Juggling Holiday Gifts? Ship Them Home Instead + Other Travel Hacks

If you’re celebrating the holidays away from home, getting holiday gifts to and from your destination can be a stressful part of that process. When deciding whether to pack, ship, check, or carry on those precious parcels, everyone has a different set of costs and inconveniences to consider – so we’ve put together some travel hacks to try no matter what route you choose to take.

Wait to wrap gifts until you arrive at your destination

Wrapped gifts are technically allowed in carry-ons and checked luggage, but TSA often unwraps them if a bag is randomly selected for additional screening. Plus, packing around carefully wrapped presents is a good way to ensure squashed bows or torn tissue paper. If you can wait and wrap presents when you arrive at your destination, you’ll likely save yourself a lot of time and energy preparing to travel – and a lot of heartache when airport security rips into your parcel.

Consider a hard-sided suitcase

Managing many holiday gifts – ones you give or receive – can be a challenge, especially if some are fragile or oddly shaped. Bringing a hard-sided suitcase instead of a soft-sided one or a duffel bag will boost your odds of everything arriving safely, especially if you end up checking a bag. Hard-sided suitcases can be made of everything from plastic to aluminum, so it’s a pretty safe bet to assume that your gifts will arrive in the condition in which you packed them.

Ship holiday gifts to your destination

If you’re one of the coveted few who can travel carry-on only during the holidays, compare the cost of checking a bag just for gifts versus having them shipped straight to your destination. In the era of online shopping, telling Amazon, Target or Best Buy to mail something to a family member’s home or a pickup locker has never been easier, and could save you money on bag check fees. 

This goes double for larger gifts; size often equals weight and oversized baggage fees have skyrocketed in recent years. If you order a big gift online, just have it shipped to someone at your destination – it’s a cheaper, safer option. 

This does, however, require some forethought; while most people have gotten more proactive with holiday shopping due to the great deals offered online for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, those last-minute purchases do sneak in there. If you’re planning to ship holiday gifts ahead to your destination, be sure you’re aware of when guaranteed before-holiday delivery ends (usually around December 17th for the Christmas season) so you’re not brought up short when you arrive on time, but your gifts don’t.

Keep fragile or irreplaceable gifts in your personal item

When you’re flying for the holidays and know you want to give a family member a beloved heirloom or a delicate figurine, keep that close at hand at all times. Wrapping something in a sweatshirt or towel and placing it in your personal item is the best course of action if you’re worried about it getting damaged or lost.

Similarly, be wary of stashing a delicate item in your carry-on. What flight attendants say is true – items in the overhead bins do shift during takeoff and landing – so being able to sandwich your tote bag or purse between your feet as you take off and land can keep those precious items from being jolted around.

Invest in a collapsible duffel

What about the gifts you receive over the course of your holiday stay? Whether your family is exchanging presents or you intend on doing some Black Friday shopping, being prepared to cart your holiday gifts and purchases home is every bit as important as bringing presents to others. Investing in a collapsible duffel bag that folds down small enough to pack in your suitcase but is large enough to hold whatever you bring home with you is a great call.

Use a Luggage Shipping Service

Worried about how you’re going to get all those amazing gifts you received back home after celebrating? If you dread the idea of adding another checked bag to your airport hustle, look into luggage shipping services like Luggage Forward instead. They’ll deliver your new swag right to your doorstep so it’s waiting for you when you get back.

When in doubt, drive

Road trips aren’t for everyone, but if you’re incredibly concerned that your gifts are going to be damaged or lost, or you’re dealing with multiple large, bulky items, it might be best to hit the road in the family car rather than risk a flight. This could be difficult to plan for, so asking your family and friends ahead of time if they know the nature of the gifts you might receive is a great way to plan ahead before rental cars or hotels get expensive without ruining the surprise of the gift itself! 

Traveling with gifts can be a thrill – who doesn’t love whipping out a present from a bag or sneaking it under the tree? – but it does require some planning and strategizing beforehand. By proactively identifying your preferred way to get presents from Point A to Point B and back again, you’ve checked one more thing off your holiday travel list. It never hurts to be prepared!

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