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How to pack travel-size toiletries

Packing travel-size toiletries

Travel-size toiletries are great for two reasons: They save space in your suitcase while traveling and they comply with TSA rules about flying with liquids in carry-on luggage. However, many people still are confused about how to pack travel-size toiletries.

Once you know the rules about flying with liquids and what your options are for packing travel-size toiletries, the process is quite simple.

Rules about flying with liquids

To comply with TSA rules, any liquid toiletries packed in your carry-on must be in containers of no more than 3.4 ounces or 100 ml. For TSA purposes, pastes, gels, creams, balms and aerosols count as liquids. All liquids must be packed in a clear bag of no more than 1 quart in volume; you can use either a plastic zipper bag or a clear toiletry bag. This is sometimes referred to as the 3-1-1 rule because you can pack containers of (roughly) 3 ounces in one bag of 1 quart. These rules don't apply for checked baggage, so you can pack any liquids in containers of more than 3 ounces in hold luggage.

How to pack travel-size toiletries

You can either buy toiletries in travel-size containers or decant your regular toiletries into travel bottles. Pack your toiletries in the right bag to avoid any issues when you get to airport security.

Buy travel-size toiletries

You can choose to buy sets of travel-size toiletries. Exact contents vary, but these sets usually contain shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and cleanser or face wash. They also may contain extras such as moisturizer, sunscreen and toothpaste. Some companies sell travel-size toiletries individually, so you can mix and match products. This is the easiest way to acquire travel-size toiletries but also the most expensive because travel-size bottles of 3 ounces or smaller often cost far more per unit than full-size offerings because you're paying extra for the convenience.

Decant toiletries into travel bottles

If you travel regularly, it makes sense to buy small TSA-approved travel bottles into which you can decant your toiletries. Even factoring in the cost of the bottles, you'll save money after a couple of trips because travel-size toiletries often are expensive. It also gives you more choice because not all brands sell their toiletries in travel bottles, so you might not find your favorite products.

Pack in a clear bag

When you're flying to your destination and planning to pack travel-size toiletries in your carry-on bag, pack them in a clear bag not exceeding 1 gallon in volume. Many people use clear gallon zipper bags, but you can buy clear toiletry bags if you want something sturdier. The bonus of using a clear toiletry bag is that you won't need to transfer your toiletries to a different bag once you reach your destination.

If you find it hard to pack everything in a single gallon bag, consider switching to solid toiletries for some items, such as soap instead of shower gel or solid shampoo instead of liquid shampoo. By definition, these aren't liquids, so they don't need to go in your clear bag.

Avoiding leaks

It goes without saying that you want to avoid leaks at all costs. The last thing you want is to arrive at your destination with clothes covered in shampoo and toothpaste from leaky containers. As long as you buy quality travel bottles, they should be leakproof, but check that the lids are closed properly before packing.

What you need to buy to pack travel-size toiletries

Vonpri Silicone Travel Bottles

These squeezable silicone travel bottles are reliably leakproof and easy to get all the product out of, unlike plastic options. Choose between 2-ounce bottles, 3-ounce bottles and sets containing both, all of which comply with TSA guidelines.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Squeeze Pod TSA-Approved Clear Toiletry Bag

This clear toiletry bag fits within the 1-quart size limit for bags of liquids when flying with them in a carry-on. It's durable and has a sturdy zipper, so it should survive through years of travel.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.


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