Traveling And Treasure Hunting - What You Need To Know!

By Andy Sabisch
From page 56 of the June, 1998 issue of Lost Treasure
Copyright © June, 1998 Lost Treasure, Inc. all rights reserved

I have received several questions from readers, both by mail and via the Internet, related to taking their metal detectors with them on upcoming vacations. Many popular destinations, such as Hawaii, the Caribbean and Europe, are currently competing for business and, as a result, some exceptional fares are being offered, making them perfect for family vacations this summer.

In the April 1998 issue of Lost Treasure there was an excellent article by Kenneth H. Rohm entitled "How to Plan a Detecting Vacation," which covered the do's and don't's of taking trips within the United States by car or camper. The intent of this month's column is to provide readers with some tips that will help them when taking a trip outside the country, or even a trip within the country by plane.

The first thing you should do is ensure the detector and headphones are in good condition; i.e., no damaged connectors, loose knobs or plugs, frayed battery leads, etc. There is nothing more frustrating than to travel thousands of miles to your vacation destination only to find out your detector does not work. If you find anything that even looks like it may cause you trouble, get it repaired before you leave. Your local dealer or fellow club members should be able to assist you in this area, if needed.

Another thing you should do before leaving is put together something I call a Save-a-Hunt kit. Collect the items listed below (as well as anything else you think you might need) and pack them in a small plastic box or even a Ziplock baggie. As most of us know Murphy's Law will usually come into play when you're nowhere near a store that carries the one part you need to fix your detector, and typically when you have found a spot that is really producing some nice finds.

Save-a-Hunt kit: spare rubber washers and bolts for your coil, replacement knobs, battery holders and batteries, a roll of electrical tape and an extra set of headphones.

Once you've checked over the detector and headphones, it's time to pack everything for the trip. Based on personal experience and hearing dozens of horror stories from fellow treasure hunters over the years, I strongly advise that you try to carry your detector on the plane with you. Most detectors come apart into sections that can fit in the overhead bin or even under the seat, and this will ensure that over-zealous baggage handlers don't damage your equipment. If you do not have the room to carry the entire detector on, or are taking more than one unit along, you should at the very least carry the control housing portion on with you.

Something that many treasure hunters don't even think of doing is to ensure that metal detecting is allowed where they are heading before they leave. Years ago, when metal detecting in most places outside of the U.S. was still a rarity, there were virtually no rules restricting where you could search. But, as we've found all too often here in the U.S., a handful of inconsiderate detectorists vandalized historic sites and removed artifacts of historical and sentimental significance. As a result, many countries have enacted strict laws related to metal detecting, often much harsher than the laws we are accustomed to at home.

For the most part, metal detecting the popular beach and swimming areas in other countries is allowed, however, venturing inland is where one needs to tread cautiously. In Mexico, for example, you can quickly find yourself in a local jail if you try to hunt any of the Mayan or Aztec ruins common throughout the country. The same holds true in many European countries if you are found detecting near historic sites, such as castles, monasteries or battlefields. If you are not sure whether metal detecting is permitted, contact the consulate or tourism office for the country you are planning to visit and see if they can provide you with some insight into laws that may apply. Be sure to get a letter from the person you deal with to take along in the event you are questioned by a local official you may still not be allowed to hunt, but at least you should not find yourself on the wrong side of the law with nothing to support your position.

Offices for most countries can be found in major U.S. cities. If you are active in the Internet, a list of consulate and tourism offices for more than 200 countries can be found at the Tourism Offices Worldwide Directory website (http://www.

There are two other things you should bring with you - not to help you find more in your searches, but to eliminate any potential hurdles in getting through customs on either end of your trip. On more than one occasion, I have been detained upon arriving at my vacation destination by a local customs official that wanted to know what the metal detector was. A solution that a fellow treasure hunter suggested to me that has worked extremely well is to bring a copy of the manufacturer's catalog along that shows what it is in both pictures and words. In fact, several of the manufacturers have catalogs available in other languages which would make your explanation even easier.

The other item you should bring along is a copy of your detector's sales receipt, especially if it looks brand new. Again, on two occasions when I was returning home, a customs officer in Atlanta questioned me regarding when and where I had purchased the metal detector. If I had purchased it outside of the country, I would have been forced to pay duty on it when I cleared customs in the U.S. Luckily I have been taking copies of sales receipts along with me for years, so it was a simple matter of answering his questions and heading on my way.

In summary, with a little planning up front and some luck when you arrive at your destination, you may just find that spending a few hours during your vacation with your trusty metal detector can pay for your entire trip!

Equipment Tip-of-the-Month

Whenever I talk to clubs, there are typically a number of questions that come up regarding treasure hunting accessories. The intent of this section is to answer a question or two related to accessories that can be used to increase the quantity and quality of finds each of us bring home at the end of the day.

Here is this month's tip:

A number of treasure hunters have asked how effective the various recovery tools that cut a plug are in recovering targets. While they are very effective in some parts of the country, they are virtually useless in others - the type of soil is the key to how well they will work. Treasure hunters in Florida say the sandy soil breaks apart too easily and a plugger does not work for them. Others have said that rocky soil keeps than from using them. If you want to see how well one will work in your area before spending $50 plus, try buying a cheap bulb planter from your local department store or nursery. Costing under $5, you can see how well it will work. A number of hunters have opted to use these cheaper versions and simply buy a new one when it breaks.