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Packing Tips for Budget Travel

Carry-Ons and Airline Security


Courtesy Transportation Safety Administration

Courtesy Transportation Safety Administration

What a great strategy: Pack everything you'll need in one carry-on bag and get on the plane.

No lost luggage, no wait at baggage claim and plenty of mobility.

Then came the terrorist threats uncovered in Britain. Liquids of all types were severely restricted from carry-ons for a time.

Those restrictions eased in the weeks that followed, but as of September 2006, here are the Transportation Safety Administration's rules:

The Three-Ounce Rule

All liquids, gels and aerosols must be in three-ounce or smaller containers. Larger containers that are half-full or toothpaste tubes rolled up are not allowed. Each container must be three ounces or smaller.

One Clear Plastic Bag

All liquids, gels and aerosols must be placed in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag. Gallon size bags or bags that are not zip-top such as fold-over sandwich bags are not allowed. Each traveler can use only one, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag. Size: 7.5 inches deep by eight inches wide.

X-Ray Screening

Each traveler must remove their quart-sized plastic, zip-top bag from their carry-on and place it in a bin or on the conveyor belt for X-ray screening. X-raying separately will allow TSA security officers to more easily examine the declared items.

Notable Exceptions Exist

There are some liquids to which the rules do not apply: Baby formula or breast milk, liquid nutrition or gels for passengers with medical conditions, or other liquids/gels prescribed in medical treatment.

Important: You must separate these liquids from any others and inform security officers of the situation. These items, although permitted, could be subjected to additional inspections.

What does all of this mean for the one-bag, carry-on traveler?

Obviously, if you'll be overseas for more than a week or so, it's doubtful you'll be able to pack enough mouthwash, shampoo or toothpaste to meet the guidelines and supply your trip at the same time. Plan on buying personal items such as shampoo during your trip. It's really that simple.

It's important to check the rules for updates prior to flying. These restrictions could change very quickly as threats come and go.

Don't let the security guidelines discourage your one-bag, carry-on strategy. The guidelines are there to protect us, and you can minimize their impact on your packing with some simple planning.

It's natural that you'll carry more on your first trip overseas than on your fifth excursion. But in times like these, keep whittling down that essential packing list. Your efforts will be repaid with a smoother, safer and more economical trip.

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