Tips for Traveling with Liquids

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No matter how you travel, packing liquids can be tough. The limits on carrying liquids on board planes are well publicized and much bemoaned, but beyond that, they can leak or spill and cause a mess in your luggage even if you aren’t flying. So try these tips to keep liquids where they belong when you’re traveling.

– Repackage. While you can get “travel-size” containers of liquids like shampoo, they’re not particularly environmentally friendly and they tend to be expensive. Instead, try purchasing sturdy, lightweight containers to store only as much of your liquids as you need for a trip. For thin liquids, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles are a good option, as they weigh little and are unbreakable. Search for a brand with a reputation for well-made caps, because caps tend to be the weakest link in HDPE products. For viscous liquids, search for refillable squeeze tubes. Tubes can be harder to find than bottles, but several companies make them. Look for one with a small exit hole to make leakage less likely, and avoid silicone products, which weigh more and are incompatible with several products.

– Remember the 3-1-1 rule. When you travel by plane, limit your liquids to bottles that are 3.4 ounces or smaller, and bring only as many as you can fit into one clear, quart-sized plastic bag. Doing so will keep you in compliance with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations. Baby formula, baby food, medications, and breast milk can be carried outside the quart-sized bag but must be declared when going through security.

– Avoid dangerous liquids. It might convenient to bring along fuel for your backpacking stove, but flammable liquids are banned from some types of transport, and so are chemicals such as chlorine and bleach. If you need any of those items, you should plan to buy them when you arrive at your destination.

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