Drat Those Pesky Liquid Carry-On Restrictions!

Rumors keep circulating on travel discussion boards that the limitations on carry-on liquids will be lifted at some point, but so far no dice.  But with some planning and travel-size containers it’s certainly do-able with a minimum of effort.  I put the bag above together in less than 15 minutes, and it includes 2 week’s worth of day and night moisturizers, two different travel-size atomizers of fragrance, toothpaste, lip balm, sunscreen, and even a spritzer of Febreeze to help keep clothing fresh. (And of course, we’ll be in the land of Monoprix and wonderful pharmacies so will be able to restock in case anything runs out…)

If you’re starting from scratch, I really like the carry-on kit from bedbathandbeyond.com. It includes not only product containers and labels, but a sturdy, clear, quart sized zippered case. I purchased the perfume atomizers from Nordstrom for $5 each, and fill with my own fragrances. I stock up on travel-sized toothpastes when my favorites are available in the “travel” section of CVS or Target. And if you purchase department store skincare, ask for sample sizes of your favorite products.

Also, be aware that any prescription creams (e.g. Retin-A) do not count against your liquids limitation and should be bagged separately with other medications, including the prescription tag from the pharmacy. (I also include some OTC eye moisture drops in that bag.)

When it comes to maquillage, I’m mostly a minimalist, but I simplify even further for travel. I bring only products that won’t count against my liquid allotment.

Diorskin powder for foundation, Chanel powder blush, Bobbi Brown foundation stick used as concealer, brow and eye liner pencils, Bobbi Brown eye shadow, YSL mascara.  Lipstick stays in my purse. I have yet to have any TSA officials question lipstick or mascara, but even if they do there’s still room in my liquids bag for both.

Everything in one small cosmetics bag, c’est tout. 

I don’t bother to pack shampoo, conditioner or a blow dryer as the hotels always provide these. I use Neutrogena makeup remover wipes (if I can’t find the travel-size packs, just stuff a dozen or so into a ziploc baggie).


A few readers have asked about travel capsule wardrobes for men. I’d love to say that I’ve converted le monsieur to the concept of packing light, but he prefers to have more options and not have to re-wear items multiple times. Here’s the packing list I put together for him. (Actually, he just pulls the items from the closet and I pack them; this seems to save both our sanities.)

Unlike my list, his does not include what he’ll wear on the plane.

6 button front shirts (short and long sleeve, his choice how many of each)
2 pair jeans or other casual pants
1 pair slacks (or cords)
1 blazer
2 pullover sweaters
2 short sleeve tees or polos
1 long sleeve tee

Underwear/socks/belts/1 pair shoes (dressier than pair he’ll wear on plane)

He’ll fight me on this, I can promise. 🙂  I’ll probably let him talk me into an additional shirt and pair of pants.

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  1. April 18, 2012 / 1:10 pm

    HA, you’ve uncovered my obsession! I can’t seem to stop buying travel bottles, jars etc! When I moved last year and purged and consolidated, I was appalled at how many I really had! Anyone in the B’ham Alabama area, stop by and I’ll share my supply. That said, I can’t seem to organize mine like I should. I’m always rummaging through zip loc bags etc looking for something. I’m going to refer back to your post. I have some fabulous Paperwhite linen spray that I’m taking to “freshen” things. Great idea.

    • Anonymous
      April 19, 2012 / 12:41 am

      Glad to see a fellow Alabamian on this blog. I in Selma.

  2. April 18, 2012 / 1:35 pm

    I have several extra contact lens cases. If I fill both wells with moisturizer, it is enough for at least a week. I haven’t yet figured out what else I could put into the other extra ones, but I like how small the cases are. They won’t hold true liquid (don’t use it for mouthwash or anything like that), but they seal well enough for quasi-liquids.

    • April 18, 2012 / 3:19 pm

      What a good idea!! I have tons of extra cases and this would be a good way to minimize my travel liquids.

    • April 18, 2012 / 4:51 pm

      I have Missha BB cream on one side, Urban Decay Primer Potion on the other–love it!

    • April 18, 2012 / 6:34 pm

      That’s a great idea – and I, too have lots of extra contact lens cases!

    • Anonymous
      April 18, 2012 / 8:23 pm

      Thank you so much for this! I am leaving soon for Italy and now have a place for my Kiehls tinted moisturizer.


  3. April 18, 2012 / 1:47 pm

    I notice you don’t pack a hand/body lotion, but my hands dry up quickly without any. I’ve noticed that, as you point out for lipstick, the hand creme in my purse has never been queried — I use a small foil-tube of l’Occitane. Of course, I do have to head to a pharmacy or Monoprix within the first week to pick up a replacement/substitute, but that’s usually fun.
    I’m fussier about hair products and will probably post about my solutions for managing those within the carry-on limitations. Again, though, it can be done, and the ease of travelling with such manageable luggage is well worth the trade-off.
    Squeeeee! You must be getting so excited!

    • April 18, 2012 / 2:03 pm

      mater, you’re right, and I never go *anywhere* without hand lotion. Like you, I keep the small tube of L’Occitaine in my bag an have never had anyone question it.

    • Anonymous
      April 19, 2012 / 1:48 am

      I always brung Aquaphor in the small tubes, works wonders on hands, lips, feet, and occasionally, for my fly away h

    • Anonymous
      April 19, 2012 / 1:50 am

      Sorry, my iPad got away from me! I meant to say ,I’ve always brought Aquaphor for my fly always!

  4. April 18, 2012 / 2:17 pm

    Well done! I laughed to see I am not the only one pirating contact lens cases. For instance, the large (lifetime supply) tin of Rosebud salve does not need to travel, just scoop out a half-teaspoon, etc.

    I found an odd thing recently–everything can be made so small these days, I often have to HUNT for my camera in my purse : > Not like the old days!

    Have a fabulous trip! Any “what they are wearing on the street” photos will be much appreciated, in addition to your reports.

  5. April 18, 2012 / 3:21 pm

    I use sulfate-free shampoo for my keratin-ed hair, which means I have to bring that too. And then there’s the dry shampoo spray that I can’t seem to do without, as well as my Rogaine for delightfully thinning hair. (g) Toiletries are the hardest thing for me to minimize in travel!!

  6. Marion
    April 18, 2012 / 4:04 pm

    Along the same line of thought as the hand lotion, an old fashioned emory board is nice to have as I always rip a nail chasing around big airports. Fwiw, Tweezerman makes a tiny nail care set that I’ve taken through security many times..

    • April 18, 2012 / 4:49 pm

      I *love* that tiny Tweezerman set too!!! have given them to my daughter-in-law, etc. as well–cute small gift.

  7. April 18, 2012 / 6:37 pm

    Poor men, so many of their items aren’t so easily washed out in hotel room sinks, and they don’t compact as easily. My monsieur likes to wear rayon short-sleeve shirts – think subdued-color Hawaiian shirts – and those actually do pack tight and can be washed and dried. His khaki slacks, however – they take up a lot of room in a suitcase.

  8. Jill Ann
    April 18, 2012 / 9:32 pm

    Well done! I recently discovered those Neutrogena makeup remover wipes; they are terrific, although a bit too strongly scented. I also use Olay cleansing towelettes instead of bringing liquid cleanser when travelling. My other travel toiletry tips: I throw in a pair of tiny baby nail clippers, they are very small but will do for cutting off a torn nail, and also will cut off loose threads in a pinch. Also, I found a good selection of rollerball perfumes at Sephora; they didn’t have my usual scents, but I found a couple that I quite liked, and they are very small vials. I’m a bit fussy about my hair products, so need to bring my own shampoo, conditioner, and styling cream/lotion. I recently found some good travel size bottles at the Container Store; they come in 2 & 3 oz sizes and have a flip top so you can just squeeze out your shampoo, etc, easier than having to take off a cap.

    I love the suggestion about the contact lens case! Just make sure to label them I guess.

  9. April 19, 2012 / 12:16 am

    I have to admit that my husband, an engineer and frequent business traveler, is an expert packer. He doesn’t want me to touch his things, which is fine. He gets everything into a carryon because he hates to wait for a bag.

    HOWEVER: When we are walking around town, he always wants me to put things in my purse. His sunglasses, his phone. I keep threatening to buy him a murse for his birthday.

    • April 19, 2012 / 6:18 pm

      SAME problem with my Hub–hands me his sunglasses, phone, keys, wallet… I should just hand him the whole handbag!!

  10. mette
    April 18, 2012 / 7:18 pm

    Not liking the liquid limitations at all, however you managed to make the result look nice.
    Your hb´s travel wardrobe looks well chosen – congratulations!
    Wishing you a lovely trip !!!

  11. April 19, 2012 / 2:30 am

    Looks like you’re ready to go. i have found great product containers and labels at the Container Store. I like your STURDY zippered case.

  12. Susan Tiner
    April 18, 2012 / 8:59 pm

    That’s a good idea to buy shampoo when you get there. I tend to pack some but it’s really not necessary.

    Bon voyage!

  13. April 19, 2012 / 6:23 am

    Ha! My monsieur is exactly the same – always wants to take lots away on holidays! Love that you have your makeup down to a minimum too. So freeing… Have a happy and safe flight. (Oh and don’t forget to give us another of your fashion updates on what les femmes en Paris are wearing as you have done before – love that so much!) x

  14. Marie-Christine
    April 19, 2012 / 7:51 am

    Traveller self-defense:
    – l’Occitane small metal box and bar soaps (bigger than hotel size, much smaller than regular US size)
    – alun solid-rock deodorant
    – Lush solid shampoo
    – Body shop small-size body butter
    Voila! no pesky plastic bags.
    I love the Monop too :-).

  15. April 19, 2012 / 12:14 pm

    I keep a small bag permanently packed, but take very little on a trip over a week- buy there and use up. Perfume samples are terrific for travel.

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