Travel: Getting Beer Home Safely

Beer Travel Bag

My husband and I plan our vacations to beer-friendly cities to visit breweries and scout out the good beer bars in that area. Maybe one day my work colleagues won’t ask me why I’m visiting places like Belgium or Austin.

The conversations usually goes like this:

Do you have family there?
No
Oh? [pause] [confused look] [please supply more information]
We love beer and it’s a great place for it
Oh… [searches AA contacts]
sigh…

Back to the actual travel, here are some tips to get your precious, precious beer home safely.

Hard suitcase

Bring a hard shell suitcase for the beer or purchase a suitcase just for bottles such as the Wine Check bags (they even have a hard shell case now). We own the soft shell with the shipping insert. If you’re using a suitcase, I’d suggest using the carry-on hard shell as it’s big enough to hold many bottles and you can use clothing etc. to stuff around the sides as padding. If you do this in a larger suitcase, your bag will definitely be over-weight if you bring home as many beers as we do.

Extra luggage

To save on your baggage fees, pack your smaller suitcase inside of the larger one or travel lightly and pack a backpack as your carry-on for the ride home. That extra suitcase is for your beer, of course.

Bubble wrap

Bring lots with you.

Packing

Wrap your bottles in bubble wrap and pack your clothes around the bottles and outside perimeter to make sure nothing will move. Hopefully those pesky TSA agents don’t take a peek and unwrap everything. Let me tell you, they never pack it properly.

Leakage

If you’re concerned about the caps coming off or leaking, secure the caps with electrical tape or pack your bottles in bags such as Wine Skins or Jet Bags. These are padded, absorbent and reusable.

Customs

Check your duty-free limit and calculate your allowance in ml/oz, not in the number of bottles you’re bringing back. You could go way over your limit if you just declare the number of bottles as they base it on 355ml. For us Canadians, for 48 hours or longer you can bring back 8.5 litres per person. There’s no duty-free for under 48 hours (boo).

Over Limit

if you are over your limit for duty-free, have your receipts ready with the cheapest beer you bought. You don’t want to be paying up to 90% tax (yes, that’s what Canada makes you pay) on the expensive bottles.

Weight

Bring a hand-held luggage scale to make sure your checked baggage doesn’t exceed 50 lbs. Overweight fees are hideous and drinking at the baggage desk may be frowned upon.

To date, all of our beer has made it home in one piece without any leaking or breakage. I’m the master suitcase-tetris packer – that is until TSA gets their paws on the bag and reorganizes it for me. At least they leave a nice little “we were here” note…

Happy travels!

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  1. Pingback: Craft Beer in Austin, Texas: beer travel with Hops Canary

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