With so many rules at airports about luggage, it can be confusing how to take a drawing tablet on a plane when traveling.
When taking a drawing tablet on a plane you can either take it as carry-on or check it into the hold. Package it well and place in the middle of the case if it’s going in the hold. Take the power supply and laptop with you through security to demonstrate if asked.
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If you find this post useful then you might want to check out Create Digital Art & Designs While Traveling: Complete Guide.
Now let’s go into a bit more detail with the top things you should know when taking a drawing tablet on a plane…
Can I Take a Drawing Tablet and Pen Stylus on a Plane?
Yes, you can take a drawing tablet and pen stylus on a plane. Screenless drawing tablets such as a Wacom Intuous and screened drawing tablets such as the Cintiq come in wired or wireless versions so, fully charge the battery and bring the power adapter and laptop to demonstrate their function if asked by security.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure this information is correct at the time of writing, guidance is subject to change so make sure that you check with the local authority of the departure airport before traveling for the latest advice.
If you’re flying within or from the U.S. the TSA have stated publicly that you can take your drawling tablet as carry-on or checked luggage. See the tweet from the TSA here regarding drawing tablets and their website here for further information.
For flights within and departing the U.K. you are allowed to take drawing tablets with you as carry-on or checked baggage. See the gov.uk website here or the CAA website here for further information.
Flights from Canada also allow drawing tablets in the cabin and in the hold. For additional information check the CATSA website here.
Keep in mind that whilst a country’s aviation security body may allow certain items on flights, each airline will have their own rules so make sure you check with them before turning up at the airport.
With the majority of countries, the final say is with the security officer so it is your own interest to be cooperative and make it as easy for them to understand your device as possible. Keep it fully charged if it has a battery and take the power supply and laptop to demonstrate the function if requested.
Can I Take a Drawing Tablet as Carry-On Baggage?
You can take a drawing tablet with you in your carry-on bags on most domestic and international flights.
Some drawing tablets may be too large to be hand luggage so if you’re desperate to bring it in the cabin you may have to purchase a spare seat for device. Make sure you check with your airline for their policy on carry-on baggage.
Can I Take a Drawing Tablet as Checked-In Baggage?
You can take a drawing tablet on a plane in checked bags on most domestic and international flights.
Make sure that you have packaged the device thoroughly and have adequate insurance in the event of loss or damage.
How to Take a Drawing Tablet Through Airport Security
When taking a drawing tablet through airport security, staff are unlikely to be familiar with the device. Expect to behave like it’s a normal tablet or laptop – remove it from your bag and place it in the tray with its power supply for scanning. Make sure batteries are fully charged and that you bring the power supply and laptop to demonstrate its function.
If you are taking a drawing / screen tablet with like a Wacom Cintiq then security staff may be confused when it doesn’t power up by itself (depending on what version you have) or why it doesn’t function without a laptop. Therefore you should make sure you have everything you need with you to demonstrate how it works.
For electronic items with batteries they should always be fully charged as if they do not power-up when requested you will not be allowed to take it on the flight. For tablets that need a power supply, take it in the same bag as the tablet itself. Also, have your laptop with you so you can show your tablet working and explain what it does.
If further clarification is required you can describe it as a digitizer.
Should I Check a Drawing Tablet into the Hold?
It is usually not necessary to check a drawing tablet into the hold of a plane unless it is particularly large or you don’t have room in your carry-on. Since a drawing tablet is a fragile and expensive device you may prefer to take it as carry-on for added piece-of-mind but if packaged correctly, taking it in the hold will be fine in most cases.
As with any fragile electronic device there is always the increased risk of damage or loss when checking it into the hold rather than carry-on.
…always ensure that you have adequate travel insurance that covers the item in the event of loss or damage
Therefore, it is important to package your drawing tablet properly and ensure that you have adequate travel insurance that covers the item in the event of loss or damage.
If you cannot afford the disruption in the event of loss or delay of the drawing tablet then do not check it into the hold.
How to Package a Drawing Tablet for Traveling on a Plane
If you’ll be putting your tablet into your checked bags then try and use the original box your tablet came in and place it in the middle of your case amongst clothes. This will help protect it from impacts to the case and shock and vibration during the journey.
If you no longer have the original box then you’ll need to place something soft across the drawing surface to avoid scratches. Make sure this is clean and will stay in place even when your case is thrown around during its journey.
Wrap the entire tablet in bubble wrap or a similar product and place it inside a box or wrap corrugated card around it.
Finally, place it in the middle of your case, surrounded by clothes to absorb any impacts and avoid the drawing tablet bring crushed.
If you’re taking your tablet in your backpack or carry-on then consider using a padded protective sleeve that will also protect the drawing area from scratches.
Importantly, always ensure you have adequate travel insurance in case of any mishaps as some drawing tablets such as the Wacom Cintiq are extremely expensive.
Can I Use a Drawing Tablet on a Plane?
Whilst there are generally no rules about using a drawing tablet on a plane, you will need to check with your airline if there are specific rules regarding tablets or laptop usage on flights. However, you will likely find that space is so limited, that using the tablet is too difficult anyway.
As mentioned, check with each airline as they all have their own rules and be sure to mention whether your tablet is wired or wireless in case this affects their guidance.
Keep in mind that unless you are using an iPad, you will need space to run your laptop and drawing tablet together so the likelihood of being able to do this on a plane is low, unless you are traveling in first class.
If you found this article useful then you might want to check out Create Digital Art & Designs While Traveling: Complete Guide and Essential Gear for Digital Creatives: Complete Guide.
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