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How To Travel With Gifts (Part 1)

How To Travel With Gifts (Part 1)

Everyone has childhood memories of the joyful anticipation that accompanied the holiday season. We couldn’t wait for Christmas, that wonderful occasion that led to days off from school, fun with friends and family, good food, and gifts.

Stockings and the space beneath the Christmas tree could represent a veritable treasure trove.

Best of all, you were likely under no obligation to provide gifts yourself.

Naturally, this all changes once a person reaches adulthood. You’ll still receive gifts, but the giddiness gets diluted through the responsibility of in-kind purchases.

Of course, giving comes with an excitement that’s its own reward. If you have to travel for the holidays, however, flying with gifts can start to feel like a major burden.

In fact, you’ll need to strategize carefully to avoid pitfalls and travel successfully with your bounty. Follow the packing and planning tips below to protect both your

#1: Do Not Wrap

Tip number one: if you have gifts in your carry-on bag, make sure they are unwrapped. If you have a wrapped gift and attempt to pass through security, you can count on its inspection.

This means that the TSA agent will pull you aside and rip apart your colorful holiday paper to ensure that gifts contain no contraband. If possible, always wrap gifts upon arrival at your destination.


If you really want to have gifts wrapped and ready to go, consider the use of a gift bag or decorative box.

Alternately, you can lower the chance that the TSA will flag your wrapped present through a little foresight. Do not wrap items that will obviously trigger a baggage check. For example, if you bought your nephew a fancy new Nerf gun, make sure to place it in your checked luggage.

The same goes for any liquids. Purchased a nice bottle of wine for your aunt, or a bottle of scotch for dear old dad? Wrap them carefully to prevent breakage, and place those in your checked baggage as well.


#2: Know Which Food Gifts Will Fly

Food makes for a wonderful gift during the holidays. If you’ve invested time and effort into a homemade treat, you can absolutely bring it with you on the plane.

If you’ve made a solid item, such as a cake, pie, ham, or cookies, then you can place it inside your carry-on bag.

However, if the item is pourable or spreadable, you cannot bring more than 3.4 ounces with you. Instead, pack these items in your checked bag.


#3: Try Shipping Ahead

Remember, you can avoid all the hassle of airport security if you simply ship your gifts ahead to your destination.

Ideally, you would still send unwrapped, since postal carriers will occasionally open wrapped items for inspection. The benefits with this arrangement are clear, as it will not only free up space in your luggage, but save you the time and hassle of extra packing.

There is one caveat with this strategy: you must have confidence that the recipients can resist the urge for a little peek at the goodies.

Wrapped within the carry-on, and avoid items that will obviously trigger a flag. Review TSA’s guidelines here to learn what not to pack in your carry-on bag.