As if crowded transportation hubs, inclement weather and family gatherings aren’t anxiety causing enough, there are less obvious holiday travel headaches. Here’s how to avoid a few of them.
Beat the wrap
At an airport, whatever you pack might be inspected, even in checked bags. Savvy travellers leave presents unwrapped (and throw in gift bags and tissue).
Do a solid
For flying, if it’s not solid at room temperature, it’s a liquid/gel. Snow globes and cans of soup are fluid examples that the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority advises to put in checked baggage.
If you want to fly with something you’re unsure about, send a photo or question to CATSA, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
Know your worth
When crossing the U.S. border, know the value of gifts you’re carrying (receipts aren’t a bad idea).
Flying within Canada, you can pack and check up to five litres of booze (24- to 70-percent alcohol) unopened in retail packaging—cushion bottles well and get your bag tagged “fragile.” Keep in mind that some provinces technically have lower limits for bringing in personal use amounts.
You can fly with cakes, pies and even produce and some meats (within Canada, check catsa-acsta.gc.ca/en/whatcanIbring). U.S. Customs and Border Protection allows baked items, most cheeses and packaged items (like condiments, honey, coffee and tea)—leave rice at home, because it can harbour insects. To be safe, declare everything that’s edible.
Vancouver native Lisa Tant, regional styling sales director for Nordstrom Canada, was the globetrotting editor-in-chief of Flare and publisher of Hello! Canada before becoming a fashion executive. She’s a shoulder season leisure tripper and pro-level business traveller who takes selfies of her fave travel looks to create a visual packing list. “But I’ll never get my packing down to one carry-on,” the shoe fanatic says with a laugh.
Over the holidays, “I never pack any [gifts] that can be shipped ahead, such as books or candles,” notes Tant, who recommends tucking a gift card into a mug or cosmetic bag to make it more special. (Nordstrom gives 1 percent of gift card sales to charity, so that card keeps on giving.) Adding monograms to cosy cashmere wraps or velour hoodies is one of her signatures.
The closest thing to a personal elf is Nordstrom’s new Gift Scout service, she says. “For a yoga lover, a gift scout may recommend a yoga outfit, water bottle and refreshing facial spritz, all packed into a gym tote,” wrapped and shipped to your lucky recipient.
Tant’s favourite souvenirs are finds with a sense of place: give visitors a Canada Goose tuque, for instance. The best host gift of the season? “Boxes of Sugarfina candy,”she says. “The Champagne gummy bears are always popular!”
When giving corporate gifts, why not send Canada to foreign clients? Canadiana-rich retailers like Indigo have online ordering, wrapping and delivery of crackling fire-scented candles, hockey-puck ice moulds, plush deer or polar-bear pillows and almost anything plaid (apron, mug, throw).