How to Pack Toiletries in a Carry-on Bag

toiletries in a carry on bag

The Spruce / Olivia Inman

The TSA requires that all liquids, aerosols, and gels carried onto an airplane fit into 3.4-ounce bottles in a 1-quart bag. While that rule does limit what you can bring, there is one positive thing about it: It forces you to pack lighter. If you were allowed to bring all of your full-size personal care items, you'd likely end up carrying extra weight in your bag of products you don't need. And because carry-on bags must remain smaller than a certain size based on guidelines from each airline, space is at a premium.

Here are eight tips for efficiently packing toiletries in a carry-on bag.

  • 01 of 08

    Pare Down Your Personal Care Routine

    deciding which travel items you can and can't live without

    The Spruce / Olivia Inman

    Packing light starts with deciding what you can live without. For instance, when you're traveling, you probably don't need your entire 10-step skincare regimen. Instead, just bring the essentials that will keep your skin clean and heathy, such as a cleanser and a moisturizer. Moreover, if you're OK with trying different personal care products, plan to use the toiletries your hotel provides instead of bringing your own.

  • 02 of 08

    Buy Travel Size When Possible

    travel-size products

    The Spruce / Olivia Inman

    The easiest way to travel with your usual products is to purchase them in the travel sizes sold at drugstores and supermarkets. Of course, not every beauty product comes in a miniature version. But if you use a popular brand, there's a good chance you'll be able to find the convenient travel size. Furthermore, many brands offer product samples in sizes that can be used for travel as well. This is an especially great way to find travel-size options for makeup.

  • 03 of 08

    Create Your Own Travel-Size Products

    create your own travel-size products from full-size ones

    The Spruce / Olivia Inman

    If you use products that don't come in a travel-size version, you can make your own. Simply purchase reusable containers with tightly fitting lids that are 3.4 ounces or less. You often can find sets of containers made especially for travel that include flip-top bottles, pump bottles, and more. Then, pour some of your shampoo, face wash, lotion, and other products in these bottles for your carry-on.

  • 04 of 08

    Remember You Can Go Even Smaller

    there are sizes even smaller than travel size

    The Spruce / Olivia Inman

    The maximum amount of liquid allowed per bottle is 3.4 ounces. But for some products you might not even need that much, especially if you're on a short trip. So rather than filling all of your containers to the brim and quickly maxing out the space in your quart-size bag, use containers that are smaller than 3.4 ounces for certain products. You might be able to find tiny plastic jars in the makeup section of drugstores. Or you can even use a small pill holder to contain your beauty products.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Don't Pack Other Items With Your Liquids

    don't pack non-liquid items in your toiletry bag

    The Spruce / Olivia Inman

    Avoid taking up space in your quart-size bag with other personal care items, such as your toothbrush or dental floss. Sure, it may be convenient once you reach your destination to have all of your toiletries together. But don't do it at the expense of having to leave some items behind because they don't all fit. In addition, it could be worth it to purchase smaller versions of various personal care items, such as a folding toothbrush or mini comb. This will help to lighten your load and leave room for more items in your bag.

  • 06 of 08

    Strategically Arrange Your Quart-Size Bag

    deciding how best to arrange your toiletry bag

    The Spruce / Olivia Inman

    If you optimally arrange all of your toiletries, you'll find a 1-quart bag can accommodate more than you might think. When you're packing, arrange the items in the bag in a few different ways to see what works best. In general, it can be helpful to put in your largest toiletries first. Arrange them in the way that best allows you to fit your smaller containers in the remaining gaps.

  • 07 of 08

    Keep a Little Space in Reserve

    leaving some extra space in your toiletry bag

    The Spruce / Olivia Inman

    Avoid stuffing your 1-quart toiletry bag; instead, leave a little room for one or two extra items. You might need to purchase something on your trip. Or maybe you've forgotten about a liquid product you're carrying, such as a small bottle of perfume in your purse, and you don't want to have to abandon it at the airport. It's always a good idea to be prepared with some extra space in your quart bag just in case.

  • 08 of 08

    Make Your Toiletry Bag Accessible

    making sure toiletries are accessible

    The Spruce / Olivia Inman

    Once you’ve packed your quart-size toiletry bag, make sure to pack it in the most accessible section of your carry-on bag. If your bag has an outer pocket, that’s a good choice. If not, just pack all of your other items first and place your plastic bag of liquids at the very top. You don’t want to hold up the airport line by having to dig through your belongings to get to your carry-on toiletries.