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While we’re all for keeping things thrifty, using a plastic Ziploc bag as your carry-on toiletry bag can have some problems. They can easily rip and leak when your liquids leak, ruining the items in your suitcase.
They also aren’t as reusable as more durable types of bags.
We’ve created a list of carry-on toiletry bag alternatives that have all the features of a Ziploc without the downsides.
Liquids Rules on Airplanes
When packing liquids in your carry-on bag, you need to follow TSA requirements. That means you will need to pay extra attention to how many liquids you are bringing, what containers they are in, and how you pack them.
To do this follow the 3-1-1 rule.
All liquids, gels, and aerosols need to be in containers less than 3.4 ounces (or 100 milliliters) each and fit into 1 quart-sized bag. Each passenger is allowed 1 quart-size bag of liquids in their carry-on.
You might be interested in learning more about the 3-1-1 rule when traveling with only a carry-on.
We know this can get a little confusing, so we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions for you:
What bag can I put liquids in?
There are a few requirements for the bag that you are putting your liquids in. Namely, the bag must be:
The most standard option is a quart-sized Ziploc bag, but there are many choices on the market for reusable liquids bags.
Can you use your own bag for liquids?
In most cases, you can use your own carry-on toiletry bag alternative for liquids, as long as it fulfills the above requirements. We’ve listed some great options below.
It’s important to note that while a reusable liquids bag has many perks, even TSA-friendly options may have issues going through airport security (especially in Europe).
Can I use a Ziploc bag for liquids?
A Ziploc bag is transparent and resealable and as long as it is quart-sized or less, it can be used as your liquids bag.
What do you have to put in the liquids bag?
According to TSA guidelines, any substance that is free-flowing or viscous is considered a liquid. This means liquids, aerosols, pastes, creams, and gels.
This includes makeup and food items like peanut butter but does not include medications with the original label, baby formula, or duty-free items purchased at the airport.
Liquids Bag Features
While it’s easy to pick a toiletry bag that’s cute or free with the purchase of makeup, frequent travelers should seek out certain features in their toiletry bag.
You might have a nice leather dopp kit that you bring on road trips where you don’t need to put your liquids in a carry-on, but for quick trips, using a TSA-friendly toiletry bag that ticks all the boxes is essential.
Clear: You’ll speed through airport security if your toiletry bag is clear or see-through. Or even, one side with a clear panel and the other opaque.
The right size: Make sure the bag is 1 quart, the TSA-approved size for your toiletry bag. Technically you can have a smaller bag if you don’t have many liquids, but 1 quart is already pretty small.
Lightweight: If it’s going in your carry-on, you want to not only pare down in size but also weight. Extra bulk and material should be avoided.
Waterproof: Make sure your toiletry bag of choice is waterproof or at least resistant to leaks in case one of your bottles spills. It should also be easy to wipe out in case something does bust in transit.
Of course, this is less of an issue if have some proper travel toiletry bottles. Brooke swears by her Nalgene travel bottles as they have never leaked on any of her adventures.
Extra features: Additional features you might like to have are the ability to hang up with a hook or carabiner. A mirror is another perk, as is a zippered mesh pocket.
Carry-on Toiletry Bag Alternatives We Recommend
When buying a reusable liquids bag, you can get something basic or something with a few extras. We’ve got options for both!
- These are perfect for storing your free travel-size toiletries.
Basic Toiletry Bags
In terms of more basic carry-on toiletry bag alternatives, you can find some for fairly cheap that are only a step above the Ziploc bag, yet more sustainable. They should cost you no more than $20 USD and often come with toiletry bottles.
Lewis N Clark Toiletry Pouch $9.99
The Lewis N Clark Toiletry Pouch is water-resistant and even has a water-resistant zipper. The flat bottom ensures that it is able to stand up on its own.
Travelon 1 Quart Bag $14.90
The Travelon 1 Quart Bag has a zipper closure and comes with three reusable plastic bottles, two jars, and one bottle with an atomizer.
Olanmark Travel Toiletry Bag $13.99
The Olanmark Travel Toiletry Bag has a handle making it easy to hang up in the bathroom. It also has an additional zipper pocket for storing small toiletry items like cotton wool pads and it comes in a range of colors.
Stasher Quart Bag $19.99
The Stasher Quart Bag is made from reusable silicone and has a leak-free patented Pinch-Loc™ seal. We love this option as Stasher bags can be used for so many other things – even cooking meals in your hotel room microwave.
Bags with Extras
We’ve written about a few toiletry bags here on Her Packing List and also asked some of our followers for their recommendations. I’ve included a few of these carry-on toiletry bag alternatives for your consideration below.
Tom Bihn 3D Clear Organizer Cube $36
While the price is a bit high for a toiletry bag, Tom Bihn makes high-quality products for travel. The Tom Bihn 3D Clear Organizer Cube comes in dozens of colors, has two high-quality zippers, and can have an add-on key strap or shoulder strap.
It’s not waterproof but is made of sustainable materials. It also has a hook to hang off your bathroom door or hostel dorm bunk. The cube clips into other bags by the company and can store more than just your toiletries.
*Brooke has this and has been using the same cube for about 8 years now! It’s her ideal minimal toiletry bag for any length of trip.
Sea to Summit TPU Clear Zip Pouch $29.95
The Sea to Summit TPU Clear Zip Pouch is a durable, transparent pouch. It has a waterproof zipper with Hypalon grab tags and comes with three 3.3 fluid-ounce leak proof bottles and three 1.6 fluid-ounce leak proof bottles with write-on labels.
Rough Enough Toiletry Bag $26.99
The Rough Enough Toiletry Bag is waterproof and easy to clean with double YKK zippers. It has a handle for easy carrying and hanging up in the bathroom and a nametag in case you misplace it at a hostel. It also has an inner mesh pocket for storing personal items. The included carabiner means you can throw it on the back of your backpack for easy access or if you’re short on space.
Travelon Wet/Dry 1 Quart Bag $23.95
Separate your liquid toiletries from your non-liquids with this two-part bag that has a hook to hang up for ease when getting ready. The patented two-section feature keeps the rest of your items from getting wet in case a bottle leaks.
The Travelon Wet/Dry 1 Quart Bag comes in black or purple and is TSA-approved when closed or opened thanks to a mesh panel. The kit includes 3 travel bottles and 2 jars for you to reuse as necessary.
What’s your favorite carry-on toiletry bag?
P.S. You might also like this post on plastic bag alternatives for travel.