Tips for Packing Your Toiletries for Carry-on

Packing Your ToiletriesFor anyone that wants to travel light and have the security of having your belongings with you at all times (aka going carry-on), you will probably have the same problem that I have: toiletries. Packing toiletries for carry-on travel is the most stressful part given TSA restrictions that involve bottles of liquids no larger than 3.4 oz (100ml) that all must fit in a 1-quart clear plastic bag. When considering shampoo, conditioner, deodorants, lotions, gels, toothpastes and more – that feat seems near impossible.

To make the process a bit more manageable, here are insider tips and tricks that I use to make my carry-on toiletries experience a breeze.

Tip #1 – Repackage your liquids.
The key here is to take the absolute minimum amount of lotions, shampoos, and the like that you will need on your trip. Even if your face cream comes in a small jar, the chances are likely that you will not use it all on a 1-3 week holiday. Instead, buy a set of small, leak-proof travel bottles (like those made by Nalgene; GoToobs are great for shampoo and conditioner), and then transfer just enough product to the bottles for your duration of travel. I have found, since transferring to these specialty bottles, that I have had virtually no toiletry leaks in my luggage. Plus, taking just what you need helps you to cut back on unnecessary weight. Every little bit counts!

Tip #2 – Venture into solids.
There are a plethora of travel-friendly toiletries that come in solid form. Solid perfumes can easily replace liquid perfumes that normally contain both liquids and alcohol – and are therefore binned at airport security. If your hair can manage the difference, solid shampoos and conditioner bars have become a staple in many travelers’ bags, while more extreme non-liquid toiletry carriers enjoy taking dry toothpaste tablets or powder. Don’t forget that switching to solid deodorants instead of liquid roll-ons or aerosols knocks another liquid off your list!

A quick list of toiletries that can be found in solid form:

  • perfume
  • lotion
  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • deodorant
  • toothpaste

Tip #3 – Stock up on travel sized soaps.
Tiny bars of hotel or motel soaps are the perfect addition to your carry-on toiletries since they are usually the right size for a shorter holiday. No more giant soap bars and travel cases bulking up your bag and adding on extra ounces. No more trying to take a knife to your standard bar of soap to cut it smaller. Just start collecting any and every travel sized soap bars you come across so you are always prepared.

Tip #4 – Keep it together.
Make it easier by having your liquid toiletries in a clear plastic bag (no bigger than 1-quart) before going through security. Since resealable plastic bags can be easily damaged and torn while traveling, investing in a more durable clear bag designed for airport security is wise. These bags can be easily removed and repacked in your carry-on sized luggage in a matter of seconds.

As I said before, staying sane while traveling revolves around being organized. Being able to go carry-on only involves that organization being targeted predominantly to the toiletries. A little time and consideration in this area, and you’ll be a carry-on packing pro!

About the Author: Brooke Schoenman is the founder and editor of Her Packing List – a resource on packing and gear for female travelers. Brooke is a seasoned traveler, having acquired stamps in her passport from destinations such as Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Russia, Malaysia, and Guatemala to name a few. She blogs and writes for a living, and you can follow the Her Packing List related side of her life on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Written by Brooke Schoenman of Her Packing List


  1. Gail Andrews · 08/11/2013

    I like to take my favorite bar of soap and cut it into smaller pieces. This way it smells of Home.


  2. 9 Reasons to Embrace Your Natural Hair When You Travel | eBags Blog · 10/10/2013

    […] travel sized bottles (the kind that don’t leak!). We’ve discussed this before in our packing toiletries for carry-on post. When you travel for a few days to a couple weeks, the necessity to carry entire bottles of […]

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