Over the years of traveling with my husband I have learned and adopted his ways of carry-on bags only flying. It has been such an improvement in my life! No longer do I wait around at baggage claim, worry about lost bags, or pay fees for checked bags.
While carry-on traveling is deserving of another post entirely, the key is making sure you're ready to go through airport secuity with a properly packed toiletry bag. That means your liquids (shampoo, soap, lotion, mousse, gel, etc.) have to be in small sized bottles and then contained in a bag that can be easily removed from your carry on and placed on the conveyor for the x-ray machine.
The sizing for liquids in a checked bag are totally different. This guide is for carry-on bags, the smaller suitcase you bring with you onto to the plane and stash in the overhead compartment. Once I forgot the difference in the size of liquid containers between checked bags and carry-ons and brought a giant bottle of Paul Mitchell (read: expensive) hair mousse in a carry-on. I had to leave behind the entire bottle, it was a tragic first world problem. The curly haired girl's nightmare resulted in both lost dollars and bad hair days while I swore I'd NEVER AGAIN make such a mistake. I have since perfected my carry-on toiletry bag packing! Spoiler alert: I always bring TWO mini mousses.
Once you get the hang of packing your carry-on toiletry bag you'll be ready to breeze through security. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) folks are the ones who work at the airport and enforce the rules surrounding what you're bringing into the airport. You can read the full details on the TSA website. The process is simple, the two official rules are:
First, pick a bag
The first step is to find a toiletry bag that works for you. Think about how much you'll be taking along on your trips when shopping for your perfect bag. Mine is pretty large (at 12.5" x 8" x 3.5") and has several compartments for my many hair products while my husband rolls with a much smaller bag.
My trusty bag is the Bandana Weekend Organizer Bag made by Kestrel. I found it at Nordstrom Rack and you can purchase them online via HauteLook.
Amazon, of course, has some great options including this hanging toiletry day from HiDay which comes in two fun prints, is waterproof, and hangs for ease of use.
For a smaller, simpler bag Amazon also carries this TSA Approved Clear Toiletry Bag in tons of colors!
Start collecting your items
Take stock of all of the items you use in your daily life and think about how they will transition to adorable travel sized containers. Luckily there are two ways to take the comforts of home on your trip with you.
1. Buying the travel sized items from the store. While these are so convenient they are priced much higher per ounce than the larger containers. I prefer buying these for vacation specific items like aloe vera and things that don't easily pour into a bottle like foamy shaving cream or hair mousse. The part I like best about these is throwing away (or recycling) the containers as I use them up and coming home with a lighter bag.
2. Buying refillable containers and filling them at home. I do this for the things I have at home and use daily like shampoo, conditioner, face wash, and lotion.
I bought a travel size Dr. Bronners soap and fell in love with it! Now I refill that mini bottle from the larger one at home.
What really makes this process work well for me is to making a list of everything I like to keep in the bag and what I've run out of on a trip. That way I can take a look at my list(s) and refill as needed.
Make your list
Here I've listed just about everything that you may need for your next trip. Please feel free to pick and chose from my list to make sure you've got everything that pertains to you and your specific trip. Then you can relax and enjoy some in-flight entertainment or beverages!
This looks like a lot and you probably won't need it all! A little extra effort before a trip is like gold for me when I never need to interrupt any fun-filled days to run to the store to grab something I've forgotten and/or pay 300% more for an item at a hotel or airport.
For showering and bathroom use:
For nails and skin:
For health, wellness, and comfort:
Refill just after you get home - Refilling the bag just after I return from a trip makes it so easy when it's time to go away the next time.
Buy doubles - I've recently bought an additional comb, toothbrush, and razor so I don't have to transfer them back and forth from bathroom to travel bag. Plus I no longer risk the chance of going on a trip without them and/or hopping into the shower at home to find they're still in the travel bag!
Keep VIP items in your pocket, purse, or personal bag - While your carry-on bag, containing your toiletry bag, will go above your seat, you can keep your other personal bag or purse with you at your seat, stored under the seat in front of you. If there's something you know you will need during the flight like gum (to keep your ears from clogging) or motion sickness pills (yeah, that's me!) be sure to keep it closer to you at all times so you don't have to get up and find it mid-flight!
We're off on a flight tomorrow for a long weekend and wedding in Bethany Beach, Delaware and Ocean City, Maryland.
Fly safely, my friends!
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What is Figs and Flights?
A blog fueled by food and travel, Figs and Flights is a resource for curious travelers, foodies, yogis & book worms
Hello, I'm Angela
I'm a food obsessed blogger and world traveler
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