Holiday TSA Packing Guide
Make your packing list and check it twice before heading to the airport this holiday season.
There’s only one man on earth that has holiday packing down to a science (ahem, Santa). The rest of us struggle to find a balance between packing what’s under the tree and not showing up to grandma’s house empty handed. Whether you’re transporting your famous sugar cookies or this year’s hottest toy, be sure to check out our list of dos and don’ts.
Are these items on TSA’s naughty or nice packing list?
Ham: Yes, your holiday ham can fly. Pack it in your carry-on or checked bag. If the food is packed with ice or ice packs in a cooler or other container, the ice or ice packs must be completely frozen when brought through screening. If the ice or ice packs are partially melted and have any liquid at the bottom of the container, they will not be permitted.
Mashed potatoes: Save the peeling for when you get to your destination. Prepared mashed potatoes are considered a paste and must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule. Boxed, instant mashed potatoes are safe for your carry-on or checked bag. Don’t forget about the gravy – the jarred variety must be checked.
Pecan pie: Have your pie and eat it too. Pies are safe in a carry-on but may require additional screening. If you’re the type that likes to top your pie, that can of whipped cream is an aerosol that must be checked.
Holiday cookies: Store your confections in a sealed container or plastic wrap. All foods will be X-rayed the same way as your bags, electronics and other possessions.
Wrapped presents: Don’t waste your time tying the perfect bow before you board your flight. Wrapped gifts are allowed but not encouraged. TSA agents may have to unwrap a gift if there’s something that needs to be inspected. If you have a favorite snowman-covered wrapping paper picked out, your carry-on is the easiest way to transport it.
If you are planning to bring other holiday favorites, use the “Can I Bring My …” tool on TSA’s website and enter the item(s) you want to pack. It will tell you whether you can keep it in your carry-on or checked bag.
If you still can’t find the answer, reach out to @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger, and a representative will get back to you right away. You can even send a picture of the item with your message. (And don’t worry, they’ve probably seen it all.)
Bonus packing tips:
- Bring an extra, empty bag for gifts you receive.
- If you’re packing an overcoat or heavy sweater, try wearing it to save space in your suitcase.
- Ship your gifts to a relative or friend’s house before you arrive. Amazon offers gift wrap on most items.
- Plan a shopping outing at your final destination or give the gift of an experience with friends and family you’re visiting and avoid packing or ordering presents altogether.
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