While smoking a cigar in your own back yard is one of the best ways to unwind after a long day, the enjoyment of a cigar can increase immensely when enjoyed on a vacation. Whether you’re going camping for a weekend or spending 10 days on the French Riviera, the fundamental practicalities of traveling with cigars remain the same. Traveling is notoriously hard on cigars: Tightly packed suitcases crush and crack delicate wrappers, overzealous TSA staff seize your precious cutter, and cheap corner-store matches fail to light in the strong tropical breeze. These are some formidable challenges to overcome, and the key is having the right gear for the situation.
The first step to safe travels is keeping your cigars in optimal shape, meaning preventing physical damage and maintaining humidity. To prevent damage, always use a hard case to hold your sticks. While a ziploc bag can work to maintain humidity for a short period of time, it does not provide the wrapper enough protection to handle being crammed into overhead luggage compartments or into a duffle with overnight gear. For short trips a 1-3 finger cigar holder is a good option to protect your stogie(s), as is an old tubo. For these shorter periods, the spanish cedar which normally lines these cases will be sufficient to maintain humidity. For longer periods, you will want something more tailor-made for keeping cigar safe and humidified on the road — a travel humidor. These range from small 5-cigar units to massive 30-50 unit boxes. I find the 5 unit cases too big to justify relative to their carrying capacity, and hence for single nights prefer tubos as mentioned above. Slightly larger cases (in the 10+ cigar sizes), however, come in tremendously handy for multi-day trips.
Once your cigars are safe and humified, how to light them? On the road, even more than at home, cutters disappear far too easily. If you’re not flying, try packing a lighter with a cigar punch built in for when the inevitable happens and you lose your cutter. For flying, leave your expensive lighters at home, as TSA has been known to remove them from even checked luggage. In this case, you have a few options. Long matches designed for lighting cigars burn better and longer than standard matches, making lighting cigars much easier. For a nice flare, try getting some small scraps of spanish cedar from a nearby smoke shop, and try lighting your stogies with it. If wind is a problem, or if you’re smoking a lot of cigars over your holidays, a lighter is a good investment. Surprisingly, bic lighters are extremely easy to find, are butane and hence won’t tarnish your cigar with off-flavours, last a long time without the need for refilling, and are extremely cheap.
Lastly, don’t forget your cutter. As mentioned earlier, they are far too easy to lose, so to prevent having it confiscated before you have a chance to use it, be sure to pack your cutter in your checked luggage, not your carry-on. Beyond that, be sure not to cram your cutter in with other hard items. Pressure at the right angle can slightly bend and tweak your cutter, dimishing its cutting performance. For travel, I prefer the Xikar Xi1, which folds up to an extremely small, compact, and sturdy shape.
You’ll notice a common thread in the recommended products — they’re all made by Xikar. Indeed, while at home I use a variety of cigar accessories, for the road Xikar really has thought through their products, and hence my go-to road cigar kit consists primarily of the three items pictured here. Happy travels!