The Guide on Traveling with Food and Shipping Food this Holiday Season

There are facts in life that we each must come to terms with. Around this time of year, those facts are particularly important to making it successfully through the season. Such facts include the following: Traveling the day before Thanksgiving is a nightmare. Don’t show up empty-handed to your 80-year-old grandmother’s home – she doesn’t care if you’re in college, curing world hunger, or raising a litter of children, she’s old-fashioned and regards it as rude. And lastly, there will be lots of baking and eating. Despite the Mt. Everest of food created each year, you are still responsible for creating delicious things and shipping food across the ocean or country to multiple family members and praying everything arrives intact. These are simply the facts folks.

While we have yet to come up with a viable alternative to the annual Thanksgiving travel crisis – the flying dragons kept mashing bushes upon landing and the teleporters weren’t quite accurate – we do have a few tips for both traveling with and shipping food.

Arriving with edible, presentable food:


It’s late in the afternoon, the kids are dressed in outfits they hate that probably cost a week’s salary, everyone is “starving,” and you have just arrived at grandma’s house. Now, if you can just make it through the door with your cookies before the chocolate melts or they crumble to pieces.

Traveling with food can be complicated. This is especially true if you are traveling long distances or with the rowdy kiddos. Check out a few of our tips and favorite recipes for foods that travel well and stand up to lots of jostling and possibly dropping.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Soft cookies, quick breads, brownies, and bars travel well
  • Opt against anything with fillings, icings, or toppings
  • Avoid temperature-, moisture-, and humidity-sensitive treats
  • Visit before attempting to take food on a plane

What not to bring: divinity, cheesecake, popovers, multi-layer cakes, frosted cookies, jelly-filled treats, pies with intricate crusts, things that melt, or delicate candies

Shipping food across the country or the ocean:

Despite poking fun at all the holiday traditions, there are few things more exciting than getting actual packages in the mail. Receiving baked goods in the mail is basically like winning the mailbox World Series. The last thing you want to do is slave over crafting perfect cookies, only to get a call from your favorite auntie explaining that everything was a crumbled mess and she decided to make it the topping for an ice cream sundae. While we applaud her creativity, you deserve a successful delivery after all the time you put in. Try a few of our tricks to avoid shipping issues all together.

  • Prepare your baked good just before you plan to send them but be sure they are 100% cooled before you wrap them up to avoid moisture issues
  • Moist breads, brownies, bars, and soft cookies are easiest to package for safe arrival
  • If you do send crisp cookies, be sure to pack them separately from the soft cookies to avoid moisture exchange
  • Wrap each kind of baked good separately to avoid flavor transfer
  • Remember to pack your baked goods snuggly. The more they move around, the greater potential for a crumbled mess.
  • Pack boxes with popped popcorn or packing peanuts to avoid jostling during the mailing process

Safe travels this holiday season and may all your packages arrive intact.

Chelsea B. Sanz
Chelsea B. Sanz

Chelsea Sanz has lived in East Tennessee since her family moved here from South Florida just before she started high school. While she initially begrudged her new home state, she eventually realized she had come to not only love it, but to “bleed orange” as University of Tennessee Volunteers fans here like to say. She and her boyfriend Hunter, a trail worker for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, enjoy exploring the nation’s most visited national park and coming up with their own farm-to-table recipes.

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