All you need to know about carrying liquids onboard.
We've all been there, standing in the security line willing the travelers in front of us to move a little faster. They pull out laptops, remove their shoes and then start digging through their bags to find every last gel, liquid or aerosol before hitting the scanner. Inevitably a TSA officer intervenes and the line halts.
The best way to avoid this security line scenario is to follow the rules. TSA tells us 3-1-1 for carry-ons: Containers must be 3.4 fluid ounces or smaller, they must fit in one 1-quart clear plastic zip-top bag and only one bag is allowed per passenger. This bag must be taken out of your luggage and placed in a security bin. The rule applies in the U.S. and has also been adopted in many countries around the world.
Of course, you could pack liquids in checked luggage. But to avoid fees and waiting in baggage claim, 3-1-1 it is.
So, how do you fit your toiletries and cosmetics into that teeny bag? First, place only what truly qualifies into the plastic bag. The rule is gels, aerosols and liquids. This includes items such as lip gloss—but not lipstick, toothpaste and spritz hair spray. By careful selection, you can free up space.
Next, collect travel-size items. Sure, you may find everything you need in the travel bins at your local drugstore, but there are other ways to score your favorite brands—often for free.
The basic solution: purchase small empty containers and DIY. But not everyone is gifted at neatly pouring conditioner from a big bottle into a tiny opening. Another option is to find free samples.
Hair salons offer tiny paper packets of hair products, and cosmetics counters offer sample sizes, too. When you're buying your favorite brand, ask for them. They're often smaller than 3 ounces but typically last for a few days—some items even longer.
Hit up the dentist or eye doctor, too, for travel-size toothpaste or contact lens solution.
If you're a frequent traveler and willing to spend a few bucks, check out the various online retailers dedicated to selling the brands you love in sizes that travel. 3Floz.com is just one site that sells everything from laundry soap to sunscreen. Sign up for a beauty sample service such as Birchbox. A range of samples come for $10 a month. Try some of your loot on shorter trips.
If you don't dare go a day without a signature scent, look for a solid perfume instead of a liquid to save on space in your plastic bag. Also, keep in mind that almost all hotels provide shampoo, hand and body lotion and other toiletries in the room.
When you follow the 3-1-1 rule, you'll save yourself—and the passengers behind you—from TSA-line anxiety.