#ziplocbag #3-1-1 #TSAliquidrules

Yes, you can travel for 2 weeks in a 1 quart Ziploc bag full of up to 3 oz. bottles to meet the liquid restrictions imposed by the TSA and other governments. If you’re willing to make some purchases on the road, or use products provided by hotels, you can go 3 weeks or more with most of the items.

I will refrain from giving my opinion on this situation that has impacted gourmet and carry-on travel forever. Every year, the travel press reports the TSA may ease up on the liquid restrictions, but I have no expectations.

If you have no idea what I’m even talking about, here’s the deal. In August, 2006 the British found documents during a raid indicating a possible terrorist plot to blow up planes using liquid explosives. As a result, restrictions for the amount of liquid passengers are allowed to carry on flights were imposed by the British government, the TSA in the United States, and a few other countries.

For travel to the United States or within the United States you are allowed one 1 quart clear Ziploc type bag, full of bottles up to 3 ounces (it’s really 3.something, but I stick with 3). They call it 3-1-1.

Countries that do not impose this rule within their own borders administer the rule for flights to countries that do, and inspect passengers’ carry-on luggage before boarding. Duty free purchases are allowed, and are handled differently in each country.

If you’re returning from an international destination and have a connecting flight in the US, any liquid duty free items you’ve purchased have to be placed in your checked bag when you retrieve it, or they will be seized at security. If you are traveling completely within the US, you will have to check a bag if you purchase liquid items larger than 3 ounces.

For my tips for packing liquids, check the last paragraph of the Shopping page.

If you’re visiting the US from an international destination, be prepared. You should also check the rules of your own country, especially if you’re not a frequent traveler.

Often the rule is misapplied in countries that don’t impose it; in Peru and Mexico bottled water brought after security is not allowed on the flight. Salsa in bottles larger than 3oz. will be seized. Leaving Paris last October, cans of foie gras marked “entier” as in an entire liver were judged to be liquid. Luckily the nice agent there just put them in a (gaping) Ziploc and let me through, but I think it was overzealous to consider an organ meat a liquid!

Look for a sturdy 1 quart transparent bag. I picked up the one I use at an American Express event – and I always have a backup regular 1 quart Ziploc bag in the outer pocket of my rollaboard, in case of breakage or for nearby passengers unaware of the rule.

A set of Nalgene leak-proof travel bottles are a good thing to buy. I use 2 oz. bottles and containers; get the 3 oz. ones if you need fewer products. My moisturizer, eye cream and Egyptian Magic (good for burns, itching, etc.) go into little 2oz. tubs with screw top lids. Everything else is in a bottle. Shoved between the tubs and bottles are as many Woolite packets as I can fit, for doing hand-wash on the road.

If I’m sticking to one spot once I arrive, I just unpack the Ziploc at the hotel. Since I’m more likely to do multiple destinations in a trip, I transfer the items out of the Ziploc into a small cosmetic case. That cosmetic case get packed with the few non-liquid cosmetics – items like makeup remover pads, a small bar of soap, Q Tips, brush, razor – but still packs flat.

Medication can stay outside the 1 quart Ziploc, but I still keep it in baggies, because the TSA likes them. The Ayr nasal spray that is always in a baggie in the outer mesh pocket of my daypack has never been noticed. Other liquid medication is in another Ziploc in my carry-on.

I managed to travel through Southeast Asia for 3 weeks in the Ziploc, and also had suntan lotion. Only body lotion had to be replenished. Finding body lotion without “whitening” was a challenge in Cambodia, but that’s another story!

What’s in the Ziploc pictured above?

2 oz face moisturizer

2 oz eye cream

2 oz Egyptian Magic

2 oz shampoo

2 oz conditioner

2 oz cleansing lotion for face

2 oz hair gel

4 small tubes of toothpaste

lip gloss

Woolite packets

Two containers of Body Butter lotion

I could still fit a 1 oz bottle of face suntan lotion and a 2 oz bottle of body suntan lotion. Fine for a city/adventure type trip – not enough for a beach vacation.

I’m always looking for cosmetics that come in towelette form. Almay makeup remover pads. Insect repellant in towelette form. What great items have you found?


Article originally posted August 7, 2011


Traveling Two Weeks In A Ziploc