Cigars 101



Over the years, I’ve traveled the world with my cigars. Sometimes for work, other times, on personal vacations. I’ve stumbled through a lot of pitfalls. Some, more costly than others.

Your time away should be relaxing, rewarding, and leave you feeling refreshed enough that returning to work doesn’t have you crying in the shower before your shift. As all of us who enjoy smoking cigars know, our favorite premiums add to the relaxation and refreshment. It’s why we do it.

cigar advisor 5 things about traveling with cigars - hiker smoking in the mountains

But if your cigars are DOA…or MIA—what would have been a positive boost to your attitude and mood turns into another stress point. If you’ve lost enough, it could ruin your vacay altogether.

Let’s try to avoid that. Learn from my mistakes; don’t be destined to repeat them. Check out the 5 things you need to know about traveling with cigars!

Thing #1: Never bring anything you’d be devastated to lose

cigar advisor 5 things about traveling with cigars - thing 1: never bring anything you'd be devastated to lose

If the TSA and baggage handlers have taught me anything over the years, it’s that whether it be clothing, personal items, cigars, lighters, and so on…items of true value are always better left at home.

Sure, you can bring along a Padron 50 Years Maduro to your island resort destination. I’m not telling you to relegate yourself to dog rockets during your two weeks at Sandals, but arriving in Saint Lucia just to find that your entire box didn’t arrive or survive…your vacation costs just climbed upward of $300 more. Not a great start. Bring mostly inexpensive smokes along, with a few really good ones for special occasions. Losing mostly cheaper stuff will always soften the blow of an absent-minded baggage handler.

cigar advisor 5 things about traveling with cigars - summer travel kit at famous smoke shop
If you don’t have cheap accessories at your disposal, I went ahead and asked Famous Smoke Shop to make an cigar lighter and cutter combo that’s so affordable, you won’t care if you lose it. Yet, with quality accessories worth keeping if luck is on your side.

Another mistake smoking travelers make is bringing expensive accessories. Cigar lighters have a good chance of being confiscated, even in checked luggage. I’d recommend packing a Bic or planning to grabbing a lighter from a gas station once you arrive at your destination. Those cheap cigar cutters you keep accumulating at cigars events—this is the time to let them shine. Pack one of those in lieu of your more valuable accessories from Xikar or S.T. Dupont. *

Even if you aren’t traveling by air, the advice applies to road warriors, too. You can lose or accidentally leave your own stuff behind just as easy as an airline can. We all make mistakes.

*It’s important to check TSA regulations and airline policies before you attempt to bring anything onboard a plane, checked or not.

Thing #2: A travel humidor is a smoker’s best vacation companion

cigar advisor 5 things about traveling with cigars - thing 2: a trvel humidor is your best vacation companion

When you travel in a rental car, you take the extra insurance, right? You never know when an accident might happen. The last thing you want is to be stuck with the bill. A travel humidor is extra insurance for the cigars you bring on vacation.

Travel humidors are made of high-impact plastic on the outside with an inner layer of dense foam that can withstand much more punishment than you’ll likely ever throw at them (including the dude tossing luggage into an A320’s cargo hatch like a bouncer tosses a drunk). With their air-and-water-tight designs, these cigar carriers are particularly useful for outdoorsy vacations like a fishing trip to the lake, a weekend at the campground, or even tailgating at the racetrack. Nature throws around its own share of abuse. Travel humidors protect your cigars from it all.

cigar advisor 5 things about traveling with cigars - famous travel humidor at famous smoke shop
This Famous-branded travel humidor holds 5 cigars and shields them from rain, dirt, debris, and fall damage.

If you’re going for an extended stay, you can find travel humidors in larger sizes, too.

Thing #3: Both your destination and lodging situation matter

cigar advisor 5 things about traveling with cigars - thing 3: both your destination and lodging situation matter

Where you’re going will dictate how you care for your cigars. Especially if you’re sleeping outdoors. For example, if you’re backpacking in the Grand Canyon, expect the air to be very dry. It’s not just your thirst you’ll need to quench. Your cigars need rehydration, too.

cigar advisor 5 things about traveling with cigars - boveda 10-pack at famous smoke shop
Bring some extra humidification, like this 10-pack of Boveda 69% mini packs. Cigars—and humidification devices—will quickly dry out in the desert air. Having extras on hand will keep your cigars fresh so you can vacation worry free.

The other side of the destination coin is the beach. Whether it’s the Jersey shore, or the pristine beaches of the Caribbean, all oceanside getaways have one thing in common: High humidity.

The truth is, if you’re going to the beach, you probably shouldn’t bring humidification at all.

I know. It sounds counterintuitive. Cigars need humidity. But with the generous amount of natural humidity in the air, supplementing your cigars humidity at these locations will likely lead to over-humidification—a problem that leads to burning issues, foul flavors, and cigars that won’t stay lit.

Not staying at a beach? Or a desert? Use your best judgment. Bring that Boveda 10-pack we showed above and play it by ear. When you check the weather each morning to plan your vacation activities, care for your cigars accordingly and you can’t go wrong!

Thing #4: Cigars last longer than you think

cigar advisor 5 things about traveling with cigars - thing 4: cigars last longer than you think

All this talk of beaches and deserts leads me to another big point. Unless you’re vacationing in one of these areas with an extreme deficit or surplus of humidity, you don’t need to worry about your cigars all that much. They can survive a week or three—even beyond in some cases—outside a humidor without a significant impact on their flavor or burning performance.

Every cigar you smoke has its own internal humidifier; the tobacco itself. The leaves absorb and expel moisture on their own quite efficiently in the temperate climate found in most of the contiguous U.S.

cigar advisor 5 things about traveling with cigars - four cigars in a ziploc bag
Resealable bags like this lock in humidity for weeks…even months. They’re perfect cigar travel accessories.

I wouldn’t leave them out on your hotel coffee table all week, but certainly sealed inside a travel humidor, or even a Ziploc bag, they should be fine with no supplemental humidification. If your vacation goes beyond 3 weeks (lucky you), only then will you need to pop in a Boveda as a security blanket. Of course, you can put one in if it makes you more comfortable. No harm. No foul.

It’s a good practice to baby our cigars. They are, after all, an investment. They’re just more resilient than we tend to give them credit for.

Thing #5: Respect your surroundings

cigar advisor 5 things about traveling with cigars - thing 5: respect your surroundings

That beautiful vista you’re seeing is beautiful for a reason. A gross cigar butt on the ground isn’t going to keep it that way. As Paul pointed out in his Fan Mail video on composting cigars, tobacco is bad news for other plants. Its status as all-natural should not be used as license to discard your cigars wherever you please. It’s not the same as tossing your banana peel or apple core along a hiking trail.

Additionally, the respect shouldn’t be just for nature, but your fellow vacationers as well. A beach may seem like a good place to discard a cigar. No plants around to worry about, but what about other people? The ashes may still be hot enough well after you’ve put your stogie down to give another beachgoer a nasty burn. Not cool.

cigar advisor 5 things about traveling with cigars - famous ash can at famous smoke shop
Bring this compact ashcan along for any outdoor occasion. Smaller than a can of soda, it can fit anywhere, allowing you to bring your finished cigars back to dispose of them properly. Its lid keeps smoke and odor inside during transportation.

And just a fair warning: many of the Air BnB houses and resorts you’re eyeballing come with a hefty amount of fine print when it comes to smoking. Some allow it in designated areas. Others don’t allow it at all. And if they find out that you’ve smoked somewhere you shouldn’t, expect a hefty cleaning fee added to your credit card down the road. We all know how hard it is to get cigar smell out of stuff.

It’s worth mentioning that we as smokers have a difficult enough road ahead of us keeping our right to smoke the cigars we love. Being careless isn’t going to win hearts and minds.