While on vacation we like to enjoy our favorite wines. Since wine costs 20-30% more at some of our vacation destinations, (especially the Caribbean), we try to pack a few bottles of wine in our checked luggage. We know there is a chance we’ll discover a wine soaked suitcase at baggage claim; however, to date, we have not had any problems with wine breaking in our luggage.
The key to successfully packing wine in checked luggage is to individually wrap each bottle and ensure the glass bottles do not touch in your luggage. After wrapping your wine – make sure to pack it in the middle of your suitcase. Do not place your wine directly against the sides of the suitcase.
There are several commercial wine shipping containers available that will work well for airline travel.
The Inflatable Bottle Pouch – inflates with air and seals to prevent leaking.
Styrofoam Bottle Shippers – (insert links) These generally provide plenty of travel protection. When we order wine online we try to save some of these shippers for future travel.
OR you can opt for creating your own wine travel packaging system.
We often make our own wine packaging for travel because our bottles usually vary in size. Some wine shipping containers are made for specific size bottles and will not accommodate larger bottles. We often pack a few bottles of wine and a bottle of spirits. Our DIY packing system accommodates most any size bottle of wine/spirits for travel.
DIY – Packaging Wine for Checked Luggage:
WHAT YOU NEED:
- Cardboard (the inserts from cases of wine work really well for packaging in your luggage).
- Masking tape or packaging tape
- Padding (we recycle plastic shopping bags)
- Trash bags or large zip lock bags.
Tip: Prior to packing, make sure to check with your destination on how many bottles of wine or spirits each adult may bring.
Packaging a Single Bottle:
- Cut a piece of cardboard that is approximately 1.5 times the circumference of the bottle. i.e. the cardboard should wide enough to wrap around the bottle 1.5 times and should be 3/4″ longer on each end of the bottle. The corrugated lines should run parallel to the length of the bottle.
- Wrap the cardboard tightly around the bottle and tape the seam leaving a little space at each end. Tip: To ensure you do not pack the bottle upside down in the suitcase mark the end of the package notating which side is the top (or neck) of the bottle. This will minimize the chance that you will have a broken bottle as the neck is the weakest part of the bottle.
- Stuff plastic shopping bags on each end of the bottle and cover with packing tape. (Snug but not to tight). Ensure the bottle cannot move inside of the cardboard.
- Double bag the wrapped bottle inside trash bags or large zip lock bags.
- Pack 1/2 of your clothing and then place the wrapped bottle in the center of your suitcase with the bottle neck side up with respect to the top your suitcase.
- Pack the rest of your belongings making sure to provide enough padding around the bottle. *Your suitcase should be packed snugly so the bottle experiences minimal movement during travel.
On our last trip we packed a single bottle of wine using the above method. Our bags were randomly chosen for a TSA search. They ruffled through our suitcase and placed the bottle back against the side of the suitcase, and the bottle was not broken on arrival.
DIY – Packing for Multiple Bottles of Wine in Luggage
We like to create a padded “box” similar to, but smaller than, a case of wine.
- Start with an insulated bag. We use an insulated wine carrier or our insulated Whole Foods market bag.
- Take card board and make “individual” bottle holders as shown and place inside of the bag. The actual inserts from a case of wine work really well.
- Wrap each bottle of wine with a large zip lock or other plastic bag and place inside of the holders making sure there is card board in between each bottle. Pad the bottle necks with recycled shopping bags.
- Double bag the entire package with bags or trash bags to help protect your clothing in the event a bottle is broken.
- Place the double bagged package inside of your luggage, right side up, with clothing packed all the way around. It is important that the bag cannot move inside of your suitcase during travel to minimize the risk of breaking.
We have traveled with up to 6 various sized bottles, in a single piece of luggage, packed using the above method more than a dozen times without breakage.
- Pack only dark clothing in the suitcase that contains wine. Even with careful packing there is always a chance a bottle of wine may break during travel.
- Weigh your luggage and adjust accordingly. Wine bottles are heavy and depending on your other items, multiple bottles of wine may put your luggage over the 50 lb threshold.
- Reuse the recycled shopping bags while on vacation for dirty clothes, local shopping, or rental car trash bags.
- If you are traveling to Wine Country, take a few insulated wine carriers with you for your return flight!
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