Tips for Flying with Gifts

Updated June 1, 2020.

It’s Christmas! It’s the time for family, friendly get togethers, and gift giving. I don’t know about you, but I love finding that perfect gift for my friends and family, whether it’s for a birthday, Christmas, or just because. But since my husband and I live in a different city than either of our families, we always end up flying with gifts, which can be a little stressful! So here’s our gift to you: a handy dandy guide to flying with gifts, just in time for the holiday rush!

1. Save Wrapping for Arrival

Full confession: I LOVE wrapping gifts! It brings me joy and happiness. But that is not at all practical for packing gifts for travel. It’s best if you can leave your gifts unwrapped for efficient “packing Tetris” and to breeze through security screenings. Think about packing bags and tissue paper to take with you, or do what I sometimes do and use your mom’s wrapping materials when you get there!

2. If You Wrap, Understand that Packages may have to be Unwrapped for Inspection

I admit it, I usually wrap gifts before packing them because I love to wrap them. But I also know that if something looks suspicious in the security screening machine, a TSA officer may have to unwrap one or more of those gifts. That’s ok! Like I said, I like to wrap gifts, even if it means re-wrapping them. The TSA officer may find it annoying. Or they may find it delightful! It’s luck of the draw.

None of my gifts had to be unwrapped for inspection. We did it!

3. Do not Bring Sharp Objects, Weapons or Weapon Look-alikes, or Liquids in Carry-ons

I know this is common sense! But sometimes common sense flies out the window when you find the PERFECT jar of red pepper jelly for your Dad. Or the PERFECT cheese knife with a little music note on it for your Mom. So before you pack any of your gifts, look at each one and remind yourself of the TSA’s golden rules of carry-on luggage: no liquids, no weapons.

Read on: Travel Tips for all Your Trips!

4. Do Carry-on All Breakables if Possible

If you do end up needing to check a bag, make sure breakables are with you in your carry-on luggage. But even then, wrap them up securely so they are still in one piece when you get to your destination!

Trying really hard keep my carry-on luggage with me! The two largest bags did have to be gate-checked on the last leg of this trip, but everything seemed to come through intact!

5. Consider Shipping in Advance

You could always take the stress out of traveling with gifts by shipping them with UPS, USPS, FedEx, DHL, etc. before you go! Do a cost comparison for the prices of checking a bag vs. mailing a package vs. mailing with a flat rate box if your items are particularly heavy. Because Christmas is a very busy time for any kind of mail, be sure to send your packages at least a week in advance. Earlier is better, of course! And always hold onto that tracking number on the receipt they’ll give you so you can track your package on its way.

6. Track Your Checked Bags

If checking a bag is your preferred option, then go for it! You can easily track your checked bags enroute these days. Many airlines allow you to do so right from their app. My brother checked bags with United for our trip to the UK this past summer, and he could see where his bag was last scanned and whether or not it was on his connecting flight before take off. It’s a handy little tool!

Track your bags from the airline’s app!

What are your concerns or experiences traveling with gifts? Tell me below! And check out all my tips for flying on my Air Travel Page!

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Published by quickwhittravel

Welcome to the blog! We do things a little differently around here: no ads, no negativity, and no checked luggage, y'all. My name is Whitney, and Quick Whit Travel Blog is your one-stop shop for all the best travel tips, packing advice, and destination information. Click around or message me on social media @quickwhittravel for more!

4 thoughts on “Tips for Flying with Gifts

    1. Yes, they are supposed to be on the same plane. But sometimes luggage gets lost or doesn’t quite make it to the connecting plane! That particular photo was from a friend; I don’t typically check bags, so I asked him to take a screen shot of his luggage tracking information! Does that clear it up?

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