Packing your toiletries is just as important as packing your clothes and shoes. But there are certain rules that you need to adhere to, when you're packing a suitcase that you intend to use as a carry on when flying.
Did you know that if you bring your regular, full-sized tube of toothpaste in your carry on, it will most likely end up confiscated? And that also applies to shampoo, conditioner, body was bottles and pretty much all other liquids and gels.
If that is news to you, you have a lot to learn. And you are in luck that you found this post because we know everything about packing a TSA approved toiletry bag, and we're dying to share it with you!
You’ve probably heard of this rule, but do you know exactly what it stands for? The 3-1-1 rule refers to the amount of toiletries that you are allowed to pack in your carry on bag – you can bring 3 (3.4 to be precise) ounces of liquids and gels, in 1 clear plastic bag, and you are allowed 1 such bag per person.
Technically, you can bring as many 3.4 ounce containers as you can fit in the bag – as long as you don’t push it, because the TSA agents still have the final say.
It is very important to note that this rule only applies to carry on luggage, and not to checked baggage.
There are certain exceptions to the rule and ways around them, and I’ll tell you all about those. But first, let’s check out what the best TSA approved toothpastes and containers are.
You’d think it would be easy to find a good travel-sized toothpaste, but it’s actually not. Because there are way too many toothpastes that are too small (under an ounce) and that won’t be a enough for a longer trip. And most travel-sized toothpastes actually come in sets. So, in order to bring just one TSA approved toothpaste, you're going to have to buy a pack of three or four of them, which sucks.
You could bring several of these on your trip, instead of one 3.4-ounce toothpaste, but you’re just wasting space in your toiletry bag. Here are the top TSA approved toothpastes that I was able to find:
If you don’t really care about the type of taste of your toothpaste, then you might as well get the cheapest possible one. And that’s exactly what makes this travel-sized toothpaste stand out from the rest.
It will set you back a little under $3 for 3 ounces, which is a pretty good deal. And you can buy just one, which is actually kind of rare to find. The toothpaste is made of natural ingredients, and it doesn’t contain any gluten, artificial sweeteners, sodium, preservatives or artificial colors, so you should not experience any negative reactions to it.
Keep in mind that 3 ounces of toothpaste might still be a lot for a really short vacation – it is as tall as a 5.5” smartphone. Think Galaxy S7 Edge, or iPhone 8 Plus. Which is fine if you’re going away for a while and people other than you will use the toothpaste. But if you’re travelling alone, for a shorter period of time, you really don’t need that much toothpaste, so check out these other options.
If you agree that you don’t really need three whole ounces of toothpaste, than I think this is the right size for you. It is a 1.3-ounce Marvis toothpaste, which is the perfect size for some shorter trips. Especially because you only need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste each time you brush your teeth.
The upside of this particular toothpaste is that it is gluten free, fluoride free, paraben free, cruelty free and vegan safe. There’s nothing unhealthy in it, so it should work even for people with really sensitive teeth.
But if you’re not a fan of the strong, minty taste, then it’s not the right one for you. But the good news is that Marvis makes a bunch of their toothpastes in this particular size – this one is just a classic. Additionally, the tube is about 10 centimeters tall, which is pretty much the size of a pack of cigarettes. So, you'll have even more space in your toiletry bag for all your other necessities.
Check out the other available flavors below (click on the image or title and it will redirect you to Amazon):
There really is something for everyone. The only downside is that it is kind of expensive for toothpaste - especially for its size.
Why spend $7 on a travel-sized toothpaste when you can get an entire set of necessities for $2 more? If you can’t be bothered with choosing tiny versions of everything you need, then a pre-packaged TSA approved setis the perfect choice for you.
There are plenty of these sets on Amazon, but I wanted to show you these two because they are really affordable, unlike some other $50+ sets. Plus they include pretty much everything you’ll need – a tiny shampoo, conditioner (not featured in the men’s set for obvious reasons), body wash, deodorant and of course toothpaste!
Order this set and then just throw it in your carry on and you’re good to go. It’s cheaper to get this than individual travel-sized products, and you won’t have to spend any time on filling the travel containers. It’s the easiest and quickest solution!
If you want to be 100% on the safe side, this is probably your best option. This is the exact set that the TSA recommends you bring on your travels, if you want to be sure you won’t have any issues getting it past security.
It contains a few different containers for your toiletries and they are refillable, so you’ll be able to use them every time you fly. The best thing about the set is that the containers are almost the exact size (3.3 ounces each) that you are allowed to bring, so you don’t have to weigh anything – just fill them up and you’re done. And the set comes with a transparent plastic bag that you’re required to have anyway, so you really get the full package.
All the silicone bottles are in different colors, and they have tiny ID windows, so you'll be able to check what's in each bottle if you forget. That's really convenient, since it's pretty easy to mix them up and then you wind up shampooing your teeth. All the bottles are also leak-proof and the set comes with a lanyard that you can use to hand all four bottles in one place when you unpack.
As with everything in life, there are ways to get around this rule. Some of them are pretty straightforward, while others include getting a bit lucky when going through TSA checkpoints. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try them – the worst thing that can happen is your toothpaste getting confiscated, which really isn’t that big a deal.
The 3-1-1 rule only applies to carry on luggage. So, if you are travelling with both a checked bag and a carry on, pack your full-sized toothpaste in the checked bag. You could even pack the entire check suitcase full of toothpaste for all TSA cares.
Just be sure to get a suitcase with at least a pocket for your toiletries, to avoid any accidents. The worst way to start your trip is by having to clean toothpaste off every single item you packed.
TSA states that all your toiletries need to be in a clear bag that you have to take out of your carry on and show to them. Now, you could always just put a large tube of toothpaste in your bag and not show it to them. But they’re going to see it on the x-ray, right? Wrong.
There are certain types of toothpaste that don’t show up on their X-rays – at least that’s what other travellers claim. In fact, a certain frequent flyer talked about this in a newsletter, which caused a lot of other readers to share their similar experiences.
If you want to try and get lucky with sneaking toothpaste past the TSA agents, make sure it’s a Crest one. Its packaging is made of lightweight plastic, which the X-ray machines can’t see.
Obviously, if you want this to work you can’t declare that you have a full-sized tube of toothpaste in your carry on. And there is always a chance that the agents will go through your luggage, see it and take it away from you, so you should also bring a spare, TSA approved one anyway.
Note: Although it might be possible to sneak things onto planes, I am not suggesting you do it or that I condone it. The TSA has these rules for a reason and I personally believe we should try to abide by them as much as possible.
Yes, you can get toothpaste in a solid form. Or rather toothy tabs. And since there are no restrictions on solid toiletries, you can bring as many as you need for your trip.
Lush is a UK brand that makes organic and fresh cosmetic products. You might be familiar with their famous bath bombs, but they also make pretty much anything you might need in a solid form. That includes solid shampoo, soap, toothy tabs and mouthwash, among other things. Here are a few different types and flavors of their toothy tabs:
This is an excellent way to get around the TSA 3-1-1 rule, as you’re not actually bringing liquids or gels. And you’ll have plenty of products to brush your teeth your entire trip, so it’s a win-win.
There is another option - the solid toothpaste tablets by Bikit. One thing that makes them a better choice than the Lush ones is that these are all packaged individually, so they are more hygienic if several people are using them.
When you want to brush your teeth, just put one or two tablets in your mouth and start chewing them. After some time they’ll start to bubble, and then you’ll be able to brush your teeth just like with your regular toothpaste.
Maybe it’s a lot of information to remember at once, or maybe you can’t be bothered to read the entire post. Anyway, here’s a quick summary of things to keep in mind when packing your carry on toiletries:
And that's pretty much all you need to know about toothpaste and air travel. Seriously, if you apply everything you learned in this post about packing your toiletries in your carry on, getting through that TSA checkpoint will be a breeze. Happy travelling!
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!