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Tips for packing fragile souvenirs

Katherine Martinelli is an internationally published food and travel writer and photographer who contributes regularly to publications on three continents. She recently released her first cookbook, Puff Pastry at Brunch: 10 Sweet and Sa...

From wine bottles to decorative plates

Maybe you visited wine country and want to bring back a bottle or two of vino to remember your trip. Or perhaps you purchased a commemorative plate, funny coffee cup or gag gift shot glasses. Make sure they don't break on the flight home with these practical tips.
Ceramic hula girl

From wine bottles to decorative plates

Maybe you visited wine country and want to bring back a bottle or two of vino to remember your trip. Or perhaps you purchased a commemorative plate, funny coffee cup or gag gift shot glasses. Make sure they don't break on the flight home with these practical tips.

Packing and traveling can be stressful enough as it is — the last thing you want is to come home only to find shattered ceramics or wine-stained clothes in your suitcase. It is totally possible to travel with fragile souvenirs; you just have to pack carefully.

To check or carry on?

First decide whether you will put the fragile item in your carry-on or if you will check it. Some things, like wine, must be checked. If something is of great value to you, you may want to consider keeping it close, although overhead compartments can be just as rough as checking, so you still need to package it carefully.

Get more tips for stress-free packing >>

Bubble Wrap

Whatever the fragile item, Bubble Wrap is a great, easy way to protect everything from bottles to plates and from ceramic bowls to figurines. Use it generously to fully wrap your items before packing them. It will make things a little more bulky, so take that into account when determining how much space you have. Also, be warned that there's always a chance that they'll need to be unwrapped at some point while going through security.

Specialty containers

Depending on what you are bringing back, they now sell various items to help you pack. There are a number of options specific to wine bottles, like a Bubble Wrap-lined bag that protects the bottle from breakage but also prevents leakage into your luggage should it crack. There are also inflatable travel pouches that will blow up to create a safe enclosure for various products. If you travel a lot, you may want to look into these options.

Learn how to be a smart traveler with these tips >>

Clothing

On the other end of the spectrum, you can also use what you already have on hand — clothing. It provides a great source of padding in which to pack your fragile souvenirs. Stuff a bowl with a few pairs of socks, then wrap it generously in a sweater or a bunch of shirts. It may sound crazy, but it can be really effective. The risk, of course, is that should anything break, it will get all over your clothing.

Positioning

Finally, besides what you pack your souvenirs in it's also crucial to think about where you put them in the suitcase. The best bet is to put them smack in the middle, with a layer of clothing below and on top. If you have multiple fragile items, make sure they are separated by at least a piece of clothing so they don't bump into each other during transit. And a tightly packed suitcase is actually best, because it leaves less room for the items to shift and break.

More travel tips

The long flight survival guide
7 Practical packing tips
How to avoid jet lag

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