Solving the carry-on toiletries dilemma

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Last month, Alan and I flew from Tucson to Los Angeles to Atlanta in five days. Usually, when traveling for more than a couple of days, we check bags, which allows me to bring my favorite beauty products. But this time, we joined the ranks of travelers avoiding checked luggage fees. 

“Whaa,” I wailed, “How am I going to look like an unwrinkled baby boomer with straight hair at my 40th high school reunion?”

Plato said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Following his advice, I scoured the grocery store aisle at Albertson’s where I found a bin of “TSA approved” plastic containers. Back at home, I filled the tiny plastic jars and bottles with my favorite products (that weren’t available in trail sizes), placing them in a plastic storage bag. Ok, I admit it, the bag was slightly larger than the quart-size defined in TSA packing rules

The carry-on experiment worked. My favorite creams, gels and hair products sailed through the security scanner from Tucson to Los Angeles to Atlanta and back. But, I took a regulation-sized plastic bag in case my larger bag was not approved. And, I was ready to ditch some of my favorite stuff if asked. After all, this was my experiment not TSA’s.

Plenty of packing advice is available over the internet. And, if only I had researched, I would have found several companies offering a solution to my high maintenance beauty woes.

Order empty bottles from the Container Store or check out this system offered by Easy Traveler that includes convenient funnels and tops for mess-proof pouring. Visit to see if your favorite product is available in TSA approved sizes. Or, place these “beauty sheets” from Travelon in your carry-on and forget about liquids, gels and plastic bags altogether.

Frequent baby boomer travelers, do you have a tip for packing carry-on toiletry items? Post a comment. Share your advice with us.

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