The post September 11 era of air travel has become much more strict, especially when it comes to packing liquids. The 3-1-1 Rule has made it so that you can’t pack more than 3.4 ounce bottles into a one quart bag in your carry on. Full sized bottles of shampoo and snowglobes are out of the question unless you want to check a bag.
Thankfully, you can fill travel bottles with your favorite toiletries from home to keep within the liquid restrictions and avoid the hotel toiletries. Some bottles are better for certain liquid items, so we’ve picked a few of our favorites to compare.
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Nalgene Travel Bottles, $7.99 for 6 assorted bottles
The creators of one of the top brands of water bottles also makes BPA free polyethylene bottles for travel. They come in tubs and various sizes of bottles. They’re made to be leak proof and resistant to breaking. Nalgene bottles have color coded lids for you to remember what’s in them. They’re also dishwasher safe and come in jars. This type of bottle is best for things like shampoo and conditioner that will be squeezed from the flexible plastic. If it’s much thicker, you’ll have trouble squeezing it out. These liquids should be placed in the tubs instead.
>> Check for Nalgene travel bottles on Amazon.
GoToobs, $19.99 for 3 2oz bottles
The GoToobs are a popular choice for travel toiletry bottles for their soft silicone material, flip caps and suction cups that you can stick onto the wall of the shower. It’s BPA free and easy to clean, not to mention under lifetime warranty. GoToobs also have indicators that you can switch to denote what’s inside, which is super handy so you don’t squeeze out your conditioner before you’ve shampooed!
>> Check for GoToobs on Amazon.
Pitotubes, $26.00 for 3 pieces
Developed using space technology pump systems and shatterproof glass, Pitotubes are recommended by flight attendants for their ability to get as much out of the bottle as possible without leaks. They come in two different sizes, 1 ounce and 0.5 ounce, as well as two choices of lids, spray and squirt. Pitotubes also come with a cosmetic bag in a quart or half quart size to easily throw into your carry on.
>> Check for Pitotubes on Amazon.
Screw Top vs. Flip Top vs. Pumps
The lids are the most important feature of your travel toiletry bottles. The lids should all seal tight and not let what’s inside leak out- one of the dreaded fails of liquids in your luggage.
Nalgene’s screw top lids hold up well, but at the same time, you have to carefully choose what you put in them, as it may become difficult to get them out. Once they are out, there’s no bottleneck area to slow down the flow.
GoToobs have a spout that controls the pour of the liquid, but the flip top has been known to break off from use.
Pitotubes can get highly pressurized due to its pump technology, making some liquids dangerous. But they hold up for a long time and are easy to clean.
Materials and Durability
I found the Nalgene and Pitotubes bottles to be most durable from wear, although the actual bottle of GoToobs held up just fine. I dropped a GoToobs bottle once and it busted the cap (this just recently happened to Brooke as well, but she has had several drops in the past without issue). While they will replace them if you send them back in to the company, some people may not want to bother. I never worried about the Pitotubes being dropped, as I have accidentally done so many times without incident.
What These Travel Toiletry Bottles Hold
Some types of bottles are incompatible with some types of toiletries. Nalgene bottles are best for slightly runny liquids like shampoo and lotion. Anything firmer, like gels and creams, work best in the Nalgene tubs. Brooke has been using Nalgene bottles and tubs for travel toiletries since 2007 and has never had an issue with leaks.
GoToobs have a number of things they won’t hold, listed on this website, but they’re also incompatible with anything containing any alcohols, salicylic acid, hair serums & treatments, silicone-based lubricants, DEET or hydrogen peroxide. They work wonderfully with your normal shampoos and conditioners and body lotions because of the flexible bottle.
Pitotubes are best for things that won’t congeal and won’t be difficult at high pressures. Avoid contact solution for either lid. The bottles come in a number of sizes, but are typically in 0.5 ounce or 1 ounce bottles, which you can mix and match to meet the 3-1-1 requirements.
When it comes to travel toiletry bottles, you get what you pay for. The cheapest that you find in the travel toiletries aisle of the local grocery store or Walmart may not last the longest. Even though Pitotubes are $26 for 3 bottles, I’ve had my set for over three years and they are just as good as new.
At the end of the day, filling travel toiletry bottles can save you money and is more environmentally responsible than buying new travel sized toiletries or using them at hotels, which are subsequently thrown away. And you get what you pay for in terms of refillable bottles.
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