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toiletriesEvery Wednesday, we’ll feature one practical travel tip here, on our blog. Get our clever weekly tips and other travel resources in your inbox by subscribing to our blog (top right) or signing up for our newsletter.

Size matters. Or, at least, it matters to the TSA.

We’re regularly hit with all kinds of questions about the TSA’s complicated carry-on rules. But many travelers seem puzzled by one problem in particular: when it comes to containers packed in carry-on bags, does size matter?

Asked one reader, “I have a 4-ounce tube of sunscreen that is only partially full (I’ve used some of it). Can I bring that in my carry-on? Is it the size of the container that is most important or the weight/amount of the material in the container?”

In Airport Security Q&A, we clear things up. “Liquids and gels must be in individual containers of 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less and placed inside one clear, quart-size, plastic, zip-top bag.” This means the containers may be no larger than 3.4 ounces, whether they’re full, half full or carrying the dregs of your dried-up shampoo.

We know. This security regulation is especially exasperating when you’re toting a 4-ounce bottle that’s practically empty. But unlike most rules, the TSA guidelines weren’t meant to be broken, and you risk having your containers confiscated by a security agent if they’re larger than 3.4 ounces by volume. Our advice? Purchase a set of empty carry-on bottles at your local Rite Aid (this useful item made our list of top 10 travel essentials you can find at your drug store), and fill ‘em up every time you travel.

– written by Caroline Costello

One Response to “Travel Tip of the Week: Size Matters”

  1. jc says:

    Grocery stores carry the sets of empty bottles as well. I got a set for about $6. It has 6 or 7 different sizes of empty bottles (including a spray bottle!), a mini-loofah, and it was all packaged into an airline-approved clear zippered bag – much sturdier than a ziploc!

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