Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook No 9: A Balancing Act of Risks and Adventure

Perched along the serene Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in Michigan lies the Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook, a majestic 450-foot sand dune that offers visitors breathtaking panoramas of Lake Michigan.

While most tourists flock to the designated overlook area with informative interpretive panels to marvel at the captivating view, an adjacent rugged path along a steep dune beckons to the adventurous.

However, this path carries with it a reputation for numerous emergency rescue attempts. In this article, will take a look at this interesting spot and give some insight into the dangers and adventures that it offers.

What is the Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook?

The Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook, also referred to as No. 9 Overlook, is a towering 450-foot sand dune located along the picturesque Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. From this vantage point, visitors are treated to awe-inspiring vistas of Lake Michigan.

Most visitors gather at the designated overlook platform, complete with informative interpretive panels, to soak in the breathtaking view.

However, adjacent to this spot, there exists a rugged path along a steep dune that adventurous souls sometimes venture down. This path has garnered a reputation for the numerous rescue attempts it has necessitated over the years.

Don’t get this overlook confused with the “dune climb” which is a popular tourist spot allowing visitors to climb up a large dune and proceed on a hike to the lakeshore if desired. That’s located at a different part of the park. If you want to find the No. 9 Overlook, you’ll run into it towards then end of the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.

Related: Pictured Rocks Kayaking Tour Review (Tips For Your Visit)

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook history

Over the years, this overlook, known as No. 9 Overlook, has garnered quite a reputation as a hotspot for emergency rescues. It has been a site where numerous 911 calls have been made, resulting in some tourists facing substantial expenses when they found themselves unable to make a safe return.

Just how challenging the rescue is, depends on the water levels.

When lake levels are lower, rescue operations involve the use of an ATV to traverse the beach, reaching individuals and bringing them back to safety. This approach is not only more practical but also significantly more cost-effective than what is needed in high water level years. During these times, a rescue of this kind might incur a cost of approximately $700.

But in years with higher water levels, rescue operations become more expensive, requiring a team of 8 to 10 highly trained personnel to employ rope techniques for lifting victims to safety, sometimes hundreds of feet up the steep sides of the dune. This intricate and labor-intensive method can cost upwards of $2,000 to $3,000.

The responsibility for covering these rescue expenses falls upon the individuals who are rescued, although it’s reported that only approximately half of them actually fulfill this obligation.

Consequently, the fire department is left to shoulder the remaining costs, making it a challenging situation for both the individuals involved and the local authorities.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook

Why exactly is this considered so dangerous?

The biggest problem is probably visitors being unprepared for the strenuous climb back up.

Trekking uphill on loose sand is not an easy task and can be much more exhausting than a lot of people anticipate.

It’s also common to see people head down without any water supplies, even during warm summer months. After 20 to 30 minutes of strenuous exertion, it’s really easy to get dehydrated and that can be a major problem.

There’s also the issue of potentially getting injured going down.

While sand can be very forgiving, a bad tumble could send you down without being able to stop. Also, if you take a look at the sand you’ll notice that there are quite a few rocks within the sand that could easily cut somebody up.

These risks have been highly publicized and as a result the amount of rescue attempts have decreased.

This has a lot to do with getting the message out about the dangers of heading down to the water via volunteers. A few years back they started a program that brought out volunteers who would try to dissuade people from making the trip down the dune.

There’s also a sign at the top that warns about the dangers and about having to pay $3,000 for being rescued.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook No 9

Some people criticize the policy and warnings requiring people to pay for their rescue.

The argument is that this could incentivize people to not request for help and potentially put themselves in fatal danger. As someone who is big on personal responsibility, I don’t mind requiring people to cover their emergency fees. However, there is always that potential for it to backfire (though that doesn’t seem to be a problem here).

Regardless of some of the criticism, the success of these deterrents has been evident by the number of rescue calls which in some summers has been as slow as only 2 to 3 compared to previous years where in peak season they could receive as many as four rescue calls per day!

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook No 9

Should you make the trek?

Ultimately, the decision to undertake this type of climb rests with the visitor, and it’s important to assess your own capabilities and physical condition. Depending on your fitness level, it could take you anywhere from 30 minutes to close to two hours to get back up.

Regrettably, I found myself in a situation where I had thrown my back out a couple of days prior to my visit, making the temptation of attempting this climb out of the question for me.

Nevertheless, as someone who has tackled numerous hikes, including very strenuous ones like descending to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back in a single day, I can offer some valuable tips.

First and foremost, pay close attention to the temperature, especially if you’re attempting this climb during the summer months. It’s advisable to start early in the morning when temperatures are lower. This approach will greatly aid in preventing dehydration and ensure that the sand isn’t scorching hot under your feet if you choose to go barefoot.

Personally, I would recommend wearing some form of footwear due to the concealed rocks in the sand. Nothing would be more unfortunate than injuring your foot while making your way down there.

I observed various approaches to descending the dune. Some adventurous souls opted for the thrilling sprint straight down the slope, almost seeming to glide on the sand – undoubtedly a lot of fun.

Others chose a more cautious zigzag pattern, a prudent strategy to avoid a potential disastrous tumble.

Then, there were those who took a measured and methodical walk down the dune’s flank, arguably the most sensible approach.

If you’re planning this adventure, I recommend having a CamelBak or a similar hydration system with a generous water supply, possibly around two liters. This ensures you stay well-hydrated for the ascent and allows you to easily sip water during your breaks. Having some electrolytes with you like liquid IV or tablets is also a good idea.

Now, onto the journey back up.

I strongly advise pacing yourself when ascending. While a 450-foot elevation gain may not sound daunting to seasoned hikers familiar with elevation changes, the challenge here lies in the loose sand underfoot. Climbing uphill through loose sand requires considerably more effort than scaling solid ground.

Therefore, don’t attempt to power through it on the way up.

Instead, take ample breaks and relish the breathtaking scenery below, including the shimmering turquoise waters. It might also be wise to have some extra supplies on hand, such as a light snacks, a hat, and sunglasses.

Final word

Sleeping Bear Dunes Overlook No 9 has been a place where lots of people have gotten into a scary situation and there have been many rescues over the years. But with the public more educated about the risks, it seems that those rescues have declined. For many people, it’s worth just admiring the views from the observation platform which might be some of the best you’ll find in Michigan.

Michigan’s Culinary Delights: Top 10 Must-Try Foods for a Delicious Experience

Michigan is a land of culinary wonders, each dish telling a unique story of the state’s history and culture. From the vibrant swirls of Superman Ice Cream to the hearty pasties of the Upper Peninsula, the Great Lakes State offers a diverse array of flavors to tantalize your taste buds.

In this article, we’ll embark on a delectable journey through Michigan’s culinary world, exploring the origins, tastes, and renowned locations for each of these iconic Michigan foods.

Whether you’re a local looking to celebrate your state’s flavors or a curious traveler eager to explore new tastes, get ready to discover the mouthwatering delights that make Michigan’s cuisine truly one of a kind.

Superman Ice Cream

Superman Ice Cream is a colorful treat that captures the essence of Michigan’s fun-loving spirit. This iconic ice cream is known for its vibrant swirls of red, blue, and yellow, reminiscent of the superhero’s costume (although the ice cream came before Superman’s character).

The taste? Almost impossible to describe.

But think of a delightful blend of lemon, cherry/red pop, and blue moon (itself a bit of a mystery flavor).

Due to potential copyright issues, the ice cream often goes by different names than Superman (e.g., “super rainbow”) and different brands also use different flavors you don’t always get the same flavor profile. For example, instead of lemon you might get vanilla.

When in Michigan, head to any number of ice cream parlors to savor this nostalgic dessert that’s been a staple at summertime gatherings for generations. However, if you want to get local go with Moomer’s or Stroh’s Ice Cream.

Superman Ice Cream


Hailing from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, pasties are the ultimate comfort food and also just kind of fun to eat.

These hearty hand pies were brought to the UP region by Cornish miners in the 19th century and have existed in England for at least 800 years. In fact, those from Cornwall have protected status just like champagne.

One thing you might notice is that they have a unique shape. The practice of crimping the edges not only made them easy to handle (even with dirty hands) but it also allowed miners to identify their pasties, etching their initials into this humble meal.

Pasties typically consist of a flaky pastry filled with a savory mixture of ground meat, potatoes, onions, and rutabagas, seasoned to perfection. The result? A warm, satisfying meal that’s perfect for cold Michigan winters or post-hike meals.

To sample some of the best pasties in the state, visit Lawry’s Pasty Shop in Marquette, Roy’s Pasties and Bakery in Houghton, or Muldoons Pasties in Munising, and you’ll understand why this dish has stood the test of time. Some of the shops like Muldoons also serve dessert pasties such as pumpkin or apple pasties which can be equally satisfying.

pasty michigan

Detroit-Style Pizza

If you thought the best pizza only came from New York or Italy, think again!

Originating in the Motor City in the 1940s, this pizza is known for its deep, square-shaped crust, which is crispy on the outside and wonderfully soft on the inside. It’s topped with generous layers of Wisconsin brick cheese and tomato sauce, often ladled on top in streaks.

Visit Buddy’s Pizza, which claims to be the birthplace of this delectable dish, or check out Loui’s Pizza, Green Lantern, Cloverleaf, or Michigan and Trumbull for a taste of authentic Detroit-style pizza.

We tried out Buddy’s Pizza and I came out thoroughly impressed.

The Detroit-style pizza strikes the ideal balance of thickness, offering heartiness but without too much density — its slices are surprisingly light. But it also maintains just the right amount of crispiness on the edges.

It’s my top choice among all pizza styles I’ve tried so far. When visiting Michigan, indulging in this culinary gem is an absolute necessity.

Detroit-Style Pizza buddys

Thimbleberry Jam

Thimbleberries are a rare and very delicate berry native to Michigan’s forests and other surrounding regions.

Their jam, known as thimbleberry jam, is a true delicacy. With a sweet yet tart flavor, this jam is a real treat for the taste buds. The jam’s vibrant red color and distinctive flavor make it a sought-after local delight.

While it can be challenging to find due to the scarcity of thimbleberries, you might discover jars of this unique jam at local farmers’ markets or specialty stores throughout the state.

However, if you are in the Keweenaw Peninsula you can easily find this jam at the Jam Lady or at the Jampot, which are both interesting places to visit even if you don’t want to buy jam.

The Jam Lady’s approach is refreshingly unique, allowing you to select jams and a wide range of assorted products based entirely on an honor system, adding a touch of trust to your culinary adventure. From vintage postcards to horse shoes, you can find a little bit of everything in the shop which is housed in a former post office.

On the other hand, the Jampot is an establishment lovingly managed by monks from the Catholic Monastery of the Byzantine Rite. Here, you not only have the chance to savor thimbleberry jam but also indulge in a variety of exquisite sweet treats, including irresistible creations like peanut butter and jelly brownies.

We enjoyed thimbleberry jam on toast and it’s easily one of my favorite jams.

Thimbleberry Jam

Coney Dog

The Coney dog is Detroit’s answer to the classic hot dog, and it’s an experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Originating from Coney Island, New York, it found its unique identity in the heart of Detroit. A Coney dog typically consists of a steamed hot dog topped with a flavorful meaty chili sauce, chopped onions, and a drizzle of mustard.

Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island, both located in downtown Detroit, are legendary destinations where you can savor this iconic Michigan dish. The friendly rivalry between these two establishments adds an extra layer of charm to your culinary adventure.

But you can also enjoy a Flint-style coney dog, although I have to say it was not my favorite dish to try when in Michigan. We visited one of the recommended places in Flint and I just didn’t find the chili used on the hotdog appetizing at all and the casing on the hotdog was not right.

Coney Dog

Mackinac Island Fudge

Mackinac Island, a picturesque gem in Lake Huron, is famous for its delectable fudge, which dates back to over 100 years.

Crafted in the tradition of old-world confectionery, Mackinac Island fudge boasts a rich, creamy texture and an array of flavors, from classic chocolate to modern combinations like sea salt caramel and cookies ‘n cream.

You’ll find over a dozen fudge shops along the charming streets of Mackinac Island, such as Murdick’s Fudge and Ryba’s Fudge Shops, where you can witness the art of fudge-making and indulge in a sweet treat that perfectly complements the island’s nostalgic ambiance.

Personally, I’m not really a fudge person (or “fudgie”). I mean, don’t get me wrong I will eat some fudge but it’s never been my go-to dessert or anything like that. However, I struggled to put down the chocolate walnut fudge from Murdick’s Fudge, which I found to be pretty damn irresistible.

Mackinac Island Fudge

Boston Cooler

Despite its name, the Boston Cooler has nothing to do with Beantown.

The name’s origins are a bit of a mystery. Some attribute it to a neighborhood in Detroit with the name Boston in it while others point to a connection to Boston Boulevard.

After looking deeply into this history though it seems that these are probably myths and that the beverage has a long and varied history with Boston Coolers taking many different forms over the decades, dating back to the late 1800s.

Confusing history aside, this delightful beverage combines two main ingredients: vanilla ice cream and Vernors ginger ale. The result is a frothy, creamy, and subtly spicy concoction that’s perfect for quenching your thirst on a hot summer day.

Visit ice cream shops or burger joints like Mercury Burger to savor this nostalgic beverage.

Boston Cooler


Michigan’s Traverse City is often dubbed the “Cherry Capital of the World,” and for good reason. The area’s climate is ideal for cultivating both sweet and tart cherries, and you’ll find them in various forms, from fresh-picked fruit to preserves and pies.

Michigan cherries are perfect for snacking, baking, or enjoying in a classic cherry pie. Traverse City, in particular, is renowned for its cherry orchards, and the National Cherry Festival is a must-visit event for cherry enthusiasts.

When in “TC” you will find places like Cherry Republic, the Cherry Stop, Grand Traverse Pie Company, and a bit further out you’ll find the famous Cherry Hut, all of which offer endless cherry products. Whether it’s cherry soap or cherry coffee, you’ll find a vast array of options that will intrigue and perhaps even confuse you.

cherry pie


When it comes to freshwater fish, Michigan’s whitefish is a prized catch. With its mild, delicate flavor and flaky texture, whitefish is a versatile fish that can be prepared in various ways, from grilling to smoking.

The Great Lakes, especially Lake Superior, are teeming with this delicious fish. For a taste of fresh whitefish, head to a lakeside restaurant like. We really enjoyed Four Suns Fish & Chips, located on the Keweenaw Peninsula. But there are endless restaurants in Michigan where you can find a good whitefish like The Cove in Leland or Legs Inn in Cross Village.



Hailing from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, cudighi is a spicy Italian sausage sandwich that’s become a local favorite. The sausage is made from a blend of ground beef and pork, seasoned with a fiery mix of spices, which gives it a distinct taste.

Cudighi is often served on a soft roll with marinara sauce and melted cheese, creating a spicy, savory, and satisfying sandwich. But you can also enjoy this “classic style” which consists of the sausage with onions, ketchup, and mustard.

To try this UP classic, visit Ralph’s Italian Deli in Ishpeming or Vango’s Pizza & Cocktail Lounge in Marquette, both renowned for their delicious cudighi sandwiches that pack a flavorful punch.


Final word

Upon arriving in Michigan, I was pleasantly surprised to encounter a diverse array of unique foods to sample. While some of these dishes may have their roots in other parts of the country or even the world, Michigan has added its own distinctive twist to each one. No matter your palate preferences, you’re bound to find a culinary delight that will leave your taste buds thoroughly satisfied.

Toronto Marriott City Centre Review (Stadium View Room)

Some time back, I stumbled upon images of a remarkable hotel room that boasted an incredible view of a baseball field below. I was utterly captivated and couldn’t resist adding it to my ever-growing list of must-visit places.

Fast forward a few years – our digital nomad travels took us near the vicinity of the hotel during baseball season, and there was no question about it; I had to seize the opportunity to experience the Toronto Marriott City Centre firsthand.

Below, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about staying at the hotel and what to expect if you book a stadium view room.

Booking the stadium view room

If you want one of the bi-level suites or larger king rooms with a stadium view on a game day then you probably want to book as far in advance as you can.

That’s because these rooms may sell out and there are only so many of them available at the hotel.

With all of the taxes and fees, we paid around $800 for one night for the larger king room. However, I’m still a little unclear on what to expect when it comes to the pricing of these stadium view rooms.

I saw reports of people only paying a few hundred dollars for the stadium view rooms. And when I did my initial search right after the MLB schedule was released, I saw these rooms going for several thousand dollars per night for the Astros and those weren’t even the bi-level loft rooms.

So just be prepared for some wild price fluctuations on game days, especially if you are searching soon after the MLB schedule is released.

Toronto Marriott City Centre Stadium View Room

Getting to the Toronto Marriott City Centre

As one might anticipate, the Toronto Marriott City Centre finds its home smack dab in the heart of downtown Toronto, conveniently adjacent to the iconic CN Tower.

What surprised us was the large expanse of the hotel’s entrance area. This spacious entryway makes ingress and egress a breeze, even in the midst of the bustling city.

However, a little wrinkle in our plans emerged due to our trusty Jeep sporting a rooftop pod. Regrettably, this rooftop addition meant we couldn’t squeeze into the parking garage on site.

But, with the direction of the hotel staff – we quickly found a spot under a nearby streetlight just a couple of blocks away, which proved to be a minor hiccup in an otherwise smooth arrival.

Toronto Marriott City Centre

Checking in

Arriving a couple of hours ahead of schedule turned out to be a stroke of luck, as we could avail ourselves of the early check-in option. We eagerly made our way to our designated room, which happened to be situated on the fourth floor of the hotel.

That sounds like a low floor but remember how deep the stadium is underground.

The moment we stepped into the room, I went straight to the window to take in the panoramic view of the stadium.

As it was still a good few hours before the game, the field lay virtually deserted. Yet, even in its emptiness, the sight was nothing short of breathtaking. You see, I have a soft spot for one-of-a-kind hotel vistas, and this one quickly climbed the ranks of my favorites.

There’s something undeniably intruiging about gazing out at the stadium, especially when the retractable roof is drawn shut. It’s almost as if you’ve been granted access to an exclusive insider’s view of the stadium.

Toronto Marriott City Centre Stadium View Room

Next on the agenda was a thorough exploration of our room, and I must say, it didn’t disappoint in the space department. The room offered ample square footage, boasting a cozy king-sized bed on a lower level.

Additionally, there was a spacious seating area looking out to the field featuring a sofa, a comfy chair, a pair of bar stools, and a television – perfect for catching the game, albeit with a slight 10-second delay. I should also add that the hotel is pet friendly.

Toronto Marriott City Centre Stadium View Room

The room’s well-thought-out layout also included an abundance of seating options, making it ideal for hosting a small gathering of friends or fellow sports enthusiasts. With ample seating at your disposal, inviting a handful of guests over for a lively viewing party wouldn’t be a problem.

There’s also a pull out bed which is a nifty addition that can provide a unique and rather enjoyable experience—watching a professional baseball game while comfortably lounging on a bed. However, I must admit that while it adds novelty to the setup, it may not be the epitome of comfort.

Toronto Marriott City Centre Stadium View Room bed

As we were leisurely lounging in the room, we observed the gradual awakening of the stadium below.

The field crew hustled to prepare the grounds, while athletes engaged in early warm-ups and exercises.

What makes this hotel room unique is you can casually observe the entire game-day spectacle.

We had the privilege of marveling at the design of the retractable roof as it gracefully unfurled, and even had a firsthand view (and auditory experience) of the diligent pre-game and post-game cleaning crew in action.

It’s not every day you get to peek behind the scenes and see how everything comes together on game night, and for me, that was a pretty captivating experience.

One standout feature of our room was the generously sized window that you could slide open. Naturally, there’s a little caution required, especially if you have items like your phone or binoculars in hand – you wouldn’t want them taking an unplanned plunge. Thankfully, the window design includes a handy panel that provides some added security against accidental mishaps.

Toronto Marriott City Centre Stadium View Room window

With the windows flung wide open, you’re in for an immersive experience, complete with the electric atmosphere of the crowd below. It’s a sensation that I recommend savoring to the fullest by keeping those windows open.

When it comes to the stadium view from our hotel room, it’s nothing short of breathtaking.

Toronto Marriott City Centre Stadium View Room

However, in terms of your actual seat view, you’re situated quite high above the outfield.

Now, for folks like me who relish the opportunity to sit in various spots within stadiums and appreciate the nuances of each perspective, this was a plus.

Personally, I also don’t mind being a bit further from the action, as it affords an excellent vantage point to take in the entire field (with the exception of the outfield fence directly below).

Toronto Marriott City Centre Stadium View Room view

To enhance our viewing experience and get up close and personal with the game, we made sure to have a trusty pair of binoculars on hand. They proved to be invaluable whenever we wanted to zoom in and soak up the finer details of the action unfolding on the field.

The only drawback is that you cannot see the Jumbotron or even a smaller screen portraying what’s on the Jumbotron. Also, we did not have speakers directly pointed at our room (I think others do) and so that made it hard to decipher what was being said over the PA system at times (but it also made a room quieter).

But despite a couple of small drawbacks, I still absolutely cherished this experience.

I honestly didn’t realize how much I was going to enjoy it especially because I wasn’t watching my team, the Astros. It did help that I was watching a team that impacted their playoff odds (the Rangers) and got to watch George Springer in action.

But even if you have no vested interest in the teams, it’s just the coolest thing to look up from your hotel room and see the live MLB action.

If you do book one of these rooms, I’d recommend looking into getting room service delivered.

You can order a lot of ballpark favorites like hotdogs including fully loaded dogs, nachos, and a lot of other items. I fully expected room service to take a long time but they delivered our food within about 20 minutes.

Indulging in your all-time favorite ballpark treats delivered straight to your room, and savoring them while you’re engrossed in the game, is just one more distinctive facet of this experience.

Toronto Marriott City Centre Stadium View Room

In addition to the awe-inspiring views, there’s an inherent coolness factor in watching America’s favorite pastime while being in a different country altogether. It reminded me of watching an NFL game in London and there’s something very memorable about hearing a different country’s national anthem during the pregame rituals.

A quick heads-up for anyone considering booking a room at the Toronto Marriott City Centre during a concert event: while it’s a fantastic place to stay, you should be aware that the stage setup will obstruct your view of the concert.

You may find that black curtains are used to block your line of sight to the performance. However, you’ll still be able to enjoy the music and experience the sounds and energy of the concert from your room.

Executive Lounge

Toronto Marriott City Centre boasts a pretty solid executive lounge, which we had access to give an our Titanium status and possibly our room as well?

It’s found in a long narrow room that wraps along the side of the hotel and kind of gave me airport lounge vibes.

You’ll be able to grab breakfast here in the morning and also hors d’oeuvres in the evening.

In terms of the breakfast, they had a pretty standard breakfast set up with eggs, bacon, cereals, fruits, cheeses, some pastries and bread along with other standard items. I’d put it a little ahead of something you would get at a Hampton Inn. A solid breakfast but not a stand-out one.

In the evening the hors d’oeuvres selection consisted of cheeses, crackers, and a few hot dishes including really tasty potatoes and chicken.

Throughout the day you can head up there for chips and beverages including sodas.

The service during the evening and breakfast hours was solid so overall it was a good lounge experience. Unfortunately, this lounge does not face the stadium so you can’t get the stadium views here. I do believe there is a dedicated lounge for private events that does overlook the stadium though.

Hotel facilities

The hotel itself is impressively well-equipped.

In the lobby, you’ll discover a convenient Starbucks for your caffeine fix, and on the opposite side, there’s a restaurant called Sportsnet Grill that’s worth mentioning.

What makes Sportsnet Grill particularly noteworthy is that it’s an excellent spot to catch the game, and not just for hotel guests – even members of the general public can stroll in and enjoy the action. The restaurant boasts floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a nice view of the field.

However, these coveted spots tend to fill up fast, so if you’re keen on dining with a view, it’s advisable to make reservations well in advance. Alternatively, you can opt to hang out at the bar, where you can order the same delectable foods available for room service.

For those who enjoy staying active and relaxing, you’ll be pleased to know that the hotel boasts a spacious and well-appointed gym and pool area. To access these facilities, you’ll need to hop on a separate set of elevators that whisk you away to a different level.

The gym itself is impressively equipped, especially considering the size of the hotel. Whether you’re into cardio, weightlifting, or a mix of both, you’ll find the tools you need for a fulfilling workout.

And when it’s time to unwind, the expansive pool area beckons. It not only offers ample space for swimming but also features a hot tub for soothing those tired muscles after exploring Downtown Toronto. It’s the perfect way to balance your active endeavors with some well-deserved relaxation.

Final word

As you can tell, I’m very big on the uniqueness of this hotel experience. I’m always seeking out hotels that have something special to offer, whether that be in the form of fascinating history, extraordinary location, beautiful views, etc. And this hotel experience delivered in a major way. For the hard-core baseball fan or even a casual fan, I would strongly recommend a stadium view room.

TSA Rules for Vapes and e-Cigarettes (The Big Questions Answered) [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)

Vaping pen

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?

Vaping pen marijuana

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) so use common sense.

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. You can ask a flight attendant but be prepared for them to tell you no.

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. In addition, storing them in a sealed bag or container could be a good idea.

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. Passengers have gotten into trouble with this in the past, so it’s something you don’t want to risk.

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.

REAL ID Act: Explained with Detailed Timeline [2023]

You’ve probably seen the term REAL ID quite a few times over the past few years. It’s been in the news, on the blogs, and even at airports and other ports of entry.

Some people are surprised to find out that the REAL ID has been a thing for over 15 years!

But now, we seem to be closer than ever to the point when the REAL ID will be officially implemented so it definitely pays to know what it is all about.

Below, I’ll give you a breakdown of what the REAL ID is and talk about the background of how it came about. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about it including giving you a detailed recap of its timeline.

What is the REAL ID Act?

The REAL ID Act is an act of Congress intended to make state-issued drivers licenses and IDs more secure by helping to reduce fraud.

Specifically, the Real ID Act prohibits federal agencies from accepting drivers licenses and other ID cards issued by states and territories that do not comply with the REAL ID Act’s minimum standards.

The result is that people without compliant state IDs cannot access certain federal government facilities, nuclear power plants, and cannot board flights, unless they provide some type of alternative ID (such as a passport).

For your average traveler who is not visiting government facilities or nuclear power plants, the biggest and most notable change will be that you will not be able to rely on your drivers license to get you through TSA unless it is REAL ID compliant.

How to know if you have a REAL ID compliant ID

REAL ID-compliant licenses are marked by a star on the top of the card. It’s usually very easy to spot but if you aren’t 100% sure just contact your state driver’s licensing agency or local DMV.

Keep in mind that there are some IDs that do not have stars on top of the card that can still be accepted. For example, these may include enhanced driver’s licenses (EDLs) and enhanced IDs.

Only five U.S. states (Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington) offer EDLs.

Related: Can You Get Through TSA and Fly with No ID?


How to get a REAL ID compliant ID

If you need to get a REAL ID compliant ID, check out this official website from the DHS. You can then click on your state or territory and then you will be able to set up an appointment. You can also just contact your local DMV.

Be aware that you will need certain documents when you head to the DMV.

At a minimum, you must provide documentation showing:

  • 1) Full Legal Name
  • 2) Date of Birth
  • 3) Social Security Number
  • 4) Two Proofs of Address of Principal Residence and
  • 5) Lawful Status

Some locations may require you to submit even more documents which is why you want to contact the office nearest you.

REAL ID Act background

After the attacks of September 11, the US established the 9/11 commission to help find out ways to reduce future terrorist attacks.

One of the recommendations that came out of the report was a recommendation to establish federal standards for IDs.

“The federal government should set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as drivers licenses.”

Before 9/11, every state had its own set of rules for how IDs were provided and what information was showing on IDs, including security features. And these are not always the most robust requirements or processes.

Going back to the 1990s, many DMV’s struggled to deal with fraudulent actors who were seeking IDs for nefarious purposes, so this has been an ongoing problem.

However, they didn’t have the resources or the structure (or just the proper motivation) to successfully combat these and that is what the REAL ID initiative helped provide.

Related: TSA Pre-Check Guide (Application Process, Locations, Status)

What are the REAL ID Act requirements?

The REAL ID Act requirements primarily affect the agencies that are issuing the IDs and require them to comply with certain standards. Specifically, there are 39 REAL ID standards or benchmarks (although some argue there are 43).

The state or territory issuing the ID must meet certain standards when issuing an ID such as:

  • Capture a photograph of the applicant
  • Store digital images of the applicants documents
  • Verify the documents with the authorities who issued them (e.g., verify with the Social Security administration)
  • Verify existing IDs issued by another state are terminated
  • Limit the validity of ID documents to eight years
  • Implement background checks of employees
  • Maintain a database of ID documents issued along with driver histories
  • Provide access to other states and territories (State-to State (S2S) Verification Service)

The applicant must provide documentation of the person’s full name, date of birth, and residential address.

They must have a Social Security number or document that they are not eligible for one and they need a document that they are a US national or a foreign national legally in the US.

An applicant will have to show at least two documents showing their address. If they present a birth certificate, it must be verified through the EVVE. Also, US passports and visas on foreign passports must be verified with the Department of State.

As for the actual ID card, the REAL ID Act requires it to contain the following information:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Photograph
  • Address
  • Signature
  • Document number
  • Security features
  • Machine readable technology

Interestingly, states can still issue non-REAL ID compliant IDs but they have to make it clear that the document is not accepted for federal purposes.

Related: TSA Liquid Rules Ultimate Guide (3-1-1 Explained)

Timeline of Real ID events

July 2004

The 9/11 Commission Report is published and recommends that the federal government create standards for the issuance of identification documents such as drivers licenses in order to improve national security.

December 2004

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) is signed by President George W. Bush on December 17, 2004.

This required the federal government to set regulations for the minimum standards for federal acceptance of driver’s licenses and ID cards — the first time national standards had ever been applied to ID cards.

May 2005

On May 11, 2005, the REAL ID Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush. (REAL is capitalized but apparently does not have meaning as an acronym.)

According to the DHS, the “REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the states and the federal government to improve the reliability and accuracy of state-issued identification documents, which should inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulent identification.”

The REAL ID Act specified that the new rules would go into effect on May 11, 2008. However, there was widespread opposition by many governments and so the deadline was extended.

March 2007

The DHS published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for REAL ID and opposition by state governments begins to grow.

Several states believed compliance would be too expensive and burdensome.

They also rejected it largely on the grounds of individual liberty, limited government, and privacy concerns.

For example, they believed having data from every American consolidated would make people more vulnerable to identity theft. Others saw it as a potential violation of the 10th Amendment and a slippery slope to federal government control.

As a result some states enacted legislation to oppose the law and prevent the state from being forced to comply.

For example, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer stated “No, nope, no way, hell no,” and signed one of the toughest anti-REAL ID state laws in the nation. Many other states like Maine and Utah had also done the same or similar.

July 2009

Due to all of the opposition and uncertainty, critics of the REAL ID, including the ACLU, declared that the REAL ID act was essentially dead.

“Real ID is essentially dead. It’s time for it to be formally repealed and replaced with a process that works, one that protects civil liberties and license security,” said Michael Macleod-Ball, Acting Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

This time frame was truly the low point for the REAL ID as 15 states had passed legislation prohibiting participation in the REAL ID program including: Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, Oregon, and Missouri.

In addition, 10 other states had enacted resolutions that were against REAL ID including: Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota and Tennessee.

it certainly was not looking great for the rea ID.

January 2011

Despite a lot of opposition and doubt during the first few years of the REAL ID Act, by January 2011, 11 jurisdictions were in compliance with all of the REAL ID benchmarks — a significant sign of progress for the REAL ID.

Some states were finding it less expensive than initially expected which was helping more states to get on board.

The ease of compliance was also largely a product of the REAL ID Program Office working closely over the years with AAMVA and the individual DMVs to ensure that the new implementations were practical.

This was a tricky relationship for many states because while the DMV offices were generally in favor of strengthening the security of their IDs, they also had to contend with the fact that their governors may have opposed the REAL ID Act. Not only that, but some DMV’s were even told to report to the governor any attempts by the DHS to secure REAL ID compliance.

December 2013

The DHS announced a “phased enforcement” plan for the REAL ID Act. The first three phases were to begin between April 2014 and October 2015.

These phases meant that the restrictions would go into place for certain government facilities such as the DHS headquarters, nuclear power plants, and restricted areas for federal facilities and some semi-restricted areas for other federal facilities.

The fourth phase was to apply to boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.

It required individuals to have a REAL ID compliant ID to board an aircraft although they could also carry a second form of ID if they only had a non-compliant ID.

This was supposed to go into effect no sooner than 2016.

January 2016

In January 2016, the REAL ID took a large step forward when the DHS announced what was believed to be the final phase of implementation for REAL ID.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that effective from January 22, 2018, passengers with a driver’s license or ID card issued by a state that is still not compliant with the REAL ID Act (unless that state has been granted an extension to comply with the Act) would need to show TSA an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel.

It was stated that starting on October 1, 2020, every air traveler would need a REAL ID compliant license or another acceptable form of identification.

July 2016

Things really begin to heat up starting July 15, 2016, when TSA, in coordination with airlines and airport stakeholders, started to issue web-based advisories and notifications to the traveling public.

On December 15, 2016, TSA then expanded the “marketing” outreach at its airport security checkpoints through signage and handouts.

Spring of 2017

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announced in the spring of 2017 that he remained committed to the enforcement of the REAL ID rules.

He also reiterated the January 2018 deadline set by Secretary Johnson, and DHS officials continued to state that the October 2020 deadline is still set.

Some states like Missouri in Alaska repeal state laws against the REAL ID.

August 2017

Missouri became the last state to commit to REAL ID compliance.

January 2018

REAL IDs are required for air travel for all states unless they have an extension. However, it appears that all states that were not in compliance at the time secured an extension so air travel was not impacted.

November 2019

Substantial progress was made by many states in jurisdictions to be compliant with the REAL ID act.

For example, 51 jurisdictions were compliant and only five jurisdictions—New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands—had extensions or were under review.

All jurisdictions were set up to begin issuing compliant licenses by the summer of 2020.

January 2020

At the end of January 2020, DHS reported that the states had collectively issued more than 95 million REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards. This represented about (34%) out of 276 million total cards.

At this point, REAL ID had come a long way with every jurisdiction set up to begin issuing compliant licenses very soon.

Unfortunately, the world was in the process of adjusting to a very unexpected threat….

March 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic began to erupt and caused DMV’s to temporarily close or cut down on personnel, and the deadline around the corner for the REAL ID, Congress decided that they would need to extend the deadline.

On March 23, 2020, President Trump announced he would be delaying the deadline.

And then a few days later, Congress approved a relief package (CARES Act) that included a push back of the deadline by at least one year.

DHS Secretary Chad Wolf then set a new deadline of October 1, 2021.

September 2020

On September 10, 2020, The Department of Homeland Security announced that after more than 15 years, all 50 states were now in full compliance with the REAL ID Act.

In addition, over 105 million REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards had been issued, representing about 38% of all card holders.

April 2021

On April 27, 2021, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would be extending the REAL ID enforcement date by 19 months, from October 1, 2021 to May 3, 2023.

This delay was once again caused by the coronavirus pandemic, as many DMV offices were still operating with limited capacity.

December 2022

On December 5, 2022, it was announced that the REAL ID would once again be extended from May 3, 2023 to May 7, 2025.

This means that beginning May 7, 2025, “every traveler 18 years of age or older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another TSA-acceptable form of identification at TSA security checkpoints.”


Do minors have to comply with the REAL ID?

REAL ID applies to travelers 18 years of age or older.

When will the REAL ID be enforced?

The REAL ID is scheduled to be enforced on May 7, 2025.

How do I know if my ID is compliant?

REAL ID-compliant licenses are marked by a star on the top of the card. Some states may offer an enhanced driver’s license which will not have a star but will still be compliant.

Will I be able to fly if I don’t have a REAL ID-compliant license?

Yes, you will still be able to use alternative forms of ID to get through airport security. For example, you could use a passport.

Will my gender be on the REAL ID license?

Yes, gender is one of the required fields of the ID.

Do I need a REAL ID to visit any federal facility?

No, not every federal facility will require you to show a REAL ID.

Do I need a REAL ID to vote?

No, the Act does not apply to voting or registering to vote.

Does the REAL ID create a federal database?

No, states will continue to issue their own unique license and maintain their own records. However, they may share information with other states.

Final word

The REAL ID was created as a response to the attacks of 9/11 and has had a very long (and uphill) journey to get where it is today.

It is still not fully in effect, probably mostly due to the circumstances that followed the pandemic of 2020.

However, all of the states are now in full compliance with the REAL ID and more and more of these are getting issued every month.

Based on the traction that has finally developed and the amount of time that has passed since the outbreak of coronavirus, it’s likely that the next deadline will be the final deadline for the story of the REAL ID.


Exploring Fort Mackinac’s Rich History & Firing the Canon!

Mackinac Island in Michigan is a treasure trove of captivating history.

From its distinction as one of the earliest national parks in the United States to its transformation into a sought-after destination for travelers, it is steeped in historical significance.

Yet, one of the most intriguing and compelling narratives on the island unfolds within the walls of Fort Mackinac.

What is Fort Mackinac?

Fort Mackinac, situated on Mackinac Island in Michigan, is a historic military fort offering visitors a glimpse into the military history of the region and the role the fort played during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, including its involvement in the War of 1812.

Fort Mackinac: a brief history

Fort Mackinac has roots dating back to the late 1700s.

Before 1763, the French utilized Fort Michilimackinac, located on the mainland’s south shore of the Straits of Mackinac, to assert control over the region.

Following the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the British took control of the French fort but found it challenging to defend.

In response to these challenges, in 1780 Lieutenant Governor Patrick Sinclair took charge of the construction of a new fort made of limestone on the 150-foot limestone bluffs of Mackinac Island.

To create this new fort, various buildings were relocated from the mainland post of Michilimackinac, including the barracks, guardhouse, and provision storehouse.

The fort was strategically positioned to oversee the Straits of Mackinac, connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and played a pivotal role in regulating the lucrative fur trade. But it had its shortcomings as you’ll see.

Fort Mackinac

Eventually, in 1796, several years after the American victory in the Revolutionary War, the United States assumed control of the fort and it went on to play a substantial role in the region’s history, notably during the War of 1812.

In June 1812, as the War of 1812 commenced, Fort Mackinac was defended by a modest United States garrison consisting of roughly sixty men, led by Lieutenant Porter Hanks.

Unfortunately, Hanks and his men were unaware of the outbreak of the war due to a lack of communication.

In the early hours of July 17, 1812, a joint British and Native American expedition, led by British Captain Charles Roberts, launched a surprise assault on Fort Mackinac.

This force comprised 40 British soldiers along with 500 French Canadian and Native American allies, significantly outnumbering the US troops.

They disembarked on the northern tip of Mackinac Island, a location still accessible today and recognized as “British Landing.”

Fort Mackinac British Landing
British Landing

They then ascended to the island’s highest point, which afforded a commanding view of Fort Mackinac.

This area was eventually reclaimed by the United States and named Fort Holmes. And today, there is a recreated fort at this location that offers a fascinating historical experience well worth exploring.

Fort Mackinac Fort Holmes
Fort Holmes

But back to the invasion by the British….

Once the British were on the island’s high point they strategically positioned their cannons directly aimed at the fort, compelling its surrender in what marked the first land engagement of the War of 1812.

A couple of years later in August of 1814, there was another significant battle for the island that ended unfavorably for the Americans. Similar to the British approach, the American forces landed on the island’s northern side.

However, as they advanced toward the fort, they faced strong resistance and were ambushed by Native American allies, leading to the loss of 13 American soldiers, including their second-in-command, Major Andrew Holmes.

This battlefield is yet another location that you can visit when on the island.

Fort Mackinac

Fort Mackinac remained under the control of the British Empire for a significant period until the conclusion of the war when it was returned to the United States as part of the Treaty of Ghent in 1815.

Throughout the 19th century, Fort Mackinac continued to operate as a military post. However, by the late 1800s, its defensive role had become obsolete.

Instead, it found new purposes, such as serving as the headquarters for managing the national park established on Mackinac Island. Eventually, it was decommissioned in 1895, and the fort became a part of Michigan’s first State Park, as the focus on the island shifted to tourism.

In the late 1950s, after restoration work that went on through the decades, Fort Mackinac opened as a living history museum.

Fort Mackinac view

How to get to Fort Mackinac

To visit Fort Mackinac, you must first make your way to Mackinac Island.

If you’re not familiar with the island, it’s important to note that automobiles are not permitted there. Instead, you’ll need to access the island by taking a ferry, boat, or flying in. It’s just a brief uphill walk from the downtown area to reach the fort’s south entrance. Alternatively, you can come from the north entrance.

An adult ticket is about $15 and comes with admission to other sites on the island. For more on pricing and admission you can go here.

Fort Mackinac exterior

Experiencing Fort Mackinac

Indeed, there is much to explore and experience at Fort Mackinac. When planning your visit, it’s advisable to allocate ample time to fully appreciate all that it has to offer.

Throughout the day, visitors have the opportunity to witness engaging historical demonstrations that transport them back in time.

These demonstrations often include captivating reenactments featuring period rifles like the Springfield model 1873.

Fort Mackinac

he firing of the renowned cannon, a 1841 model six-pounder is not to be missed!

Fort Mackinac canon demonstration

There is also a guided tour which will give you a great background into the evolution of the fort.

For the most part, you’re standing in the parade grounds so the tour doesn’t take you in and out of the buildings (which is probably a good thing because those are best explore in small groups).

Fort Mackinac tour

Visitors can plan ahead by calling to inquire about the scheduled times for these demonstrations.

Alternatively, while exploring the fort, keep an ear out for the uniformed workers dressed in 1880s Prussian-inspired uniforms, as they often make announcements regarding the timing of these events.

Furthermore, if you encounter these knowledgeable workers during their free moments, don’t hesitate to approach them with any questions you may have about the fort’s history. They are usually eager to share fascinating insights and historical tidbits.

Fort Mackinac tour

In addition to the scheduled demonstrations and shows, you have the freedom to embark on self-guided exploration throughout the fort.

As you explore, you’ll encounter a plethora of intriguing structures to enter and explore. Many of these sites feature interpretive panels and artifacts that provide valuable insights into the fort’s rich history, enhancing your learning experience.

Indeed, some of the structures within the fort are incredibly captivating, such as the Post Guardhouse, which once served as the detention area for prisoners. What makes it even more intriguing is the presence of graffiti dating back to the 1800s, left behind by the incarcerated individuals who were held in this room.

You’ll also have the opportunity to explore a variety of other historical buildings, each with its own unique significance. Some of these include the Soldiers Barracks, Post Schoolhouse, Officer’s Stone Quarters (which is Michigan’s oldest building, dating back to 1780), and the Commissary Building.

Fort Mackinac barracks

These structures offer a diverse range of insights into the fort’s history and the daily life of its inhabitants during different time periods.

Fort Mackinac tea room

One of the most intriguing and unforgettable experiences you can have at Fort Mackinac is the opportunity to be the one person who fires the cannon in the morning, for a little extra cost (~$60 extra).

As a history buff, this is an incredibly cool and memorable activity, well worth the investment. Plus, I’m pretty sure the money spent on this experience goes toward supporting the fort and its preservation, making it a win-win for history buffs and the fort’s continued maintenance.

Final word

For many people, Fort Mackinac stands as the highlight of their Mackinac Island experience.

Its rich history, well-preserved structures, and engaging historical demonstrations make it a must-visit destination for those exploring this unique and captivating island.

From its strategic location overlooking the straits to the intriguing artifacts and stories it houses, Fort Mackinac offers a glimpse into the past that truly enhances any visit to Mackinac Island.

The Boston Cooler Chronicles: Experiencing A Refreshing Detroit Tradition

When it comes to refreshing summer drinks, the Boston Cooler has to rank among the very best. Unknown to lots of people outside of the Midwest, it’s a Detroit staple for many.

But what’s the story behind this beverage, and how exactly does it relate to Detroit, Michigan?

In this article, we’ll delve into the intriguing origins of the Boston Cooler and even provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to craft this Midwest classic at home.

What is a Boston Cooler?

A Boston Cooler is a classic beverage that combines Vernors ginger ale and creamy vanilla ice cream, resulting in a delightful and refreshing treat. Its origins are somewhat disputed, but it’s now closely associated with Detroit, Michigan, where it gained popularity.

Boston Cooler mix

Boston Cooler History 

The origins of the Boston Cooler are a topic of some debate, particularly regarding who first coined the term.

However, one thing seems certain: this beverage has gone through several transformations before settling on the combination of Vernors and vanilla ice cream that we recognize today.

Many individuals attribute the creation of this delightful beverage to an establishment once situated along Boston Boulevard in Detroit, which, of course, would provide a logical explanation for its name, the “Boston Cooler.”

However, this connection appears to be more along the lines of a myth, and the term “Boston Cooler” has evolved over time with various interpretations and associations.

Boston Coolers may have been born in Massachusetts in the late 1800s as a cocktail of rum, lime, and soda water.

Around the same era, in 1889, an article on summer cocktails in New York mentioned a Boston Cooler recipe that combined ginger ale and sarsaparilla.

The article, with its tantalizingly long headline, enticed readers by describing the drinks as “Seductive Drinks that Come Like a Breeze from the Arctic—Cocktails that Are ‘Midsummer Poems’—A Recipe for a ‘Liquid Blizzard’ Suited to the Dog Days.”

Also, during the early 1900s when soda fountains were all of the rage, there were advertisements offering a “Boston Cooler,” which was a a scoop of ice cream in a half of a melon. Apparently, these treats were extremely popular.

Finally, when soda fountains were all of the rage, the term Boston Cooler became associated with various types of ice cream-soda concoctions that one could order at the soda fountains and ice cream shops.

So essentially, the Boston Cooler became the “generic term used in the early 20th century for any drink mixing ice cream and soda.” For instance, Hires, a root beer company, promoted their own version of the Boston Cooler.

Suffice it to say these drinks weren’t specific to Detroit or Michigan by any means.

But how then did they develop the D-town connection that is undeniable today? 

Well, a significant part of the answer lies with Vernors and a gentleman named Fred Sanders.

Fred Sanders was the visionary behind one of Detroit’s pioneering ice cream and confectionery shops. He’s been credited with introducing ice cream sodas to the Detroit scene during the 1800s.

What’s particularly noteworthy is his choice of a key ingredient: Detroit’s very own Vernors, a beverage concocted by local pharmacist James Vernor. To this day, Vernors is renowned for its potential stomach-soothing properties.

One version of history says that at this shop, the modern Boston Cooler’s precursor, the “Vernors Cream,” was invented.

Initially, this concoction would have consisted of a shot or two of sweet cream poured into a glass of Vernors Ginger Ale. Over time, its believed the cream was replaced with vanilla ice cream, giving rise to the creamy and refreshing Boston Cooler we know today.

Then fast forward to 1967. In that year, Vernors trademarked the Boston Cooler when they were introducing a Vernors Boston Cooler flavor ice cream bar, which apparently didn’t do so well.

However, it was likely at that point that the Boston Cooler-Detroit connection began to solidify and eventually outpace its association with other beverages and regions.

What’s in a Boston Cooler?

The beverage is made with two key ingredients: vanilla ice cream and ginger ale. 

To achieve an authentic Boston Cooler, it’s a must to use Vernors Ginger Ale.

Renowned for its mellow ginger profile complemented by a noticeable hint of vanilla, Vernors adds that extra layer of magic, bridging the gap between traditional ginger ale and the creamy goodness of cream soda.

As for the ice cream, some whip these up with generic vanilla or soft serve though some also strive for local ice cream brands like Stroh’s for their vanilla.

The ratio of ice cream to ginger ale may vary but it seems like the standard is something like 3 parts ice cream to one part ginger ale. This could be roughly 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream with one 8 oz Vernors.  

The last crucial step to making a Boston Cooler is to combine the ice cream with the ginger ale, but this isn’t your typical float where you simply plop ice cream scoops into a beverage.

Instead, you’ll want to blend these components into a smooth and creamy consistency that can be sipped through a straw, a distinct departure from the traditional float experience.

Some places make theirs more “shake like” than others but it’s usually different from a normal float even though you can find “Vernors floats” offered at some establishments. 

Boston Cooler

Where can you find Boston Coolers?

You can find Boston Coolers at ice cream shops and restaurants like burger joints around Detroit and other areas of Michigan.

We enjoyed a couple of fabulous Boston coolers from a burger place called Mercury Burgers, where they are served up in glasses and given the respect they deserve. 

But you can also find these at Detroit-area Dairy Queen’s and perhaps even McDonald’s. In fact, local McDonald’s stores once gave out free Boston Coolers on the city’s 315th anniversary in 2016.

Of course, you can also just make yours at home, as we did using Vernors and homemade vanilla ice cream from Kemp’s.

After blending all the ingredients together, we were left with a delightful concoction. The mellow ginger notes from the Vernors Ginger Ale harmoniously mingle with the luscious creaminess of the vanilla ice cream. It’s really the perfect beverage.

However, if your ice cream is straight out of the freezer, you might want to let it thaw for a little bit to ensure it’s wonderfully creamy. Some experts also suggest a special technique: pour about an inch of Vernors into the glass first, which helps create a fluffy foam.

Then, gently place two scoops of vanilla ice cream into the glass and carefully pour in the remaining Vernors. Stir the mixture until it reaches a smooth and harmonious consistency. This method guarantees a top-notch Boston Cooler experience!

Final word

The origin of the Boston Cooler is a complex and multifaceted tale, and its direct connection to Detroit is a matter of debate. However, it has undeniably cemented its status as a beloved Detroit staple over the years.

This delightful beverage, with its unique blend of Vernors Ginger Ale and creamy vanilla ice cream, shines brightest on scorching summer afternoons, offering a refreshing respite from the heat.

However, its appeal extends well beyond the summer months — the Boston Cooler is a versatile treat that can brighten your day year-round.

Can You Get Through TSA and Fly with No ID? [2023]

Okay, so you messed up and don’t have an ID but you need to catch a flight. What can you do? Well, you might be surprised to find out that you still might actually be able to board the plane even without an ID.

In this article, I will break down everything you need to know about getting through TSA without an ID. I’ll talk about both domestic and international flights and explain what the process is like for verifying your identity.

Can you get through TSA with no ID?

Yes, you can get through a TSA security checkpoint and board your plane without an ID. However, you will be subject to an identity verification process and also likely subjected to a heightened security screening. Keep reading below and I will break it all down for you.

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

IDs accepted by TSA

Before jumping in to the steps of what to do when you don’t have a standard ID (e.g., a driver’s license), first you should make sure that you don’t have an alternative form of ID that is accepted by TSA. TSA accepts over a dozen different types of identification, so chances are you might have one of these on you already.

Below is a list of IDs accepted by TSA:

  • Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)**
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)

Make sure that your name used for your booking matches your ID since changing your name on a ticket can be a challenge.

**Be aware that beginning May 7, 2025, if you plan to use your state issued ID or license to fly within the US, it needs to be REAL ID compliant. They extended the REAL ID deadline many times in the past but it appears that this time, there will be no extension so make sure you are ready.

If you’ve gone through all of those possibilities and you still do not have any qualifying form of identification then it is time to go through the identity verification process with TSA. Don’t worry — it’s usually not that bad!

Different ID cards
TSA accepts a lot of different forms of ID.

TSA Identification verification process

If you have not arrived to the airport yet, do your best to arrive to the airport extra early because the verification process could take a long time.

The standard recommended time for arriving before a domestic flight is two hours so logically you would want to arrive at least two hours prior to your departure. (I would shoot for 2.5 to 3 hours prior to the flight.)

But the time required might also depend on the type of airport you are at.

If you are at a well-equipped, larger airport with lots of resources the agents there probably have more experience with this identity verification process and so the process could be much more streamlined.

That may not be the case at a much smaller, regional airport. You could imagine how long the process described below could take if you are dealing with a TSA agent who has never had to deal with the verification process before.

If you are already at the airport and just realized that you do not have your ID, hopefully you are not in a rush. If you have very limited time (30 minutes to get to boarding) there’s a chance that there will not be enough time for them to verify your identity and you may want to go ahead and just reschedule your flight if possible.

But if you do have time to spare then it could be worth it to go through the identity verification process.

Related: TSA Checklist (Tips & PDF)

Tucson international airport entrance

Identity Verification Call Center (IVCC)

If you realize that you do not have an ID your first step is to approach a TSA agent and let them know that you do not have an ID and that you would like to go through the verification process so that you can still board your flight.

They are likely going to ask you for the following:

  • Name
  • A photo
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of birth

They will also request for you to supply two forms of secondary ID. The secondary form of ID can take a lot of different forms and these include:

  • Library card
  • Business card
  • Social Security card
  • Student ID
  • Mail
  • Credit cards
  • Photo of an ID
  • Voter registration card
  • Prescription with your name on the label

If your wallet or ID was stolen then it would be very helpful for you to have a police report to back up your claim. If you are traveling with family members who do have an ID and you have photos of you together with them that can also help bolster your case.

The more documents you can supply, the better.

In some cases, showing some of the above documents may be enough for your identity to be verified but in other cases it might not be enough.

TSA states that, “If your identity cannot be verified with the provided documentation, you may be required to go through an alternative identity verification process, which includes collecting information such as your name, current address, and other personal information, and asking personal questions to help confirm your identity.”

You may also be asked to fill out a special form.

If your identity cannot be verified then a TSA agent may resort to the Identity Verification Call Center (IVCC).

In this situation, an agent on the other side of the phone will attempt to verify your identity and possibly ask you some personal questions. They will accomplish this by running your name against a database and looking for you to confirm answers to questions.

These questions could be similar to those identity verification questions that pop up when you attempt to do something like check your credit score on Credit Karma. But they also could be more random or a little bit deeper so be prepared to jog your memory as best you can.

If you are not able to answer the questions accurately or if you simply refuse to then you will not be able to proceed through the TSA security checkpoint and therefore you will not board your flight.

It’s worth pointing out that if you are traveling with an outstanding arrest warrant and you have to go through the identification verification process there is a good chance your warrant will be discovered and you could be arrested.

Get through security

After you have verified your identity, your journey is not complete. You will still need to go through the airport security checkpoint but you can expect to have to go through heightened security.

Most likely, a TSA agent will ask you to step aside while they go through the extra security steps with you. The exact process that you will have to go through will depend on the discretion of the TSA agents but some things that you can expect to encounter include:

  • Invasive pat down
  • Thorough search of all your belongings which means you will likely have to remove objects from your luggage
  • Extra x-ray scans
  • Swabs

The process will likely be similar to what you would experience if you were to have SSSS on your boarding pass.

I’m not sure what happens if you don’t have an ID but you have TSA Pre-Check, which normally allows you to bypass the main security line. I highly doubt that they would allow you to get in the Pre-Check line but stranger things have probably happened.

Related: TSA No Fly List Explained 

TSA agent searching a man
Expect a more invasive search if you do not have an ID.

Boarding the plane

Once you get through the security checkpoint, you can finally make your way to the gate for boarding. Your boarding pass should have a note that you do not have an ID on you and that should be enough to substitute for your ID to get you on a plane.

If you want to visit an airport lounge like a Centurion Lounge typically they will ask to see your identification. It’s not clear to me if airport lounges will allow you to enter without a valid ID. But you would think that if your TSA authenticated identity is good enough for boarding an airplane, it should be good enough to stroll into a lounge.

Once you arrive at the gate area, I would recommend to quickly check in with an agent at the gate and let them know that you have a boarding pass with no ID but that you have been verified by TSA.

That should help prevent any confusion at the time of boarding just in case the agents are not familiar with how to deal with the process.

Don’t try anything “funny”

If you don’t have your ID with you or any other secondary forms of ID, you might be tempted to try to sneak your way through security or try some other type of “funny business.”

This is a very bad idea because in addition to a potential criminal violation, you could also get hit with a civil fine from TSA.

So even if you are under stress trying to figure things out, don’t make any false statements or do anything that could be construed as you trying to circumvent security.

International flights

The situation is much different for international flights. You must have a passport to leave the country in almost every circumstance. Therefore, if you do not have a passport then you will almost certainly be grounded.

If you are currently abroad and you do not have a passport you should contact the local embassy or consulate and they will be able to help you based on your needs.

In some cases, they can issue you a limited-validity passport that allows you to gain entry back into the US but does not come with full travel privileges to visit other countries. If you don’t have an ID and there is an urgent emergency you should be able to get your request expedited.


Can you get a refund if you forget your ID?

Unfortunately, most airlines will not refund your ticket if you simply lost your ID. You may be able to negotiate with them so that you can board a later flight.

What age is required to have an ID to fly?

TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion that has acceptable identification.

Can I travel with an expired ID?

Acceptable forms of ID cannot be more than 12 months past the identified expiration date. However, TSA has made exceptions and you can read more about expired IDs here.

What counts as a secondary form of ID?

There are a lot of different types of documents that can qualify as a secondary form of ID and some of these include:

Library card
Business card
Social Security card
Student ID
Credit cards
Photo of an ID
Prescription with your name on the label

Final word

Getting through TSA without an ID requires you to jump through a few extra hoops. As long as you give yourself enough time and comply with the process, you should still be able to board your plane without major issues. However, if you are departing on an international flight you likely will not be able to board your plane without a valid passport.

TSA Medication Rules for Flying on Planes [2023]

Traveling through airport security can already be a pretty nerve-racking experience. But when you are also worried about getting your necessary medical items through security and onto a plane for a flight, it can be even more anxiety inducing. Luckily, there are some pretty lenient TSA rules and guidelines when it comes to flying with your medication.

In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about TSA medication rules and flying on a plane with medication. I’ll go over the rules for things like prescription medications, pills and liquid medication and other situations like over the counter (OTC) drugs. 

What are the TSA rules for flying with medication on a plane?

TSA will allow you to travel with your medication but there are some restrictions that you need to be aware of, especially if brining medical liquids. Below, I will go through some of the most common restrictions that might apply to you and tell you how you can go about them when flying with medication. 

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

Does TSA have a limit on the amount of medication I can bring on a plane?

TSA does not have a limit on the amount of medication that you can bring on a plane whenever the medication is in solid form, such as pills. So if you have a need to travel with multiple bottles of pills then you should not be limited to a certain amounts of pills or bottles. 

If you have an outrageous amount of medication on you then you might be subject to additional screening. However, in many cases as long as they can x-ray your medication they will not require you to undergo additional screening.

If you do not want your medication exposed to the x-ray machine then just let the TSA agent knows this and they will allow you to go through a different type of screening (note that this could take more time and require you to open up all of your bottles).

Note: Medical Nitroglycerin medicines are allowed.

Related: Can TSA Ask About Your Medical Condition?

Tablets and pills
You can bring your medication in pill or solid form in “unlimited amounts” as long as it is screened.

What are the TSA rules for traveling with liquid medication on a plane?

If you are not aware, TSA has a rule that forbids you from bringing in liquids than can’t fit in 3.4 ounce containers. Also, these containers must fit into a quart size bag (typically a clear Ziploc bag).

This is known as the “TSA 3-1-1 rule” and you will be required to remove the bag from your carry-on unless you have TSA Pre-Check (which I highly recommend). 

TSA does not enforce the liquids rule for medically required liquids (and gels and aerosols). They also don’t require you to put your medically necessary liquids into a liquids bag.

However, they do have some limitations on liquid medication.

They require you to only bring “reasonable quantities” and state that the liquids rule exemption only allows certain items to be carried on the aircraft when the item is declared and it is:

  1. Required during your flight and/or at your travel destination;
  2. Not available at the airport in the sterile area (after the screening checkpoint) and/or;
  3. Not available at your travel destination.

Reasonable quantities for your trip

When you are bringing your liquid medications through security the TSA 3-1-1 rule does not apply. Instead, TSA will allow you to bring in “reasonable quantities for you trip.” This is a subjective definition so there is going to be room for agent discretion. 

Therefore, try not to go too far with your liquid medications if you think that you might be bringing in an unreasonable amount. It is a very good idea to have a clear stated purpose for why you need that quantity of liquid medication. And it might even be a better idea if you have a signed doctor’s note explaining why you need that much medication.

It could probably help your cause if you can explain your dosage requirements in relation to the quantity of medication you are bringing. For example, if you require 10g of medication per day and you are bringing 100g with you on a ten day trip, that makes total sense.

But if you require 10g of the medication per day and you are bringing 3,000g with you for a weekend trip that could be a different story….

At some point TSA added more clarity to this rule when they stated that the medication would need to not be available at the airport in the sterile area (after the screening checkpoint) and/or not available at your travel destination.

I don’t really like this rule because essentially a TSA agent could force you to throw out a large bottle of NyQuil just because it would be available at an outrageous price within the airport. Also, sometimes it’s difficult to know whether or not something will be available at your destination so it is just smart thinking to bring it with you. Nevertheless, those are the rules.

Notify the agents 

TSA also states that you should notify the TSA agent about your liquid medication before you go through security screening.

Personally, I have flown with liquid medication many times before and have never notified TSA about it nor have they given me any push back (there’s a prescription on the medication bottle).

Even though that is how I have done it in the past, I would recommend disclosing your medication just to make things easier. This is especially the case if you’re traveling with accessories associated with your liquid medication such as freezer packs, IV bags, pumps, and syringes.

If TSA does notice your liquids or you tell them about them, the medically required liquids will be subjected to additional screening that could include being asked to open the container. They might pour the substance into another container, test out a small sample of the medication, or swab it for explosives.

So just be prepared to pop the top if you are asked to. 

Note: You will not have to put your liquid medications into a Ziploc bag.

Related: Can You Bring CBD on a Plane? (TSA Rules)

Liquid medication bottles
Medically required liquids are not subject to the TSA 3-1-1 Rule.

How to pack medication for a flight in a carry-on or checked bag

TSA will allow you to bring your medication onto a plane via carry-on or checked baggage.

Obviously, you will not have access to your checked baggage when you are flying in the plane so if you are in doubt about whether or not you might need access to your medication, then I highly recommend that you pack it in your carry-on. 

Plus, remember if your checked bag containing your meds gets lost your medication is also lost.

If you bring your medication as a carry-on you should not be required to show or declare that you are bringing medication, unless you are bringing liquid medication or certain other types of medical instruments like syringes.

(Some travelers inform the TSA agents about all medications they are bringing but that does not always seem to be required in my experience.)

When packing pills or medication I would try to keep them organized in a clear plastic bag just to make things easy at all times.

Try to pack that bag in an easily accessible area within your carry-on so that you can quickly retrieve it if you need to declare or allow inspection for any of your medications.

Also, it’s a good idea for your medications to be labeled to facilitate the security process. (Labeling your meds is not required but it is recommended by TSA.)

When packed in a carry-on and going through a security checkpoint your medication can undergo a visual or X-ray screening (you can choose).

Does TSA require pills to be in a prescription bottle?

Believe it or not TSA does not require your pills to be in a prescription bottle or to show them a copy of your prescription. The catch is that states have different laws regarding how you can legally travel with prescription items.

Some states might require you to carry your pills and a bottle with a prescription and therefore it is always a good idea to keep your pills in a bottle with a prescription label if possible or at least keep the prescription with you if you are using a pill container/organizer. 

Also, many countries have very strict rules on prescription medication so be sure to keep up with the latest laws before departing the country. Some might require you to submit a letter from a physician and some countries such as those in the Middle East have very strict laws regarding bringing in certain types of medications.

It is not very difficult to find stories about US tourists getting locked up abroad in prison for bringing medications through the airport. Read more about traveling internationally with medication here.

One interesting thing about prescriptions is that if you forget your ID you can actually use your prescription labels to help verify your identity.

Tip: Ask your pharmacist for extra containers with your name and the medication information on them if you want to carry smaller amounts of drugs with you.

It’s always a good idea to have your prescription on you.

What are the TSA rules for flying on a plane with injectable medication?

You are allowed to travel with injectable medication on a plane. You may also bring unused syringes when they are accompanied by injectable medication. You must declare these items to security officers at the checkpoint for inspection. TSA also recommends, but does not require, that your medications be labeled so it’s a good idea to go with their recommendation. 

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

What if I need to keep my medication refrigerated when flying? 

If you need to keep your medication refrigerated you can use “ice packs, freezer packs, gel packs, and other accessories” to keep your medication cool. You will need to present these at the screening checkpoint in a frozen or partially-frozen state.

It would be a good idea to do a “test run” to see how long your packs can stay refrigerated, especially if you are going to be dealing with a long layover or flight. Some airplanes may have refrigeration but I would not count on that.

Does TSA allow over the counter medication on a plane?

TSA will allow you to bring over the counter medication on a plane, which means you’ll be fine to bring along things like: Tylenol, Advil, Aleve, ibuprofen, etc. Just remember that the rules pertaining to liquids will apply to OTC drugs unless they are medically necessary.

I always advise people to put their medication in a clear plastic bag just to make things easier when making your way through airport security.

Related: Does TSA Check For Arrest Warrants?

What about flying with other items?

If you have questions about bringing other types of items through TSA airport security screening (like food or alcohol), make sure to check out the articles below: 


Can you take prescription medication on a plane?

Yes, prescription medication is allowed on planes.

Does my medication have to be in original bottles when flying?

No, your medication does not have to be in the original bottle. However, it’s usually a good idea to have a prescription on hand just in case you’re questioned about the medication.

Can you “sneak” pills on airplane?

It’s best to be upfront about bringing medication through TSA, especially because TSA is pretty flexible about what medications you can bring through and all medication must be screened. If you are trying to sneak illegal drugs through TSA security you could be referred to law enforcement.

Can I take a pill organizer on a plane?

Yes, you can bring your pill organizer on a plane with your pills inside.

Can I bring someone else’s prescription on a plane?

TSA does not require you to show your prescription so it could be possible to bring someone else’s prescription meds with you on a plane. However, it’s a good idea to make sure you are complying with state laws regarding prescription drugs when traveling. In some cases, it may be illegal to possess controlled substances prescribed to someone else.

Can you fly with cough syrup?

Yes, cough syrup will be considered a liquid so you should “declare” it when going through TSA, especially if it is above 3.4 ounces.

Can you bring testosterone gel on a plane?

Yes, you can bring testosterone gel on a plane. While you may not need your prescription it never hurts to bring it along.

Can I bring needles (syringes) on a plane?

TSA states used syringes are allowed when transported in Sharps disposal container or other similar hard-surface container. Unused syringes are allowed when accompanied by injectable medication. You must declare these items to security officers at the checkpoint for inspection.

Final word

As you can probably tell, TSA rules regarding medication are actually pretty lenient. They allow you to bring an unlimited amount of pills and solid drugs and they don’t even require you to show or disclose that you are bringing those drugs through the airport and onto the plane. 

They also will allow you to go above the liquids rule if you are willing to allow them to inspect your drugs if necessary. And they don’t even require you to show your prescription for drugs. Therefore if you are planning to travel through the airport with your medication you may not have as difficult a time as you may have imagined. 

Ultimate Preboarding Guide: Who Qualifies & What the Law States [2023]

Are you trying to figure out what passengers qualify for preboarding and how the whole process works?

In this article, we rounded up the policies for different US airlines and also clarified the law regarding your rights to preboarding. Below, you’ll see exactly what federal law mandates and what type of passengers will qualify for preboarding.

Passengers who qualify for pre-boarding

There are two different ways to qualify for preboarding.

The first way to qualify is to fall into a category that is recognized by federal law and that requires the airlines to provide you with preboarding.

The second way to qualify is to fall into a category that is specific to the airline you’re flying with (and not mandated by law).

Let’s take a look at these different categories.

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

Those who need additional time or assistance to board

If you are someone who needs additional time or assistance to board the plane, stow your accessibility equipment, or be seated you qualify as someone who can use preboarding.

So this goes well beyond only people who need wheelchairs and includes a very broad spectrum of people.

As I will explain below, this is mandated by law and is not an airline-specific policy.

Unaccompanied minors

Unaccompanied minors are those passengers usually under the age of 16 who are flying without an adult.

Not every airline allows unaccompanied minors but for those that do, they should allow the unaccompanied minor to utilize preboarding.

Unfortunately, airlines are kind of bad about clearly including unaccompanied minors in their preboarding policy pages so sometimes you may need to verify this by calling in.

Active military with ID

Active military members are usually granted preboarding.

Some airlines state that you will need to show your military ID but others do not — still it is probably a good idea to have it on you. It does not appear that you will have to be in uniform to use this but again you may want to clarify. Sometimes it comes down to the discretion of the gate agents.

Families with children under the age of 2

If you are a family with a child under the age of two you should qualify for preboarding with some airlines. You’ll want to clarify with the airline as to how many members of your family can join in with preboarding.

Elite members

Some airlines like United Airlines lump top elite members in with preboarding.

Personally, I’m not a fan of airlines doing this because it makes things a little bit more confusing than they need to be and it just is asking for DOT trouble.

As you’ll see below, when elite members are in preboarding those who need assistance should be called up before the elite members.

Remember — many people who utilize preboarding will not be able to sit in the emergency exit rows since those passengers cannot have mobility issues.

 Boarding area for American Airlines.
Boarding area for American Airlines.

What the law states

Preboarding is not merely an optional courtesy offered by airlines. Instead, the right to utilize preboarding is required by federal law.

Specifically, 14 CFR §382.93 states:

As a carrier, you must offer preboarding to passengers with a disability who self-identify at the gate as needing additional time or assistance to board, stow accessibility equipment, or be seated.

The Department of Transportation has provided additional clarification on who qualifies as preboarding. These include people who:

  • need a specific seat assignment
  • need to stow their personal folding wheelchairs
  • need additional time or assistance to board, stow accessibility equipment, or be seated

The DOT states that these passengers must be boarded before all other individuals that qualify for other types of preboarding or priority boarding.

It is the Enforcement Office’s view that section 382.93 requires carriers to board passengers with disabilities who self-identify at the gate as needing to preboard for one of the listed reasons to board the plane before all other passengers, including first class passengers, elite-level passengers, members of the military, passengers with small children, etc.

It’s worth noting that airlines are not required to make a general announcement for preboarding.

However, if they make an announcement for other types of classes of passengers they are “strongly encouraged” to also make an announcement for persons with disabilities the opportunity to preboard.

This is just all the more reason to be proactive and to arrive early before boarding so that you can arrange for your preboarding.

To account for potential long lines, I would advise arriving around 20 minutes or more prior to boarding to work things out.

You can usually find your boarding time on your boarding pass but the boarding time will vary based on the size of your aircraft and your route. Generally, boarding starts about 30 minutes to 50 minutes prior to takeoff.

Scales of justice and Gavel
Federal law mandates preboarding for some passengers.

Where to request preboarding

You can make your request for preboarding during the online booking process sometimes by selecting that you will need additional assistance.

You can also request preboarding at the ticket counter or at the gate. (The ticket counter is where you drop your bags off and the gate is where you lineup for boarding.) Personally, I would always make my request at the gate since that is when your closest to boarding.

If you think you will need to request preboarding at the airport, you may want to arrive just a little bit early in order to take care of your request. Sometimes the gate areas can get very busy and hectic and if you arrive early you can avoid the madness.

You can simply tell the gate agent that you want to request preboarding “for medical reasons” and that should be enough in the majority of cases.

Keep in mind that the law is clear that your status as a preboarder is a matter of self identification.

In theory, if you identify as someone who needs additional time or assistance to get into your seat, the airline should not have any say on whether or not your claim is valid.

Busy boarding area
You can request preboarding at the gate. Arrive early to avoid crowds.

Disclosing medical conditions

You do not need to supply a medical letter from your doctor or medical records to qualify for preboarding. You also don’t need to get into specifics regarding your medical condition.

All you need to do is express that you identify as an individual who needs additional time or assistance to board.

Some airlines like Spirit Airlines do a good job of making this clear.

They state:

We do not require information concerning the extent of your disability, but the more facts you can share with us, the better we are able to assist you and meet your individual needs. Should you require assistance to or from the gate, we offer a meet and assist service (see below).

What medical conditions qualify?

The law does not specify specific conditions that qualify for preboarding. In addition, airlines don’t have a published list of conditions that qualify either.

Instead, it comes down to whether or not your condition causes you to need the additional assistance that qualifies for preboarding.

Physical conditions

If you have a debilitating condition that causes you to need a wheelchair that is an obvious case that qualifies for preboarding. Also, if you have a visual impairment it’s pretty obvious you may need assistance.

But there are many other conditions that warrant people needing extra assistance that are not always so obvious.

For example, there are many people who deal with “invisible illnesses.”

Conditions like chronic pain, arthritis, dysautonomia, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, etc., are often not detectable by your physical appearance but they can still cause you great discomfort and slow you down when trying to board in a narrow cabin with narrow seats.

One bad pull on your luggage or arch in your back could trigger a bad flareup that could mess you up for weeks or even months. So for people dealing with that type of reality, they absolutely do qualify as needing extra time or assistance to board.

Mental health conditions

A big point of debate is whether or not mental health conditions should qualify someone for preboarding.

The law states that you qualify for preboarding if you need “additional time or assistance to board, stow accessibility equipment, or be seated.”

It’s very feasible to imagine someone with a severe anxiety disorder that needs extra time to board without dealing with the rush of a normal boarding procedure.

If someone like this were triggered into a panic attack, that could absolutely slow down boarding and result in a potentially disastrous outcome.

So from that sense, I believe people with certain (severe) bonafide mental health conditions should be able to qualify for preboarding.

However, airlines don’t really make it easy to get guidance on this issue and so this is probably a very case-by-case type of situation.

Can other passengers preboard with you?

A popular question is whether or not other passengers can preboard with you. Most of the airlines are not explicit about how they handle this so you just need to clarify this with the gate agent.

Most likely, they will handle this similar to Southwest which allows one person from your party to accompany the customer with a disability.

They state:

We will allow one travel companion to act as an “attendant” and preboard with a Customer with a disability. In most cases, the Customer requires assistance from only one other person, and any additional family members or friends are asked to board with their assigned group.

That seems like a pretty reasonable policy for the vast majority of individuals who need preboarding.

As the companion accompanying the person in need of assistance, you might get odd looks or responses from gate agents. I once accompanied Brad the day after he had a shoulder/side procedure done in order to help him stow his heavy luggage and the gate agent gave me a scowl during the boarding process as if I didn’t need preboarding….

In the event an airline is more generous and allows more than one companion, I would advise you to avoid taking advantage of this and trying to lump all of your family members into preboarding because that will contribute to the stigma that people utilizing preboarding already face.

And that brings me to the next point….

Dealing with the preboarding stigma

The unfortunate reality is that there is sometimes a stigma on those who use preboarding. It’s not usually directed towards those who are in need of obvious assistance such as those in wheelchairs.

Instead, it’s usually directed at people with invisible illnesses or to those who accompany people in need of preboarding.

One reason for this is that some passengers fraudulently take advantage of preboarding.

They don’t actually require true assistance or extra time but they enjoy the privilege of being able to board before others and take advantage of overhead storage bin space.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of some illnesses and conditions and how we value medical privacy in the US, I don’t really see a solution as to how to weed these people out.

So my advice is to simply not utilize preboarding unless you really think it is necessary. And if you are using it, try to keep to yourself and avoid trying to measure how other passengers feel about you.

There is no need for you to explain yourself or to seek validation from others and if they feel a certain type of way about are you using preboarding, just let them be and move on. Some people will always find something to complain about.

Filing a DOT complaint

If you have been denied preboarding or subject to scrutiny that you believe is unjustified or unlawful you may have a basis for filing a DOT complaint. If you would like to file a DOT complaint you can do that here.

Before filing a complaint, you might want to just contact customer service for the airline and try to resolve it with them first. The airline may even offer you compensation.

However, if you don’t get anywhere or you feel like this is a systemic issue, it might be worth filing a complaint so that others don’t have to deal with your same experience.

If you do end up filing a DOT complaint, DOT requires airlines to acknowledge consumer complaints within 30 days of receiving them and to send consumers written responses addressing these complaints within 60 days of receiving them.

US airlines preboarding policies

As you’ll see below, each airline provides a different level of detail and information regarding who qualifies as pre-boarding.

Alaska Airlines

  • Guests with disabilities who need help or a little more time to board
  • Families with children under the age of 2
  • Active members of the military

Link to Alaska’s policy

American Airlines

  • Customers who need special assistance and families with children under 2 years old can ask to board early at the gate.

When booking you may be able to:

  • Request wheelchair service
  • State if you’re traveling with your own mobility device
  • Request individual assistance if you have a hearing, vision, cognitive or developmental disability
  • State if you’re traveling with a service animal. Keep in mind, notice and approval is required at least 48 hours before your flight.

Link to AA’s policy

American Airlines aircraft.

Delta Airlines

  • Customers needing assistance or additional time to board
  • Active duty US military with ID

Link to Delta’s policy

Delta airlines seats


  • Includes anyone needing wheelchair or other boarding assistance and unaccompanied minors.

Link to Frontier’s policy

Hawaiian Airlines

  • Guests needing assistance
  • Unaccompanied minors

Link to Hawaiian’s policy

Hawaiian Airlines boarding area


  • For customers with disabilities

Link to JetBlue’s policy

Southwest Airlines

“Preboarding is available for Customers who have a specific seating need to accommodate their disability and/or need assistance in boarding the aircraft or stowing an assistive device.”

Something interesting about Southwest is that they state that if “a Customer with a disability simply needs a little extra time to board, we will permit the Customer to board before Family Boarding, between the “A” and “B” groups.”

I honestly don’t understand how that is compliant with the DOT since the law clearly states that if you need extra time (not just assistance) you should be able to take advantage of preboarding.

I’m wondering if due to the nontraditional boarding system Southwest utilizes, they have negotiated some sort of DOT middle ground.

Nevertheless, if you need extra time to board on Southwest they will issue you a new boarding pass with an extra time designation. This will allow you to board before family boarding.

Another interesting thing about Southwest is that they state that if you want to request preboarding you should do it at the ticket counter or departure gate where agents “are trained to ask fact-finding questions to determine if the Customer meets the qualifications described above.”

That sounds a bit intrusive given that the law is all about allowing self identifying passengers to use preboarding if they believe they need assistance or extra time. Do you really need a “fact-finding” process for that as if they were on trial?

Note: Customers who are preboarding because of a need for a specific seat onboard the aircraft should speak with the Operations (Boarding) Agent prior to the start of preboarding to alert the Agent to the seating need.

Link to Southwest’s policy

Spirit Airlines

  • Preboarding is available for Guests who wish to have a little more time on board to settle into their seats. Guests must inform the agent at the gate of their desire to preboard and be present at the gate prior to the boarding process.

Link to Spirit Airlines

United Airlines

  • Unaccompanied minors
  • Customers with disabilities
  • Active members of the military
  • United Global Services® members
  • Families traveling with children age 2 and younger
  • Premier® 1K® members

Link to United Airlines policy

Final word

As you can see, many people can qualify for preboarding.

Although some people think this is just a policy offered by airlines, preboarding for people who need extra assistance is actually required by federal law. In addition, other passengers may fall into the preboarding category depending on the airline’s policy.

If you need preboarding, the best route to take is to arrive early for boarding and to notify the agent at the gate that you identify as someone who needs extra time or assistance to board.

If you feel the need to reveal the extent of your medical condition you can do so but you are under no obligation to reveal details about your medical diagnosis.

1 2 3 110