When planning for a trip, the first things I consider aren’t flights or lodging. It’s booze. As a spirits writer, it’s the first cultural touchstone I want to know about in a new place. On a recent work trip to Japan, I sought out hard-to-procure bottles of bourbon, an endeavor I wrote about here.
However, the struggle isn’t finding out what to drink. It’s finding out how to bring some back — as a gift for a friend, or for myself.
WikiHow recommends wrapping bottles in shirts or sweaters, bubble wrap or newspaper, then situating your wrapped booze in the center of your checked bag and ensuring there’s ample support on all sides of it. A website called Alcademics suggests a zippable plastic bag solution, so if it does break, the contents within won’t be totally lost. The same site also says you can use a shoe if your feet demand a large enough size. Even the Transportation Security Administration, the beacon of thoughtfulness that it is, provides no help here (though it does offer up puns: “Don’t be absinthe-minded and make pour choices…”).
None of these options provide a guarantee of safe passage in the undercarriage of an airplane, and I’m not one to trust my shoe to protect a bottle of alcohol anyway. My recommendation to you: opt for a 16-pack of affordable wine bottle protectors and never look back.
They pack paper-thin and blow up in about 10 seconds with a tiny pump. The best part? They cost less than $1 per bottle protector. As far as I can tell, there’s only one caveat: fatter bottles will be a tight fit (I struggled to fit a bottle of Blanton’s in one on a recent trip). I could not tell you if one brand is better than the other, because of the three Amazon vendors I’ve procured them from, I’ve not seen any difference in what I received.
This is the best way to bring booze home without risking it in the process. Period.
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