Think about the typical souvenirs you pick up when you’re on the road. Sometimes, you stumble into a real find … only to be worried about how you’ll get it home. This can include art, wine, or other cool reminders of where you’ve been. The thought of opening your suitcase when you get home to find leaking fluids, broken glass, or a tattered memory can be a real downer – to the point where you give up on something that would otherwise make you happy.

Take control of the situation! With some smart packing, you can reduce the risk of broken gifts when you travel. And, it doesn’t have to be as hard as you think. Some simple planning can go a long way. Here’s how to travel with breakables:

Pick the Right Bag

how to travel with breakables using a carry on

You need to make sure you have enough space for the breakables you’re going to pack – as well as extra space for padding and other soft materials. It’s all about knowing which bag is best for your needs. It’s a good idea to invest in a good bag once you book your flight deals. If you have several large items, putting a breakable into a small, cramped carry-on can be far worse than checking an appropriately sized bag.

But, if you’ve ever looked outside the window of an airplane to watch the luggage being put into the bottom of the aircraft, you know that you don’t want to leave your smaller breakables in a checked suitcase. In those cases, you’re much better off packing your fragile items in your carry-on bags so that you can control how it’s handled throughout the entirety of the travel process.

Ask About Shipping

how to travel with breakables by shipping

You probably aren’t the first person to buy breakables where you’re traveling. If you purchase art, for example, get some advice from the artist or gallery. Find out if it makes more sense to ship your purchase home instead of carrying it yourself. There are some cases where what you want to take home just won’t fit. You’ll wind up with two choices: take the risk or find another way. Make the right decision: although it may be a pain to ship something home, it’s definitely worth it.

Space it Out

If you put all your breakables in one bag (using the tip above), there may not be enough padding to go around, and glass items (for example) may clink against each other, leading to their mutual destruction. Spread your breakables out over as many suitcases as you can.

You may also enjoy: A Guide to Quick and Efficient Weekend Trip Packing

Use Bubble Wrap (Or Bubble Wrap Alternatives)

how to travel with breakables using bubble wrap

Bubble wrap is the gold standard when you’re figuring out how to travel with breakables. This type of material helps to absorb impact, protecting all of your valuables in the process. If you don’t have access to bubble wrap, consider using everyday items that will cushion the impact like socks, hoodies, and towels. If you’re going to be packing these clothing items anyway, you might as well use them to serve double duty by protecting your breakables in transit. Other ideas include tissue paper and plastic bags.

Pack Everything Individually

how to travel with breakables by packing everything individually

The last thing that you want is for your breakable items to be clashing up against each other in transit. For this reason, you need to be purposeful about packing everything individually. In the unfortunate event that something breaks in your luggage, packing each item individually will guard against glass going everywhere. It’s also a good idea to keep your breakables in the center of the luggage away from the edges as an extra layer of protection.

Use Packing Cubes

how to travel with breakables using packing cubes

Packing cubes are not just useful for organizational purposes. These cubes can also be helpful when looking to protect your breakables. However, don’t trust the cubes themselves to protect your fragile items. They should be used as a way to separate breakables from each other. Within each cube, you’ll still need to use the proper packing materials to ensure that they’re protected. Breakables should be packed a minimum of two inches apart from each other and the other hard objects in your suitcase.

Don’t Overpack

how to travel with breakables without overpacking

One of the most common mistakes travelers make when packing breakables is overpacking or wrapping the fragile item too tightly. This will actually put more pressure on it, leading to a higher risk of it breaking. The goal is to pack everything evenly but densely. You want to avoid gaps, however, you don’t want to pack it in too tightly. It’s also important to stuff the interior of the hollow areas of your breakables. For example, stuff a stray sock into the inside of a wine glass to prevent further risk of breaking.

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