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We are flying home for the holidays this year for the second year in a row. This means flying with Christmas gifts in tow. What a pain! But, I have learned a few tricks to make the process a little bit easier. If you find yourself flying at Christmas, use these tips to make getting your gifts to your destination as smooth as possible.
Tip #1: Don’t wrap your gifts.
Because of TSA regulations, if you are flying with Christmas gifts in either your checked or carry on luggage, it is smart to keep them unwrapped. If they are wrapped, the TSA screeners may have to unwrap them for further inspection. So, save yourself some time and irritation and wait until you arrive at your destination before wrapping your gifts. For more information on getting through airport security during the holidays, see these tips from the TSA.
Tip #2: Choose small and/or flat gifts.
Flying with Christmas gifts is the perfect time to put into action that old saying, “good things come in small packages.” To make packing easier, choose small or flat gifts. Not only will this save you headaches when packing, it may also save you money on baggage fees at the airport. Clothing, jewelry, gift cards, DVD’s, and video games are all easy-to-pack gifts. Read my ideas on unique gifts inspired by travel for some other packing-friendly items.
If you will be flying back after the holidays with the gifts you received, it is a good idea to remind your friends and family to choose small, easy-to-pack items for you as well. This is especially true if you will be flying with a child. I am always reminding my family that whatever they buy my son must be able to fit in our suitcases after Christmas.
Tip #3: Wait until you arrive to buy.
To completely eliminate the hassles of flying with Christmas gifts, wait until you arrive to do your holiday shopping. This is also a good tip if you have some large or bulky items that you want to give. I do most of my shopping before traveling, but wait and shop for my son once we have flown home. This wait and shop approach has the added advantage of preventing him from getting a sneak peak at his gifts.
Tip #4: Ship online purchases to your destination.
Another tip to avoid flying with Christmas gifts is to ship your online purchases to your destination instead of to your home. This is a smart solution if you will be shopping online anyways. It will save you a step in the process of getting your gifts to your final destination too. Just give your host a heads up that you will have some packages delivered there.
Tip #5: Ship packages instead of packing them.
If you have larger items, then consider shipping your packages through the mail instead of packing them. Just be sure to mail them far enough in advance that they arrive in time for Christmas. This is also a good tip to use after Christmas when you need to get the gifts you received back home.
Tip #6: Remove the packaging.
After Christmas, when you are preparing for your return trip home, remove the packaging of your gifts to make it easier to fit them into your suitcase. It is amazing how much space this will save you. If your kids have gifts that include lots of small pieces, put them into Ziploc bags to keep them all together during the journey home.
Tip #7: Choose experiences over stuff.
Another easy way to avoid flying with Christmas gifts is to choose experiences over things. Tickets to sporting events, dining gift cards, and trips to local attractions all make great gifts and take up much less space than stuff. Plus, giving experiences will give your family a chance to make some great holiday memories together. For the ultimate experience, give the gift of travel.
Tip #8: Pack fragile items in your carry-on.
One last tip for flying with Christmas gifts: be sure to pack any fragile items in your carry-on luggage to help ensure they won’t get broken during the flight. Packing these in your carry-on will keep them in your possession at all times. Then you can make sure that they are handled with care. The only exception to this rule is snow globes or other items that contain liquid. These items will have to go in your checked luggage due to TSA’s rules on the amount of liquid you can take on a plane.
I hope these tips help make the process easier if you find yourself flying with Christmas gifts this year. While this can be a hassle, these tips can make it simpler and less stressful. Do you have other tips for flying with Christmas gifts? If so, leave them in the comments to share with other readers. For more gift ideas, see my guide to the best gifts for travelers and gifts for the Disney traveler. For more holiday travel tips, see my tips on stress free holiday travel with kids, how to travel stress free with your spouse, and why you should skip the holidays and travel instead. Happy travels!