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Can you travel with a bong? Sure you can, but the better question would be should you travel with a bong?
Traveling with a bong can be a big hassle, from the standpoints of both practicalities and legalities.
It’s not that traveling with a bong is illegal, per se. It isn’t. But like many topics connected to cannabis, it gets complicated. Especially when it comes to the law.
The first question to ask yourself is, does the smooth experience of smoking from a water pipe or bong add enough to your cannabis experience to merit putting up with those hassles while traveling. This article will help you to evaluate and give tips for how to travel with a bong.
But know that when it comes to traveling with a bong, at this point in our history, what we are talking about is how to get away with traveling with a bong.
I long for the days when that is not the case. But even even though headlines scream of “marijuana legalization” what this actually means is regulation. And heavy regulation at that.
Getting caught with so-called drug paraphernalia, even in legal states, is usually asking for law enforcement hassles in the best of scenarios. But it can be MUCH worse. As of this writing, there are still 19 States where even simple possession of tiny amounts of cannabis can land you in jail.
So my answer to “Can you travel with a bong?” is yes. Depending on where and how you are traveling. And IF you do so properly and follow the advice in this article on how to travel with a bong.
Doing so will not only protect your bong while traveling. It will also go a long way towards keeping you safe from legal hassles and trouble.
Best Travel Bags for Bongs
There are a lot of solutions out there when traveling with a bong or with cannabis in general. Especially when it comes to the most important factor, odor control. Here are some I particularly like.
Smelly Proof Bags – If all you care about is odor and not protecting the bong from breakage, Smelly Bags, the smell proof equivalent of zip top plastic bags, are a lost cost option.
Ryot’s Smell-Safe Carbon Technology Bags (Cheri’s Choice) – Ryot makes my favorite smell proof bags. Their carbon technology paired with high quality sealing zippers really works. Plus, many of the bags, such as their Pro Duffel (pictured above), come with customizable inserts to keep your glassware safe. Ryot has stylish smell-proof bags in all sizes including luggage size that will hold all your gear and weed with room leftover for clothing and toiletries.
STR8 Hard Sided Bong Case -- Your bong will never break in Str8's hard sided case with 3-layer foam padding. Available in 3 sizes and a rainbow of color choices, this case leaves nothing to chance when it comes to fragile glassware.
Best Travel Bongs
If you have the right case to protect it (see above) any bong you choose can be your favorite travel bong.
You might be wondering why I didn't include the best bongs on Amazon in this list. That's because Amazon seems to shy away from bongs and water pipes, likely because of paraphernalia laws. If you do find a bong at Amazon, buy it quickly as the listings are always quickly removed.
You occasionally can find bongs on Amazon, but there is a never a big variety and they are never called "bongs." Sometimes they are called "hookahs," sometimes "water pipes." Although if you search for water pipes on Amazon you will come up with plumbing supplies. And a search for "hookahs" not surprisingly brings up this unique style of water pipe. Sadly Amazon is just not the best place to find a good bong.
Onward and upward. These are some good not so fragile bongs that make great travel companions. I will update this list as I find more.
Silicone Travel Bongs -- There is no breakage worries when you pack a silicone bong for travel. They are pretty easy to keep clean too although there may be a alight tell-tale discoloration that will keep it from looking like brand new once smoked in. But from the standpoint of pure function, silicone bongs work well.
Ryot's Traveler Bong (Cheri's choice) -- Some people just do not like silicon. Fair enough. Consider Ryot's Traveler Bong. This heavy-duty, thick walled Japanese ceramic bong is sturdy! It features a non slip cork base to help avoid spills. When traveling you can cork up the top and stems section to trap any telltale odors inside.
Click through to You Tube to see my review and demonstration of Ryot's Traveler bong.
If you like the Ryot Traveler Bong, enter coupon code CHERI15 for 15% off at checkout.
Bubblers - Mini Bongs -- Bubblers are like mini bongs. Because of their diminutive size, they take up less space and are easier to pack for travel than full size bongs. Bubblers come in a variety of styles and prices ranges from inexpensive functional pieces, to priceless art glass and everything in between. Check out the variety of bubblers, AKA mini-bongs, for sale at All in One Smoke Shop and see of a small bubbler might fit the bill for your travel plans.
Challenges of traveling with a bong
Traveling with a bong can present some challenges. Here are some the biggest ones:
- While the water in a bong or any type of water pipe can provide a smooth and pleasurable cannabis smoking experience, a dirty bong, or worse yet a spilled water pipe, can be extremely stinky and messy. And once spilled it can be difficult to get rid of the stench.
- While bong smoking is not quite as stinky as joint smoking, it will leave the odor of burning marijuana in the air. Depending on where you are staying this can cause hefty fines or being asked to leave.
- As you will only want to travel with pristinely clean bongs (for why see below) this will add extra work to your trip.
- Glass can be fragile, so with most bongs you will need to plan on how to safely and discreetly pack it. See more on that in the bag section above.
- Even when using unbreakable plastic or silicone bongs (see above) you will still need an odor proof way to transport them.
- No matter the reason you might be stopped by law enforcement on your travels, if they see you are in possession of a bong, it can potentially open the door to a hassle with the police, trigger getting yourself and/or your vehicle searched, or worse. If you do choose to travel with a bong, follow tips below and do so as safely as possible.
How to avoid ALL the hassles of traveling with a bong
Instead of traveling with a bong, considering having the bong meet you at your destination.
If smoke shops are common at your destination, buy an inexpensive water pipe you can gift or a friend or simply leave behind.
Another option is to order an inexpensive bong and have the package waiting when you arrive at your destination.
Federal paraphernalia laws and traveling with bongs
Under federal law, bongs and a host of other marijuana smoking accessories up to and including rolling papers are illegal, as they are considered “drug paraphernalia.”
Now at this point you are probably wondering how your local smoke shop, convenience store, or liquor stores gets away with selling Zig Zags if they are federally illegal.
The devil is in the details. In this case it is in a little loophole that you can find in the “exemptions” section of the paraphernalia law. This exemption says that all of these products are legal IF they are ONLY used for smoking tobacco.
This means it isn’t illegal to have these items UNLESS you are using them with illegal drugs. Or if the police suspect you are. Which leaves far too much law enforcement discretion for my comfort. Generally, the police ARE NOT your friends when it comes to cannabis.
This legal loophole is why you will see bongs, pipes, and rolling papers labeled with the disclaimer “for tobacco use only.”
That’s right folks. It’s within your rights as an American citizen to buy all the pipes, bongs, or rolling papers you want in order to slowly kill yourself with tobacco. But if you choose to heal yourself with cannabis, watch out!
Overall, several hundred thousand Americans are still arrested for various violating states’ marijuana laws every year.
Nine in ten of those arrested are charged with marijuana possession offenses, not sales or trafficking.
Regardless of the charges, ANY cannabis arrest can turn into a stressful and expensive ordeal. If you are arrested you can expect at minimum fines, court appearances, and/or community service, and attorney fees. That’s the best case scenario.
Learn more about federal paraphernalia laws at the US Justice Dept. website.
How can the police determine if your bong is illegal?
In order for your bong to be “legal” in the eyes of the federal, and sometimes state, laws, the police must not be able to actually prove it was used for marijuana. Or is intended to be used with marijuana.
How can they know?
You can fail the law enforcement bong test for these reasons:
Resin – In the hands of the wrong law enforcement department, even the tiniest amount of resin left in an otherwise clean bong can be cause for search and arrest. If you can’t get it as clean as when it was brand new (see below) there is cause for concern from a legal perspective. Especially in certain areas of the country.
Smell of weed or bong water – The odor of marijuana as a legal probable cause for a law enforcement search varies from state to taste. But suffice it to say if you are in a state that is stuck in the days of reefer madness prohibition, it is. Odor as probable cause is true whether using a bong or other methods of ingestion, or even just possessing cannabis itself. As bongs contain stinky bong water, odor is an extra concern.
You are found with cannabis on you or in your vehicle or belongings -- Of course in this case, law enforcement will assume smoking cannabis is what the bong is for.
An infuriating look at paraphernalia laws in action with Tommy Chong
For a shocking and infuriating look at the lengths the US government can go to regarding paraphernalia laws, check out the documentary AKA Tommy Chong.
Chong, half of the duo of Cheech and Chong, was arrested, prosecuted, and sent to prison because of his son’s mail order bong business. No cannabis was involved whatsoever.
Granted this is an extreme case where the government wanted to make an example of a celebrity. But it shows what the federal government can do about something as silly as a bong, if they choose.
The film shows just how corrupt the system of justice in the so-called “land of the free, home of the brave” can be. It’s a real eye opener.
Road tripping with a bong
How to Improve your chances of not getting into trouble when road tripping with a bong
- Don’t smoke cannabis in car, even if you are stopped and not intending to drive for a while. Smells have a way of lingering.
- Wherever you choose to smoke, for optimal discretion use a smoke buddy. This inexpensive little gadget works for both tobacco and cannabis smoke odors. Blow smoke in one end, it goes through a carbon filter and comes out odor free on the other side. This is especially useful in non-smoking hotels, which is nearly all of them these days.
- Keep the bong in a smell proof case (see above).
- Lock the smell-proof case containing the bong in your trunk. Should you be stopped or searched, having the bong locked in the trunk shows you were not using it in your car. However, know that the police not have the right to search your car for no reason. They must have probable cause. Or unless you give them permission and NEVER give them permission, you have nothing to gain from that. This does not mean the police will not try to coerce you into giving permission and in some cases they may search the car anyway. Which is why locking the bong in the trunk is a good idea.
- Never travel with a bong that is not pristinely clean as any resin can give an officer probable cause for arrest in illegal states.
Can I fly with a bong?
Getting caught with any amount or form of marijuana remains a federal offense. This law applies even in states that do allow medical marijuana or adult recreational use.
As TSA agents adhere to federal law, then they have the authority to call the cops if they see your bong. Although the decision is discretionary. But until federal laws change, the question of “Can I fly with a bong?” will remain in limbo.
Sure you could technically bring a brand new bong with no traces of resin on a plane. But doing so will likely to get you questioned and searched at minimum. Is it really worth the hassle? (Unless you are trying to make political statement, in which case, more power to you!)
Can you fly with a bong internationally?
My advice to not fly with a bong goes double for international travel. Not only will you need to pass TSA inspection in the US, you will have to pass a customs inspection at your destination and again when re-entering the USA.
Depending on where you are going, the penalties can be HEAVY including serious prison time. It’s just not worth it.
The same goes if you bought a bong while abroad and are returning to the United States.
US Custom agents are notorious for branding legal tobacco devices drug paraphernalia and seizing them. Sure you can appeal the decision, but is it worth the hassle?
How to clean a bong for travel
The best way to always have a clean bong is to never let it get too dirty in the first place!
I know it may seem like a pain, but if you wash the bong after each and every session, resin will never have a chance to build up.
When it comes to east to clean bongs, the straighter the bong the easier it will be to clean. The more elaborate the bong or the glass piece, the harder it will be to get pristinely clean. So especially wash these each time.
If you do have resin buildup, these two videos, the first on how to clean a simple bong, the 2nd on how to clean a HUGE triple honeycomb glass bong, will help you out.
How to pack a bong for travel
When it comes to how to pack a bong for travel, there are 3 important considerations to take into account, 2 if you are not traveling with a glass bong.
- Odor: You need to pack your clean bong in a bag that contains any telltale odors
- Protection: Assuming we are talking about a glass bong, you need to choose a bag that protects the glass from breakage.
- Discretion: You will want to choose a bag that does not scream “Here’s where I pack my “drug paraphernalia.”
Of course you will want to dispose of any water in the bong before packing.
Once washed and dried I sometimes even sprinkle in some baking soda before packing. This can help absorb any lingering odors. Rinse out at your destination before the next use.