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Can I Carry Liquids in My Checked Baggage ?

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Yes, you can, but you will have to take some precautions.

First, you need to find out which liquids are not allowed on airplanes, period. The TSA has a list of these prohibited liquids on its website. You should also look at the FAA's list of hazardous materials and the rules pertaining to them.

Next, you'll need to determine whether you can bring the liquid items to your destination. If you wish to carry several bottles of wine, for instance, you may not be able to bring them into certain U.S. states because of their liquor import regulations. Travelers flying to or from Canada will want to read the Canadian air travel regulations, and visitors to the UK should read the United Kingdom's list of items you may carry in hand (carry-on) and hold (checked) baggage.

Your next step is to decide whether you want to pack colored liquids, such as red wine or nail polish remover, that could damage or ruin your clothing. Carrying any colored liquid carries an extra risk. Consider whether these items are available at your destination and whether your itinerary is flexible enough to allow you to search for and purchase them.

Finally, you will need to carefully pack your liquid items so they will not break or leak. There are several ways to accomplish this.

Do It Yourself

To prevent leaks, wrap the pop-up or screw top of your container with duct tape. (You may want to pack a small pair of sharp scissors in your checked bag so you'll be able to remove the duct tape later.) Then, put the container into a zipper-top plastic bag and seal the bag closed. Next, place that bag into a larger bag and seal it closed. Wrap the whole thing in bubble wrap if the container is breakable. Finally, wrap everything in a towel or in clothing. (Many travelers suggest using dirty laundry for this.)

A variation on this method involves using a hard-sided plastic or cardboard container to protect your liquid item. You could use a box or a sealed plastic container.

Go With the Pros

You can also buy styrofoam or bubble wrap "shippers", which are sealable bags, such as the Vinnibag or Wine Mummy, or boxes made especially for transporting glass and liquid items. Your local wine shop or pack-and-wrap store may carry shippers. Be aware that the bubble wrap type will keep escaping liquid from staining your clothes, but may not prevent glass bottles from breaking. The box type, on the other hand, will take up more room in your luggage and may not prevent liquid from escaping if the worst happens.

Add the Padding

You'll need to protect your liquid items by placing them in the middle of your suitcase, completely surrounded by clothing and other items, regardless of how you package them. Be aware that your suitcase could be dropped or crushed, perhaps more than once, on its way to your destination. If you have a choice of suitcases, pick the one with the stiffest sides and pack it as tightly as you can to cushion your liquid items.

Expect Inspections

If you pack liquid items in your checked baggage, assume that your bag will be inspected by a TSA security screener. This is especially true if you pack bottles of wine in your suitcase. Do not pack valuables or prescription drugs in your checked baggage.

The Bottom Line

You can safely carry liquid items in your checked baggage – most of the time. Careful packing will increase your chance of success.

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