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Knowing how to pack wine in a suitcase can save you a lot of money, headaches, and heartache when it comes to your favorite foreign wines.
From vineyard visits to bar tours, there are so many ways to discover delicious wines abroad. Often, these wines are too good not to buy a bottle or two.
But unlike new clothes or novelty gifts, wine bottles are not something you just throw into your suitcase. They are fragile, and they need to be packed with care.
To help ease the anxiety as you wait for your suitcase at the luggage belt, our 12 top tips for packing wine in a suitcase will help you pack your bottles with confidence.
A little know-how will help assure your quality wines grace your wine glasses at home, and not the bottom of your suitcase!
How to Pack Wine in a Suitcase
Without further ado, let’s dive right in and look at 12 smart methods to pack your wine in a safe and efficient way.
1. Line the suitcase edges with shoes to absorb impact
When packing wine bottles in your suitcase, the goal should be to keep everything as tight as possible.
To start, pack your shoes along the edges of your suitcase. The edges, where you zip the suitcase, are often the weakest part of your luggage.
As your shoes are rigid and sturdy, they are best placed to absorb the impact of any bumps.
2. Create sandwich layers with your clothes
When packing wine in a suitcase, you should treat it like a game of Jenga. Before you begin, separate your thicker, larger clothes from your smaller, lighter clothes.
Pack some of your thicker clothes at the bottom. Items like towels and coats give you a firmer, thicker layer of protection.
On that layer, place your wine bottle(s) in the center of the suitcase. You can then pack your smaller, lighter clothes around each bottle.
Finally, create a top layer of your remaining thicker clothes. Your jeans, sweaters, and coats work best here.
3. Wrap your wine bottle in a plastic bag
Naturally, we’re aiming to stop your wine bottle breaking at all. However, you want to make sure you have a failsafe in place, in case it does.
For each bottle you’re packing, place it inside a plastic bag, then tightly tie the top of the bag.
That way, if your bottle does unfortunately break, the plastic bag will hold the spilled liquid. You may lose your wine, but at least you won’t ruin a suitcase of clothes.
4. Wrap your wine bottle in a thick piece of clothing
If you have a sweater, hoodie, or coat, roll your wine bottle up inside it. This gives you yet another thick layer of protection, utilizing a piece of clothing you had to pack anyway.
5. Do not pack bottles next to each other
Resist the urge to pack two or more bottles together. Glass clanking together can easily cause the bottles to break.
Make sure there are gaps between the bottles when you place them in the suitcase.
Use thinner, rollable clothes, like socks and t-shirts, to create barriers between each bottle.
6. Wrap your wine bottle in bubble wrap
Bubble wrap is inexpensive to buy, but it is very effective at keeping fragile items from breaking while traveling or during shipping.
You can buy a roll of bubble wrap ahead of time or buy it at your destination.
Packing wine is all about layers. Using bubble wrap will give you yet another level of protection when it’s time to pack your wine bottles.
7. Use a wine travel bag
There are many wine bags and carriers on the market, specifically designed to protect wine bottles when traveling.
Wine sleeves, wine bags, and wine totes, all utilize padded walls and tight seals to absorb the impact of sudden movements and bumps.
If you travel with wine frequently, a wine travel bag is a sound investment. Combined it with our DIY methods, and you’ll have many layers of protection.
8. Use packing cubes
If you can’t quite justify getting a wine travel bag, you could look to packing cubes to hold your wine in.
While packing cubes are great at organizing clothes, they also provide a padded layer of protection.
Compression packing cubes also draw all air from the cube, keeping the contents packed tightly.
Our guide to the best packing cubes on the market is a great place to start if you’re new to packing cubes or looking for recommendations.
9. Ask for a fragile sticker for your suitcase
At baggage drop-off, you can ask the employee at the desk for a fragile sticker.
That sticker at least makes the airport staff aware that the contents of your suitcase are fragile. In return, they should handle your suitcase with more care.
10. Travel with a hardside suitcase
Many travelers prefer to travel a hardside suitcase, due to the added protection it gives their luggage.
Whereas traditional suitcases can squash and dent beneath other suitcases, hardside suitcases maintain their structure.
This means they can absorb bigger bumps and hits. For both wine and other fragile items, than can be a worthwhile investment.
There are plenty of quality hardside suitcases on the market, from a range of reputable brands. For frequent travelers, it’s worth getting a suitcase that lasts longer.
11. Use a wine bottle suitcase
Our detailed methods are ideal for packing one, two, or maybe even three or four bottles of wine.
Beyond that, however, you’re going to need a different way to travel with wine. There’s only so much space and weight allowance in your suitcase.
If you’re planning to transport multiple wine bottles, you should look to invest in a wine bottle suitcase.
This robust piece of gear is designed specifically to transport wine. Hence, you get thick padding and compartments designed to hold wine bottles.
With a wine bottle suitcase, you can also allocate a weight allowance to the amount of wine you can transport.
12. Ask the winery and use a specialist wine shipping service
Most successful wineries sell their wine both nationally and internationally. Plus, they are used to receiving large orders.
Hence, they will use specialist wine shipping services to transport many bottles of their sought-after wines and spirits.
Naturally, these shipping services will be more expensive. However, it’s definitely worth having a conversation about it with the winery owner.
If you’re looking to ship multiple boxes of wine, ask the winery whether they could do this for you. Or, ask what shipping service they use.
Be wary of using traditional shipping services, like FedEx. Often, you’ll need a license to be approved for shipping. Do your research, and ask the wineries.
Other considerations for packing wine in your suitcase
Check your suitcase weight, as you may exceed your weight allowance
When you account for the weight of the glass bottle, an average 750ml full wine bottle can weigh 1.2kg -1.4kg (just under 3lb). When you consider that many checked baggage allowances fall in the region of 23kg (or 50lb), a bottle of wine is a considerable amount of weight to add.
If you intend to bring wine home, you should plan for it beforehand. Make sure your luggage weight before leaving allows for the additional weight of the wine bottles.
It’s easy to get carried away when buying new and exciting wines. But have a maximum number in your head you can bring home with you.
The fines for exceeding baggage allowance can be big. Plus, you simply may not have the room for your wine if your suitcase is already packed tight.
A portable luggage scale is a great little tool to travel with. It will allow you to double-check your suitcase’s weight before you leave for the airport.
Know the volume of wine you can legally bring through customs in each country you visit
If you’re planning to visit several vineyards on your trip, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your wine collection will stack up.
It’s good to be well-versed in the quantities you can legally travel with.
Before you travel, research the customs laws for all the countries you will be traveling through on your trip.
For many countries, a quick Google search will point you in the right direction.
Be aware, there are also other restrictions other than the amount of wine you can bring in. For example, according, to the Customs and Border Protection in the United States, you can’t travel with or import wine or other alcohol if you’re under 21.
So be sure to do your research, and know how much you legally travel with and what other rules you must follow.
Look up your home country’s shipping laws before shipping your wine with a service
As mentioned earlier, some shipping services require a license for alcohol. Or, their insurance simply does not cover such items.
Do your research beforehand. Find out how much wine you can legally have shipped home so that you know your limit.
Speak to wineries about shipping options. Opt to use a specialist wine shipping service, that will take extra care of your bottles.
Do not bring wine in carry-on luggage
This may seem fairly obvious. However, even today many people still forget or try to bring liquids over 100ml on planes.
Always remember to pack your wine in your checked suitcase, not in your carry-on.
If you show up at security with wine in your carry-on luggage, the handlers are simply going to confiscate your wine.
This is frustrating with water bottles or hand sanitizer, but those things can easily be replaced.
To have an expensive, country-specific wine confiscated before boarding a flight is going to put you in a rotten mood, I can assure you!
How to Pack Wine in a Suitcase Summary
If you’re a wine lover, you’re always going to want to bring new and exciting wines home with you.
These wines deserve to be drunk by you, your friends, and your family, not seeping into your clothes and the lining of your suitcase.
Don’t take any chances when you travel. If you know you’re likely to bring wine home with you, make sure you prepare beforehand.
All the methods and gear discussed in this guide are simple yet effective ways to pack wine in your suitcase.
Wherever your travels take you next, have fun trying and exploring new wines.
Inevitably, when it’s time to bring home a bottle or two, you’ll have plenty of tips at your disposal to deliver them safely, in-tact, and ready for tasting!
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- How to Hide Money While Traveling
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Author: Dale Johnson is a content creator and strategist. He’s been a digital nomad since 2016. As such, he is well-versed in the art of creative packing for protecting beloved belongings!