Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pack for Travel: Toiletries & TSA

By Sheila

As a regular road warrior, I almost NEVER check bags when I fly. I like the ease of rolling out of the plane and being on my way. I like knowing that my bags are definitely going to get there. And I like to avoid standing in line to check them in the first place. The tricky part about this is condensing your toiletries and cosmetics into a manageable size that allows you to breeze through security. Here are some suggestions:
All "liquids" on the left; make-up tools and "dry" stuff on the right.

The basic limitations for TSA (US airport security) checkpoints can be found up to date on their website, but at the time of this writing you are limited to single liquid containers that do not exceed 3.4 ounces each, and all of your liquids should fit in a quart size baggie. This team of experts has absolutely no sense of humor regarding the 3.4 ounce limitation, but in my experience, they have been known to be a teensy bit flexible on the "baggie" size. I pack mine as shown below, and I don't have any problems.

All of my "liquid" goods, as described below, packed into my see-through bag.  You can see that is is close to quart size, and I always get a pass from TSA for this.
Cleanser, Eye Make-up Remover, Contact Case, Spare Contacts, and Solution, Moisturizer, Night Cream, Eye Cream, Toothpaste, & Carmex.  Note; cleanser and make-up remover could be replaced by the "towelettes", as shown.
Hair stuff; Hair Spray, Gel, Conditioner, and Shampoo (I love the container on the right! Buy at REI or travel stores)

The liquid Make-up; Primer, Foundation, Gloss, Lipsticks, Lip Pencil, Mascara.

In order to condense your liquids to carry-on size, consider streamlining your routine. I know, you're thinking "easy for you to say, I need blah, blah, blah", but do you really? Can any of your products do double duty? Could you use your day cream at night too, for just a few days? I'm thinking those wrinkles  won't appear (or disappear) in a weekend. Just think about it.

Next, when given a choice between liquid/gel and a solid, consider solid. For example; use powder blush instead of a gel or cream. There is no restriction on the cosmetics you tote that are not liquids or gels. However, TSA considers mascara a liquid, as well as lipsticks, etc. You get the picture. Put all non-liquid /gel products In a separate compartment so they don't complicate the security screening process.

They "Dry Goods"; these items do not need to be pulled out at security.
Finally, buy smaller containers for those products that don't already come in small packaging. I love the clear bottles and jars that come with sticky labels that you can customize to your needs, as you can see from several of the containers in the photos.  Also, save those samples you get for free with other cosmetic purchases.  If you are really tight for space, consider using the hotel shampoo (I hope my Hair Goddess will forgive me this occasional transgression). I always bring my own conditioner and gel. Some stuff, I just plan to buy when I get there, in travel sizes, and if it won't fit in to go home, I'll toss it (toothpaste, sunscreen, hand lotion, etc). When you consider the cost to check most bags, let alone the inconvenience, this is often worth it.

Here's all of it in one place...remember, the stuff in the lower left corner goes in the "red" tools/dry stuff bag.

One last tip; get organized BEFORE you get in line at the TSA checkpoint. Have your liquids together in an easily accessible location, ready to put on top of your stuff in the plastic bin. Oh, and if you have a laptop, put it in a bin by itself. IPads and tablets do not need to come out of your bag at all. Be ready to take off your shoes, belt, and take everything out of your pockets.

You are now ready to breeze through the security checkpoint, avoiding long lines at the ticket counter, and ready to roll as soon as you get off the plane. Go get your latte to enjoy on the flight! You've earned it! Bon Voyage!


  1. Stumbled onto your blog and so happy I did! Love this post, a girl can always use helpful tips on traveling! Great advice! Looking forward to reading more posts!

  2. Amazing tips!!! I am traveling tomorrow and already have my ziploc packed-- I thought I was good, but you're a pro :)