So you’ve scored some awesome tequila during your vacation or trip, and you want to get it home without breaking. I’ve been in this situation countless times – and have developed a few basic rules that, when followed, will increase the chance that your tequila will arrive safely at your destination.
If you’re like me, packing is a last-minute sport, and you need to do it quickly, and on the cheap. My rules are designed for people like me – with poor planning skills, no special packing materials, and a whole lot of precious tequila cargo.
Thankfully, by following my own rules, I’ve never had a bottle break, and I’ve never had an issue with security or customs.
11 Rules of Safe and Hassle-free Tequila Packing
1.) Only pack sealed bottles.
When you’re leaving Mexico, before you can check your luggage, they will hand inspect the contents of every bag. They’re mainly looking for a few things – like perishable food and plants – and if you’re carrying any liquor bottles, they want to make sure that they haven’t ever been opened, and that each bottle is sealed from the factory. If a bottle isn’t sealed, they won’t let you check it. So try to make it easy for them to see that the bottle is still sealed.
2.) Make it easy for airline & security personnel to access.
During these hand searches, don’t make it too difficult to access your bottles. If they have to dig around inside the bag and move everything that you’ve carefully packed, you’re going to have to re-pack everything all over again in a hurry as other people are waiting in line behind you. This includes wrapping your bottles all tight and secure in bubble wrap – which might seem like the best way to protect the bottles, but you’ll have to unwrap them all during the security process.
3.) Keep things right side up.
I always like to make sure that my bottles aren’t upside down. If your bag has wheels, make sure that the bottom of each bottle points to the wheels. This will prevent any major problems in the event that a cap comes loose. Be aware of how you will naturally be carrying the bag, and place the bottles accordingly in the bag.
4.) Don’t place bottles too close to any side of the bag.
You never know what’s going to happen in transit, and how your bag is going to be treated. I always assume that the bag will be thrown, dropped, and come into contact with other bags. So I always make sure that there is some cushion space around all sides of the bag.
5.) Don’t pack bottles directly in contact with other bottles.
I never pack bottles so there is glass-to-glass contact. If the bag is dropped or thrown, bottles crashing together could easily break. Also, keep in mind that during the entire flight, there will be constant vibration coming from the plane, it could end up breaking your bottles over time as they grind together.
6.) Jeans make great packing material.
I like to pack my bottles in jeans because they’re easy to get at (and quickly repack) during inspections, and the pant legs can completely surround the bottles. Also, some bottle designs contain corks that could come loose during the trip. By folding the pant legs over the cork, and tucking the pant under the bottle, you’re adding another layer of protection so the cork doesn’t come loose.
7.) Don’t overload the bag with tequila!
Remember, bags have a weight limit, and bottles of tequila can be heavy. Most airlines will charge you extra if your bags weigh more than 50 pounds. If you have access to a scale (at home, or in your hotel room), check the weight before you get to the airport.
8.) Avoid using bags that don’t have any support.
Duffel bags, backpacks, and other soft-sided bags aren’t ideal for transporting bottles. The lack of support will mean a greater chance of bottle damage. If you don’t have any other choice, and you pack carefully, you can still use one of these bags – but you won’t be able to fit as many bottles into it as you can with a bag that has more support.
9.) Plastic bags can help in case of breakage.
In the event that a bottle breaks during transit, the use of plastic bags can help you clean up the damage. It’s not going to be able to fully contain the spill, but it will make it easier to clean up the broken glass. Some people think that they should seal the bottle in a series of plastic bags to prevent the tequila from coming in contact with the clothing inside. This isn’t a good idea because it makes the bottles difficult to access during security screenings. If you have any clothing that is really important or delicate, and you want to be sure that no tequila comes in contact with them, place those items inside of a sealed large clear plastic bag instead.
10.) Don’t use newspaper as packing material.
Newspaper and magazines don’t make good packing material for heavy tequila bottles. They can compress during transit and end up leaving large gaps inside the bag where items can shift and bump into each other.
11.) Spread the weight evenly throughout the bag.
Remember that other people are going to need to pick up the bag throughout the journey, and if the bag is heavy on one side, it will be an unexpected surprise to these people. This could result in your bag being dropped and/or falling over and creating additional points of impact. An unbalanced bag can be very easily damaged.
Do you have any of your own rules to add to this list? If so, please contribute them below! — Grover