Hacking Your Carry-On Bag

Aug 15, 2016 | Travel

As airline fees continue to rise, carrying on luggage is becoming more and more attractive. Here are some ideas for items that should make it into your carry-on bag.

Traveling on planes can get quite annoying with all of the ridiculous fees they’ve come up with – from charges for your carry-on bag to assigned seats, or even bottled water. There are some exceptions out there, like Southwest Airlines, for instance who allows up to two free checked bags, and no change fees.

When traveling on an airline with luggage fees your best bet is to take a carry-on bag. It doesn’t always work but we’ve learned a lot of hacks and tested a lot of products to perfect carry-on-only packing. And it all begins with that pesky TSA quart sized bag rule…

A quart sized bag isn’t a lot of space. The Transportation Security Administration specifically states:

“You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item.”

If you’re lucky enough to be TSA pre-approved (and the precheck line is actually open) they usually won’t make you take your bag quart bag out to prove that everything fits. The problem, however, is that you never know when an airport is going to shut down the precheck line. So…you should always be prepared.

Carry-on Bag Friendly

Here are some of the items we find to be carry-on bag friendly – either because they are small or are not liquids:

  • Lush Dirty Toothy Tabs (toothpaste in a tablet form) – You simply chew a tab, add some water to your toothbrush and brush normally. They even come in a small recyclable box and since they are a tablet they don’t have to fit in your quart-size bag.
  • GoToobs – There’s a lot of containers for liquids out there and nothing has worked as well as these. They can be purchased at many locations including REI or on Amazon and are available in different colors and sizes. The built-in labeling system makes it easy to decipher what’s in each tube.
  • Travel-size hairspray – Almost every brand sells a small size of your favorite brand.
  • Dry Shampoo and baking powder – For the in-between days try something like Oscar Blandi’s dry shampoo (powder instead of a spray) and try using baking powder for shampoo. Neither would need to be packed in your quart-size bag.
  • Face wash – If you normally use a liquid face wash, try looking for a solid bar wash like Cetaphil.

International Travel

Domestic flights are one thing. International travel is a whole other beast. Flights around the world can be a brutal assault on your senses. Having some essential items can help you get through the trip though.

If you’re lucky enough to be flying on an airline that has power outlets at each seat then you want to make sure you’ve got charging cords for any devices (computer, iPad, Kindle, etc.). Since you’re basically in the air for 24 hours you might think about bringing a spare set of clothing. Some airlines, such as Emirates, provide small toiletry bags with socks, eye masks, toothbrush and toothpaste. If you’re not flying an airline that provides these you should think about bringing your own.

And to round out the list of must-have items – don’t forget your reusable water bottle like this one from Vapur. It folds up and can be stored in your bag until you get through security. Then, just fill it up and you’ll always have water on your flight.

We’d love to hear about your favorite items you put in your carry-on bag. Leave us a comment or connect with us on social media. Happy Travels!


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