With more and more stories of lost and delayed luggage, it’s no surprise that many families are trying to stick with carry-on only, especially for shorter trips. However, in addition to worrying about actually carrying those bags and fitting essentials in them, you’ll also have to be concerned about packing your liquids for carry-on.
It can be tough to know exactly what is, and what isn’t allowed in your airplane carry-on bag as a result of the TSA regulations. Even if you think you understand the TSA rules, there are some things that can be confusing. One of the most common questions is “Can you bring shampoo on a plane”? Here are the answers to that and some other common questions about packing for carry-on travel.
Note that this is our understanding based on current information. The TSA website is always the best source of information, especially since things can change. In addition, the final decision rests with the TSA agents at your airport, and additional screening is sometimes required.
If you are flying out of the country, it’s a good idea to check the specific rules of the country you are arriving at (and leaving out of on the way back). The TSA (transportation security administration) is a United States based agency. International flights may have different rules and additional restrictions, and this may also apply when you connect through an international airport.
Last year, when I flew through Charles De Gaulle airport on my way to Porto, I had to put my liquid toiletries in a completely clear plastic bag supplied by the airport security checkpoint.
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Can You Bring Shampoo on a Plane and Other Carry-on Questions
If you are planning to only bring carry-on bags, there may be some of your favorite toiletries that simply won’t fit within the requirements. In that case, you may consider visiting a pharmacy or mass retailer upon arrival at your destination, especially for a long trip. Keep in mind that if you purchase items larger than what is allowed in a carry-on, you’ll either need to use them all up or leave the remainder behind.
Can you bring shampoo on a plane?
Wondering if you can bring along your favorite bottle of shampoo in your carry-on luggage? Your hotel may have shampoo available for you to use. However, sometimes you either aren’t sure or want to bring your own special shampoo.
Like other aerosols, gels, creams, liquids, and pastes, you are allowed to bring up a 3.4 oz container, and all of your liquids must fit in a 1 quart-sized bag. One bag is allowed per person in your carry-on baggage. This is called the 3-1-1 rule. In addition, aerosol cans must have a cover on them.
The liquid rule states that you can’t have a larger than 3.4 oz container. That means you can’t bring along partially filled full-sized bottles of shampoo, even if what is left is under the 3.4 ozs.
You have a few options beyond purchasing travel-sized containers. Shampoo bars, for instance, are solid shampoo and are allowed. Sephora has some shampoo bar options.
Another option is to purchase a refillable container that you can add your liquid shampoo to. I love the bottles from Cadence. While these smaller containers are expensive, they don’t leak and come in multiple sizes.
I also recommend bringing along your own conditioner. I’ve found that some hotels seem to be out of that particular item, don’t offer it, or have a combination of shampoo and conditioner that isn’t as effective as separate items. Conditioner and other hair products follow the same rules as shampoo.
What about dry shampoo? Dry shampoo is allowed with the same rules as other liquids. If you are bringing a dry shampoo aerosol packed in your carry-on luggage, it must be capped to prevent it from spraying. While I do use dry shampoo at home, it isn’t something that I think is worth it for me to travel with.
Makeup is another thing that people question when it comes to travel. The answer can be complicated, depending on the type of makeup.
Solid makeup can be packed with no restrictions. However, liquid makeup, including foundation, mascara, eyeliner, and nail polish, falls under the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule and must be under 3.4 ozs and packed in a 1 qt clear bag.
If you have a makeup bag or a toiletry bag already filled, you’ll want to sort it all out before you leave. That way, you won’t have to worry about it at the airport.
Body wash is another item that is usually supplied by hotels. However, you may want to travel with your own. This must follow the 3-1-1 rule. It may be easier to bring along a regular bar of soap, which would be considered a solid.
Liquid makeup remover will fall under the 3-1-1 rule. Like shampoo, you may either want to buy a travel-size item or put some from your home container into a smaller, permitted container. Another great option is makeup wipes. These wipes on Amazon are my favorites.
Don’t forget to pack your deodorant! Stick deodorant is permitted with no restriction, while gel, spray, or lotion deodorant
Stick deodorant is not limited to 3.4 oz or less, but gel, lotion, or spray deodorant is. The easiest way to follow this rule is to bring a stick of deodorant, especially if you want to pack something larger than 3.4 ounces.
For me, sunscreen is the toughest part of traveling carry-on only. I go through a lot of sunscreen, so I usually use a lot more than 3.4 oz. Even if you are bringing checked baggage, you may want to have a travel-sized sunscreen packed in your carry on bag to use immediately at your destination.
Sunscreen has to follow the TSA 3-1-1 rule. I really like these travel-sized sunscreens from Amazon. If you need more sunscreen than this and aren’t checking a bag, you can always purchase more at your destination.
Contact lenses are allowed in your carry-on luggage. Contact solution, however, has to follow the 3-1-1 rule. Because of the nature of this type of medical product, I’d recommend purchasing a new sterile travel-sized bottle, rather than trying to transfer the product from a larger bottle.
Alcoholic beverages will fall under the 3-1-1 rule, which means you can only bring 3.4 oz in a sealed container. Air passengers aren’t permitted to drink alcohol that they bring on board a flight. Note that this rule doesn’t apply to alcoholic beverages with more than 70% alcohol. Those are never allowed in carry-ons.
There are other rules that apply to checked luggage. If you purchase alcohol on your vacation, you are usually able to put it in your checked luggage. Be careful in packing it – these bags on Amazon are a good option, but you’ll still want to take caution in packing the bottles.
Purchasing duty-free items at the airport during an international flight? Those are allowed but must stay in their clear, sealed packaging.
This isn’t a liquid, but it is something people wonder about. Nail clippers are permitted in your carry-on bag.
This is another item that isn’t a liquid but is often questioned. Some razors are permitted in carry-on luggage, but others, like straight-edge razors and safety razors, are not. It’s best to read this TSA post before you pack so you can make sure before you pack.