Travel Noob Chapter 1: Traveling with Wine and Other Glassware

Rule One: be careful when packing glass bottle . Learn from my mistakes and what I have learned on my trip this winter!

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Okay guys, I am including this section of my blog so that you don’t make the mistakes that I have made. I don’t think that this section will added to for a bit because my ability to travel is… well, limited. My funds for travel, as they stand, are low. I hope to add more to this as I travel more with this blog!

So here’s my story.

This last week, my parents and I went to Ohio to visit my grandparents. I hadn’t seen them in over three years, so I figured it was about time. Working and all, it’s hard to get there, both with getting time off and dealing with a week’s worth of lost funds. But really, I couldn’t put this off any longer.

We had a good visit. I cooked with my grandma, annoyed the crap out of my grandpa like I normally do, and “saw the sights” of Ohio. Basically, a lot of shopping. If you have been to Ohio, you know what I mean!

Anyway, back on topic!

As you may or may not know, Connecticut grocery stores cannot sell wine. I’m not sure where the alcohol content caps off at, but I know I never see anything stronger than beer in a grocery store.

Normally, this isn’t an issue. You just go to a packy (aka package store) and get your wine. But this time, things are a little different.

Aldi doesn’t sell wine in Connecticut. *gasp*

I know. So many reasonably priced wines I’m missing out on.

So when I decided I was going to Ohio, I made space in my luggage for wine. Doesn’t seem like a problem, right?

Packing wine is a bigger pain than I realized.

So, I went a little crazy at Aldi. I actually bought less than I wanted. And even still, I should have bought less than that. My grandma, my mother, and I realized I went a bit overboard with my wine. Three generations confirmed that I had bought too much.

I brought it back to my grandparent’s house, looking at my quantity. I would be able to pack this, right?

Nope.

As I packed, I realized I needed padding. Okay, I’ll use my clothes.

I packed the bottles in my clothes and weighed my luggage.

56 lbs. I need to be 6 lbs. lighter at least. This could have easily happened if I took out a couple of bottles. But as stubborn as I am, this wasn’t going to happen.

So out came out jeans, shoes, and weighty solids. Plastic bags replaced the extra space.

I weighed my bag again and my luggage came in at 52 lbs. Man! I could not catch a break…

Finally, after much bag padding and fussing, my bag was complete and under the weight requirement. The whole process took me at least 5 hours.  I had everything as perfect as I was going to get.

I stressed about it at my grandparents’ house. I had my dad check it. I still stressed about it, but I did what I could do.

Fast forward to airport check-in.

I got some “FRAGILE” stickers for my luggage, which is something that totally exists! Make sure you ask for them at the check-in desk.

“You know we are not responsible for damage to anything inside your luggage, correct?” the check-in clerk asked me.

I sighed. “Yes, I know.” Not knowing what would happen next. I took my bag to the TSA bag check, and everything seemed okay.

And then my dad took his and my mom’s bags over. Coming back, he looked me straight in the eye.

“They’re checking your bag.”

I looked in horror as I saw the plastic bags all about, the TSA officer running his detector over each bottle. I worked so hard to make sure everything was packed and padded and now everything is ruined!

As I rode the cart to my gate (yes, be jealous) I thought about everything that could happen to my checked luggage.

What if the beer cans I packed as well popped from the pressure from being in the air and from the wine weight? What if they didn’t pack the bottles back well enough and they broke all over my clothes? What if the baggage handler was having a bad day and threw around said ill-packed luggage and broke one or more of the bottles?

If one bottle breaks, all of my clothes inside are ruined, considering l like red wine more than white wine. The only thing that won’t be affected, ironically, are the other bottles of wine.

All these questions and thoughts sent the anxiety I deal with through the roof.

Here are some pointers if or when you do pack wine or other glass items with liquids:

1. Check TSA guidelines first.

Believe it or not, there are certain guidelines to packing alcohol in your bag. Obviously, since your bottle of wine is waaay over the 100 ml limit, you can’t put it in your carry-on. The only exception to that rule is buying it after security duty-free. Otherwise, all other alcohol must be packed in a checked luggage.

There is also a limitation to how much alcohol content can be in the bottle. There are three simple rules to traveling with alcohol:

1. You can have as much as you want in your checked luggage under 20 percent alcohol. This includes your typical wines and beers.

2.You can only have up to 5 liters of alcohol between 20 and 70 percent alcohol.

3.Alcohols over 70 percent are not permitted in your luggage whatsoever.

For more information, click here. The last thing I would want is for the TSA to confiscate a very expensive bottle from you, so stay in the know!

2. See what services are available to you.

While you are on the Internet searching for TSA guidelines (oh, how fun!), look and see what is available to you for where you are going. If you are going to wine country, look at the vineyards you are visiting. Many vineyards will ship your wine home.

Even if they charge you a shipping fee, it might be worth it to save space, weight, and stress on your mind. At least you don’t have to worry about the TSA manhandling your luggage! *nervous laughter*

If their website doesn’t say that they do, shoot them an email or give them a call. You’re not going to get in trouble for asking!

I actually did call Stonington Vineyards, which is a vineyard local to me in Connecticut. I talked with Nancy, the Director of Operations, who was more than happy to answer my questions.

“I can ship to anyone in the Continental US, except for Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, and Delaware,” She told me. “Those four states have blue laws that make it so we can’t ship there.”

So if I were to go there and want the wine shipped back to my house in Connecticut, a state without these blue laws, it would save me a large headache. All by doing a little bit of research!

Also, if you did want to check out Stonington Vineyards, you can visit their website at http://www.stoningtonvineyards.com.

3. Don’t go crazy.

Picture this:

You’re in a foreign destination. You find a bottle or two you really like at a fancy winery and it seems like you want to buy out their whole stock!

I mean, that sort of happened to me, but instead of a foreign destination, I was in Ohio. And instead of a fancy winery, I was looking at a $7 bottle of wine in Aldi that I had tried with my grandmother. Soooo, same thing, right?

I mean, I wanted to buy a few bottles of this one wine. I reminded me of another bottle I had that I liked back home. But instead, I bought a bunch of different types.

What a mistake!

When talking to Nancy, she told me that each checked luggage should have no more than three bottles (which I did not follow), be placed in zip top bags, and they should be wrapped in your sweats or clothing. So, best two out of three. 🙂

Which leads me to my next point…

4. Be prepared.

If you are going somewhere and you know you are going to buy some alcohol or other filled glass bottle, do some research. While I was reading this article on VinePair, they said that having a hard luggage can help with the shock for the bottles.

I didn’t have that, so I lined my suitcase with all of the sweaters I bought while I was there.

Other products that were recommended were products not available in the United States, but I was able to find this bubble wrap wine bag on Amazon! You’re welcome. I’m going to buy a couple and try them on my next trip.

Plastic bags are not a bad option if you have a bottle or two. More than that and just like me, you’re asking for trouble. Newspaper is also a viable option, but be sure to know that it can get heavy quickly.

Speaking of weightiness, glass bottles are also very heavy! When you’re carrying a bottle or two in your hands, things don’t seem so bad. Then you put your luggage on a scale and it’s a whole different ballpark.

I weighed the bottles that I had purchased and they were all between 2 ½ and 3 lbs. per bottle. Even if you have three bottles in your checked luggage, that could be a significant chunk of your allotted weight. So if you plan on doing any sort of shopping that includes thick glass bottles, be sure to pack light! Or just mail your clothes home. 🙂

Bonus tip for drivers!

Before getting off the phone, Nancy left me with one last tidbit for those doing traveling with wine by car:

“You wouldn’t leave your child or pet in the car. Don’t leave your wine in the car! Any temperature below 32⁰F and above 65⁰F can damage your wine. So if you are checking into a hotel overnight, take your wine with you!”

I wouldn’t have thought to do that, but it makes sense. Wine, though tasty, can be very finicky about its temperatures!

So back to my original story…

We land back in Connecticut and the anxiety that I was feeling before was coming back. The checked baggage conveyor belt seemed like it took eons to start moving.

The belt began to move.

I anticipated seeing my bag come out, leaking red wine out of the space between the zippers. Or maybe it would dribble as I pulled it back to the car, leaking all the way home.

But it came to me on the belt, intact and not leaking. I was skeptical after the way I saw the TSA officer haphazardly handling my bottles. I unzipped the top of the bag and stuck my hand in. Considering there could have been shards of glass, this probably wasn’t the best move.

But there wasn’t! My hand came out perfectly dry!

A wave of relief came over me. This is amazing. I get to keep my bottles and all the sweaters I bought? This must be Christmas.

But seriously, don’t do what I did! I got lucky because my fragile stickers weren’t there when I got my luggage back. That means at somewhere along the trip my bag could have gotten treated like any other bag. I don’t want to think about it!

So what are your travel mishaps? Have you ever gotten your luggage with a broken bottle in it before? What should I write about next? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy Travels!

Gem

Big thanks again to Stonington Vineyards for helping me out with my research. 🙂 Again, if you are curious about their wine and vineyard click here. This post is not sponsored by Stonington Vineyards.

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2 Comments

  1. Traveling to CT from Alabama once and I hadn’t flown in a while, and didn’t know that jelly/jam was considered a liquid ? Had 3 jars of apple butter I had bought for my mom thrown in the trash. Wasn’t a fun day.

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