Relaxing and enjoying a cigar with friends is one of life’s great pleasures. Those moments might happen following a splendid day of hunting, during an afternoon on a challenging golf course, or while simply visiting with a friendly neighbor. No matter what the event, a cigar will add to the occasion and help create lasting memories. A critical consideration, whether the smoking session takes place nearby or at the end of a long, cross-country journey, is ensuring your cigars arrive undamaged and ready to smoke. There is nothing worse than anticipating a fantastic smoke after a memorable day, only to find your cigars cracked, crushed, or so dried-out that they cannot be smoked. Regrettably, cigars are delicate, and traveling can be hard on them. But there is good news, because it is relatively easy to secure your precious smokes on any trip by employing a few, simple steps and precautions.
Short trips close to home are usually easier on cigars. There are generally fewer opportunities for your cigars to be mishandled by an overzealous TSA agent or flattened inside a tightly packed suitcase on a quick trip where the smokes remain in your immediate possession. More importantly, on a short journey there is less time between taking the cigars out of the perfect temperature and humidity environment of your humidor and firing them up. That said, it’s still possible to ruin a cigar in a surprisingly short time. Merely slipping an unprotected cigar into a shirt pocket can damage the wrapper leaf. And cigars are sensitive to humidity and temperature changes. They will absorb moisture in humid conditions and more likely, dry out in a hot, arid climate. A few hours baking inside a car parked in a summer’s sun-drenched parking lot will turn your favorite stick into a desiccated collection of harsh, hot-burning tobacco leaves that are no fun to smoke. Cigars are also known to readily absorb aromas and tastes from their surrounding environment. Therefore, it’s important to avoid carrying your cigars in an old laundry sack or your well-used gym bag. Smokes that taste like sweaty, dirty clothes are no fun to smoke either.
Carefully packing cigars in an appropriate container is key to avoiding physical damage and crucial to providing a suitable, humid environment that is free from unwanted odors. The first and easiest protective step is to simply leave the cellophane on your cigar. This may be all the protection needed on a short trip with your cigar stored in a shirt pocket. Cellophane provides a first line of defense that helps prevent damage to the wrapper leaf. It will also keep cigars clean and free from dust and dirt. More importantly, a cigar contained in cellophane will dry out slower and stay fresher than a naked cigar in the same environment. Even more protection is provided if the cigar happens to be contained in a glass or metal tube. Leave the cigar inside the tube for the trip, and once the cigar is smoked, save the tube for future use.
On a slightly longer trip, consider storing your travel cigars in a Ziploc bag. A well-sealed bag should keep a collection of cigars fresh for several days, especially if the bag is kept in a cool location away from direct sunlight. Obviously, a Ziploc bag is not going to prevent cigars from being crushed. If that catastrophe is a possibility, put the bag inside a rigid container, such as a small Tupperware case. After a week in the bag, your cigars will probably need some form of humidification if they are to remain fresh. That could be a humidity pouch, likely available at a local cigar shop, or a small sponge dampened with distilled water. Just be careful to keep the sponge from coming in contact with the cigars. Additionally, if the container is not full, your cigars could get damaged when they roll around and bounce into each other. Use a tissue or two to fill the empty space and secure the cigars.
The simplest and most elegant solution to protecting your smokes when on the road is to use a hard-sided travel case specifically designed for cigars. These come in a wide variety of sizes ranging from shirt-pocket types that hold a couple cigars all the way up to heavy-duty travel humidors available in different sizes that will hold 5, 10, or 15 cigars. There are even much larger travel humidors that will hold up to 50 cigars for those smokers who have a lot of cigar-loving friends.
Extending your cigar enjoyment to outings away from home requires that the cigars traveling with you survive the trip and arrive ready for smoking. On short trips, those are relatively simple tasks that are easily accomplished. Longer trips however, can be more hazardous to cigars. Air travel, in particular, exposes your precious smokes to harsher environments and the inevitable rough treatment from baggage handlers. We’ll look at how to overcome those challenges in a future issue of Covey Rise.