Have you ever tried to optimize your carry on toiletry game? I recently went on a college campus tour with my daughter where we had multiple flights over the course of a few days, and I challenged myself to have NO liquids at all for a more efficient airport experience. After researching items that were small in size, solid toiletries, I decided on the products in this post. Every one of these products was in my luggage and it worked! We had a hassle-free security experience. Here is what I found!
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TSA Guidelines for Liquids: the 3-1-1 Rule
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) uses a rule called 3-1-1 about carry on liquids. Basically, the rule means:
- 3: Liquids must be in a travel size container or 3.4 ounces / 100 milliliters or less
- 1: Liquids must be in a 1 quart-size clear bag
- 1: Each passenger is allowed one bag of liquids
PS In the US, always check the TSA website for the most up to date TSA rules regarding what you can and cannot bring on a flight. If you are traveling internationally, do some research to your destination to ensure you will be able to pass the screening process wherever your travels take you.
Organize Your Toiletries for a Smooth Airport Experience With 2 Bags
Dry / Solid Toiletries
Mini first aid kit, nail clippers, solid toiletry items like the ones in the table above (they are also discussed in significant detail below), disposable razors,
For your liquids bag, you will need a TSA-friendly toiletry bag. This can be as simple as a 1-quart clear plastic bag, preferably the zip-loc type. You can also find a clear travel toiletry bag set like this one.
You can use one bag for your solid items, and another for your liquids. It is a set of 3 so the third could be used to organize cords and tech! I like that these have hooks so can hang in the bathroom at your destination.
Or, you could just use a small clear bag for your liquids. This is what I do. I use a bag the link above for my liquids and then this eBags Classic Pack-it-Flat Toiletry Kit for my solids:
Expert Tips for packing your carry-on toiletry bag
Items you don’t need much of:
- If you have an extra contact lens case, it is an excellent way to bring creams like eye cream, liquid foundation, night cream, and other liquids you will only need a small amount of on your travels, especially for shorter trips! Just fill each section with your product and you are good to go!
- Keep any samples you get for face products. They are typically small in size so perfect carry-on liquids as they don’t take up much space in your 1-quart bag.
Keeping Toiletries Organized and Leak Free
- Keep your toiletries bag packed and ready to go. If you go through it after each trip and replenish missing items, you can just grab it for your next trip! You may need to make an adjustment or two if it is a particularly long trip, but for the most part, you will be able to grab and go!
- If you have a liquid beauty product that you just cannot live without, think about purchasing refillable bottles like these COLIBROX Leakproof Travel Bottles. The bottle size fits within the TSA liquids rule, and the large opening helps to make refilling them easy.
- To be extra sure your bottles will not leak, unscrew and remove the cap, place a small amount of plastic cling wrap over the opening, and then put the cap back on.
When No Solid Toiletry Alternative Exists or You Need a Full Size
- Some beauty products are difficult to find in a solid that fits within the TSA Rules. Dry Shampoo, for example, will need to be in your clear toiletry bag, as will contact solution if you are a contact lens wearer.
- For longer trips where you may actually need a full-size bottle of something, you can always visit a local grocery store. I do this each summer when we visit my husband’s family in Portugal. My hair needs a lot of conditioner after days on the beach and I just buy it when we get there.
The Carry On Toiletry List: 11 Items You Will Always Find in Our Bag
These little tabs replace your toothpaste. You just bite on one, chew it a little just a little to be able to spread it out and brush away! A few different brands of these tabs exist. The hello has a very minty taste and works well. Truth be told, I do prefer plain old toothpaste when I am not traveling, but these are absolutely perfect for your travels. The tin itself is not too large, so you can pack that. If you are incredibly space sensitive you could even take the exact number you need in a smaller pill box.
I always have these as part of my flight survival kit for long haul flights.
You can check out my in flight necessities and get a FREE printable of the list HEREHow to Pack For an International Flight
In any case, these little individually wrapped deodorant wipes are perfect when you need to freshen up. I love the lavender smell and the convenience of the individually wrapped packets. You can stash a few in your bag and have enough for the rest of your trip with your toiletries. My skin is pretty sensitive and they are also gentle. I have never experienced any irritation at all. They are great for staying fresh and comfortable!
I love these little soap sheets for those times when you are in a public bathroom and the soap has run out. You just take one of the sheets of soap, lather and rinse. Voila! You are good to go. The scent is mild and not long lasting. The one thing that is probably important with these is that they are, in fact, small sheets of soap. I would imagine in humid conditions that they may stick together. You may want to keep them in a zip lock bag or other container that will keep humidity out if you are traveling to a humid location.
4. ult ego | Eco Friendly & Vegan Solid Perfume | Simple & Safe Ingredients | Original Sin Scent 11ml
This little tube of solid perfume is about the size of a lipstick. So convenient! I love the concept of having perfume on a trip, and in the spirit of all solid carry on, this absolutely fits the bill. From a scent perspective, it is quite sweet smelling. My daughter loves it and carries it with her everywhere.
This is the solid perfume that I use. I love the sandalwood and vanilla combination, and the scent is long lasting but not overpowering. The product is small and the dispenser easy to use. This perfume definitely makes bringing a signature scent on the road much easier.
Flying is so dehydrating! I love to bring sheet face masks on trips and these are great. Having these on hand is a fun way to relax in your room with a little pampering once your have arrived at your destination. On overnight flights I will sometimes even sneak one on after they turn out the cabin lights!
Most of the time my travels are to places where shampoo and conditioner are provided, but sometimes we will rent an airbnb or VRBO that does not stock it for you. These solid shampoo and conditioners are perfect for that situation! These bars lather, clean, and condition well. And the fragrance is nice! Leaves your hair feeling great.
This solid oil based facewash/face cleanser is a great addition to your carry on toiletry kit. It replaces your standard makeup remover and is extraordinarily moisturizing. My daughter liked it so much she kept it for herself after our last trip!
This bar is soft, almost buttery. You can rub it directly onto moist skin or rub it on your fingers first and then transfer it onto your face. I was worried at first that it would feel heavy, but it really does not and it’s hydrating without leaving you feeling greasy. It’s a great solid toiletry for travel and even at home if you are trying to be more eco-conscious!
Sun Bum is my favorite sunscreen and this stick is the one I bring in my carry on. It does not leave your face a white color and smells so good! It’s a small size that is perfect for carry on travel.
Oh my gosh I love this foundation! I bought it specifically because I was going on the carry on only trip with my daughter and was challenging myself to all solid toiletries. It is amazing! It goes on silky smooth and has nice coverage. I like the more natural look so it works for me, but I did read in some reviews that you can also layer it if you like more coverage. It is slightly larger that a lip gloss so does not take up extra space, and I felt it was all I needed for my trip!
Frequently Asked Questions about Carry On Toiletries
Q: What are basic carry on toiletries for travel?
Toiletries are the personal hygiene and beauty products you use. So think, toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss; face cleanser and make up remover; lotions and serums; make up; hair supplies; razors; feminine products; contacts/glasses/contact solution; sunscreen; nail supplies. The trick to packing many of these items is that they are liquid and therefore bound by the TSA and other travel authority rules. You will want to be strategic about how you pack items in your bag so as to be able to breeze through the security checkpoint
Q: Does stick sunscreen count as a liquid?
The TSA website does not take a position on stick sunscreen (as of 4/2021). However, other solids with a similar consistency such as deodorant sticks, bar soap, and chapstick are allowed in your carry on. Following that logic, stick sunscreen would not count as a liquid. Plus, I have definitely carried stick sunscreen on with no issue. That said, the TSAS has no official position and it is ultimately up to the TSA Agent to decide.
You can bring up to 3.4 oz of cream sunscreen if you want to avoid the risk. Review the TSA website here for specifics. If you are traveling internationally, always remember to review the airport authority guidelines for your destination.
Q: Is Bar Soap considered a liquid when flying?
According to the TSA Website, bar soap is allowed on flights and not considered a liquid. You can see the TSA website here to search other specific items, and if you are traveling internationally, always remember to review the airport authority guidelines for your destination.
Q: How do you pack toiletries for a flight?
For air travel, how you pack your toiletries depends on whether or not you plan to use carry-on luggage only or if you plan to check your bag. This post is more geared at carry-on only travel and goes over the strategy of using two separate bags, one for dry items and one for liquid. If you are planning to check your bag, you have a little more freedom on how to pack them, as larger liquids can be checked.
Q: Can you put toiletries in carry on?
Yes! If you are hoping to do as I did on my recent trip, you can create a carry on toiletry list that consists of all solid toiletries. That makes going through airport security easier and spillage into your luggage less likely. If you have liquids that you MUST carry with you for whatever reason, make sure you put them in a clear quart size bag, that they are not bigger than 100ml, and that you double check liquid regulations from the TSA and other airport authorities around the world.