Traveling long distances with gifts is often a challenge, but that difficulty can be doubled when it comes to bringing gifts with you during air travel. In addition to the troubles of having to deal with gifts that might be fragile or oddly-shaped, airport security measures don't mesh well with wrapping up a present to keep it secret. With careful planning and packing, however, you can get your gifts safely to their location and perhaps even have them ready to give upon arrival.

Checked Luggage

Step 1.

Use a hard shell suitcase, if possible. As bags are tossed about in transit, they often come into hard contact with hard surfaces or other bags. Soft or semi-hard suitcases do not usually provide proper protection of fragile gifts or delicate gift wrapping.

Step 2.

Re-wrap the package as if you were going to ship it. After gift-wrapping the package, place it in a larger box filled with packing peanuts. This will protect both the gift itself and the wrapping, making it ready to be taken out and unwrapped by the recipient immediately upon your arrival.

Step 3.

Surround the package with soft goods in your suitcase. Put a layer of clothing beneath the package and above it within the suitcase.

Step 4.

Pack gift wrapping along with the gift. Your package will probably travel undisturbed in a checked suitcase, but if your luggage is selected to be searched by airport security, they may have to open the package, in which case, you'll need to re-wrap upon arrival.


Step 1.

Plan your carry-on luggage accordingly. You can carry on one piece of luggage and one personal item (such as a purse or briefcase). Pack lightly so that you can either carry the gift on its own or inside your piece of carry one luggage. Consult your airline's website for information regarding their allowable dimensions of carry-on luggage, especially if your gift is large.

Step 2.

Wrap the gift loosely in clear bubble wrap. Use wrap with the largest bubbles you can find (if you have any leftover electronics wrapping pillows, these are ideal) so that you can view the item through the wrap. Fasten it in place with rubber bands, rather than tape, so that you can easily remove the wrapping during security check.

Step 3.

Carry the the wrapped gift in an easily accessible bag. Either store it in a compartment of your carry-on that's easy to get to, or bring it in an open-topped bag (such as a gift bag).

Things You Will Need
  • Hard shell suitcase

  • Foam packing peanuts

  • Boxes

  • Gift wrap

  • Bubble wrap

  • Rubber bands


Carry all liquids or liquid food items in your checked luggage; it will not be allowed through security check as a carry-on. Check out the TSA's list of prohibited carry-on items before deciding how to carry your gifts.