Large bottles of liquids are banned from planes. So you have to pack your wine in your checked luggage. Your bottle might accidentally break in mid-flight. That would ruin your clothes. (And your wine!) Here are some strategies for packing your wine safely that you may not have thought of.
The D-I-Y option: Wrap your bottle in newspaper, then in two plastic bags. Obviously, the plastic bags are meant to contain any leaks. Less obviously, the newspaper will contain broken glass, which might pierce the plastic bag and let the wine spill.
Pack strategically: Wrap a thick layer of clothing around the neck of the bottle until it is has a diameter as wide as the base of the bottle. Wrap everything with more clothing, and place it a few inches from the corner walls of your luggage.
The fancy, secure option: Drop by your local specialty wine shop, and ask if it sells a carrier. (It's probably made from an artificial fabric that looks like fleece.) This material will act as a shock absorber for your bottles. Use the same packing method as described above, only use this high-tech fabric instead of newspaper. (The instructions on the packaging of the product may not say you can use it in this way, but don't worry about that.)
A $5 fix. Southwest sells a handy wine and spirits carrier for $5 a bottle/unit at its airline counters. You don't have to be flying Southwest to buy the carrier, of course. Just drop by a Southwest check-in desk at an airport terminal. Slip your wine inside, and then put the case inside your checked bag, where it'll serve as a buffer zone.
Don't worry too much about temperature fluctuations. The plane's hold is below cabin temperature, and most wines can handle a few hours of cold. One possible exception: Champagne.
Stuff your bag full. You want so many belongings in there that nothing can move around.
"Hard shell" luggage is rarely necessary. It's heavier and more expensive than soft-sided luggage, and it doesn't add much practical protection to your wine bottles.
Carrying several bottles of wine? Consider checking separately an eight-gallon size Rubbermaid Action Packer, for sale from REI and other stores for about $24
Carrying a crate of wine? Try this wine shipping method from Gadling.
What are a your best strategies for packing wine bottles? Post a comment below!
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