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How to ensure your gifts don't attract the wrong attention while travelling over the holidays

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As we enter the busiest travel time of the year, industry officials are warning you to be extra prepared when travelling this holiday season, and don't wrap your presents until you get where you're going.

Winnipeg's James Richardson International Airport sees more than 12,000 travelers per day, a number that skyrockets during the holidays. Longer lineups and increased wait times are to be expected, but officials say not wrapping your presents before you travel can make things go faster at customs.

Angela Young with the Canadian Border Service Agency tells CTV News all presents must be opened at the border, no matter what.

"Don't wrap the gift because when officers need to verify declarations at the border, they do have to unwrap the gift and inspect the gift," Young said. "We want to make sure that we're being respectful and expediting the traveler but still, you know, doing our mandate."

Young says tried-and-true travel tips always apply: be sure to check wait times online ahead of time, and always have your travel documents ready to go. She also says travellers coming back from abroad can also declare any items they're bringing back in advance online with advance declaration.

"It captures some bio data, name, birthday, some of your passport details, then it'll ask you the questions that the officer would ask right at the border," said Young. "Then when you arrive at your destination, your declaration is already given and it does cut the traveler time."

Young says advance declaration can cut wait times by up to one-third. Travelers can register for the service up to 72 hours before crossing the border.

The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) also warns holiday travelers not to wrap presents ahead of time, and be sure to put anything with more than 100 ml of liquid in your checked bag.

"Snow globes are a popular seasonal gift, but they are filled with liquid that must be 100ml or less. It’s best to pack snow globes in checked bags," said a CATSA spokesperson by email.

The CATSA also encourages passengers to put their wallets, phones, keys and coins into their carry-on bag to avoid delays at the metal detector. Putting a distinctive sticker on your laptop is another good tip.

"They all look the same," the CATSA email said, "so having that sticker helps to identify yours quickly and avoid taking someone else’s by mistake."

More than anything, officials urge patience as thousands of Manitobans travel to see their loved ones during the holidays.

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