Wine is one of the most popular items for travelers to bring home from vacation destinations. Think about it: What’s a trip to France, Argentina or Northern California if you don’t bring back a bottle or 2 of your favorite wine?
But packing wine for the return trip is challenging. You can’t carry-on your wine due to liquid restrictions, and shipping your wine home can be prohibitively expensive.
So you’re left to pack wine in a suitcase that you’ll have to check. Naturally, this makes most travelers nervous.
The goods news is that there are strategies (and products) you can use to make packing bottles of wine much easier. Here are 5 tips you can use when wondering how to pack wine in a suitcase.
- Buffer the Walls
You’ll want your bottles of wine to end up roughly in the middle of your suitcase, so create padding around the sides and edges. Start with the walls of your suitcase.
Shoes are the best things to place around the walls, positioning soles so they face outward with the tops of your shoes facing inward. The soles of your shoes will blunt any impact and help protect your bottles of wine.
- Build a Nice Base
Once you’ve buffered the walls of your suitcase, focus on creating a nice base on top of which you’ll set your bottles of wine. Start with shirts and pants, and then fill in gaps with socks, underwear and other smaller articles of clothing.
Just remember: Don’t use all your clothing to build the base. You’ll need to save some for wrapping your individual bottles of wine and creating another buffer on top of your bag (as you’ll see below).
- Wrap Each Bottle
Step No. 3 is the most important step in the process: wrapping each individual bottle of wine. Let’s start by assuming you have no special materials to use in wrapping your wine — just clothes. Try using heavier articles like flannel shirts and sweaters, or even a coat if you have one.
Place the neck of the bottle inside a sleeve, because the neck is the most vulnerable part of the bottle. Then wrap the rest of the bottle in the rest of the shirt, sweater or coat you’re using. Place the wrapped bottle inside the walls and atop the base you’ve already built, and leave room for any other bottles that need to sit alongside it.
What types of special materials would be helpful for packing? It’s always nice to place each bottle inside a plastic bag, which can help contain the mess if your bottle does meet with misfortune and break. If you know you’ll want to bring wine back from your destination, you can also take along a roll of bubble wrap, which is immensely helpful in protecting bottles of wine during travel. Also, if you have kids, simply wrapping unused diapers around a bottle of wine can help protect it during your journey.
- Pad the Top
OK, so each bottle of wine is now wrapped and placed in your bag. Now it’s time to buffer the top of your bag by adding another layer of clothing. Again, try using larger items like shirts and pants to start, then adding smaller items like socks and underwear to fill in holes.
Make sure your bag zips up tightly. Tighter is better as it will help prevent the bottles of wine from shifting during the journey. Also, consider adding “fragile” stickers to the outside of your bag. These stickers are often available at airline check-in counters. There’s no guarantee that baggage handlers will actually pay attention to them, but they can’t hurt.
You don’t need to worry about Travel Security Administration regulations when flying domestically in the United States, as you can carry an unlimited amount of wine. When flying internationally, you shouldn’t have any problem outside of paying a small duty, depending what county you’re flying into.
- Get a Packing Cube
Here’s an idea for when you’re wondering how to pack wine in a suitcase: Get a set of packing cubes from Vasco.
Vasco’s packing cubes make travel easy. These stylish, durable organizers help you make the most of limited space, and they also provide protection for an array of fragile items — including laptops, cosmetics and even bottles of wine.