3-1-1 Liquid Bag
What is 3-1-1? This is the permitted allowance of liquid in a carry on or or personal item, basically any liquid item that is not checked – which for us is everything!
Let’s break down 3-1-1
- 3: The number of ounces in the container (technically, 3.4 ounces or 100 mL is allowed but for the sake of a memorable acronym, am I right?). It is not the number for the liquid – but the container that holds it. If you have a container that holds 5 ounces but it is less than half full which means it is definitely under 3 ounces, it does not matter it will still be discarded at TSA. The container must be 3.4 ounces or less.
- 1: The quart sized clear plastic ziplock bag you that stores the liquid containers. So take the 3.4 ounces or less containers and they must all fit into 1 quart sized clear plastic ziplock bag.
- 1: Each person can have one quart sized clear plastic ziplock bag filled with the 3 ounces or less liquid containers.
It may sound impossible for carry on packers, but you would be surprised how many solid options are out there to take the place of traditional liquid items. Lush has some fantastic travel options from shampoo, conditioner, face wash, lotion, tooth paste, and more. Just be careful if you are going somewhere hot – any of the Lush products with a shea / cocoa butter base melt easily so these do not do well for traveling for long distances or hot climates (as our solid face wash did in New Zealand).
Here are some of my favorites solid alternatives:
Shampoo / Conditioner: One of my favorite finds was the Lush solid shampoo. It is easy to use and lasts a long time- one bar gets both of us through several trips. There are so many scents to chose from- we use the Honey I Washed My Hair. Lush also has a few solid conditioners. We have had several products completely melt and make a mess of our bag. Long story short, I am still investigating the solid conditioner options to see if they will work!
Body Wash: Opt for a bar of soap over liquid options, I use Dove as it is super moisturizing.
Sunscreen: Discovering solid sunscreen has been life changing for travel. Not only it is high SPF, but it applies like a deodorant stick and does not leave your skin oily. This has saved us lots of money (not having to buy sunscreen at our final destination) and liquid space since we did not need to shove 3 ounce sunscreen bottles into our bag. I recommend this product to everyone and we always bring it with us.
Makeup: I use powder based makeup so this frees up liquid real estate. I may also bring one eye shadow with two colors and eyeliner. I do not bring any makeup on active trips (Galapagos, New Zealand). I also love this Lush lip balm, another solid product win!
Get Your Free DESKRIB Guide for Packing Essentials including my favorite travel items – here!
So what does that leave me with a 3-1-1 liquid bag?
- Tooth paste
- Travel size body lotion
- Travel size conditioner
- Travel size face wash
- Face moisturizer in repurposed container (Lush has the best sample containers for traveling!)
- Steroids/Aquaphor (for my terribly dry skin)
- Triple antibiotic cream
- Hand santizier
This all fits into a quart sized clear plastic bag easily.
Make sure if you bring a water bottle that it is empty when going through security – you can fill it up after the check point before you get on the plane. Many airports have the water bottle refilling stations which are a nice improvement from fumbling with a water fountain.
There are two exceptions to the 3-1-1 rule that are worth mentioning. Medications that are over 3.4 ounces / 100 mL, including gels and inhalers, with a valid prescription label can be declared at TSA. The other exception is formula, breast milk or juice for infants or toddlers. TSA website states these have to be in “reasonable quantities” but again, it can be declared at the check point.
Try some of the solid alternatives at home and see how you like them before using them on a trip. Never try something for the first time on a trip! The products have definitely gotten better with time and can help cut your liquid burden down substantially for successful carry on only packing.