Packing liquids

More and more of us take advantage of sometimes incredibly cheap flights, especially in Europe. The only thing that keeps getting more expensive are the add-ons … like checked luggage. If you can or want to travel with hand luggage only, like I do now, you can save a small fortune on short trips away or trips where you have to take more than one flight each way. In order to travel without checked luggage though, you should have a good think about your liquids allowance.

In short: All your liquids, gels, creams and even mousses and sprays have to go (and fit) into a small see-through ziplock bag and be taken out for inspection at Security. If they find something that looks like a liquid, or see it on the X-ray machine, you could end up being taken to one side and having to open your bag to have it searched. Don’t be the person who creates a queue at Security!

Here’s how to make the most of it without problems:

  • Use an approved bag. Don’t use that see-through huge zipped toiletries bag or a bag that isn’t see-through. Some say it has to be a 1 litre bag, some have an approximate size of typically 20 x 20 cms. Some airports give you bags for free, some want you to pay for one if you have the wrong kind. Use a food bag from home if you like, but be aware that if you try to be cheeky or bend the rules, someone is bound to notice and possibly get grumpy.
  • Don’t put big bottles in. For one thing there is a 100 ml limit per item, so anything bigger could be confiscated, and for another it isn’t very clever use of your allowance. For things like shampoo, lotion etc, consider how long you will be gone and buy travel sized products, or save money by decanting what you need into smaller containers. If you haven’t got any at home, consider investing in a refillable container set, they are cheap enough and can save you lots of trouble.
  • Top tip for toothpaste: Save the one that is half/three quarters/almost empty for your trip and start on a new one at home – saves weight as well as your liquids allowance. Throw away your now practically empty one before you go home.
  • Top tip for perfume: Don’t bring the glass bottle, get a Travalo refillable spray bottle and fill it at home with your favourite scent. It’s not just handy for travel though, when you come home it will happily live in your bag for quick top-ups.
  • Do without. Could you go without some of your usual products for a while? Or can any of them do two things, like the face cream which has SPF in it?
  • Go for solids. Could you exchange some of your liquid products for solid ones? If you leave the shower gel and pack a piece of soap instead, it can go straight in the washbag and doesn’t count towards your liquid allowance. These days you can get solid shampoo bars and solid conditionersolid toothpaste and powders, even solid moisturising bars and sun protection in powder form! You can take some laundry powder instead of liquid detergent, and if you are going somewhere hot and humid, instead of taking a body spray you can choose a refreshing talc, or how about a solid crystal deodorant instead of a roll-on, stick or spray? You can get nail polish remover pads and makeup remover wipes too.
  • Lose your bottle. Check that you are not carrying a drinks bottle with anything in it! If you do, drink it or get rid of it before your turn at Security. If you are travelling from a country with good water, you can bring an empty bottle and then fill it with water on the other side of the Security – voilà free water for your flight.
  • Double check #1: It’s not just your liquid cosmetics and toiletries that have to be in the bag, but also the stuff from your first aid kit or medicines, such as wound cleansing creams or sprays, contact lens solution, shaving foam, even your liquid filled capsules! Make sure you go through all your luggage and catch all of your liquids.
  • Double check #2: If in any kind of doubt, open your flight confirmation email and read through the rules for your airline as they can vary, but not normally by a lot.
  • Get it later. After Security there are usually shops where you can get whatever you need but which won’t fit into your liquids bag, such as the travel size toothpaste, the roll-on deo or hairspray or the 200 ml bottle of sun cream. But keep in mind that you won’t be able to take it home again, as it still won’t fit in your liquids bag!

I have been doing some liquids planning, decanting and packing today and ended up with this in my wet bag:

  • A small refillable bottle of shower gel
  • Face cream with SPF
  • Lip balm with SPF
  • Mascara (not waterproof, so no need for makeup remover)
  • Travalo mini refillable perfume spray bottle
  • Germolene cream for cuts and grazes
  • Pain relief cream
  • Gehwol Extra foot cream
  • Vaseline

These items would have been in the bag, but have been exchanged for non-liquids:

I hope that will be of help to some of my fellow travellers now that Spring and sunshine are returning and lots of us are planning short and long trips away. Enjoy!

3 thoughts on “Packing liquids

    1. Thanks! I prefer to have my bag with me at all times and just ship my Pacerpoles to my first accommodation or post office. Cutting down on liquids saves money and also cuts down the weight of the pack, so it’s a win-win for me!

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