Cigar 101

How to Travel with Cigars

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Newsflash: nobody likes a cigar that’s been sat on. That’s exactly what your smokes will look like if you pack them carelessly, whether you’re heading across town to the golf course for the afternoon or on an extended trek through the Himalayas. As we head into the summer season and opportunities to smoke cigars tease us at every turn, it’s great to take a collection of favorite brands along for the ride.

Plus, when you’re heading out of town, be it on business or pleasure, who wants to take any chances that you can get the cigars that you really like once you arrive at your destination – or if you’ll get them at the best price? Stock up ahead of time and bring them along. Just keep a few of the following tips in mind and you’ll be fine.

Cigars Are Fragile

Cigars are a lot like sponges – except for the quality where a sponge returns to its shape after it’s been stepped on or compressed. Cigars react to moisture and temperature (70% humidity and 70 degrees are ideal) and will absorb a myriad of aromas and tastes from the environment that they are kept in. Keep that in mind before you bundle up any stogies you’re trying to stow away beneath an old pair of socks.

Perhaps you’ve got one evening set aside on your big vacation to enjoy a special single cigar you’ve been saving for the past 3 years. Or, maybe you’re bringing a couple of hard-to-find boxes back from an exotic destination. In either case, make sure you take care of your cigars when you’re traveling.

Pack Your Cigars Carefully

The first step is to pack them correctly. Cigars don’t fare well when they’re squished into an already over-stuffed suitcase, nor is it a great idea to house them in a compartment with too much excess space to roll or bounce around. A quality cigar travel case solves the majority of issues facing your precious cigar cargo when you’re planning to take a few on the road.

Travel cases range from simple breast pocket sleeves that often hold 3-4 cigars and are made of leather or cedar to heavy-duty ABS-molded plastic compartments with foam inserts, airtight seals, and space for multiple layers of cigars like the Xikar Travel Humidor offers. While getting a travel humidor for your cigars might sound extreme if you’re just an occasional smoker, keep in mind they come in a number of sizes, including smaller options that hold just 5 cigars and can easily fit in a small backpack.

Carry-On Is Better Than Checked Baggage

If you’re only going on a short trip and you plan to smoke your cigars within a few days of departure, chances are good your cigars will be just fine inside a Ziplock bag (with a substantial seal) – provided the bag is kept inside some kind of a firm container that prevents your cigars from getting crushed. If you need your cigars to last longer than a week, we recommend picking up a humidity pouch or some form of humidification, so that your cigars have access to adequate humidity levels.

If you’re flying, it’s generally recommended to take your cigars onto the plane inside a carry-on, if possible. Checked baggage is exposed to all kinds of temperature fluctuation that is hardly ideal. Cigars can expand and contract as a result of atmospheric changes, and a cigar’s wrapper can crack in the process. The conditions inside the plane’s cabin are far more stable. With carry-on limits nowadays, it may not be feasible to bring all your cigars onboard, especially if you’re coming home with a few suitcases’ worth. Just be cognizant of how you pack them and do your best to make sure they’re not only in a sturdy environment, but also one that is sealed.

Will the TSA Take My Cutter or Lighter?

If you are bringing a cutter or lighter, we recommend packing these items in your checked baggage. Technically, you can carry on certain types of cigar cutters, but you’re always taking a chance that your accessories will get confiscated if they’re in your carry-on bags. That’s also why we recommend bringing only inexpensive or disposable accessories. Jetline makes a number of great torch lighters that don’t cost a fortune and are extremely reliable. Soft-flame Djeep or Bic-style lighters are simple, easy-to-part-with options, too. Toss a couple of Holt’s disposable cutters in your suitcase and you’ll be ready hit the beach with a premium cigar the second you yank your belongings off the baggage carousel.

While it’s great to show off your limited edition ST Dupont Ligne 2 lighter with a matching solid-gold guillotine cutter, handing them over to an airport official could easily be more costly than your plane tickets or hotel stay. Who needs that kind of headache when you’re just trying to get away to have a good time?

Buying Cubans Abroad

If you happen to be exclusively prospecting for Cuban cigars on your journey, be wary of buying Cubans from street vendors or any sources that appear not to be a reputable retailer of fine cigars. You can easily get ripped off by purchasing Cuban counterfeits. Do a bit of research before diving in. And, in our honest opinion, the smokes you can get from the best Dominican and Nicaraguan brands tend to outdo the Cubans when it comes to both taste and consistency, so we’re big fans of bringing the best with you before you leave.

The good news is, once you’ve put together a solid cigar travel kit, you’ll be prepared to bring cigars on any trips you go on in the future. Protect the smokes you spent your hard-earned dough on and don’t be shy about packing them to go on your next tropical cruise or safari. After all, those are the moments you can most picture yourself puffing away.

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