When you travel with gifts, your pre-flight packing routine gets a lot more complicated. After all, many gifts are valuable, and some are downright irreplaceable.
You may also face the need to travel with more bags than usual, as you’ll have less room in your luggage for clothing and other necessities.
You will also need to consider which gifts are better packed in your carry-on bag, and which belong in your checked luggage.
Before you start packing a large suitcase full of gifts, consider the cost of checked luggage.
Some airlines, such as Southwest and Jetblue, charge no fee for a single checked bag.
Most others, however, will charge around $50 for a bag the weighs up to 50 pounds.
Need a second bag? Then you’ll likely pay an additional $70.
Bags that weigh more than 50 pounds will rise in price dramatically.
In many cases, you’ll save money simply shipping your gifts to the destination ahead of time.
Not only this, but you’ll avoid a sore back from lugging around heavy suitcases, and also save the time you’ll spend in the check-in line.
What to Place in Checked Luggage
Wrapped gifts are much less likely to torn apart when placed in your checked luggage. Naturally, larger gifts are also better for checked luggage.
Take care to avoid oversized bag fees, however, as they can rise as high as $400 for a roundtrip flight.
Anything that could be employed as a weapon, such as baseball bats and ski poles, also belong in checked luggage. As noted above, so do liquid gifts like wine.
How to Pack Checked Luggage
First off, use a hard shell suitcase to protect your gifts.
Bags often get tossed around in transit, and delicate items can easily get smashed. You’ll also want to double-wrap all gifts.
After you wrap in gift paper, place the gift within a larger box full or bubble wrap or peanuts. You can then surround the gift with things like sweatshirts and other soft clothing.
Gifts packed within your carry-on have a much greater chance to undergo inspection.
You can save yourself both time and hassle if you leave gifts unwrapped 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.
What to Place in Carry-On Bags
You should reserve space in your carry-on bag for the most fragile or special of your gifts.
Items you take on the plane to store in an overhead bin or beneath the seat in front of you have much less of a chance to suffer damage, as they will not get tossed around by baggage handlers.
You should also strive to put any food gifts within your carry-on bag, as a succulent pie or juicy ham loses its charm if smashed or damaged.
How to Pack Carry-On Bags
The trick to packing gifts in carry-ons is to travel lightly. You only get one bag and one personal item, after all.
If you can pack everything you need within your carry-on luggage, then you can tote a gift as your personal item. Also, avoid wrapping your gifts in holiday paper, and opt for clear bubble wrap instead.
This will allow security to see your item through its protective wrapping, and hopefully avoid the necessity for a more invasive inspection.
Though flying with gifts can be tricky, you can avoid any messes, breakage, or delays if you follow the rules and tips we’ve outlined above. Pack carefully and strategically this holiday season, and Santa won’t be the only one soaring through the air laden with presents.