Home Airports How To Get Around The TSA Liquid Rule & Carry More Shampoo, Lotion, Etc. In Your Carry On

How To Get Around The TSA Liquid Rule & Carry More Shampoo, Lotion, Etc. In Your Carry On

by SharonKurheg

Ever since the transatlantic aircraft plot in 2006, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been enforcing what is known as “3-1-1 for carry-ons,” wherein travelers are allowed to carry liquids through security checkpoints in containers of 3.4 ounces (100 mL) or less that fit comfortably in one quart-size clear plastic zip-top bag.

It is, in a word, a pain. At least it is for me, because my personal rule of packing is to make sure I have everything I would need for 24-48 hours, and that includes sample/small sizes of all the “essential” liquids and gels I would need. Here’s what that usually includes:

Photo Dec 10, 5 50 11 PM

It BARELY all fits, even when I put everything into the bag as if it was a Tetris game.

Oh, and if we’re going somewhere cold, add a tube of Carmex and a small bottle of hand lotion to that bag (and to make it all fit, I remove the asthma inhaler, since it’s medication and doesn’t have to be in my 3-1-1 bag; I just prefer that it is, so I always know where to find it).

Anyway, I recently discovered a few items that might be able to help decrease the liquids in many peoples’ 3-1-1 bags…

  • Soap: Obviously, you can bring a bar of soap instead of liquid soap. That one’s a given 😉
  • Shampoo: Several companies make solid shampoos, including Lush (they also make solid conditioners), Basin, Chagrin Valley and Ethique.
  • Lotion/Moisturizer: You wouldn’t think that a moisturizer could come in a solid form, but it can! Basin makes several, as does Honey House Naturals. Or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can make your own.
  • Perfume/Cologne: Basin and Lush both carry over a dozen different scents of solid perfume, and several companies make men’s colognes in solids (all are available on Amazon):
    Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 6.54.45 PM

    Photo via www.toolsofmen.com

  • Bug Repellent: If you know you’re going to be in a “buggy” situation as soon as you land and you want to bring bug spray with you, OFF! makes insect repellent towelettes, as do Repel and Cutter, among others.
  • Toothpaste: Instead of toothpaste, you can bring tooth powder. Colgate makes it, as does Pepsodent, and, yes, Lush. You can even make your own. Oh, and Poligrip makes a powder, in case your teeth are like the stars and come out at night (my dad told me that joke when I was a much, much younger Sharon. So young that I didn’t know about false teeth yet and totally didn’t get the joke).
  • Deodorant: Stick deodorant is considered a solid so you can bring whatever size and brand you like; it doesn’t have to go into your 3-1-1 bag.

Of course, if you’re flying somewhere where you know it’ll be easy to get liquid products, you can always just buy them once you land. That way, you can kill two birds with one stone – you can avoid going over the TSA limit and you get to shop local. If you’re not sure if that kind of option will be available in the area where you’re going to be, you can always ask your hotel in advance, or you can also check to see if there are smaller, independent boutiques or shops nearby and check their listings online.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


SUNNY December 28, 2019 - 5:04 pm

How much do you really need ? Unless you are going to the Amazon basin or the Himalayas, odds are there will be a Walgreens or CVS within walking distance . Unless you are really roughing it you should be able to make do.

SharonKurheg December 28, 2019 - 5:14 pm

You hit the nail right on the head – there are some places (not just the Himalayas) where it might not be so easy to find toiletries on the fly. We just came back from Munich and Frankfurt and rarely saw a place to buy soda or candy bars, never mind essentials. I also might not want to go looking for toothpaste after my plane lands at 11:30pm. So, better to have it with me. As always, YMMV 😉

jenniferkregan December 30, 2019 - 12:56 pm

I have been to both Munich and Frankfurt, I don’t know exactly where you were, but I have never had a problem finding a market or chemist.

Dave Thompson December 29, 2019 - 9:30 am

I always check my large suitcase and use a backpack for a carry on. No worries with size limits on shampoo etc. You could end up spending almost as much on miniatures as it cost to check your bag.u

JAMIE May 15, 2020 - 6:46 pm

That’s a good point Dave. Unless someone is happy just using hotel shampoo, lotion, and soap, you may just be cheaper (or break even checking in). I’ve learn to get through 10 day trips with a carry on bursting at the seams, but anything beyond that I’ll just check in. I don’t want to do laundry on a trip, and would rather not half a** wash my clothing in the sink. I hear all the times that people talk about airlines losing their luggage but this isn’t actually as common as people think it is.

JAMIE May 15, 2020 - 6:39 pm

It depends how specific you are with products. I only buy cruelty free products and would rather not have to pick up things on trips (especially when going abroad). I would rather stick to hair, makeup, and skincare products that I am familiar with rather than to explore. Also a number of the solid products created aren’t cheap so it might be easier to just check in rather than to have to buy more things (I’d rather create less waste than to buy more). I’ve tried the tooth powders, shampoo bars, and solid perfumes and yeah I wasted my $. I just do the 2 (sometimes 3) bag trick of keeping one bag in my carry on, and 1 in my personal bag. If for whatever reason I need a 3rd (it’s probably due to needing a lot of sunscreen due to diving trips), I just remove it from both those bags. Are you supposed to do this? No. I’ve never been told by TSA that they needed to confiscate a bag however, if they told me that I had to, I’m prepared for that and would just dump the cheapest products.

derek December 28, 2019 - 5:43 pm

I would get a slightly larger bag. Are you sure that bag is 1 liter? Take out the inhaler. That should get an exemption to the rule.

SharonKurheg December 28, 2019 - 5:46 pm

Thanks :-). The bag is 1 quart (U.S. regs) and I always keep the inhaler out. The point of the post was more all the different things you can get as non-liquids 😉

Emily December 28, 2019 - 6:17 pm

I bring my own shampoo and face wash and sunscreen use everything else that’s provided by the hotel. Done. Yes, from the large dispensers. No I haven’t gotten Ebola from them yet.

L GOODWIN December 29, 2019 - 3:04 pm

I’ve always packed 3x that much in 2 makeup cases and never once was I questioned. I fly monthly.

Ptahcha January 4, 2020 - 11:25 pm

You know you carry more than 1 quart bag of stuff, right?

Theresa a Stancil February 10, 2021 - 1:18 pm

I tried taking 2 and the TSA made me throw stuff away, the TSA page says 1 only

Jake Stephens January 5, 2020 - 9:54 am

Where is your departure airport? I fly 15 to 20 times per year and have not done that plastic bag thing in over 4 years. I pack full size and travel size items I’m my carry on for every flight. I’ve never checked my bags. Plus look at your fellow travelers going through security – Nobody follows this rule anymore and it is not enforced!

SharonKurheg January 5, 2020 - 10:27 am

Glad to hear you and others haven’t been caught yet. I like to follow rules. YMMV 😉

JAMIE May 15, 2020 - 6:43 pm

I’ve had mini cans of coke confiscated and an 8 ounce bottle of sunscreen confiscated. I’ve never had problems though with having 2 or 3 different quart sized bags. Once in awhile I’ll have something 4 ounces and haven’t had issues.


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