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Packing A Travel Toiletry Bag

Packing a toiletry bag is complicated enough without having to worry about whether you’re running afoul of TSA guidelines. Here’s everything you need to know about how to pack a toiletry bag.

Packing A Toiletry Bag For Carry-on Luggage

If you’re flying with carry-on luggage, your toiletries must comply with TSA guidelines. This means one quart-sized bag per traveler with no more than 3.4 ounces of any one liquid.

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In addition to your toiletry kit, grab a quart-sized clear plastic bag. Everything that is not a liquid can go in your dopp kit, while anything that is a liquid must be in the plastic bag.

Sort your toiletries to place any liquids, gels, or creams in one category and everything else (say, your toothbrush or travel pouf) in another category. All liquids, gels, and creams must be 100 mL or 3.4 ounces or less according to TSA liquids rules. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a large tube of hand cream that’s almost empty; if the size on the bottle exceeds 3.4 ounces, TSA officials will ask that you throw it away or check your bag.

Remember that certain types of makeup count as liquid items. Mascara, foundation, and liquid eyeliner are a few examples of items you may not consider liquid but the TSA definitely does. If you’re not sure whether something counts, put it in your quart-sized clear bag. Otherwise, you might find yourself pulled over at the security station, waiting while a TSA officer goes through all your carry-on luggage.

Once you’ve double-checked your toiletries, place all liquids, gels, and creams in your plastic bag. Since you will need to take these items out at the security gate, plan to place this toward the top of your carry-on luggage.

With TSA-sensitive items sorted, you’re probably looking at a smaller pile of items, which easily fit in your toiletry bag or packing cubes. So open up your dopp kit, place items neatly inside, and zip it closed. TSA officials will not be interested in these items, which means you can place this toward the bottom of your carry-on.

The TSA does allow travelers to fly with a few surprising items. You can take disposable razors, replacement cartridges, nail clippers, and nail scissors provided the blade is smaller than 4 inches. Since these items aren’t liquids, they can go in your toiletry bag.

Packing A Toiletry Bag For Checked Luggage

You will have greater leeway to pack your toiletries in checked luggage since there’s no need to comply with the 3-1-1 rule for liquids. For some travelers, though, this can actually cause more stress as now there are twice as many items to fit in a toiletry kit.

Start by gathering all items. Think twice about whether you really want to bring everything on your list. When it comes to accessories like makeup, items that do double duty (like a lip gloss that works as blush) are recommended over individual makeup items.

With personal care items, like sunblock or medication, you’ll always pay a premium picking up these items in vacation destinations so it’s better to bring something even if you’re not 100 percent sure you will need it. However, rather than take along an eight-ounce bottle of something like aloe vera, when you won’t need that much, get refillable travel-sized bottles to take smaller amounts of the same essentials. Come to the end of your trip, when you’re trying to squeeze in those souvenirs, your future self will thank you. If you need more help with packing, check out our packing guide.

Once you’ve got your finalized list of toiletries, with everything condensed into smaller bottles, check that all lids and tops are securely fastened so you don’t wind up with a spill.

Separate your items into piles so you can store like with like in the storage compartments of your toiletry bag. For instance, put all of your shower essentials in one pile and leave a travel first-aid kit and medication in another pile. The size of your piles will dictate where things go.

Finally, open up your toiletry kit and place items inside.

If your travel bag doesn’t have separate compartments, then everything will go right in the dopp kit. For frequent travelers, it makes sense to invest in a toiletry kit that comes with several organized compartments, so you can separately store different types of items and easily find whatever you need, rather than needing up dump out the entire bag on the bathroom counter to finally get at that lip gloss that fell to the bottom.

If you’re going on a long vacation, you might not be able to get everything you need in you toiletry kit. If that’s the case, think creatively about what you could pack elsewhere. A first-aid kit and over the counter medication could go in your personal item, where you can easily take some ibuprofen if you get a headache on the road. Likewise, you might prefer to stash your toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and some face wipes in your personal bag to freshen up at the airport. As you take these kinds of items out of your toiletry kit, you can free up space to get those last needed items inside.

Still struggling to get everything in your toiletry kit? It might be time to upgrade your luggage and travel gear.

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