Whether you're a frequent expo exhibitor or just an avid VR enthusiast who enjoys sharing the experience of virtual reality with friends and family, chances are that at some point you may want to travel with your VR equipment.
This ultimate guide includes tips, tricks, and things to consider when traveling by flight with your VR equipment.
1. Preparation Before Trip
Imagine this... You've packed up your VR headset and all of the components needed (or so you think) to hop into virtual reality at the end of your destination. You're so excited, you're practically shaking in your seat. The only thing between you and the mesmerizing experience of VR is the time and distance it takes you to get there. Once you arrive, you start unpacking your equipment only to realize... you've forgotten something.
Now, whether that "something" is extra batteries, charging cable, headphones, or even the controllers themselves, you're going to want to make sure you double-check for any and all of the above. Nothing ruins a planned trip with VR like missing essentials needed to play.
Here is a checklist with useful VR essentials that we think you shouldn't forget to pack when traveling:
- External Battery to Avoid Headset Battery Dying
- Extra AA Batteries for VR Controllers
- Extra Long Charging Cable to Charge While Using
- Headphones for Headset
- Chromecast to Cast and Share with Friends
Standalone headsets such as the Oculus Quest and Oculus Go are so portable. As such, they are considered "pick-up-and-play" devices that do not need an extraneous setup. Because of this, it means that they are perfect devices for traveling, taking VR on the go, and are fun to bring to parties. For this reason, it is easy to forget all of the required parts, accessories, and backup components.
Our Business Edition FOUR-In-One Oculus Quest Travel & Storage Case is perfect for traveling with all of your VR essentials.
If you're looking for more cases for your Oculus Quest, check out our article for the best travel cases for the Oculus Quest.
If you are traveling with a portable headset such as the Oculus Quest or Oculus Go, chances are that the 2-3 hour battery life of your device will run low at some point during your travels. Since it is possible to use these devices while they are charging, an external battery is essential. These are the best options for external batteries you can get for your device:
Note: Make sure you bring along the correct charging cable for your device to accompany your external battery. (See further)
- Aukey Slim Portable Power Bank
- Aukey Portable Power Bank
- Xiaomi Slim Power Bank Pro
- ROMOSS Power Bank
- Topmate Power Bank
Your device probably uses batteries in at least one of its components, most likely the controllers. Know the feeling of trying to use something with batteries that no longer work? Us too. That's why we recommend that you always keep a set of fresh batteries on you when traveling.
As mentioned, devices such as the Oculus Quest and Oculus Go can be used while they are charging, so you won’t run into the conflict of having to sacrifice usage for charge time. Your best bet would be to plug in a long and sturdy USB-C or micro USB charging cable (depending on which headset you are using) during use with enough slack so you can move your head freely without feeling restricted to a charging source. Luckily, the Quest comes with a long, 6 meter-long cable, presumably so that you can keep playing when it's charging. That means it's suddenly tethered again, but at least you have the option to charge and play.
Because the standard cable that comes with the Quest may not quite suffice, these 10-foot-long USB-C charging cables from Amazon should do the trick due to their thickness and durability:
Because the standard cable that comes with other devices such as the Go may not quite suffice, these 10-foot-long micro USB charging cables from Amazon should do the trick due to their thickness and durability as well:
Taking headphones along with you on your trip is essential, not just for you but for the people around you during your travels as well. Although headsets such as the Oculus Quest and Oculus Go ship with positional audio built directly into the headset, they also support an audio jack for headphone usage. This is great for flights and travel because this allows you to become immersed in VR without disturbing the people around you.
The Oculus Quest doesn't require any external sensors or wires, meaning you can bring it anywhere and pass it around so everyone can play, share, and enjoy. Because of this, it is an excellent device to bring to parties with family and friends.
That is what makes bringing along a Chromecast with you on your travels essential. If you want people to see what's going on inside the headset rather than have them guess what that person is seeing at all times, you'll need a Chromecast device. The Oculus Quest officially supports streaming to three Chromecast devices: the Google Chromecast Ultra, the Google Chromecast 3rd Generation, and the NVIDIA Shield. Streaming to Chromecast devices is in beta right now so you might experience some hiccups.
2. During Trip / In-Flight
If you've never traveled by flight with your VR equipment, and you intend on possibly using it during your trip, you may not really know what to expect.
This section lists tips, tricks, and things to expect during your trip and/or in-flight with your VR equipment:
- Dealing with TSA
- While Waiting at the Airport
- In-Flight Usage
Dealing with TSA
Disclaimer: Your experience may vary depending on your location.
According to the TSA, lithium batteries with more than 100 watt hours may be allowed in carry-on bags with airline approval, but are limited to two spare batteries per passenger. Loose lithium batteries are prohibited in checked bags.
Now, according to Oculus' legal documents:
"The Oculus Quest all in one virtual reality headset covered by this document contains a 3648mAh rechargeable lithium ion battery pack with a 14 watt-hour rating that powers the product. It is a double cell battery with a nominal voltage of 3.6 volts and it weighs approximatively 70 grams."
"The product covered by this document contains a 2600mAh rechargeable lithium ion battery pack with a 9.36 watt-hour rating and is used with the Oculus Go virtual reality headset. It is a single cell battery with a nominal voltage of 3.6 volts and it weighs 48 grams.
That means that, according to the TSA's rules, both the Oculus Quest and the Oculus Go are allowed in your carry-on baggage. Just don't be so sure that the TSA agent will know what the device you are carrying with you just yet. You may have to answer a couple of questions.
For the most part though, carrying a VR device and equipment along with you in your carry-on should be no problem. The TSA has definitely seen weirder things.
While Waiting at the Airport
If you plan on using your VR device while waiting at the airport, there are a few things to consider regarding how to do so:
Check your surroundings
Airports are busy places. So much so that the TSA reported a total 813.8 million (813,791,287) passengers and crew members passed through a TSA screening in 2018. That means that if you want to experience VR while waiting for your flight, you'll need to make sure that your surroundings are clear. You will need to consider your playspace, as people might be passing through it.
Not only is this a danger to you (and a damper on your experience), but it is a danger to others around you. We found that many people still do not realize that the person inside a VR headset cannot see their surroundings, so it is best to avoid them altogether.
Find an area that is free of traffic, and possibly have another person play with you so you can monitor each others' surroundings. Non-busy flight terminals and hallways are perfect for playing.
Always be considerate. Nobody wants to hear you blasting away in SUPERHOT VR or rocking out in Beat Saber when they're just trying to mind their business.
Check out this article, as it is a full anecdotal account of using the HTC Vive Focus for in-flight entertainment during a trip.
We want as many people as possible to experience the magic of VR, and we are passionate about sharing this experience with our family and friends.
Hopefully, traveling with VR equipment is a quick, hassle-free, and fun experience for all involved. We hope that this guide serves in the essence of this passion.
Got any other traveling tips you want to share? Think we missed any? Tweet us @baserealityco !
By Brandon Kerman