Best to leave that gravy for the checked baggage.

Thanksgiving Packing Dos and Donts
Credit: Getty Images

When it comes to packing your holiday dinner—or bringing the leftovers to a refrigerator near you—there are a few things you should know about the TSA. In addition to the many things you can't pack in your carry-on, there are 10 types of foods you absolutely take through security. Coincidentally, you can find many of these foods on a holiday dinner table. So before you pack that carry-on, educate yourself:


We'll start off with the not-so-surprising. If you try to bring a full (or opened) bottle of alcohol on your carry-on, they're definitely going to take it away.

Creamy Dips and Spreads

A lot of things could fall into this category: vegetable dip, hummus, baked brie, sweet potato salsa, spinach dip, grandma's "famous" salmon mousse. Why you'd want to bring any of these things on a carry-on is a mystery, but the more you know.


This is slightly sad news, considering just about anything is made with better with a bit of gravy. The good news: You can pack as many jars as you want in your checked bag(s).

Jam and Jelly

Doesn't matter if you're bringing them along as gifts or to accompany all of the homemade bread you're inevitably going to eat—don't bring it in your carry-on.

Maple Syrup

There's a lot you can do with maple syrup for the holidays (think: maple-glazed roast turkey). Pro tip: leave it for the grocery list.

Oils and Vinegars

Along with alcohol, this should be a no-brainer. Not to mention a spill could ruin everything else in your bag. Leave these essentials to the host.

Salad Dressing

Unless you plan on preparing a full-blown Caesar salad mid-flight—even then, leave the condiments to the flight crew—best to leave for post-travel preparation.

Salsa and Sauces

Think of it this way: If you really wanted to make your salsa or sauce ahead of time, it probably wouldn't even make it to the dinner table—this is one of those food categories that falls under "once you dip your chip, you just can't stop."


Packing soup sounds like a nightmare in general. Who wants to deal with explaining the mysterious sloshing coming from your carry-on anyway? Add it to the post-flight grocery list.


Yogurt and the holidays don't seem to have much overlap, but who are we to determine your dinner menu? No matter when you like your yogurt, there's no place for it on your carry-on.

Erika Owen is the Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.