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Drying out: Coping with the airline liquid restrictions

“You can’t take it with you,” goes the old saying, and when it comes to air travel, that is truer now than ever. Anything more than 3-ounce sizes of liquids — including the water bottles so many of us carry on flights — are now considered contraband. Find out more about the latest airline rules and regulations here.

Airplane arrivals board

It’s not that this restriction isn’t for good reason (or terrible reason, actually) — we all understand the need. But we also can’t help thinking about how these new security measures are going to make our own travel plans all wet.

What’s verboten

As there are only a few exceptions to the new rules (see below), travelers take note: You’re going to have to re-think the way you pack.

Here’s a quick rundown on some of the things that, based on the latest guidelines, are only allowed in limited quantities — one quart-sized plastic bag filled with individual containers, each no more than 3 ounces in capacity:

Cosmetics: Liquid, gel or cream makeup (including foundation), mascara, lipstick, lip gloss, lip balm
Smooth: Lotion, creams, moisturizer, sunscreen, self-tanner

Hair: Shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, mousse, hairspray

Smell: Perfume, aftershave, body sprays, deodorant

Clean: Hand sanitizer, liquid soap, body wash

Smile: Toothpaste, mouthwash, breath freshener spray

Eyes: Contact lens solution, eye drops (except prescription, which can be brought onboard in larger amounts)

Medical: Hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, anti-bacterial ointment or cream

Health: Cough syrup, liquid decongestant, liquid antacids

Eat: Liquid- and gel-like food, such as syrups, jellies, sauces, gelatin, pudding, yogurt, soup

Drink: All beverages, including juice boxes, soda cans and bottles, wine, liquor — and you might even have trouble bringing an empty water bottle through security

Also: Bug spray, nail polish, shaving cream, candles, glue, gel shoe inserts

If any of the above (or similar items) are on your must-have list, you will have to put them in your regular luggage. That said, before you get too far, note that many airlines won’t allow you to put flammable items — including alcohol, aerosols, gas cylinders, bleach, solvents and adhesives — in your checked baggage, either. You will probably have to leave them at home or buy those products at your destination.

Packing precautions

One of the first things you can do is to replace any glass or otherwise breakable bottles with small plastic containers that have secure caps. You can buy these at the drugstore or at a retailer such as Target — look in the cosmetics or haircare section. (This re-bottling strategy won’t really work in the case of expensive perfume — so pack that glass bottle very carefully, buy a sample size, spritz your clothes ahead of time, or resign yourself to leaving your fave fragrance at home.)

Gather up your shampoo, lotion and other liquid necessities and start filling the little bottles. Take only as much of the liquid as you need, and fill the containers no more than 3/4 full — leave some space at the top. Why? First, there are the risks that are inherent when people throw your luggage around. Then there’s also the air pressure issue: the environment in the luggage hold can sometimes cause liquids to expand, blowing off the caps.

Not only does this make a huge mess you really aren’t going to want to deal with when you’re on the go, but you probably won’t be able to salvage much of the stuff — leaving you with no usable shampoo or lotion or whatever else that’s now in a big slimy mess.

Put your little plastic containers into plastic zipper-lock style bags, and don’t over-stuff the bags. Some people like to double-bag, just to be extra safe. Especially if you’re packing dry-clean-only clothing, pictures, paperwork or anything that would be permanently damaged by a leak, that’s a precaution you will probably want to take. Plastic bags are cheaper than the alternative — ruined photos, a silk blouse disaster or a gooey business presentation.

Next page: More packing and Baggage tips

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