I am studying abroad and trying to save money by taking food from home (the US) and not having to buy EVERYTHING once I get there. I have packed ziplock sandwich bags of raw brown basmati rice and ziplocks of protein powder. Will they freak out at the TSA checkpoints?

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    Your problem isn't so much TSA security, but Customs in whatever country you're visiting, as there may be restrictions on agricultural items. Where are you going? In most countries, rice is a cheap staple food that costs substantially less than $1/pound, so I can't imagine why it is worth carrying any significant quantity with you if your goal is simply to save money. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 0:06
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    You might also find out that where you going the food costs much cheaper than in US. Even in quite expensive countries (Switzerland, Iceland, Nordics) the cost of raw food is quite low. From the cost savings perspective I'd rather pack some hard liquor (if you drink).
    – George Y.
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 1:15
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    Given that a 20lb sack of dry rice is unlikely to cost more than $15 or so (likely much cheaper in many places), and carrying 20lbs of rice is physically inconvenient and takes up a good chunk of your baggage allowance, I'm really not understanding what your plan achieves. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 1:46
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    Also note that there can be agricultural controls within a country. For instance, you can't take certain types of foods (such as fresh fruits) between Western Australia and South Australia, and you'll be checked at the border between them. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 3:24
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    As others have said, this plan is just bad. Rice is cheaply available anywhere; protein powder can be bought online. Further, the amount of luggage you can bring on an airline is very limited and it would make much more sense to use that capacity for clothing and the other personal belongings that you'll need while you're away long-term. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 11:43

3 Answers 3


The TSA does not "freak out" and does not have jurisdiction in the country you are visiting, however you should declare these articles on entry to your arrival country.

If you fail to declare them, you can be liable for a fine or even jail time. The basmaati rice will likely fall under any number of food related prohibition sections (a full list with explanations can be found here for the US however these may be different depending on your arrival country), it may not be banned following a check from officials. Protein powder is usually OK however you should still declare it to the customs official. By declaring your items, the worst that will happen is they will be confiscated, with the best outcome being you can keep them. You haven't actually mentioned where you are going to, however you will find that basmaati rice is not that expensive in most other countries and you may alleviate some of your fears by buying it locally.


Protein powder may freak out an agent when he/she sees your bag going through an xray machine as your powder is organic in nature and having any wires or even ear plugs near that area will certainly make it a case for manual inspection. Once your bag is pulled out for manual inspection, they will ask you what it is and do a quick explosives test by taking a swab to test in their machine before they let you go. Having a labeled sealed packet will make the whole process quicker.


I've often wanted to carry either food for the first ~12 hours (e.g. arriving somewhere slightly remote late in the evening), or snacks (for a trip like a safari with set meal times and minimal chance to stock up). In all cases you will make it easier for yourself if you carry prepared food in its original packaging. Even then I'd steer clear of protein powder (except possibly single-serving sachets) -- if you must have protein supplements, spend the extra on enough bars for a few days until you find a local source (even amazon.wherever). Your luggage is likely to be too full of stuff you really need to take to have room for more than a few days worth of food anyway.

  • Whey protein in checked luggage is never a problem as far as security is concerned and the worst that can happen is you would have to pay customs duty.
    – PSC775
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 11:44
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    @PSC775 I don't mean "not allowed", or even "pay customs duty", I mean "wait here while we find out what the mystery white powder is " when here isn't somewhere you want to be. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 13:20
  • Don't rely on amazon.wherever stocking as wide a range as products as you're used to in the US/UK. Amazon.com.au for example still only really sells books!
    – Richard Ev
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 14:24
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    @RichardEverett or ebay, or... There may not even be an amazon.whever the OP is going, as it's not specified Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 14:45

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