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Traveling with a cane.

I was thinking of taking one of my canes on our upcoming trip to Netherlands, Belgium and France. I have a take down that doesn't quite fit within the RS 20" rolling carry on so I'd still need to take it thru security and on board the airlines separately. All my other canes are full length. This will be the first time I've ever traveled with a cane and I'm interested in your experiences on the airlines and in Europe.

Posted by
8423 posts

Ray I have a walking stick (folding type) that I have taken on 3 trips to Europe on three different airlines. I strap it to the outside of my carryon to be fully visible, and have not had it questioned. They are medical devices, not sporting equipment. Cant say what would happen with the full-size ones. I guess you are always at the mercy of a security officer or a flight attendant. At worst, you can always buy one there.

Posted by
5697 posts

As Stan noted, cane is an "assistive device" which is allowed in addition to carry-on; you can verify this with your airline's website.

Posted by
5835 posts

Re: Check out trekking/hiking pole options.

A trekking pole with a sharp e.g. carbide tip may be categorized as a weapon and not allowed in the cabin. A cane with a blunt tip would be a mobility assistance device as long as it isn't a swordstick:


Trekking & Hiking Poles – These can only be packed in checked baggage.
Searching the blog for "cane":

Some mobility aids may require specialized screening. To expedite your
travel, notify the Transportation Security Officer of your need for
special assistance at the beginning of the checkpoint screening
process. At any time during the screening process, you may ask for a
private screening area.

Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to
additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it
triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been
tampered with, or poses other security concerns. The final decision
rests with TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane.

Posted by
5678 posts

When I had my torn meniscus in my left knee I used a cane and traveled by plane. Not only did they let it in the cabin, I was one of the very few allowed early boarding. I just went up to the check in desk at the gate and asked for pre-boarding. It was great. And yes, you do have to check those trekking poles. :)


Posted by
77 posts

I'm not talking about hiking sticks or trekking poles. I'm talking about a cane. I have a two piece carbon fiber cane with a titanium engraved knob (with my military class insignia and crest). Even taken down it won't quite fit into the RS 20" roll on. It has a custom carry bag which I could strap to the outside of the roll on or I could leave it fully assembled and take thru the security lines. Being a cane, it has a rubber tip over the end and no spike. I don't have a doctor's note detailing a need for it, but I do have the scars to prove knee issues if need be - I did get asked to show the scar on my elbow which had 13 pins and a 4" plate in it once when going thru LAX after it set off their magic wand.

Posted by
8347 posts

Canes travel just fine and are not counted as a carry on. There should be no problem. I used one after a surgery for a trip to Alaska and I had no problems at all. Everyone was extremely kind and helpful. No worries on canes.

Trekking Poles (I know you aren't talking about these but want to clarify info) aren't allowed as a carryon. I was forced to check mine at Houston which was a challenge since they didn't fit in my bag. It was only due to some fast thinking by the folks at Alaska Airlines that I didn't end up with a major problem. They wrapped them in so much plastic bubble wrap and tape that I was able to check them through as luggage.

Posted by
5835 posts

Interesting TSA find:

A New Jersey man was stopped heading through security at Newark
airport on Christmas Eve after he tried to travel with a "deadly
looking" item — an ice pick "artfully" concealed in the handle of his
wooden cane, authorities say.

Port Authority police officers confiscated the 72-year-old Maplewood
man's walking tool Thursday morning after Transportation Security
Administration found the ice pick in the man's cane while he made his
way through security, according to authorities.

According to Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokeswoman, officers noticed
something off about the walking tool while the cane was on the
conveyor belt for the X-ray machine. After a twist and pull of the
handle, a steel ice pick was revealed attached to the handle inside
the cane.

Canes are required to go through X-ray machines at the airport....

Posted by
2450 posts

I don't (yet) look like I need an assistive medical device and i have had no trouble carrying on a telescoping trekking pole (that I got from a hawker at Mutianyu), nor have I ever had trouble carrying on a Razor-type collapsible push scooter. Either fits in the overhead beside the carryon bag.
Neither of those has been on my packing list this past couple of years, though.
My experiences with the trekking pole is that if people mistake it for an assistive medical device then I get over-accommodated and offered seats and have doors held, etc,., which I find embarrassing.

Posted by
1446 posts


I use a lightweight Hugo cane when I travel. It's a cheap workhorse with a comfortable handle, that I carry NOT folded. I'm on my third one (one stolen, another left behind). I added a carabiner hook, to allow me to secure it to whatever (chair, suitcase, luggage trolley, etc.).

In the US, Canada, and in Europe, I have simply walked onto each flight with it. I have learned to place it into the overhead bin AFTER the other bags have gone in, placing it across and in front of the bags (easier to retrieve and won't get crushed by other passengers ramming their cases into the bin).

Going through security is easy, as you simply place the cane into the X-Ray machine. As others have noted, it is appropriately regarded as an assistive device. I can no longer consider going anywhere without it, as it helps with my stability and endurance. It is also occasionally useful for marking 'personal space' and for maintaining my position in a queue, LOL!

It sounds like your cane is a very nice one; maybe consider buying a cheap workhorse like mine. Maybe it's me... but my cane takes a beating whenever I take it traveling. ;-)

Posted by
9553 posts

Diane makes a good point -- your cane sounds like a(n expensive) beauty and it would really be a shame to accidentally leave it somewhere. There are so many times when traveling that you have an opportunity to think you have everything . . .