The 2021 carry-on rules are in place, so it’s time to review what’s the same and what has changed. I’ve put together a detailed summary for your reference to use when flying this year. It’s essential that you know the rules before trying to build the perfect toiletry bag.
With worrying about security confiscating your liquids and packing enough toiletries for your trip, assembling a toiletry bag is stressful.
But if you use this packing strategy, you’ll have everything you need. And, you’ll be sure that none of your items gets lost or explodes along the way either!
Look for a toiletry kit that has lots of compartments, especially ones with clear or mesh pockets. That way you can see at a glance where everything is. A hanging toiletries bag is even better. I have one from L.L. Bean that I hang in a closet or on a towel rack. Love it!
Bear in mind, however, that a toiletries bag won’t be let through airport security. Make sure you’ve put your carry-on liquids in a clear, quart-sized bag, or spring for a toiletries bag that comes with a TSA-approved clear compartment.
No matter how long your trip is, most likely you won’t need big bottles of lotions and shampoo. Decanting your everyday products into smaller bottles is the perfect solution. What’s more, if you choose leak-proof silicone bottles, you can be sure that nothing will spill during your travels.
You don’t need to stop at bottles either. I get a little creative and use an old band-aid container for my Q-tips, cotton pads and such. Give it some thought and you’ll be surprised at what you come up with.
While there may be some things you just can’t travel without, it’s worth considering two-in-one or multi-purpose products. Think about multi-tasking skin creams or quality all-in-one shampoo and conditioners.
You can even find concealers, moisturizers and anti-aging creams that serve more than one need these days. Ulta, Aveda and Sephora are all great places to search out products that work for you. I personally always pack a combo day/night facial moisturizer that I can’t travel without.
You don’t have to go for expensive, high-end options either. Natural products such as argan oil can be used as a moisturizer, hair conditioner and an insect bite soother. Meanwhile, coconut oil can be a moisturizer, hair conditioner, skin-soother, makeup remover and shaving cream. Talk about multi-tasking!
The airline’s quart-sized-bag rule is an issue if you’re a devotee of a specific beauty regime. If you’re an “only a carry-on” kind-of-gal, it’s might be time you discovered solid travel toiletries.
There are lots of products that come in either a bar or stick. Take a look at deodorants, sunscreens, shampoos and foundations.
Once you’ve found the solid products you love, you’ll never struggle to fit all those tiny bottles into a little plastic bag again.
Tip 1: Bring that hand sanitizer with you. TSA is currently allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags until further notice. Since these containers exceed the standard 3.4-ounce allowance typically permitted through a checkpoint, they will need to be screened separately. This will add some time to the checkpoint screening experience. Please keep in mind that all other liquids, gels and aerosols brought to a checkpoint continue to be limited to 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters carried in a one quart-size bag.
Tip 2: Bring those wipes along with you too. Travelers are permitted to bring individually-packaged alcohol or anti-bacterial wipes in carry-on or checked luggage. Jumbo containers of hand wipes are also allowed in carry-on or checked luggage.
Tip 3: Wear a mask if you like. Travelers are allowed to wear masks during the security screening process, however a TSA officer may ask the traveler to adjust the mask to visually confirm their identity during the travel document checking process.
Tip 4: If your license expired on or after March 1, don’t panic. If your driver’s license or state-issued ID expired on or after March 1, 2020, and you are unable to renew at your state driver’s license agency, you may still use it as acceptable identification at the checkpoint.
TSA will accept expired driver’s licenses or state-issued ID a year after expiration or 60 days after the duration of the emergency, whichever is longer. By the way, the Department of Homeland Security recently announced an extension of time to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license. The new deadline is October 1, 2021.
Tip 5: Place items from your pockets into your carry-on bag. Prior to going through the security checkpoint, take the items from your pockets and place them into your carry-on bag so that you don’t have to place them in a bin. Remove the keys, tissues, lip balm, loose change, breath mints, mobile phone and anything else from your pockets and place them right into your carry-on bag.
Tip 6: Remember to wash your hands. It’s good practice to wash your hands before and after going through the security screening process.
For more information about TSA’s security screening process during the pandemic, visit: www.tsa.gov/coronavirus.
You can take toiletries or other liquids that are in containers no larger than 3.4 ounces (100ml). They must all fit in a one quart (one liter) clear zip top bag. This includes liquids, gels, and aerosols. If you must pack more toiletries than these allowances, you will have to pack them in checked luggage.
Check out non-liquid carry on toiletries like solid perfume sticks and solid sunscreen to minimize your liquids.
The liquids restriction is pretty standard these days, though enforcement may vary. In case you need a refresher, this is the TSA liquids rule:
You can still travel carry-on only with liquids. A one-ounce (30ml) bottle of shampoo is plenty for a 10 day trip.
Test your toiletries out ahead of time to see how much you really need over a week’s time.
Buy travel sized containers and fill them with shampoo, shower gel, and any other products you want to bring on your trip. Buy things like toothpaste in travel sizes.
There are special rules for medications, but these vary by country. Check with the country you will be flying out of for their rules, but in most cases you will need to let the screening agents know that you have liquid medication in addition to one quart bag you are allowed.
THESE ITEMS ARE CONSIDERED LIQUIDS TOO: peanut butter, mascara, snow globes, aerosols.
As if the liquids rule wasn’t enough to deal with, now we have to figure out the new TSA powder rule.
The first thing to know is that powdered substances are still allowed in both carry on baggage and checked baggage. How to build the perfect toiletry bag when packing powders though, can be tricky.
The TSA powder rule states: “Powder-like substances greater than 12 oz. / 350 mL must be placed in a separate bin for X-ray screening. They may require additional screening and containers may need to be opened.”
If you have powders in quantities larger than 12 ounces (350 ml) you are encouraged to pack them in your checked luggage. TSA isn’t requiring you to pack them in you checked bag, only encouraging it. So that’s your call.
But, that said, there a few airlines that are not allowing larger quantities in carry-on bags at all. This contradicts what is stated on the TSA website.
I think it’s better to go by TSA rules since they are the security authority actually inspecting my bags. It’s always a good idea to contact your carrier directly to find out their rules too.
This one should be a no-brainer, but sharp objects are prohibited in carry-on luggage. Anything that could be used as a weapon on board must be packed in your checked luggage.
Scissors that are less than 4 inches long, like nail scissors, are generally allowed by TSA. But since the final decision rests with the agent, just be aware that they could confiscate it.
Rules in other countries can be different from those in the US, so check it out before you fly from somewhere else.
For example, lots of countries only allow scissors if they are shorter than 6 centimeters from the pivot point. That’s only 2.36 inches, much shorter than what TSA allows in the United States.
Knives of any kind are not allowed. But TSA does say that plastic or round-bladed butter knives are permitted in carry-on baggage. But metal knives, pocket knives, and Swiss army knives are not allowed.
If you want to bring one of these, pack it safely in your checked baggage. And by safely, I mean so it can’t accidentally cut through your bag and injure a baggage handler or screener.
According to the TSA website, you can take glass on a plane in hand luggage. They specifically mention that glass picture frames and glass vases are permitted in both carry on and checked baggage.
You’re good if the glass item fits in your bag, and your bag fits within the restrictions for your airline. Make sure to wrap glass and other fragile items to prevent them from breaking during the journey. Try to pack glass items in your carry on bag, since checked baggage can get banged around quite a lot. To pack glass in your checked baggage, wrap it in thick clothing placed in the center of your bag’s content.
For you knitters, the answer is yes, you can bring knitting needles on a plane in your carry on bag. TSA also allows crochet hooks in your hand baggage. If traveling abroad, you might want to check the specific country’s rules regarding your favorite pastime.
How to build the perfect toiletry bag without a razor? Sorry, I don’t know how to do that.
The rules for taking razors on an airplane can be confusing. Straight razors and blades for safety razors are not allowed in your carry-on luggage. However, you can take a razor through security if it’s a disposable razor. The blade must be attached to a handle. Of course, electric razors are also allowed in your carry-on.
Most sporting equipment that contains words like stick, pole, bat or club cannot be brought on the plane as carry-on. That’s because they could be used as a weapon. You might want to consider renting your sporting equipment at your destination.
If you’re quite attached to using your own sports equipment, you’ll probably need to check it. Roller skates and roller blades are allowed in carry on baggage. Strangely enough, the TSA website says it’s fine to bring ice skates in your carry-on. I’m not sure I would want to be the “test” person for this rule!
Obviously a gun is a weapon, and they don’t want you bringing it on an airplane in your carry-on bag. Most guns are permitted in checked luggage as long as they are empty, and they must be in a locked, hard-sided container.
Check with your airline about other restrictions and/or fees they might have. Some items, such as flares and gun powder, are not even permitted in checked luggage.
Before you travel, research the gun laws in the state or country you’re going to. Different states throughout the US have different laws, and many other countries heavily restrict or prohibit personal gun use and ownership.
Self-defense items, like pepper spray or mace, are not allowed in carry-on luggage. These could be considered a weapon by TSA, so don’t even bother taking them. If you’re determined to bring some, you may bring one 4 oz. container in your checked luggage. BUT, “provided it is equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge.” Check with your airline since they might have stricter regulations.
Most tools are prohibited in carry-on luggage. If you’re planning on bringing any tools with you, you’ll probably need to put them in checked luggage. You might not think of a hammer or drill bits as weapons, but TSA’s opinion differs.
Fires on a plane, that sounds just as bad as snakes on a plane! Please leave all flammable chemicals and items at home and buy them when you arrive instead.
Take note: Camping gear used for fires and cooking, such as a camping stove, is considered flammable as well.
However, TSA does say this about camp stoves. They “are allowed in carry-on or checked bags only if they are empty of all fuel and cleaned so that no fuel vapors or residue remain.” Remember that their standards regarding what “cleaned” means might be stricter than yours.
Check with TSA and the airline for rules and restrictions. If possible, get the equipment you need once you arrive to avoid the hassle. TSA does allow one book of safety matches in your carry-on, but matches are not allowed in your checked luggage.
When traveling internationally, most countries prohibit you from bringing in meats, fruit, vegetables, plants, and other agricultural products.
If you want to bring an apple as a snack, just make sure you eat it on the plane. Otherwise it will be confiscated on arrival, and you could find yourself facing an angry border agent.
Be aware that certain countries, like Australia and New Zealand, won’t even allow things like wooden souvenirs you may have picked up somewhere else.
But in general, can you bring food on a plane? Yes, normally it is allowed, but some airlines might be more strict than others. Also remember that any food that can be considered a liquid is not allowed if it is more than 3.4 ounces (100ml). So leave your peanut butter at home, it counts as a liquid.
Yes, if you must bring the nail polish (in your liquids bag) it is allowed in your carry-on bag. How to build the perfect toiletry bag without nail polish? You don’t have to. Just pack it safely bagged up in your checked baggage.
And, please don’t polish your nails in flight, it’s both tacky and smelly. Get your nails done before you leave and then you can use your packed nail polish for touch-ups.
While it’s lovely to wear a spritz of your “signature scent”, perfume can be unpleasant or allergy-inducing to many people. Wait until you reach your destination to spray on the perfume. It’s just a nice thing to do for your seatmates.
The good news is you are allowed to bring a full size empty bottle through security. This means you can fill up on water once you get through security instead of having to buy overpriced water at the airport. The liquid allowance on flights shouldn’t stop you from staying hydrated.
Head over to Walmart or Target, they both have extensive selections of travel sized products. In fact, Bed, Bath and Beyond now has a large section dedicated to travel size beauty items.
These are a fabulous way to build the perfect toiletry bag for your next trip.
NAN’S TIP: Occasionally you’ll find a travel size product that is more than the allowed volume. Double check all items before you purchase them for your trip.
Product samples are a great way to reduce the volume of products you take with you. Instead of using refillable bottles for some items, throw in the samples you’ve been saving. This is a really inexpensive way to start building the perfect toiletry bag.
Samples that come in flat little packets are fabulous, taking up little space, even in a quart-sized zip-top bag. You probably have a few stashed away at this moment.
Another great way to find more is in in beauty magazines, or your freebies with an order from Ulta or Sephora. You could even sign up for a beauty product sampling service.
With so many other things to remember, it can be tempting to leave your toiletries until last.
The only way you’re going to build your perfect toiletry bag is to start organizing early. Spend some time planning your bag, choosing the right products and, where necessary, buying doubles.
That way, you can have your toiletry bag ready to go anytime you jet off to a fabulous locale. (or Cleveland, but that’s up to you!)
I have a great article detailing the best ways to do laundry when you’re traveling. You might want to check it out before you start packing for your next trip, you’ll pack less!
Read the post here: Psst! It’s My Dirty Little Secret, Doing Laundry While Traveling
I’ve also created a great IFAFL Email Subscriber List bonus for you.
It’s my 3-Page “Travel Laundry Planning & Packing Checklist” PRINTABLE PDF. I created it to help you plan and pack for doing laundry while traveling and wandering the world.
It’s got lots of great questions to ask yourself as you check off the items on my packing list. It also includes valuable tips to make sure your laundry gets done quickly, efficiently and is stress-free. Leave your stress at home!
Why not join in on the fun!
Fill out the form below and I’ll send you a copy as a thank you for joining the IFAFL Email Subscriber List.
As a Ingredients For A Fabulous Life Subscriber, you’ll also get instant access to the IFAFL Resource Library and receive our weekly emails.
What are you waiting for? You don’t want to miss out on anything fabulous, do you?
There’s always something fabulous happening here at Ingredients For A Fabulous Life, don’t you want to stay in the loop?
And while you’re at it, come join the gang in our Facebook group and get in on the gabfest at, The Fab Life! That’s where we show off our triumphs and share our pursuit of “the good life” with each other all week long.