FAQ

Can you vape in an airplane?

No, you are not allowed to vape inside an aircraft. This is to protect people from the devices’ second-hand vapor and to reduce the risk of a device malfunctioning. If you are caught vaping on a plane you could be subject to a large fine up to $4,000.

Do I need to turn my vape off during flight?

Many airlines require your vape to be turned off or to be placed in safety mode during flight.

Can you vape in an airplane lavatory?

No, you are not allowed to vape anywhere inside an aircraft.

Can I bring an e-cigarette as a carry-on?

Yes, e-cigarettes are allowed to be brought on a plane as a carry-on.

Why are vape pens not allowed and checked baggage?

Vape pens are not allowed in checked baggage because they present a hazardous risk. The batteries could be prone to exploding and catching fire in the cargo compartment.

Can you charge an e-cigarette in an airplane?

Many airlines will not allow you to charge an e-cigarette during flight and may require it to be powered off.

Can I bring an e-cigarette on an international flight?

Some countries have banned e-cigarettes from flights and from importation so before attempting to travel with an e-cigarette on an international flight you should first verify that possession of the e-cigarette in the country is legal.

Can I travel with a vape containing THC?

While TSA does not actively seek out vapes containing THC, it is possible that if it is detected they will request for you to throw it out or refer you to airport authorities. This can even occur when departing from a state with legalized marijuana.

Do I have to declare my electronic cigarette?

No, you do not have to declare your electronic cigarette or vape. However, you should remove it from your carry-on and comply with the liquids rule if needed.

Do vapes leak on airplanes?

Cartridges containing liquids tend to leak at high altitudes as the liquid expands under the decreased air pressure. So it is recommended to not carry cartridges that are full with e-liquid.

Can vapes set off the smoke alarm in a plane?

Yes, vapor can set off the smoke alarm on a plane which is another reason why you do not want to vape on a plane.

Final word

Traveling with an e-cigarette or vape through airport security is permitted so long as you comply with the liquid rules.

You want to pay extra attention to make sure you do not leave your cigarettes in your checked baggage because that could present major risks to the flight and also get you into legal trouble.

How Much Cash Can You Travel With? (TSA & International Rules) [2023]

So you have a load of cash and you want to transport it across the country or perhaps even internationally. But exactly how much cash are you allowed to travel with?

In this article, I will break down everything you need to know about traveling with cash including important rules and limitations when flying.

I’ll also cover a number of key considerations you will want to think about before taking your cash with you when going through TSA or even traveling internationally.

How much cash can you travel with?

There are no limits on the amount of cash you can travel with but there are some major considerations you need to think about when doing so.

If you are traveling domestically, your primary concern is avoiding forfeiture of your cash.

If you are traveling internationally, forfeiture is a concern but you should also be focused on remembering to declare the value of your currency and monetary instruments totaling above $10,000. Keep reading to find out more.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Traveling with cash can be problematic. Make sure you are aware of all the challenges.

TSA is concerned about dangerous threats such as explosives and not with enforcing laws and penal codes. (This is why they do not check for arrest warrants.)

Your cash money does not present a dangerous threat and so there should be no legitimate concern about it harming other passengers on the plane.

However, in the past there have been reports of TSA agents initiating the process for seizing cash from passengers under the suspicion that it is money gained from an illegal activity or money that is intended to be used on illegal activity.

Think drugs, weapons, and organized crime activities.

The seizing of cash can be accomplished under a number of different statutes including 21 U.S. Code § 881(a)(6) which governs forfeitures.

It states that you have no property right for:

(6) All moneys, negotiable instruments, securities, or other things of value furnished or intended to be furnished by any person in exchange for a controlled substance or listed chemical in violation of this subchapter, all proceeds traceable to such an exchange, and all moneys, negotiable instruments, and securities used or intended to be used to facilitate any violation of this subchapter.

It’s possible that if a TSA agent spots a lot of cash on you or in your bag (especially a lot of smaller bills like $20 bills) they could refer you to authorities (i.e., DEA) for some type of questioning.

The authorities may check to see if you are on some type of watchlist but even if you are not they may still deem that your cash is subject to civil forfeiture, which means that it will all be taken from you.

This can happen even if you have not been charged or convicted of any crime.

Some dogs that patrol airports have a nose for cash and a lot of cash has come into contact with illegal narcotics.

In fact, a study by Yuegang Zuo of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2009 found that about 90 percent of banknotes contain traces of cocaine. Traces of other drugs have also been found on cash like codeine, amphetamines and methamphetamines.

That means that “false positives” could be triggered, which could potentially be used as further evidence about your illegal activity (reportedly dogs don’t usually sniff out these faint traces).

If your money is seized you should have the opportunity to petition the process and to retrieve your funds.

It’s an odd legal proceeding where your cash is literally the defendant: “United States of America v. $50,000 in United States currency.”

That’s important because it means that the legal burden of proof is at the civil level which only requires it to be more likely than not that you were up to no good.

This petition process may not be very fun, could last a long time, and could be very costly. For example, you will likely need to hire an attorney which might cost you as much money as you have at stake.

Your success rate could also be very low.

In March 2017, the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General reported that over the course of 10 years, the DEA only returned money in 8% of cases.

And if you do get your money back, if you owe taxes or judgments, those will likely have to be paid out first.

For these reasons, I would try to limit the cash I take through TSA security to maybe just a couple of thousand dollars (If that).

Personally, the most cash I ever carry on me is a couple of hundred bucks.

This may be problematic for people who want to gamble at their destination or who are looking to do things like purchase a car with cash but you should make alternative arrangements to receive your cash at your destination if possible.

Tips for traveling domestically with cash

If you are thinking about traveling through TSA with cash my advice would be the following:

Keep the amount as small as possible

First, avoid bringing more than $2,000 in cash if possible. That should be well below the level considered to be suspicious, as the lowest amount I saw subject to forfeiture was $6,000.

Also, try to avoid $20 bills since those are customarily used in drug deals.

Notify a TSA agent

If you do bring cash consider notifying a TSA agent when you enter the line and see if you can get some type of private or secondary screening.

If you have TSA Pre-Check, an agent might consider you to be less likely to be engaged in criminal activity but that is not a guarantee.

But note that cash has been seized in cases where people notified a TSA agent themselves so this is not a full proof method.

And it goes without saying but do not attempt to conceal the cash on your body such as strapping it to your chest because the full body scanners will find this quite easily.

Avoid checked baggage

You might be thinking about putting the cash in your checked baggage but that is not a good idea.

For one, if the cash was detected you will not be there to explain the situation and you may be caught off guard later when you are brought in for questioning by the DEA.

Second, if your cash is detected it’s possible that an unethical TSA agent could simply decide to take your cash.

And finally, if your luggage is lost you will not be able to retrieve that cash and cash is almost always an exception to baggage insurance policies.

Bring documentation

If you are traveling with a lot of cash because you want to purchase a vehicle or take care of some other transaction make sure that you have all of the supporting documentation already with you in case you are brought in for questioning.

Presenting anything less than an airtight explanation for transporting cash can mean instant forfeiture.

Avoid transporting suspicious items

It is a good idea to avoid transporting other items such as marijuana along with your cash since that will only reinforce the image that you are up to some type of criminal drug activity.

This is even the case if the state you are flying out of has legalized marijuana.

Consider your criminal history

And finally, if you have any type of criminal history — especially cases related to drug infractions — the odds of you encountering an issue with forfeiture go up.

That’s because it will be that much easier for them to make a case against you. Remember, we are talking about a civil court burden of proof — not criminal court.

So you should really reconsider bringing a lot of cash if that applies to you.

The International cash limit of $10,000 and the need to declare

US Customs and Border Protection is clear that you can transport “any amount of currency or other monetary instruments into or out of the United States.”

The caveat is that if the amount of currency exceeds $10,000 or it’s for an equivalent then you will need to file a FinCEN Form 105 (“Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments”) with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

This is a pretty simple form to fill out and basically just requires you to input the following information:

  • Contact information including passport number
  • Export/import information
  • Shipping information if applicable
  • Details of the currency or monetary instrument
  • Signature

You can file this form electronically at FinCEN Form 105 CMIR, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (dhs.gov) but you can also file it in paper form.

In addition, if you are entering the United States you must declare if you are carrying currency or any other monetary instruments if they total over $10,000.

You can make this declaration on your Customs Declaration Form (CBP Form 6059B) and then file a FinCEN Form 105.

Do not blow off this requirement because failing to declare could mean forfeiture of your money and some pretty serious criminal penalties.

And remember each country has its own policy regarding traveling with cash so you have to make sure you are in compliance with the country you are headed to.

Monetary instrument

Unless you went to law school for three years you might be wondering what a “monetary instrument” is as it’s found on the FinCEN Form 105.

US Customs and Border Protection defines it as:

  • Currency
  • Traveler’s checks in any form
  • All negotiable instruments (including personal checks, business checks, official bank checks, cashier’s checks, third-party checks, promissory notes, and money orders) that are either, in bearer form, endorsed without restriction, made out to a fictitious payee, or otherwise in such form that title passes upon delivery
  • Incomplete instruments (including personal checks, business checks, official bank checks, cashiers’ checks, third-party checks, promissory notes, and money orders) signed but with the payee’s name omitted
  • securities or stock in bearer form or otherwise, in such form that title passes thereto upon delivery.

In this article we are mostly focused on cash which would most definitely fall under “currency.”

Specifically, 19 CFR § 1010.100(m) defines “currency” as the coin and paper money of the United States or of any other country that:

  • (1) is designated as legal tender, (2) circulates, and (3) is customarily used and accepted as a medium of exchange in the country of issuance. 
  • Currency includes U.S. silver certificates, U.S. notes, and Federal Reserve notes. 
  • Currency also includes official foreign bank notes that are customarily used and accepted as a medium of exchange in a foreign country.

The big take away here is that this restriction applies to cash of the US and also other countries.

The cash of pretty much every developed country is going to meet the requirements for currency listed above so it doesn’t matter if you are transporting Great Britain Pounds, Euros, etc.

Keep in mind that each form of currency and monetary instrument counts separately, as well. So if you have $6,000 in cash and a $5,000 traveler’s check, you are above the limit.

And members of a family residing in one household entering the United States that submit a joint or family declaration must declare if the members are collectively above the $10,000 limit.

So if a husband has $4,000 and the wife has $7,000, that family must declare because they are collectively above the limit.  

Items that don’t count as currency

Some items related to currency do not officially count as currency but you still may have to declare them as “merchandise.”

For example, coins of precious metals, including silver and gold, do not fall into the definition of “monetary instrument” or “currency.” 

However, coins of precious metals must be declared as merchandise if they are acquired abroad.

Other articles of precious metals (including gold bullion, gold bars, and gold jewelry) also do not fall into the definition of “monetary instrument” or “currency.”

However, these articles must also be declared as merchandise if they are acquired abroad.

They also have a list of excluded items which includes:

  • Warehouse receipts and bills of lading
  • Monetary instruments that are made payable to a named person, but are not endorsed or which bear restrictive endorsements
  • Credit cards and prepaid cards
  • Virtual currencies including Bitcoin

So if you are traveling around with credit limits above $50,000 or a nice stash of cryptocurrency you don’t have to worry about declaring those items.

Remember these laws apply to foreign currency as well as US currency.

Factors to consider when traveling with cash

When you are traveling chances are you are going to want to spend some money on various expenses like dining and excursions. It is highly recommended to use a good travel rewards credit card for these expenses for a few reasons.

Getting through security

If you have a bag full of cash money, that bag is going to have to get through security at some point. This may be at the airport, a train station, etc.

As explained in detail above, if a screening agent notices that you have wads of cash in a bag this could potentially raise a red flag and a worst-case scenario of you losing your cash and never getting it back.

The theft risk

Traveling with cash is risky whether you keep that cash on you or you stored in your hotel room.

If you are walking around with cash on you there is always that chance that you could run into a thief. This could be someone who could pick pocket your wallet or cash right out of your clothes or bag.

Or in a more serious case, this could be someone who holds you up with some type of weapon and forces you to handover your cash.

If you are going to travel with cash on your person it’s recommended to have some type of hidden wallet and a dummy wallet in your pocket. Your dummy wallet will have a small amount of cash, perhaps a duplicate credit card and even a duplicate ID to make it look as realistic as possible.

The idea is that if someone were to take that dummy wallet they would only get away with a minimal amount of your valuables. You could then have your real stash of cash hidden beneath your clothing.

If you choose to store your cash in your hotel room you also need to be careful. Putting your cash into a hotel safe is not quite as secure as you might think. In some cases you may actually want to just hide your cash somewhere in the room where a thief would not think to look.

Either way you go, carrying a lot of cash on you is a risk that you need to weigh very carefully.

Travel insurance

You can get travel insurance by paying for your excursions and travels with a good travel credit card.

So if for some reason you purchase a nonrefundable hotel or tour and then you have to cancel because you get sick or for some other covered reason, you can get fully reimbursed for your purchase. In some cases this could put thousands of dollars back in your pocket.

But if you paid for something like your hotel with cash there is a good chance that you will simply be out of luck and get hit with the loss.

Also, you might struggle to even be able to pay cash for certain travel expenses like rental cars.

Foreign conversion fees

When you convert your cash into a foreign currency you will be paying some type of conversion fee and in some cases may be dealing with a subpar rate, especially at those kiosks.

Certain types of ATM cards will allow you to withdraw cash in the local currency with minimal fees but the best way to make purchases abroad is to simply have a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.


Travel credit cards are great about offering rewards on purchases made abroad.

You don’t have to look very far to find a credit card that will earn you extra bonus points on flights, hotels, and even your tours and events. Earning extra points on dining, even when dining abroad, is also easy with cards like the Amex Gold Card.

By paying with cash you are missing out on all of these valuable rewards.

Final word

Traveling with a lot of cash can be problematic because that is often how actors travel who are engaged in criminal activities.

Your best bet is to avoid bringing a lot of cash but if you must, try to bring as much supporting documentation as possible and be prepared for questioning and the possibility of you having to fight against the government to retrieve your money.

Hotel Corner Rooms: The Pros and Cons

Have you ever stayed in a hotel corner room?

Perhaps you are planning on booking one on your next hotel stay.

Before you confirm the reservation, you might want to think through some of the pros and cons of corner rooms to see if they will be a good fit for you.

Below, I will hit on both the good and the bad when it comes to corner rooms, so that you will have a good idea of what to expect.

Upgrades make them easy to get

Corner rooms are a common hotel upgrade from a standard or basic room.

Whether you are using a suite night award or just getting a bump from the hotel for your elite status, you often will find yourself in a corner room.

The value of getting a corner room is a very property specific calculation, though.

I’ve seen corner rooms that are just a tad more expensive than a basic room and other properties where the corner room jumps up by over $100+ per night.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Views can be exceptional

As you would probably expect the views from a hotel corner room can be some of the best the hotel has to offer.

For people who like to take in sunsets and sunrises from the room, these rooms — often equipped with floor to ceiling windows — can be ideal.

However, make sure that you check out some photos because sometimes the corner room does not offer typical “corner views” like you would expect. It’s basically just a room in the corner….

If you can capture those good views, though, a corner room becomes an easy way to upgrade your experience without having to shell out for an expensive suite — you can get a lot of bang for your buck.

hotel corner room

Extra space

In addition to the great views, many hotel corner rooms come with lots of extra space. In fact, sometimes they are just considered junior suites because of the extra real estate.

But you can’t always rate a corner room based on the square feet.

That’s because sometimes they have awkward layouts where the entryway to the room eats up a significant portion of the room.

This was the case when we had a corner room at the Hotel Laura which had more square feet than the basic room we also had but actually felt smaller.

Sometimes it almost feels like the architect had to make last-minute adjustments to make the corner room work for the hotel’s layout. The result is a room with an odd layout that feels like an afterthought.

A pretty confining corner room.

These rooms can get hot

One of the biggest drawbacks of a corner room could be the temperature.

Even when you have the curtains closed, the sun can absolutely bake a corner room due to all of the floor to ceiling windows.

Unlike a larger suite where you may be able to hang out in a cooler room or adjust the temperature, with a corner room you are confined to that area.

This is why I am reluctant to book a corner room with big windows in hot areas or during the summer. It’s like sleeping in an oven. If the AC is weak at that hotel, you may be battling some serious discomfort.

W Santiago

The “fishbowl feel”

With the large floor to ceiling windows that often accompany these rooms, a corner room sometimes gives you a real “fiishbowl feel.” Many people may not like it.

If you want to enjoy the views and keep your curtains or drapes open, you may feel very exposed to the world. So some people might prefer a standard room layout where the views are more limited but the privacy is higher.

Of course, you can typically tailor your privacy levels by utilizing the shades but that can defeat the purpose of getting the corner room in the first place.

A long walk to your room

By nature of their location, corner rooms often are located at the end of the hallway. This means that you may have one of the longest walks to and from the elevator.

This can be really annoying for people who constantly need to go back to their room.

At the same time, this means that you will probably have less traffic near your hotel room. In locations where there are a lot of partiers, this can mean a quieter hotel experience.

In fact, sometimes a corner room has its own little mini hallway that connects to the main hallway (perhaps connected to other rooms) which means you are further away from the noise and riff-raff near the elevator.

InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Japan.

Final word

Personally, I love corner rooms.

They offer a relatively affordable way for great views and we constantly get put in them due to upgrades.

However, I have had experiences with ultra warm corner rooms that offer limited privacy with the shades open so I could see how some people would rather avoid these rooms.

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