Rules, Regulations, Travel, and 3-1-1 Kits: Everything you need to know about mastering travel toiletry bags aka 3-1-1 kits.
I've been thinking a lot lately about the role of 3-1-1 toiletry kits – you know, the small, see-through kits we all must present to the airport security staff to prove we have limited liquids. They're a key component of travel toiletry kits (or travel dopp kits or travel shaving bags, depending on your preferred vocabulary!)
So much has been made of travel toiletry 3-1-1 kit restrictions and regulations that many travelers believe it poses a huge problem. Some people will even pay to check their luggage because they cannot fit all their liquid toiletries in the regulation size bag. And if the delays at security are any indication, there are many people who still don’t understand the regulations or are trying to get around them. But if you pack smart, and choose the right products, a 3-1-1 kit will never be a hindrance. Let me try to convince you!
Who needs liquids anyway? Travel toiletry kits have a lot of options.
Most travel toiletry products aren't liquid and thus don't have to go in 3-1-1 kits to be screened by airport security. Whenever possible, I pack dry products only in my travel toiletry bag. Dry products obviously don’t need to go in a 3-1-1 kit, and they can be either organized in my proper toiletry kit or stuck individually into the nooks and crannies of my suitcase. That clears up a lot of space to stuff my 3-1-1 kit with liquid toiletries. On a recent two week trip to Hawaii, I used the space in my 3-1-1 mostly for my favourite sunscreen. In past trips, I stuffed it full of bug repellent.
(By the way, that travel toiletry kit I mentioned... I use Eagle Creek's Pack It Specter On Board hanging travel toiletry kit. As far as I'm concerned, it's the best hanging toiletry kit. Mine is the exact same one as pictured here except it's a light neon green. For the see through 3-1-1 kit itself, I just use a regular ol' Ziploc bag.)
So exactly what are these non-liquid toiletries I mentioned? Some are unique, specialty travel products and others are just regular ol' drugstore products.
My list includes dry shampoo, solid bars of soap (mini bars of Dove are my favourite), solid moisture sticks in lieu of lotion and hair serum (such as cocoa butter sticks from the Body Shop - I think they're discontinued now in Canada but they might still be sold elsewhere), solid perfumes (from Crabtree & Evelyn or Simpatico), mini baby powder, soap leaves for hand-washing and laundry, dry facial cleansing cloths (from Olay), tooth powder, bath bombs (I love Lush), aned solid deodorants. The products all belong in regular luggage and need no special screening. No 3-1-1 kit required!
Keeping clean is easy: Finding and buying travel toiletries around the world.
It can be daunting to envision a long trip and just a small amount of liquid toiletries like shampoo, lotion, and sunscreen. Take heart! Virtually all hotels come with complimentary travel toiletries, especially shampoo and lotion. For short trips in nice hotels, you can easily rely on the freebies!
If you are travelling for an extensive time, consider restocking your essentials on route. There are few places in the world that don’t carry major brand name items at the local pharmacies. Even when I was living in Malawi, I was able to locate pharmacies selling major brands like Revlon shampoo and Olay face lotion around the richest part of the Lilongwe city center, close to embassies and hotels. And major chains like the Body Shop are just about everywhere these days, especially in airports. During a 4 week trip through Europe, I paused in Prague to grab refills at the Body Shop in a touristy part of the city - and as a nice bonus, I was given samples of specialty products to try!
3-1-1 kits = A little travel DIY: How to save money on your toiletry kit
When it’s necessary to pack my own liquid travel products, I avoid the prepackaged “minis” offered at the pharmacies. The unit price is outrageous and there is too much unnecessary packaging. I instead use an assortment of small sized Nalgene bottles and Go Tubes, both made of unbreakable plastic, and I keep refilling them as needed. They are inexpensive, sturdy, and hold up to hot water scrubbing between uses.
Crazy for Carry-On!
I’m passionate about carry-on only luggage and I want every part of my trip to go smoothly. I like to have my favourite products with me and I don’t want to be uncomfortable with poor quality products, but gone are the days when I drag along a small knapsack of hair guck. I don’t want to pay for checked luggage and neither should you!
As always, I welcome and encourage your comments. What's the one toiletry you can't live without?
If you enjoyed this article, you'll also like:
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The Case for Carry-on and Ultra-lite Packing
Do Bathsalts and Scrubs Belong In A 3-1-1 Kit?
Inside My Round The World Makeup Kit
No Toothpaste, No Problem: Try Liquid-Free Toothettes
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