Can You Bring Essential Oils on a Plane in Your Carry-On Luggage?

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I frequently travel with essential oils, especially lavender. I use my lavender oil as a means of calming down my travel anxiety, helping to get to sleep in unfamiliar places, and dealing with jet lag.

It’s also helpful to have it in a nearby bag in the event that I get stressed out during my travel!

That begs the question. Is it possible to take essential oils with you in your carry-on luggage? And what is the best way to go about traveling with essential oils?

In simple terms, yes, you can bring essential oils on a plane in your hand luggage.

But there are limits to the quantity you can bring.

You can’t just throw your preferred oils into your carry on and call it a day. Traveling through airports brings with it a series of security regulations that you must abide by.

The TSA Rules Regarding Flying With Essential Oils

If you are traveling within the United States, you will have to understand exactly what the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is looking for in carry-on luggage to make sure that your travels go smoothly.

If you don’t, there’s a chance that you will have to either throw out items from your bag or spend more time explaining your situation to the TSA!

The TSA security baggage check is generally searching for liquids, pastes, gels, excessive amounts of powders, and weapons or potential improvised weapons.

The TSA officers protect the public from terrorist threats by making sure dangerous items can’t get inside airplanes. This is a good thing, so don’t be too annoyed about the regulations about flying with essential oils.

Because essential oils are considered a liquid and you could be hiding a dangerous material inside your oil bottle then there are limits to how much you can take with you into the cabin

TSA regulations state that passengers are allowed to carry on oils and vinegars if they come in a packaging that is less than 3.4 ounces or 100 ml. If you are unsure about how much fluid your bottle has, you should properly measure it to get an accurate count.

In principle, though, you should try to only bring bottles that have a size written on them. By doing this, you can make the process easier for both you and the TSA agents!

Here is a screengrab from the TSA website:

It’s also helpful to have it in a nearby bag in the event that I get stressed out during my travel!

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Keep in mind that the final decision is always taken by the TSA officer. If your officer says something isn’t permitted on the plane it won’t be going on no matter what is written here or on the website. Period. So it’s probably better to use well-labeled bottles to help the TSA officer make their decision.

Also. Take note. You are able to bring as much essential oil in your checked suitcase as you want. But be warned your airline might charge you for taking checked luggage and they might lose your suitcase.

Wherever you choose to pack them make sure your protect any bottle from breaking. You don’t want to end up like Piper:

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Be Familiar with the 3-1-1 TSA Liquid Rule

When traveling within the United States, it’s very likely that you’ll see signs about the TSA’s “3-1-1” rule. This is a rule set in place to ensure that passengers don’t carry more liquid than they are allowed, so it’s important to be familiar with it.

The 3-1-1 rule can be broken down like this:

  • 3 – You are only allowed to carry liquids that are in bottles or containers smaller than 3.4 ounces or 100 ml
  • 1 – You can only place your liquids in one plastic quart-sized bag
  • 1 – Each passenger is only allowed to bring one bag with them

The 3-1-1 rule is meant to protect all passengers by making all liquids being carried on-board both accessible and visible. By placing liquids in plastic bags, passengers can allow the TSA to properly inspect their luggage to gauge whether or not they are following the regulations. This helps to speed up the line at security and stop cheats getting away with taking more liquids than permitted.

While you can bring essential oils inside your clear plastic quart sized bag you of course will probably have shampoo and shower gel in there too. You might find it difficult to bring all the essential oils that you would like to pack in your carry on bag.

Consider a bar of solid soap instead of shower gel. You can buy solid bars of shampoo and you can even buy solid toothpaste too! There are ways to make room in your plastic bag to make room for your essential oils.

Always Make Sure What You Bring is Legal

Airports are considered part of federal law zones, meaning that the laws of your home state don’t necessarily apply. By researching which substances are legal in airports and which ones aren’t, you can make sure that you are not breaking the law while traveling.

One example would be CBD oil. As of 2018 these were the states where CBD oil was legal.

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If you are unsure about the legality of any of the essential oil you plan to travel with then make sure you check before you fly. The same applies when flying internationally.

When in Doubt, Ask

Even though I’ve included a lot of tips and information in this guide, there is always the possibility of you being in a completely unexpected situation.

If you are unsure about any essential oil then you could ask either the TSA or the airline that you are planning to fly with.

You can ask the TSA using @Ask TSA on Twitter as Laura did. They are usually very responsive.

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Or you could ping your airline a message:

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Essential Oil Travel Bags

There are some essential oil travel bags that help you organize all your little bottles. Like this one:

While these bags can be useful for packing and organizing in your checked luggage they are not very helpful in your hand luggage.

That is because all your essential oils must go inside your one clear quart-sized bag.

If you wanted to travel with a large number of essential oils but didn’t want to pay for checked luggage you could forward a parcel shipment to your destination using USPS or another courier service.

Another option to consider when flying might be incense sticks. Since incense is not a liquid you can take as much as you like in your hand luggage.

I know it’s not the same but I thought I should mention it as an alternative for aromas when traveling.

The Best Essential Oils For Flying and Travel

As I mentioned above I like to travel with lavender oil to help with jet lag and getting to sleep if I’ve moved time zones.

There are other oils that can help with anxiety and motion sickness.

I recommend this video from Our Oily House that goes into more detail about good oils to take when you go traveling.

In Conclusion

Those who use essential oils on a daily basis know very well just how helpful they can be while traveling. However, you certainly don’t want to get in any trouble with the TSA or the law while doing so.

Because of this, you should be aware of the careful planning required to successfully bring your oils with you in your carry-on luggage in the correct transparent bag and size of containers.

By following the advice listed in this guide, you’ll be able to not only have seamless travel, but also a soothing vacation! I hope this guide has been helpful so that the next time you’re about to get on a plane, you know exactly how to pack your carry-on luggage.