By Brian Duff
When traveling by air within the US, you should consider following a tiered everyday carry for air travel strategy.
The tiered approach uses a stepped strategy for determining what you carry as part of your EDC preparedness.
First Tier EDC
The first, or base tier, includes everything you physically carry on yourself, in your pockets, etc.
The base tier is perhaps the most important. It is important because it includes the supplies you’ll have regardless of what goes on around you. For example, you may be in a situation that’s not convenient, or does not allow you to carry other supplies.
Second Tier EDC
Your second tier should include the items you can carry in a small EDC bag. This bag could be a fanny pack or other small pouch.
Because it’s small, it allows you to carry supplies and equipment that don’t easily allow for EDC on your person.
If sized properly, these bags can carry a good variety of supplies and equipment. The small size of these bags makes them easy to carry and not seem out of place in almost every environment.
With that, make sure you look low key and stay away from the tactical ninja, Molle webbing look.
Third Tier EDC
The third tier and additional tiers consist of the bags, backpacks, etc., that are too big to carry everywhere.
Perhaps you have a backpack, or duffle bag that you leave in your car, truck, office, or other strategic location. You can consider this tier to be in line with your actual bug out bag (BOB), or get home bag.
This tier gives you the ability to store and carry plenty of supplies and equipment.
The EDC Travel Twist
While you work to fine tune your EDC to your situation, traveling, especially by air can throw you a curve ball. After all, you can’t carry weapons or other important EDC items through security and onto a plane. Therefore, setting up your EDC and bug out/get home bag to be what you need when you arrive at your destination takes thought and strategic thinking.
The key point in all of this is whether you are traveling with weapons and other items prohibited carry on items. If you don’t have any prohibited items, then you can bring your entire loaded BOB if it’s not too big.
In for a Penny, In for a Pound
If you are flying with items that are prohibited from being carried on, you’re stuck checking bags. So, if you decide to check bags, you should consider the in for a penny in for a pound philosophy. This philosophy dictates that since you’re already taking the time to check luggage, you might as well bring everything.
By doing this with thought, you’ll be able to separate your regular tiered supplies into your checked and carry on luggage. Then, when you arrive at your location, you’ll be able to reassemble your gear into all of your normal tiers. This means after arriving at your destination you’ll have tier’s one, two and three all set to go.
Don’t Let Your Guard Down
Is being on vacation, or away from home any reason to let your guard down? No, it’s not! In reality, when you’re away from home, you’re at a greater risk.
Why are you at greater risk? It’s simple; it’s because you’re possibly on your own and away from your support network. Therefore, what you have with you, is possibly all you’ll have to help you get through any difficult situations.
What to Use?
When traveling, using three pieces of luggage can work. Three pieces of luggage should get all of your needed EDC and bug out bag supplies to your destination.
Confirm the Rules and Regulations
With that, you need to do your due diligence if you plan on transporting firearms, knives and other items. First, you need to confirm the airline and TSA policies. Doing this makes sure you don’t do anything to cause yourself problems at the airport.
Next, check the laws and regulations for where you are going. For example, transporting certain firearms, etc., into some cities and states can cause you big problems with local law enforcement. Getting yourself into a jam with law enforcement over a firearm can cause you major problems.
It’s Your Responsibility
So, know before you go. Ignorance is not an excuse in the Internet age.
If your destination is not a place that is friendly to your beliefs, you may want to reconsider going there.
Your LuggageWhen checking luggage for air travel, you will want to consider three to four pieces. In this case, these pieces will include:
Carry-on Bag #1 – Small Seat Bag
This is a small carry on bag that has enough room for just a few items. You’ll keep this bag with you at your seat. Since it’s with you at your seat, you’ll want to include things you may need on your flight.
Carry-on Bag #2 – Bigger BOB Style Bag
Carryon bag #2 can be a backpack or other similar items that will store in the overhead bin. This should carry things that you may need in the event your checked bags are lost. You can also include items that will be part of your overall tiered EDC plan.
When deciding what bag to use for traveling, make sure you consider the logistics of your travel. Are you walking long distances? Will the bag be cumbersome, etc.?
Checked Bag #1 – Firearms Case
If you’re checking luggage because you want to you EDC gear with you, it may because you’re bringing firearms. If so, the first piece of luggage you should pack should be your hard-sided firearms case.
When transporting firearms, the case needs to be hard sided and lockable. Many are compact enough to hold two pistols, several magazines each and couple of boxes of ammo. Checking more than one firearm may be overkill. However, as mentioned earlier you’re already checking bags, you might as well go all in.
Just remember to check TSA, airlines and local regulations at your destination before transporting firearms and other items.
Checked Bag #2 – Bigger Bag for the Rest of Your Kit
Your second checked bag can be your suitcase, rolling duffle, or whatever piece of luggage you choose. The second piece of checked luggage can be used to carry the items that you either don’t want to wear or put in your carry on or that are prohibited in carry-on luggage.
Don’t forget to consider the logistics of where you’re going. Not all bags, despite them being ideal for a bug out, or other situation, are well suited for travelling. It’s up to your to do the risk versus reward analysis to determine what’s right for your situation.
Putting it All Together
Once you arrive at your destination, you can take your gear and consolidate it into whatever setup works for you. For instance, stock up your small first tier EDC bag for when you’re out and about. Then setup your carry on backpack to work as your BOB should a major event occur.
Doing all of this takes time, effort and in the days of airport fees, possibly money. But, once you get to where you’re going, you’ll be as ready as possible to deal with it. In the end, that’s what it’s all about, right?
Sample Travel EDC Kit PlanCarryon Bag #1 – Small Seat Bag
Carryon Bag #2 – Tier Three EDC Bag and BOB
My main carryon bag is my main everyday carry for air travel focus when getting on planes. This is because I sometimes travel with only a carryon. Therefore, this will be the heart of my BOB should my situation go south.
For my main carry on bag, I use a Professional Slim Junior Laptop Backpack. This is hands down, the best backpack I’ve found to use as a carry on for traveling. It’s a little pricey, but is well worth it if you fly regularly. It is TSA checkpoint friendly and has a ton of storage spaces. Those storage spaces are well thought out and are great for being organized. It’s really comfortable to carry and works well as a hasty bug out bag. With that said, should it be considered as a primary BOB? No, probably not, but for travelling purposes, you may find it, or something similar to be suitable alternatives.
Food and Drink
Checked Bag #1 – Hard-sided and Lockable Firearms Case
Checked Bag #2 – Rolling Duffle ContentsClothes
Firearms and Related Items
Tier Two EDC – Small EDC Bag Carried in Check Bag #2I also put my second-tier small EDC bag (the Patagonia Atom Sling) in checked bag #2. This small bag can be used to carry important items that I want when out and about at my destination.
However, in the event of an emergency, this bag can be used for someone who may not be prepared. You may be traveling with others, or meet someone along the way. If they are unprepared this will help them, which could help you. After all, going through a major event on your own may not be the best option. If not, then this bag could help increase your overall flexibility and resiliency.
Fire Starting Kit
Over the Counter Medications
First Aid and Trauma Kit
Lastly, never forget, you’re just one prep away.
If you have any other information, suggestions, or thoughts on everyday carry for air travel, please leave a comment below.
Stay safe, secure and prepared.