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Oh the dreaded 3 ounce rule!  It’s been around for years and you would think that most of us would remember that you can’t take more than 3.4 ounces of a liquid, cream, aerosol, paste or gel in your carry on.  It’s the 3-1-1 rule— 1 quart sized zip lock bag per person with no more than 3.4 ounces (or 100 ml) per container.

A couple of weeks ago, Mr. My Vacation Lady was headed to Chicago for a business trip.  It was only a 3 day trip so he was just taking a carry on bag.  I asked where he had his toothpaste and he pulled out his toiletries pouch.  No– not allowed.  I got him a clear plastic bag to put the toothpaste in.  Seemed like such a waste since when I travel, my bag is always stuffed to capacity.

Here are some tips on how to make the most of your 1 quart sized zip top clear plastic bag:

Pick the right bag:

TSA bags

Not all bags are created equally– the 2 on the left, the Ziploc and the Hefty are both quart sized. The one on the right is a sandwich sized bag so don’t bother with those if you have a lot of toiletries to bring on board.

Choose width over height:

Chances are, you’ll be taking more smaller bottles than taller ones so the Hefty wider bag will fit more bottles.

Slide vs. Zip:

The slider closure on the Hefty bag is more secure than the zip closure on the Ziploc bag and you certainly don’t want your toiletries rolling around in the bin or in your carry on.

Maximize space by choosing the right shape bottles:

Rather than using short rounded (cylinder shaped) bottles, opt for tall skinny rectangular shaped ones or flat cylinder shaped bottles. These will pack tighter and it will be easier to stuff more into your 1 bag.

Don’t take the full bottle:

I’ve learned that a week’s worth of moisturizer can fit into a contact lens case.  A week’s worth of foundation and a week’s worth of primer can fit into another contact lens case.  When you find the right shape bottle (either provided by hotel or ones you’ve bought), hold onto them and keep refilling them.

My Vacation Lady has been known as the queen of over packing and with the airlines all charging fees for excess weight and some for carry on luggage, we are really using these tips on all of our trips.