The TSA and other international aviation security authorities restrict liquids in hand luggage.
But it’s not clear how many bottles or containers you are actually allowed to take with you in your carry on luggage.
This post aims to bring some clarity to the situation.
How Many Airplane Size Bottles Can You Take?
It’s not easy to tell you how many bottles you can take…
That’s because there is no strict TSA limit to the number of 3.4 oz bottles you are able to bring on a plane, however, all the liquids that you take must fit inside 1 clear toiletries bag.
In theory, that toiletries bag should be a 1-quart size bag. You can take as many containers as you can manage to fit in the bag.
And 1 quart is roughly 33 oz.
In practice, many toiletries bags are larger than 1 quart. See this post for details about the dimensions of quart-sized bags.
To confuse matters, it’s very common for people to use toiletries bags that are more like 1.5 quarts or about 50 oz. This is because more sturdy toiletries bags have a gusset and some depth to them.
While technically they are oversized the TSA security agents won’t blink unless you are using a toiletries bag that is extremely oversized.
When it comes to filling your toiletries bag the different shapes of the bottles will mean there are air gaps. You’ll probably get only 6 or 7 travel bottles in your toiletries bag if you use a flat 6 x 9 inch quart size baggie.
If you try to push your luck a little and buy a toiletries bag that has some depth it will probably pass through the TSA checkpoint anyway. You might be able to use a bag that takes 10 travel size 3 oz containers.
But there is a problem with this question that you might not have realized…
The Problem With 3.4 Oz Size Containers or Bottles & Carry On Luggage
While 3.4 oz is the maximum size any individual bottle can be, it’s not always the best-sized container to use.
Simply put, when you are going on vacation you don’t always need 100 ml or 3.4 oz of the product you are bringing.
Let’s take eye cream for example. 1 oz of eye cream is plenty for most trips. If you take 3.4 oz of eye cream you are wasting space inside your toiletries bag. 3.4 oz of eye cream could last you for years.
Likewise with toothpaste. For short trips you don’t need 3.4 oz. It’s too much.
3.4 oz of shampoo is 10 washes for people with long hair or 20 washes for shortly cropped hair.
If you are only going on a weekend trip 3.4 oz of shampoo is too much.
I recently wrote this post that has more details about what 3.4 oz actually looks like and how much you need of different products on a daily basis.
The best tactic for travel toiletry bottles and containers is to fill your own bottles with the amount of product that you really need.
To do this you need to buy a set a various sized of bottles and containers.
These will actually pay for themselves very quickly since it’s cheaper to refill bottles than to buy overpriced travel-size toiletries.
You’ll also be able to make the best use of your one-quart liquids restriction.
This set of various sized containers and bottles would be a great starting point:
The Bottom Line
The simple answer is you can take 6 or 7 travel 3.4 oz bottles in a quart size baggie.
If you put the limits a little you might get away with 10 x 3 oz bottles in a 3-dimensional toiletries bag without raising any eyebrows.
But the most sensible way to pack toiletries is not to only pack 3.4 oz bottles or containers. That’s a waste of space.
Purchase various sized containers and fill them with the amount of product that you actually need.
There is no sense in packing 20 days worth of shampoo if you are only going for 3 nights!
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