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
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
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
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
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
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!
- 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.
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The mascara is not a liquid on TSA list, which means you can make room for a good skin care gel or lotion with SPF on your 5-items.
Glad to see you like the Estée Lauder lipgloss. I’ll keep collecting the gift bag.
I absolutely love raw honey! I think it counts as a liquid 🙂 Check out my recent post on why I think it’s the best beauty trick for travelers!
Very very interesting… Thanks for sharing, Anne.
How long do you leave it on your skin? I’m not sure I could handle the sensation of honey on my face…
I love finding other travelers that travel so light! My 5 items I always bring are
A medicated moisturizer with no tint
A tinted moisturizer (that has SPF in it) which serves as my makeup
A mini dry shampoo
Travalo perfume spritzer
I don’t count my toothpaste in the five items cause you know…hygiene. Thanks for the great post!
Thanks for sharing, Julie! I’m curious what brand of dry shampoo you pack. I’ve never found one that I really really loved…
I have been searching for a sulfate free shampoo/conditioner combo to no avail. My unruly locks can’t take hotel shampoo so I always end up having to pack it.
I have the worst luck with shampoo/conditioner combos in general! They always leave my hair super dry. 🙁
Let us know if you ever find a good one, and we’ll certainly be on the lookout, too!
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