You’ve spent hours shopping for the perfect gift for your family, as you prepare to visit them for the holidays. Your holiday spirit is at an all-time high as sleigh bells ring and the little drummer boy does his thing as you hum along.
Except now you’re feeling like a Grinch when you realize your well-thought purchases area going to be subjected to baggage handlers and TSA.
Traveling with holiday gifts is no easy feat, particularly when you are bound by various baggage rules and regulations. So here are some tips to make traveling with gifts a bit easier, and to help you keep in the holiday spirit.
First, do not wrap your gifts before traveling. While wrapped gifts are allowed on planes, they may cause unnecessary trouble. If a TSA agent wants to inspect your gift, it will have to be unwrapped. Consider wrapping once you reach your destination.
If you find you can’t wrap upon arrival, put wrapped gifts in a checked bag where they are less likely to be searched and therefore less likely to be unwrapped. Be sure to lock your bags with a TSA-approved luggage lock though. Just remember there are often fees for checking baggage. Some carriers offer one free checked bag and others charge $25 or more.
Consider using gift bags instead of boxes. This is an ideal solution if your gifts must be wrapped ahead of time. That way if a TSA agent need to inspect the gifts, they can easily look inside without damaging wrapping.
Speaking of TSA, check the restrictions on certain items, since gifts must follow those rules. It’s forbidden to take a toy gun on a plane unless it is contained in a checked bag. Sporting goods, too may be banned, so you may want to ship them ahead.
Pack everything in a hard-shell suitcase. This will help keep presents safe and reduce the risk of damage. And make sure you have enough room to bring your gifts back home. Consider an expandable suitcase to accommodate your gifts, especially if you have a very generous family. TravelPro expandable luggage takes up very little space when in its “normal” state, but can be expanded to a few inches more in size. Due to their soft-sided fabrics, these durable bags make excellent, lightweight carry-on choices.
Even if you’re using a hard-shell suitcase, make sure to protect the fragile, breakable gifts. Should your suitcase be stacked amongst hundreds of others, or fall to the ground, something might break inside. To reduce damage, try to nestle your gifts in some comfy clothes or a thick sweater. Maybe even invest in bubble wrap.
Valuables travel in your carry-on. Never pack them in a suitcase; this includes more expensive gifts.
As crazy as it sounds, consider packing extra wrapping paper so you’re prepared in the event a package gets tossed around in your suitcase the paper tears. Or, just pack the paper, or buy some upon arrival, and wrap everything when you get there.
Another option would be to buy gift cards which make great gifts and travel well. Recipients can even take advantage of after-Christmas sales and get more for their money.
Finally, you could avoid all of this if you would just ship your presents to their destination. Of course, the packing and shipping costs could be a bit costly, but when you look at the cost of checked bags for you and everyone in your family, you could come out money ahead.
Another option is to shop online at a merchant that offers free shipping and even wrapping. Have them handle everything, and have the entire package shipped to your destination in time for your arrival.
Of course, the best way to manage your holidays is to have everyone come to you instead. Then, the only thing you have to send them is this article. Problem solved!
How do you travel with holiday gifts? How do you bring them home? Share your ideas and tips with us on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream. You can also find us on our Instagram page at @TravelproIntl.
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