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I'm making a trip back home (to the coast) shortly, and I would like to bring back sand from the beach with me as a keepsake or memento. It's just a short weekend trip, and I won't be checking any luggage, so I was wondering if it's even worth bothering trying to bring sand aboard the plane in my carry-on?

If so, what can I do to make the security screening as smooth as possible? I was planning on putting the sand in sandwich-sized plastic bags, enclosed in a larger quart- or gallon-sized bag.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 20 down vote accepted

It isn't a weapon, tool, flammable, explosive, chemical or liquid, so I can't imagine that it would be a problem. It isn't listed by the TSA as a prohibited item. I'd say just put it in the bottom of your bag and not worry about it.

If you are travelling internationally, you may have an issue with customs depending on your country of origin and destination, but it isn't a concern from a security screening perspective.

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Internationally is a problem for soil, but not domestic. You shouldn't have an issue with TSA at all.

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Do you have any official information about it? –  VMAtm Aug 11 '11 at 9:22
    
No official info, but when I came back from Afghanistan it was one of the big things they checked for. The security screeners told us domestic wasn't an issue, the only problem was internationally because of diseases not native to North America being brought over. –  Slayd Aug 19 '11 at 12:49
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most countries bar the import of biological materials, and that includes soil, without a special license. This can lead to high fines, expulsion, even prison for carrying things as seemingly harmless as an apple or a tuna sandwich off an international flight. –  jwenting Feb 13 '12 at 6:53

While I was going to add this as a comment, I think it's more suitable as what SHOULD be the answer.

While it may be fun to do, environmentally you really shouldn't do it. In addition to potential disease transfers, bugs or contamination, if everyone did this, think how it'd affect the beach! You're essentially doing what would take erosion a lot longer to achieve, and is really not a good idea.

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I'm sure taking away a bit of sand would never hurt. :) –  Ankur Banerjee Feb 12 '12 at 23:33
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We're just bitter in the South Island here because sand from our glorious beaches is being taken up north to make nicer beaches for Wellington (the capital). Cue 'forecasts' of the island shrinking ;) –  Mark Mayo Feb 13 '12 at 0:30
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@AnkurBanerjee if a million tourists each take away a pound of sand, that's half a million pounds of sand removed from a beach. On a small island that's a lot. –  jwenting Feb 13 '12 at 6:54
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I always hate such 'calculations' because nobody - not even the OP - here is talking about taking away a POUND of sand. –  Ankur Banerjee Feb 13 '12 at 10:12
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The removal of sand from beaches is actually enough of a problem to be outlawed in some places. –  TRiG May 31 '13 at 20:31

It is not a problem with TSA.
Last year, the only suitcase that was opened by the TSA was the one with a small bottle of sand.

The airport was San Fransisco
The destination was Europe

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What do you mean? You were carrying sand and had several suitcases on this trip, they opened only that one and had no objection against the sand? –  Relaxed Mar 11 at 10:51
    
You are right. Besides the sand, all suitcases where the same (clothes, souvenirs, ...) The bottle of sand may be opaque to XRays. Bottles were not removed from the suitcase –  Chti Suisse Mar 11 at 16:42

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