Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Packing Presents For Holiday Travel


The holiday season is stressful enough without worrying about whether your gifts will make it through TSA security. Below is everything you need to know about packing presents for holiday travel. Whether you’re taking a plane, train or car, here’s the lowdown on what to take in your carry-on, what to check and what to ship, as well as some packing tips.

What Should Go In Your Carry-On

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Cookies and holiday treats. You can bring a plate of cookies or an entire pie on the airplane, however, you might have to let TSA take an extra close look. And that pie doesn’t get its own section of the overhead bin, as delicious as it might be.

Clothes. Stuff all those charming holiday sweaters in your carry-on. It’s fair game to bring as much as you can squish into that bag onboard.

Small toys. If you’re packing eight gifts for Hannukah, those can all go in your carry-on bag. Just make sure there aren’t any toy guns (for real – ship those separately).

Books. There’s no limit on how many books you put in your carry-on, except for weight. So before you pack the entire Harry Potter series to give to your niece for Christmas, check to see how heavy your bag can be. It’s often a maximum of 40 pounds.

What Belongs In Your Checked Bag

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Liquids. Bringing Mom a nice bubble bath and lotion set? That can’t go in your carry-on unless you’re only giving her travel sizes and they can fit in your one quart-sized plastic bag.

Jelly, jam or salsa. While solid foods are A-okay to bring on the plane, any foods that could be classified as liquid or gel-like have to be checked.

Wine. You’re a brave soul for bringing wine on a plane, but it can be done as long as you liberally pack that bottle in plenty of protective materials.

What Should Be Shipped Ahead Of Time

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Sporting goods. Besides the oversize issue, things like hockey sticks, baseball bats and skis can’t go in your checked bag.

Knives. While it might be possible to bring a knife block in your checked bag, it’s probably best not to risk having something flagged in the X-ray machine and having it confiscated.

Toys that look like weapons. You might want to give your niece some Wonder Woman-themed toys, but if they look like real weapons, they can’t go on the plane for obvious reasons. Real guns have to be registered with the airline, so if it looks like you’re sneaking one on board, you’re in trouble.

Snowglobes. You can’t bring a snowglobe in your carry-on because of the liquid inside. You could maybe get your snowglobe into your checked bag, but then you have to worry about it breaking and spilling gross snowglobe water onto the rest of your belongings.

Packing Tips

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1. Use your clothes as insulation for any potentially breakable gifts in your suitcase. Cozy winter sweaters are great fluffy layers to protect fragile objects.

2. Roll clothes you’re gifting just like you would roll your own. You can do some steaming and ironing before putting them under the tree.

3. If you’re flying during the holidays, don’t wrap your gifts until after you’re past security. TSA might have to do additional tests and unwrap all your hard work.

4. Bringing anything breakable in a checked bag? Don’t take any risks. Pack like you’re sending it via the roughest route possible. We’re talking bubble wrap, styrofoam and the works.