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Carrying Liquids Onto a Plane – Here’s How To Do It



Before: 22 individual items each 3.4 ounces or less.

Have you ever been frustrated by not being able to take liquids onto a plane? It’s easy enough if you’re checking a bag, but if you’re trying to travel light and are only taking a carry-on, the rules can seem pretty restrictive. However, I’ve learned they’re actually easier to follow than you might think.

Here’s the way it works:

  • Each container must hold 3.4 ounces (100mL) or less of liquid/gel/cream/paste.
  • The containers have to be put in a clear, plastic, sealable, one-quart bag.
  • You may only carry on one of these bags.

Your only real limit is how many of the little containers you can squeeze into the bag. Following these rules on a recent 12-day trip to Colombia, I fit in hair gel, hand sanitizer, eye drops, sunscreen (two tubes), body wash, shampoo, shaving cream, toothpaste, mouthwash, and 12 packets of laundry detergent. That’s a lot.

Most of the stuff in the sample bins at your neighborhood drugstore (Walgreen’s, CVS, etc.) is the right size; just be sure to check the label.

Keep your bag of liquids in an easy-to-reach spot in your carry-on so you can take it out at the security check point. (It’s not usually necessary to take it out if you have TSA Pre✓®.) I keep mine in the front pocket of my backpack.

To read the rules yourself, including exceptions for medications, baby formula, and the like, check out the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) 3-1-1 Liquids Rule page.

See? Easy!

After: All sealed in one clear, plastic, quart-sized bag.

After: All sealed in one clear, plastic, quart-sized bag.

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