Can you pack wine in checked luggage and if so, how? Yes, If you go to wine country, you’re going to end up packing wine in your checked suitcase. Here are a few ways that you can travel with wine and not have your bottles smashed to bits by the forces of evil who work in baggage handling.
Table of Contents
- 1 Can you Take Alcohol on a Plane in Hand Luggage?
- 2 Can I Carry Duty Free Alcohol in Hand Luggage?
- 3 Will Wine Explode on a Plane?
- 4 How to Pack Wine Bottles in Checked Luggage
Can you Take Alcohol on a Plane in Hand Luggage?
So what happens is you’ve been to wine country and you buy a bottle of wine or two to take back home with you. Alcohol is not something I would want to pack in my checked suitcase. Since I will always be carrying my carry-on bag, it makes sense that I would store it there and handle it carefully so that it won’t break.
However, when it comes to your luggage, the 3-1-1 rule applies and you don’t have a choice and must use your checked suitcase instead of your carry-on luggage. In general, you cannot bring large liquid containers in a carryon item, which means that you cannot bring alcohol in carry-on containers. This rule would also apply to other liquids that should be packed in your checked suitcase, like shampoo or moisturizer bottles.
Can I Carry Duty Free Alcohol in Hand Luggage?
You can only get around the 3-1-1 rule for hand luggage by buying alcohol at a duty-free shop after going through security. Various countries have different duty-free allowances for alcohol; in the U.S., you can typically buy a liter of alcohol duty-free per person.
Will Wine Explode on a Plane?
No, wine will not explode if you pack it in your checked luggage for a flight. This is because the cargo hold area of the plane is pressurized and climatized so that even pets can be transported in their carriers. So your ears may pop occasionally, but wine corks won’t!
How to Pack Wine Bottles in Checked Luggage
So, imagine you are visiting a great wine destination where you can pick up a bottle. What is the best way to bring it back in your suitcase?
One of the most effective methods would be to utilize your clothing to reduce the impact and vibrations. Travel experts recommend keeping your bottle of wine in a zippered bag, then stuffing it into a pair of socks for an extra layer of protection. Then take the heaviest pieces of clothing you have in your bag and wrap the bottles of wine in them.
You should try to leave as much space as possible between the bottles and the edges of the luggage when placing them inside a suitcase or bag. Basically, you don’t want the bottles to touch the edge of your bag. You want to pile your garments and shoes on all sides, then arrange the bottles in the center. I recommend spacing the bottles of wine and making sure there’s enough material between them so they don’t touch. You should also pay careful attention to the necks of the bottles since this is the most probable area to break during transportation. Create as much cushioning as possible from the suitcase’s sides.
You probably know that wine doesn’t do well if transported under hot conditions. If you want to be extra careful about storage temperature when traveling by air, consider packing your bottles in a cooler. Airlines will allow it as regular checked luggage as long as you’re able to secure it properly.
Also, keep in mind that while these packaging recommendations apply to every sort of bottled or canned beverage, the government has set particular restrictions. In the United States, Customs will allow you to bring in an unlimited amount of wine as long as it contains less than 24 percent alcohol content by volume. And, according to the laws, you may only import one liter of wine duty-free. Anything exceeding the liter is subject to a 3% tax. While it’s not much of a cost, and to be honest, it doesn’t appear to be enforced very often, it’s something to bear in mind if you’re transporting wine.
Transporting hard liquor is a whole other issue and concern. I won’t go into detail, but know that the TSA in the United States forbids any plane travel with liquor that is over 140 proof.
So, returning to wine, here are some considerations:
Use Wine Skins and Bottle Travel Protectors
There are a number of low-cost devices available to assist travelers in transporting wine bottles. While a regular plastic bag can be used, these specialty pouches frequently provide additional cushioning, absorbent padding, and sealing to protect the contents of your bag from any leaks. They’re reasonably priced, and some are even reusable.
I personally use the VinniBag Inflatable Travel Bag. It’s not cheap but it’s made in the USA and is recyclable and reusable. Basically, you slide the wine bottle in and seal the bottom and top with the handy special latch, and then once you do that, you blow up the bag until you have an inflatable and somewhat bouncy bag for that extra protection. The way this thing is designed, if the bottle of wine inside actually does break, which is highly unlikely, the wine won’t leak out of the bag. Luggage disasters avoided! So your clothes and the inside of your suitcase will be safe and not bathed in wine.
If you want a cheaper alternative, the Wine Wings Reusable Bottle Protector Sleeve is a very popular choice. If you get unlucky, the bottle breaks and the protecting layers somehow puncture and allow the wine to leak, you’ll have to clean your luggage of the wine stains as soon as you can.
Keep a Copy of the Regulations with you at All Times
Every now and again, an airport security staffer may bother you about checking in your beverages. Having a copy of the TSA and airline policies on hand might help if you run into any issues during the check-in procedure. The TSA guidelines may be found here. Furthermore, if you’re traveling overseas, you should perform a fast Google search on the regulations of your departure country before your journey to be safe. Some international destinations may limit the amount of wine or beer that can be exported or apply extra taxes.
Use a Specialist Wine Shipping Sevice
Consider shipping your liquor instead. If you’re traveling within the United States, it may be easier to have your alcohol sent directly to you so you don’t have to bother about carrying it. However, if you’re traveling overseas, transporting your wine or beer in your luggage is typically less expensive, even if you have to pay additional baggage or customs costs. This is due to the fact that by using your baggage, you may typically avoid the value-added tax, also known as VAT, that is levied during shipment. If you’re buying your wine from a winery, just ask the staff there for their recommendations. They’ll usually have a preferred wine shipping service for domestic and international shipping and will know about shipping and VAT costs.
Consider Using Bottles Instead of Cans
While aluminum cans appear to be more robust because they are more flexible, they are really more prone to exploding when pressured. This is especially true if your baggage becomes entangled in a snarl of other heavy suitcases. So, if you have a choice, you’re generally better off hauling bottles rather than cans.
Use a Sturdy Hardsided Suitcase
If you want to travel with alcohol, a hard suitcase is a much better option. In general, hard suitcases should preserve the contents of your luggage more efficiently and may decrease the additional compression caused by being piled under other bags. It’s not required, but if you have the choice, I’d go with a hard suitcase if you’re going to travel with your beverages.
Bring a Foldable Duffel Bag
If you manage to load your luggage with alcohol and run out of room for all your clothes and personal belongings, a compact foldable duffel bag can easily rescue the day. Having more luggage space is better than overstuffing your suitcase. Just make sure that everything together stays within your weight allowance. Or, you can use the foldable duffel as your carry on if it’s small enough and check in just the suitcase holding the alcohol.
Get a Wine Bottle Suitcase
Especially for wine enthusiasts or travelers who like to buy lots of wine, a wine travel bag is a great investment. You have several options to choose from, most of which are very expensive, but if you are buying premium bottles of wine, this method of transportation will be the safest. The VinGardeValise is the perfect option and it comes in a few different sizes starting at a 5 bottle capacity and going up to 12 bottles. This is a good example of a specialized type of luggage.
Use these tips to keep your wine safe to get it home so you can drink it and not find it all over your clothes in your suitcase. We also have a guide on whether you can pack a hair straightener and other hair tools as well as a guide on flying with tools for construction sites.