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Don’t Forget the Sweet Potato Pie: Your Guide to Traveling with Food for Thanksgiving

Updated: Jan 3

Are you getting on a plane to visit your loved ones for Thanksgiving? You might want to brush up on the TSA rules for traveling with food first. According to the TSA website, "If it’s a solid item, then it can go through a checkpoint. However, if you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it, and it’s larger than 3.4 ounces, then it should go in a checked bag." But we’ll save you the mental gymnastics of trying to figure that out and break it down for you.

Before you go promising your Aunties that you’ll bring the sweet potato pie this year, have a quick read through this list of foods you can and can’t travel with for Thanksgiving.

Wine and champagne – If you’re bringing a bottle of bubbly or wine, it needs to go in your checked luggage. Bring as much wine as you can fit in your suitcase, but you’re limited if you’re bringing stronger stuff. Anything over 24% proof, you’re limited to 5 liters (1.3 gallons), so maybe wait and hit the liquor store when you arrive for the hard stuff.

Cranberry sauce – What’s Thanksgiving without a can of cranberry sauce (even if no one touches it)? If you’re bringing it, make sure it’s in your checked luggage, as it’s spreadable. This goes for jellies, jams, and preserves too.

Canned veggies and fruit – Are you bringing the ingredients for your green beans and white potatoes? Better check those cans. They’ve got liquid in them, so they’ll need to go in your suitcase.

Mac and cheese – You can’t have a family gathering without mac and cheese. Facts. If you’re bringing your secret recipe mac and cheese or anything else cooked in a pan or casserole dish, you can go ahead and carry it on. (And share that recipe with us.)

Sweet Potatoes – If you’re in charge of the sweet potatoes this year and you stop at the store before you get to the airport, don’t worry about having to check them. You can bring your sweet potatoes, greens, cabbage, and all that other fresh produce in your carry-on.

Turkey – If you’ve been trusted with the main event, no need to panic. You can carry your turkey – and ham, steak, chicken, or any other meat – on board with you. And that’s cooked, uncooked, or frozen. (Mind you, surely it’d be rude to bring a cooked turkey on board and not share it with your fellow passengers…)

Pie – Arguably the best part of Thanksgiving, pie is a must-have. That’s lemon pie, apple pie, pecan pie and sweet potato pie. Whatever pie you prefer (or cake or cobbler, for that matter), you’ll be pleased to know you can carry it and any other baked goods on board with you. Just try not to eat it all before you land.

(Keep in mind, if you have your pie with Reddi Whip (no judgment here), aerosol cans need to go in your checked luggage. Or just buy some actual whipped cream when you land instead?)

Thanksgiving is a special time of year when we gather and remind ourselves of all the things we’re grateful for. Right now, we’re grateful that TSA makes it fairly easy to travel with our Thanksgiving goodies once you know the rules! Just to be on the safe side, be sure to check with your airline as well before you travel. You don’t want to disappoint your Aunties by not bringing the pie, after all.


While you're hanging with the family, discuss your next vacation. We have a list of exciting vacations lined up for this coming year and we'd love to see you there! Have a look at upcoming trips below!

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