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4 min read

What to Know When Traveling with Alcohol

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Maybe you’re traveling to France and you’re trying to plan how to bring a few bottles of delectable wine home, or maybe you picked up a bottle of your dad’s favorite hard-to-find bourbon as a Christmas gift and you’re trying to figure out how to get it home for the holidays undamaged. Whether it's a bottle of bubbly, bourbon, or beer, special care is required when traveling with alcohol. One wrong step and your delicate cargo can leave a bitter taste and create a not-so-sweet memory. Every ounce of attention you devote to addressing the logistics of traveling with wine, beer, spirits, and liquor is well worth the reward. Before you hit the road or head for check-in, here are some valuable tips to make your alcohol-laden travel experience memorable for all the right reasons.

Choose Your Drinks Thoughtfully

There are several reasons you may want to bring some alcohol with you on a trip over buying it when you get there. It can be more cost-effective (ahem…especially if you’re a Bacchus member), and it can be a great way to bring a little taste of home to share if you’re visiting out of state. Choose your drinks carefully and select options that are not available at your destination. If you plan to share with friends and family when you arrive, take drinks that are native to the Twin Cities. There are more than 20 distilleries, dozens of wineries, and nearly 200 breweries in Minnesota. Select something you know is high quality and you would be proud to share with long-lost friends or raise a toast with at family celebrations.

As you make your choices, consider the tastes of your guests. Do they prefer wine, beer, or spirits? It's best to choose something that will sate their thirst and highlight the skills and talent regional producers pour into their craft and into your glass. Oh, and be sure to pack enough for everyone to enjoy. As a general rule, you will pour four to five glasses out of a bottle of wine or champagne, 22 shots in a one-liter liquor bottle, and one glass for every bottle or can of beer.

Read more: [Party Planning: A Drink Calculator for Weddings, Graduations, and More]

Know the Rules 

No matter your preferred method of transportation, there are probably some rules, or at least some strong recommendations, for you to keep in mind!

In the Air

When traveling with alcohol on a plane, it's essential to understand the rules for both checked baggage and carry-ons on domestic and international flights. According to the TSA, you are allowed to transport alcohol in your checked luggage as long as it is below 140 proof (70% alcohol by volume). However, it's important to check the specific airline's policies, as they may have restrictions or guidelines. For carry-ons, small containers of alcohol under 3.4 ounces in a quart-sized liquid bag are allowed. For reference, most little shooters are only about 1.5-2 oz (though Fireball shooters are 3.4 oz exactly…they knew what they were doing there). In any case, the most alcohol any one person can bring on a plane is 5 liters (1.3 gal) total.

When traveling internationally, it's crucial to research the alcohol import regulations of the destination country, as some nations have strict rules or customs duties on alcohol brought into the country. For instance, Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have strict alcohol importation laws. Additionally, certain countries like Turkey and India have limitations on the amount of alcohol you can bring in.

As for drinking on a plane, airlines typically serve alcohol to passengers, but moderation is key. The high altitude can indeed intensify the effects of alcohol, making you feel the effects of the alcohol faster. No one wants to end up like Kristen Wigg from that one Bridesmaids scene, so it's advisable to drink responsibly, stay hydrated, and be mindful of your alcohol intake to ensure a comfortable and safe flight experience. Additionally, certain countries have stricter regulations regarding in-flight alcohol consumption, so it's wise to be aware of the rules and cultural norms in the region you're traveling to.

On the Ground

If you are driving, there is generally no problem transporting alcohol across state lines for personal consumption. However, some states, such as Ohio, prohibit the transportation of alcoholic beverages. As a result, people do get stopped, ticketed, and even arrested for the practice. To avoid problems, check the state laws along your route and adjust your route if necessary so you can avoid legal entanglements.

Further, remember every state and restaurant has different rules and customs regarding traveling with open containers, bringing unopened bottles into restaurants, and taking opened bottles home. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, it is illegal to have an open container (any bottle that's seal is broken) within reach of the driver so it's best to transport alcohol in the trunk.

Finally, while rare, dry counties exist in the United States, you will find many in Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia, West Virginia, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kansas, and South Dakota. You can take alcohol into these counties for personal consumption, but you are limited to when and where you can drink while there.

Packing Your Precious Cargo

Alcohol packaging is not inherently travel-friendly. Obviously, glass is fragile and plastic could even crack or puncture. When packing your beer, wine, or spirits, be sure to protect them so they arrive intact. 

  • Seal them in a sturdy plastic bag to contain any potential spills.
  • Wrap the bottles in heavy socks or sweaters to provide extra cushioning.
  • For road trips, place bottles in a robust box or crate, securing them in the cabin or trunk where they won't be disturbed.
  • If you plan to stay at hotels during your journey, ensure they're accessible for easy retrieval to avoid temperature fluctuations.
  • When flying, center the bottles in your suitcase and surround them with items like books and heavy clothing to protect them from rough handling.
  • Consider the climate and the specific needs of the beverage you're transporting. Some alcohols are sensitive to temperature variations, so use an insulated cooler or container if necessary.

If you follow this advice, you will arrive at the function with full bottles and leave with overflowing memories.

Cheers, and safe travels to your destination!


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