How to Travel with Christmas Presents Now

If you’ve ever travelled at Christmas then you have also undoubtedly travelled with Christmas gifts too. I mean Christmas and presents go hand in hand no matter where in the world you are celebrating or spending it.

christmas travel packing materials and clothes and passports

So, how exactly is the best way to do that? Do you wrap them and bring them with you through an airport? Um, probably not the best idea. What about if you are simply driving all the way to a relative’s house? How do you make that work with gifts? Wrap them first or No?

Here’s what works for us.

Here are tips for flying with Christmas presents:

Travel with gifts by airplane can be the most challenging of all the modes of transportation. Airport security is dramatically tougher than it was even a few Christmases ago.

Know What is Banned on Airplanes

Many common Christmas presents are banned in carry-on luggage. Be sure you know which ones are banned before you go (and yes, this includes unopened packaged gifts). If it is banned, pack it (very securely) in your checked bags (dispersed between a couple bags in case of lost luggage) or ship it.

Skip the Wrapping

Do not wrap your Christmas presents before you fly. It could be a big waste of time, since security officers might be forced to open them to see what’s inside. If you are flying very close to Christmas and won’t have much time to wrap on arrival, pack several empty gift bags and gift tissue instead for quick assembly.

To Ship Ahead or No?

Consider shipping the gifts ahead of time, but be sure you pack items very carefully and allow at least twice the estimated shipping time. You don’t want to end up giftless on Christmas Eve. You may even consider splitting up gifts into a few boxes in case one box is lost.

Shop When You Get There

Consider shopping at your destination. Plan to arrive a couple days early to allow for shopping time.

Pack an Extra Empty Bag

Pack some empty, collapsed duffel bags. Don’t forget you will probably have extra luggage (as in, new gifts for yourself or your family) to bring home.

Be Discreet with Your Own Family

If you are traveling with gifts for your fellow travelers (such as a significant other, spouse or children), be sure you keep their gifts out of sight if they will be in luggage and unwrapped. This can be particularly challenging if it’s a gift for a spouse and you’re sharing a suitcase. Consider taking separate suitcases so he or she doesn’t get a sneak peek at Christmas gifts.

This works with adults but be warned that kids who are school aged and teens need extra reminders. If they have bought their own gifts for parents or siblings and cousins they need to know what can and cannot be packed. I will never ever forget the famous scissors incident my nine year old experienced at the airport in Toronto one year. She now knows for sure never to pack scissors ink her carryon. Her plan was to make something when we got to our destination and she didn’t want to worry about finding scissors there.

Live and learn, right?

What about Train Travel?

Train travel with gifts is probably the simplest of the modes of transportation. But, that said, suitcases need to be lifted and lugged around, so if you are visiting someone and taking the train you might still be better off shipping presents ahead or shopping when you get to your destination.

Road Trips?

Well, we love a good family road trip any time of year. But at Christmas you likely already have a vehicle loaded to the brim with boots and huge winter coats. Or maybe you live in the warmer climates and then you are in good shape for trunk space. With road trips and dragging presents along you may still need to take a few things into account.

For instance, are you crossing any borders? If so, your car could still be searched and if it’s full of wrapped presents the border patrol could ask to see the items within. So save yourself the hassle and wrap them when you get to your destination.

Travel With Christmas Presents Doesn’t Have to Be Daunting

Just planning ahead and having a present strategy makes a dramatic impact when traveling this time of year. Whether you drive to your destination or fly you can still surprise loved ones with great presents.

Don’t forget your packing cubes. Also for the travel lover on your list these make a great gift – > Packing Cubes.

And here’s an extra large Duffel Bag that works well as an extra bag for those presents you need to return with. Actually most hard core travellers I know bring an extra bag always on every single trip no matter the time of year.

Happy Holidays!

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Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.