How to Safely Travel with Booze

You smell it before you see it. Your booze-soaked suitcase rolls down the luggage carousel and you know exactly what you’re going to find inside of it—broken glass. That once intact souvenir bottle you haphazardly tossed into your checked bag is in shards and the precious liquid it contained is soaking into your sweaters. Next time, heed our advice on proper packing techniques. Here, the ultimate guide to traveling with booze.

Pick the Right Suitcase

That soft duffel may be perfect for chucking in the backseat of your car for a quick weekend getaway, but it won’t do your airborne bottles any good. That loud pop you hear during takeoff isn’t just air pressure popping your ears—that’s the sound of your precious souvenirs exploding all over the checked luggage compartment. Upgrade to a hard rolling suitcase to ensure your goods aren’t crushed by that tuba the guy in 18C checked.

Stuff Your Stockings

Even if you’ve protected your liquor from an outside attack, it could still bump its way to an explosive end within your suitcase. According to Conde Nast Traveler, you can secure the innards of your luggage without the hassel of buying packing materials by repurposing your clothing. One thick, long sock can encase a bottle, while its mate wraps around the bottle’s delicate neck. A scarf then swaddles the whole bundle in stylish security.

These Shoes Were Made for Filling

Shoes are another great opportunity for protecting your haul. Stuff mini-bottles into the toes with some socks for padding and marvel at your own space-saving ingenuity.

Find Your Center

Packing bottles at the far edges of your suitcase is seriously risky. One errant bit of turbulence can spell disaster for your booze. Instead, channel a Zen master, and find security near the center, surrounding your bottles with all of your other worldly possessions.

Consider Specialty Equipment

If DIY isn’t your style, turn to the many products crafted specifically to protect your bottled finds like a specially designed suitcase, an inflatable protector or something called a Wine Diaper.

Check Airport Limits

The TSA doesn’t take kindly to a suitcase packed full of flammable liquor. Airlines limit passengers to five liters of booze between 24 and 70 percent alcohol, and entirely prohibit hazmat-strength bottles. And if you hope to enjoy your trophies in the air, you’ll need to annex them into mini-bottles no bigger than 3.4 ounces. Also, should you somehow squeeze a 12-bottle case into your checked luggage, be ready to pay for the extra weight.

Ask Your Airline for Supplies

The check-in desk at the airport is not the best place to realize you haven’t prepared your bottles for transport, but you may not be totally out of luck. Some airlines, like Southwest, [] offer their own packaging at ticket counters for just $5, which is way cheaper than new clothes should your bottle burst in transit.

When All Else Fails, Just Ship It

Before leaving for the airport, open your bag and honestly assess the situation one last time. If you feel confident that your well-secured cargo can survive butting shoulders with a compartment full of rival belongings, the rough treatment of airport irreverent baggage handlers, and the rattling shake of vicious turbulence, then go ahead and check your luggage with confidence. Otherwise, just ship your souvenirs home. Better it all arrives safely later than not at all.