I travel with tools often to teach. Shipping ahead is not an option
for me. It adds costs that the guild or school-- whoever brings me
in-- may not wish to cover, and I don't want to cut in to my fees if
I can help it. But more importantly, I use many of those tools up
until the day I leave.
With the new rules regarding not locking checked bags, I was and am
nervous, but up until this time, I've had no problems. (I'm tempting
fate by saying that, of course.)
I use hard sided Samsonite luggage that is strapped with 2 heavy
duty luggage straps and left unlocked. Inside the lid, inside a
plastic sleeve, is my business card (which says "metalsmith") and an
inventory sheet broken down into various plastic Tupperware type
boxes, each referred to by a letter or number, listing what I have.
I'd say that TSA goes in there about 70% of the time. They leave a
little form saying so. They have always carefully packed things back
pretty much the way they should be.
It's a good idea to snap some digital photos of your stuff before
you consign it to the air folks and NEVER leave precious metals or
tools that you can't live with out in that suitcase. I had one
student lose 5 ounces of 18k sheet and wire from checked baggage.
Ouch! Also, never ever travel with chemicals such as alcohol or even
I've tried to have a duplicate teaching kit that doesn't contain my
favorite hand tools, but I really like to bring some of my
favorites-- things that I've found at jewelers' yard sales or even
obituary sales-- that really illustrate some of what I'm teaching.
Hopefully my luck will hold out.
Take care, Andy Cooperman