Essential Tips for Taking Gifts on Your Christmas Vacation

Get the Gifts There in One Piece

A few years ago, a humorous Christmas-themed meme sped across the Internet as only those bits of viral media can. It portrayed St. Nicholas not as the jolly elf in a fur-trimmed suit, but as the stoical church father whose image has adorned so many icons. It read, “I came to give presents to kids and to punch heretics — and I’m all out of presents.”

Funny stuff, but even with the tongue-in-cheek tagline, it acknowledges an important truth: presents really matter at Christmastime, especially when their recipients are young. And if you’re planning to take a Christmas family vacation or visit extended family who live hundreds of miles away, you’ll have to bring those gifts along for the ride.

Packing gifts brings its own set of issues and questions. Can you put wrapped gifts in checked luggage? We’re here to answer those questions and more — consider the following tips on traveling with presents this holiday season!

Pre-Plan for TSA Troubles

The Transportation Security Administration is the governmental body that American travelers love to hate. From seemingly ever-shifting guidelines to frustrating searches, the TSA can sour an otherwise satisfactory trip. But there are a few steps you can take to make sure your presents arrive in perfect shape.

Avoid liquids in your search for travel-friendly gifts. Liquids prompt greater TSA scrutiny, and items containing more than 3.4 ounces of anything watery often get tossed altogether by agents — even if they aren’t in your carry-on. That means snow globes, some soft cheeses and perfumes are a no-no.

And while little Timmy probably isn’t interested in a bottle of cognac, know that Uncle Rob’s overproof rum might face seizure, as does pretty much any alcoholic beverage over 140 proof. Ditto for toys that look like weapons.

In terms of whether you can bring wrapped presents on an airplane, some pundits argue you should wrap your presents normally and then re-wrap them as though for shipping before you board your flight. But that’s just asking for trouble.

Any wrapped item faces a greater likelihood of getting opened for inspection. Leave gifts upwrapped and tie on a bow once you’ve reached your final destination.

Remember That Proper Packing Prevents a Poor Presentation

Indeed, the way in which you get to your final destination doesn’t matter as much as how you prepared your packages. Whether you fly or drive, properly securing your gifts will go a long way toward making sure they do look picture perfect and not as though they were dragged behind your vehicle of choice.

Think of your gifts like those organic, pastured, cage-free eggs you can pick up at Whole Foods — pricey, hard to replace and fragile. Just as you wouldn’t put those at the bottom of your grocery bag, don’t pile them haphazardly in your car where they’ll easily get jostled or crushed.

True, one can’t control where your suitcases land during a flight, but hard-shell luggage can go a long way toward keeping items safe. With particularly fragile gifts, treat them as if you were drop shipping them. That translates to sturdy cardboard boxes and lots of bubble wrap.

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Seek out Seller Solutions

Speaking of shipping, carrying gifts isn’t the only option when you are celebrating Christmas away from home. In fact, it should probably be your last choice.

Hear me out before you begin firing off angry emails. Yes, certain sentimental or rare gifts will require you to lug them yourselves. But even then, your local post office or shipping company can transport your goods safely and save you a lot of headaches.

Many gifts for travelers, though, aren’t one-of-a-kind wonders, and for those items, consider using third-party vendors who’ll ship them directly to you loved ones. Amazon.com’s Prime service provides super-fast shipping on most of the gargantuan retailer’s goods, as well as grants access to a bevy of additional goodies such as free movies and television series.

Similarly, Walmart will ferry a whole bunch of items to virtually any of its locations. Sometimes you’ll even get a discount for doing so.

In short, you have numerous options for traveling with your gifts this Christmas season — and some of them only require the click of a mouse.

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