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Traveling with a scope on an airplane

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11 replies to this topic

#1 gnowellsct

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 07:42 PM

Well this coming Saturday at about 4:00 a.m. I'll be off to the airport and we'll go to New Mexico for 10 days.

I have spent considerable resources getting appropriate pelican cases for my gear. I'm taking a 5-in refractor to use on a tpod with a disc mount.

Four cases in all. I FedExed them to my destination. The refractor travels with me in an airline compatible case. It breaks into three sections. (Actually most refractors do but this one was designed to do it easily)

It has long been my desire to be able to travel to special places with a good scope. Now that I've got the cases subsequent trips will be less expensive.

This trip to New Mexico is also kind of a proof of concept for me. If it all works out I might consider going to Australia or New Zealand and finally get to look at those Southern skies.

But one of the questions I have about international travel is getting hammered with tariffs. Seems like you can't send anything to Europe or elsewhere without getting hit with a huge impost even if it is for personal use. So if I FedEx or used UPS to send my stuff to Australia I would expect I would get hit with huge import taxes and zero possibility of recovery when I left again with the same gear.

I guess the alternative is just to pay the airline to carry it all with you. Even then there might be problems? I remember seeing some pictures of Damian peach traveling with a c14 and mount from England to parts of the Caribbean. I have to admire the tenacity but I don't think I'll be doing this with my c14 much as I would like to try.

And if you take all this Astro stuff with you to the airport and have it shipped to your destination along with you then when you get there you have to get it all into your rental car and that would be a formidable problem. I don't think the current gear that I just shipped would fit in a rental car with space for personal suitcases.

Staying in the Adirondacks which are a couple hours from here it's pretty easy and cheap by comparison.

Anyhow I'm wondering how people handle the taxation issue on traveling with gear and whether they ship separately or always take it with them as extra baggage on the plane.

Greg N

Edited by gnowellsct, 28 May 2024 - 07:44 PM.

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#2 areyoukiddingme

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 08:21 PM

I've never heard of any taxation issues with sending a scope ahead. Are you planning of mailing things to a hotel?

 

You might have to deal with some kind of personal declaration about personal property, but it strikes me as unlikely that even the most heinous of taxing countries would attempt to take you on personal property that is not being imported.



#3 hyiger

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 08:50 PM

I've lived in quite a few countries (Australia being one of them) and I don't ever recall getting hit on customs duty for sending ahead personal items. I do it all the time. Otherwise, wouldn't you get charged for what's in your suitcase as well? 



#4 AaronF

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 09:31 PM

For far-off destinations another option is hiring a telescope while you're there instead of bringing your own and shipping the mount.


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#5 Alan D. Whitman

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 09:43 PM

For far-off destinations another option is hiring a telescope while you're there instead of bringing your own and shipping the mount.

Exactly. Australians know that the far southern skies hold most of the finest splendours in the sky, and they delight in showing it to northern hemisphere amateurs. The largest telescope that I have ever taken to the southern hemisphere was an almost unbreakable Astroscan (and I only used it for a few hours in a light-polluted site after the main trip was over). But Australians have loaned me a 30-inch Dob for a week, a 20-inch Dob for several days, a 14.5-inch Dob for about five weeks (over two trips), and I did rent a 12.5-inch Dob once for a week. Namibians gave me the use of a C-11 for 8 weeks free, and threw in gourmet meals.

 

Unless you want your small refractor for astrophotography, use the much larger scopes that are already there.


Edited by Alan D. Whitman, 28 May 2024 - 10:04 PM.

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#6 gnowellsct

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Posted 28 May 2024 - 11:10 PM

These are good ideas. I'll think on 'em. It has occurred to me that given the cost of transport one thing to do is just buy a scope when you get to your destination.

I've had problems mailing stuff to Italy and Germany getting slapped with stiff taxes.


Greg N

#7 Mark Radice

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Posted 29 May 2024 - 05:02 AM

I’ve taken my APM 100 binos and more recently my Megrez 90 plus eyepieces, cameras, mounts etc on several trips from UK to Miami for the Winter Star Party and club trips to Tenerife without issue. I often have a nice chat with security if they’re into photography but it’s all been very amicable (even with Homeland Security!).

I put the optics in my carry on camera case and the mount, along with more robust items, go in my suitcases. Easy peasy.

#8 Freezout

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Posted 29 May 2024 - 05:16 AM

My experience dealing with declaring a telescope here. It was in Morocco.

https://www.cloudyni...-in-the-desert/

I understand the advice of renting a telescope but I really appreciated the fact to bring my gear with me and do it with “my” scope.

#9 noisejammer

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Posted 29 May 2024 - 06:48 AM

I've taken a scope & high-end guitar with me on several expeditions. I've never had an issue. Sending it ahead though .. I guess the important thing is to make sure the customs folk and the shipping company know it's leaving with you.

 

As a Canadian, I was always careful to have the border people put their frangible stickers on everything of value. My Denk binoviewers still wear it. I've no idea whether the US has similar rules.



#10 ABQJeff

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Posted 02 June 2024 - 02:02 PM

1) +1 to rentals.  There are some telescope rental places/astro tour guides in astro destinations (AUS, NZ, Big Island, Hi, etc.)

 

2) Another option is making contact with a local CN Member.  For instance I know a guy in NM who would let you borrow his gear if he isn't using it wink.gif .  I am sure a couple of our prolific Southern Sky CNers if not outright let you borrow gear, would host you for a star party.

 

For me personally, I have only travelled in the US with astro gear.  I just bring it on the airplane.  Of course, then it is not as big as my main set-up, but at least scratches the astronomy itch.

 

My biggest airline travel kit (all this plus my personal items fit within a 2x70lb per bag weight allowance).  Scopes, finders, binoculars and battery go in carry-on, all else is checked (tripod, mount, chair,  eyepieces, etc.)

 

Jeff

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#11 DolandTheGr8

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Posted 03 June 2024 - 04:59 AM

I’ve taken my APM 100 binos and more recently my Megrez 90 plus eyepieces, cameras, mounts etc on several trips from UK to Miami for the Winter Star Party and club trips to Tenerife without issue. I often have a nice chat with security if they’re into photography but it’s all been very amicable (even with Homeland Security!).

I put the optics in my carry on camera case and the mount, along with more robust items, go in my suitcases. Easy peasy.

How do you get details on attending the winter star party? I just moved down to the Keys and want to try to make it down to the next one. Thanks!

 

Don



#12 skysurfer

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Posted 03 June 2024 - 05:36 AM

For me no issues as well.

I have traveled many times to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa with my ED110 scope in carry-on and mount+tripod in checked baggage.

Only a few times it happened that the security check wanted to see the OTA which was no issue at all.




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