There comes a time when every craft beer lover needs to pack a few brews into a suitcase and head for the airport.
Maybe you want to bring a special bottle along on vacation to share with a friend or to give as a host gift. Perhaps a visit to a far off locale has exposed you to a life-changing beer you can’t get at home. From a souvenir perspective, locally-brewed beers make for refreshing mementos from any journey. Regardless of the reason, proper packing for the rough and tumble associated with travel, especially the ruthless handling of checked airline baggage, is a must.
Bringing beer in your carry-on luggage is a non-starter. TSA regulations prohibit liquids in containers larger than 3.4 ounces. If you’re at an airport with a bottle shop beyond the security checkpoint, you’re free to purchase there and carry on those bottles. However, don’t expect any rare, highly sought-after brews.
Without a viable carry-on solution, you’re stuck with checking your beer in a suitcase. The ideal piece of luggage should have a rigid, hard-sided structure. Bags with collapsible walls, such as duffels, are not suited for transporting such delicate cargo. Here are five ideas to help relieve the packing headache.
- If you have a choice between cans and bottles, choose cans. Cans are lighter and more resilient than glass. To be on the safe side, we suggest wrapping your cans in a plastic bag and sealing the opening with packing tape. Then, place clothes around the cans to create a nest and reduce movement.
- Glass bottles require far more attention and finesse. You need to make sure the bottles do not touch each other, the glass is close to the middle of the bag and that the bottles are tightly packed with as little shifting as possible.
This is where creativity comes in to play. Twelve ounce bottles fit nice and snug inside running shoes, for example. But if you’re looking to bring more beer, or larger format bottles, your travel kit needs to include bubble wrap, packing tape and plastic bags. To be on the safe side, tape down the caps tightly onto the bottle. Then, place each bottle inside of a sock or wrap individually with bubble wrap. Next, bundle all of your bottles together and enclose the group in a halo of bubble wrap. Finally, seal the collection in a plastic bag in the center of your suitcase and pad out the sides with clothes.
Commercial Products & Methods
1. WineSkin: These self-sealing, bubble-wrap sleeves are designed for wine; but they expertly fit most beer bottles, including 750ml and 22-ounce bombers nicely.
2. VinniBag: This novel invention suspends bottles (or anything fragile) in an air cushion with a two-way valve. The bag stands up to the changing pressures of the cargo hold and has a dry seal that holds any liquid in should a leak occur.
3. If all of this sounds like too much, you could just ship your items home. Wrap cans and bottles in plastic wrap, then place in a fitted cardboard box. Place that box inside a larger box with scrap paper, air bags, or packing peanuts as a cushion (all are available at the shipping office). It can become an expensive endeavor, but with insurance, can provide the safest route home for your new boozy souvenirs.
As long as your alcohol of choice is lower than 24% alcohol, you can pack as much as you want in your suitcase, as it is not subject to hazardous materials regulations. So go crazy. With a few smart packing decisions, your beer will be safely waiting for you at the baggage carousel, wherever your final destination may be.
Once you board the plane, treat yourself to this travel playlist: