It’s normal to want to travel with your RC vehicle since, after all, you’ve probably invested your time and energy in customizing the bad boy. But unlike other travel items, RC cars contain wires and power sources like batteries that can make travel a nightmare. So how can you travel with your RC vehicle?
Here’s how to travel with RC vehicles:
- Remove the batteries and store separately.
- Pack the car in a reinforced box.
- Wrap the car in bubble wrap.
- Consult with the relevant travel authorities.
- Pack your transmitter separately.
- Consider security agency safety guidelines.
- Ask about travel regulations.
- Consider leaving the batteries behind.
- Cover up exposed wires.
- Checked luggage works best for RC cars.
- Be extra cautious with gas models.
Curious to learn more about the tips and tricks of traveling with RC cars? If so, then this is exactly what you’re looking for. Read on as we discuss the does and don’ts of packing and traveling with RC vehicles.
How do You Travel With RC Vehicle?
At some point in your life, you might want to take your RC vehicle along with you when traveling. It could be that you’re heading out of state for a tournament, or you just want to make the most of your car while out of town.
Either way, it’s important to prepare it for travel, especially if you want it to arrive in one piece- without any dents or scratches.
Below are important tips to consider when looking to travel with RC vehicle.
1. Remove the Batteries and Store Separately
Regardless of the type of batteries you use, removing them from your RC car and controller should always be the first step when preparing them for travel. This is because batteries are highly susceptible to combustion and leakage, especially if exposed to direct sunlight and excess heat.
Once you’ve removed the batteries, carefully pack them in fireproof bags, more specifically those designed for carrying batteries.
It is important to note that most airlines don’t allow batteries on board, so you might have to leave them behind, especially if they have long watt-hours.
But if you’re traveling by road, then all you’ll need is to pack them
carefully and store them in cool, dry places, far away from the risk of the sun or excess heat. For air transport, however, it is highly advisable to consult with the relevant airline to determine if they have restrictions when it comes to batteries.
2. Pack the Car in a Reinforced Box
One of the greatest challenges of traveling with RC cars is the risk of damage, especially when poorly packaged. Even RC cars made from tough materials can still get damaged while on transit.
As a good rule of thumb, you should aim to pack your car in a reinforced box. Using extra-strong boxes will allow you to provide extra protection to parts like shocks and bumpers, body posts, and a host of other potentially sensitive chassis elements.
You should also check on the size of the storage box. Ideally, using a perfect-fitting box is highly recommended as it’ll limit the internal space, thus reducing the chances of damage in case the box is thrusted up and down or sideways during travel.
3. Wrap the Car in Bubble Wrap
Unfortunately, most RC car hobbyists overlook this step when embarking on travel. While using a compact, high-quality, reinforced box might make your car safer, it might still be exposed to the risk of damage due to movement within the box.
Therefore, most experienced travelers (who carry RC cars) highly recommend making the internal environment safer for the car.
One way to make the car safer inside the box is by wrapping the car in bubble wrap. When using bubble wrap, try not to wrap the car too tightly to the extent that you end up warping or bending the more delicate pieces.
It is also advisable to purchase high quality bubble wraps like the Offitecture 2-Pack Bubble Cushioning Wrap Rolls which have a 3/16 inch (4.76 mm) bubble for maximum protection.
Sealing the bubble wrap with glue or tape is also highly advisable, especially when embarking on long trips.
Another way to enhance your car’s safety while inside the reinforced box is by using cotton wool. Take a generous amount of cotton wool and place it next to the car inside the box.
The cotton wool will take up the extra space and provide a much-needed cushion to your car, especially in case the trip gets bumpy and the box is thrown up and down.
4. Consult With the Relevant Travel Authorities
Your preferred mode of travel will play a huge role in determining the type of regulations you’ll need to contend with. Road travel is usually the easiest, with air travel proving the most challenging.
And since regulations differ from airline to airline, it’s crucial to consult with the relevant parties before packing your RC car.
For instance, checking with an airline to confirm how the RC car will travel can help you save on both time and resources as you’ll know whether it can fit snugly in the overhead storage or you’ll need to place it in a checked bag.
5. Pack Your Transmitter Separately
While it might be tempting to pack the transmitter together with other components, doing so isn’t recommended. This is because, unlike other parts that can handle some tough treatment, RC car transmitters are highly sensitive and can easily get damaged if improperly handled.
Therefore, when packing your RC car for travel, remember to take the batteries from your transmitter and pack it somewhere safe, preferably as part of your carry-on luggage. Keep the controller away from hard or tough items you might be carrying.
If possible, store the controller in a compact, sturdy box and place it in an easy-to-access pocket where you can monitor it throughout your travel.
6. Consider Security Agency Safety Guidelines
As mentioned earlier, moving with RC vehicles is a lot trickier when traveling by air. Due to this, you’ll need to be on the lookout for travel regulations set by relevant security agencies to ensure your RC car isn’t confiscated at the airport.
If you’re traveling from the US to a different country in, say, Europe, then you’ll need to comply with the safety guidelines issued by the relevant aviation authorities.
Below are guidelines issued by aviation authorities that you’re likely to interact with when traveling from the US.
Transport Security Association (TSA)
Although the TSA isn’t too restrictive when it comes to traveling with RC cars, the agency still has some firm guidelines that must be observed.
For instance, Nitro RC cars are more likely to be confiscated compared to battery-powered models. Electric-powered RC cars are arguably the easiest to travel with.
And while the TSA allows lithium-ion, NiMH, and Alkaline batteries, you might encounter restrictions when it comes to the number of batteries you can carry on a single trip. Either way, it’s always advisable to inquire about RC car-travel regulations before you travel.
European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)
Traveling with your RC car across Europe shouldn’t prove too problematic as the agency has friendly policies.
However, for gas-powered cars, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) strongly advises that no trace of fuel should be found during an inspection.
7. Ask About Travel Regulations
Traveling with your RC car by air might prove daunting, especially when you have to go through thorough inspections across different checkpoints. And although some security agencies might be lenient and accommodative of RC cars, it’s highly advisable to inquire with the relevant agencies beforehand.
Ask whether the airline will allow the RC cars to travel as checked baggage or as carry-on baggage. Moreover, some airlines might even allow you to travel with batteries inside the car, provided the batteries have low watt-hours.
Either way, most RC cars will be allowed as carry-on baggage, especially if well-stored and the batteries completely removed. Don’t forget to ask whether batteries can be transported separately as checked baggage in case the airline has strict regulations for carry-on items.
8. Consider Leaving the Batteries Behind
Having a car (or parts) confiscated is one of the worst nightmares for RC car owners. To ensure you’re on the good books of TSA officers, you might want to consider leaving the batteries at home.
To some extent, this might come off as bad news, especially if you’ve worked hard to save up for high-performance units. But it’s always better to travel without RC batteries, especially when uncertain about foreign regulations.
Most airline security agencies will recommend packing batteries as part of your carry-on luggage. This is because batteries like LiPo are highly sensitive to high temperatures, and the luggage section of the plane can have fairly inconsistent temperatures.
As stated by racenrcs.com, the TSA won’t have any issues when you travel with LiPo batteries with under 100Wh. However, you might be limited to just two batteries if you intend to carry LiPo batteries within the 100-160 Wh range. But you’ll be better off leaving your 160 Wh batteries at home as they’re rarely allowed on most airlines.
Tips for Packing Batteries
When packing batteries for travel, it’s important to keep the following tips in mind.
- Place batteries in appropriate storage bags. When traveling, it’s highly advisable to pack batteries in safe plastic bags specifically designed for transporting batteries. Consider using bags like the Fireproof LiPo Battery Storage Bag.
- Pack Batteries Separately. You should never attempt to store two batteries together when traveling. Therefore, if you must move around with two LiPo batteries, ensure that they’re packed in separate bags.
- Place electrical tape on the input connectors. Electrical tapes, rubber caps, and plastic insertions can help prevent a short circuit if placed over the battery’s input connectors. It is also advisable to cover a battery’s loose ends with shock-resistant tape.
- Transport batteries in storage mode. Some batteries come with the option of being cycled in storage mode, a state that batteries usually arrive in when purchased. Flying with fully charged or completely empty batteries isn’t advisable.
9. Cover Up Exposed Wiring
TSA officers are likely to flag your RC car as a potential threat if it has exposed wires. Wires are generally discouraged by most airlines as they could be used for explosives.
Therefore, it’s best to use tape to cover exposed wiring or any stray cables that might lead to security concerns.
In addition to covering exposed wiring, you’ll also need to ensure that all parts are tightly screwed and that there are no broken plastics or parts that can arouse suspicion from TSA officers.
10. Checked Luggage Works Best for RC Cars
On most occasions, TSA imposes tight regulations for goods stored in carry-on bags. However, you’re less likely to deal with potentially annoying restrictions if you store your RC car in checked luggage.
For batteries, however, you’ll need to ask for assistance from the officials as they usually have guidelines on what can and cannot be allowed on board.
11. Be Extra Cautious With Gas Models
As already established, electric RC cars are the easiest to travel with.
Traveling with gas models means you’ll have to comply with the demanding guidelines and travel restrictions. TSA has a solid reputation for maintaining the highest safety standards and, therefore, won’t allow your gas-powered RC car on board if it’s found to contain even a single drop of gas.
Shipping Your RC Car Ahead of Travel
Shipping is another way to travel with your RC car. While the method works perfectly for some, it can be considered risky as the vehicle can be severely mishandled and end up delivered damaged.
But if you choose to ship your RC car, here are some important things to consider.
- Package your car accordingly. Shipping your RC car to your preferred destination is a fairly high-risk activity. Therefore, to reduce the chances of damage, it is highly advisable to package use quality reinforced boxes and adequate cushioning.
- Insure the package. Again, shipping an RC car is high-risk as the chances of damage before and during delivery are relatively high. You might want to purchase an insurance package to ensure you don’t end up counting losses in case the worst happens.
- A return address is essential. When shipping RC cars to your preferred destination, it’s important to be prepared for the worst as the package might end up getting flagged. A return address will ensure that, in the event of flagging, your RC car will be returned to your address.
- Consult with the shipping agency. Consulting with relevant agencies is highly advisable, especially if you want to avoid the awkwardness of having to unpack and remove some items from your packaged car. Inquire about their shipping policies and what types of batteries are permitted.
Should You Consider Shipping Your RC Car?
You should consider shipping your RC car if you’re having issues with other travel methods. However, since RC cars are likely to get damaged when improperly handled, traveling with your car by your side might be the best option.
But if you choose to ship and meet up with it later on, then it’s best to pack it well and ensure there’s no free space for internal movement. Packing your car in a compact reinforced box is a sure way to reduce the chances of damage.
How to Travel With a Modified RC Car?
Traveling with a customized RC car can be hard, especially if you use modifications that aren’t permitted by the transport agencies. Compressed gas cylinders are never permitted aboard airplanes (and most public modes of transport) due to the risks involved.
Therefore, if you’ve made any modifications to your car, more so to boost power and overall performance, inquiring with travel agencies beforehand is highly recommended.
This is because restrictions vary from region to region, and you must comply, at least if you don’t want your car confiscated.
How to Travel With RC Tools And Spare Parts?
You’re likely to encounter tough restrictions when traveling with an RC car by air, hence the need to inquire with travel agencies well in advance. And while most RC cars are permitted on most forms of public transport, their tools aren’t! This is because tools like screwdrivers and knives can be used as weapons.
Therefore, when traveling by air, it’s highly advisable to pack your must-carry tools as checked luggage.
But if you want to be on the safe side, then you should consider leaving all your tools at home altogether. The good news is you can easily purchase some essential tools once you reach your destination.
Is Traveling With RC Cars Worth the Hassle?
Traveling with RC cars is worth the hassle if you think you’ll get a lot of use out of it. But if you doubt your RC car’s capacity to handle the rigors of road, rail, or air travel, then it’s best to leave your bad boy at home and use it once you head back.
You should also leave your car behind if it has exposed wires or broken parts as it’s likely to get confiscated by the relevant authorities.
Electric models should be easy to travel with, but be prepared for increased scrutiny when traveling with gas-powered models.