What's in my carry-on: 5 liquids I never travel without by STG Editor Diana Southern

What’s In My Carry-on: The 5 Liquids I Never Travel Without

Now that I’ve been traveling full time for almost a year, I’ve got my packing strategy nearly perfected. A lighter bag, for me, translates to a more affordable, carefree trip.

But even after a year of travel, packing liquids within TSA’s 3-1-1 policy can still be tricky.  While I always find myself contemplating what’s worth taking and what I should leave at home, these 5 items end up in my carry-on every time


1. Mary Kay Medium Coverage Foundation

Mary Kay Medium-Coverage Foundation

I’ve tried enough crappy foundations to finally determine that this foundation is my absolute favorite, and I don’t want to settle for anything else. It’s kind of a pain that it’s not sold in drugstores, but I do my best to restock when I’m in the U.S. (which means locating an independent beauty consultant with my color in stock — usually not difficult).


2. Nail Polish

pink Sinful nail polish

As you may already know from my article on the Sensationail at-home gel manicure kit, I’m NOT a salon person. Frankly, I’m too cheap and disorganized (or perhaps non-committal) to make an appointment. I’m a DIY girl all the way when it comes to beauty; I’ve even cut my own hair on a number of occasions. So, while I’m certainly not going to bother with a salon on a trip, I also want my nails to look nice!

It’s now common practice for me to give myself a mani/pedi before I leave the U.S. and then do touch-ups until I absolutely can’t paint over my manicure anymore. (I can make it at least a month.) Then I just grab remover at a drugstore and start from scratch.


3. Maybelline Great Lash Mascara

Maybelline Great Lash Mascara

Again, I like what I like! There’s a chance I could find this product overseas, but it’s a small enough item that I don’t need to bother taking that chance.

Note: I typically use the standard Maybelline Great Lash mascara, rather than the Real Impact mascara shown above. I MUCH prefer the smaller wand on the original.


4. Contact Lens Solution and Back-Up Contacts

contact lenses and solution

Yep, I’m blind. For all practical purposes anyway. And I don’t do well with glasses all the time. So I have to pack my contacts.

While it’s absolutely okay to take a full-size container of contact solution in your carry-on,* I opt for a travel-sized bottle when I’m packing extra light. (*Since it’s medically necessary for me to see clearly, this item is an exception to TSA’s liquid regulations.)


5. Estee Lauder Lipgloss

Estēe Lauder Pure Color Lipgloss

This one was a recent discovery for me. It layers quite nicely over lipstick (another item I pack, though separate from liquids). But I have to admit, I’m not using it much here during my one-month stay in Costa Rica. (It’s really windy!)


What about everything else?

I now travel carry-on only, to save on money and sanity, so everything else literally doesn’t make the cut. Here’s how I handle other common everyday-use liquids:

  • Deodorant: I use a solid deodorant. That gets packed!
  • Shampoo/Conditioner: purchase at destination (if it’s not already provided where I’m staying)
  • Soap/Bodywash: purchase at destination (again, if it’s not already provided)
  • Hairspray: purchase at destination, for trips that require it


What liquids do you pack?

If you had to limit yourself to just 5 liquid items, which ones would you pack for your trip? Share your picks in the comments below!

Don’t stop here! Check out My 5 Travel Tech Essentials for the travel gadgets I can’t live without!

Author Profile

Diana SouthernSTG Founder & Contributing Editor
Diana is an outspoken, DIY-ing, star-chasing, hockey-loving, dog-owning, veggie-eating professional wanderer. And that's not the half of it. Not long ago she jumped ship from a comfy, predictable American life, sold all her stuff, and set out to explore the unknown. Now a full-time traveler, Diana believes that spontaneity, a smile, and an organized suitcase are the three key elements to a happy nomadic existence. Follow her personal travels on North To South.