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Help me understand the 3-1-1 rule

Will someone please clarify the 3-1-1 rule for me.
It's only 1 quart sized bag per person with only 3oz bottles inside?

So, I have to fit my shampoo, shower gel, conditioner, deodorant, lotion, contact lens solution, hair cream, & toothpaste all in one quart sized bag? I don't see how all of that will fit . . . maybe i am misunderstanding the rule.

If I buy packets of things, I assume that is ok & NOT part of the 3-1-1 rule (tide or woolite packs)

Posted by
1834 posts

That's right, a quart bag. Get a slider closing one. That's all you need. The size of the liquid containers cannot exceed 100ml which is about 3.3 ounces. Some of us have found nonliquid alternatives. Lush makes a solid shampoo bar that is so good that's all I have used for four years. I use solid crystal deodorant and have for a long time. There are toothpaste tablets that are as good as paste. Those are three things you can pack else where. You can rely on hotel supplied soap and shampoo or shop for what you need. You need to be flexible in sustituting your favorites with something that works.

Posted by
646 posts

So . . . would a solid deodorant over a gel deodorant be OK . . . NOT be a part of the bag?

Posted by
1834 posts

Yes, solid would be okay to pack somewhere else. You can sometimes find crystal deodorant in the arm pit putty section at large grocery stores or pharmacies.

A further note. If you have any kind of prescriptions put them in their own zipper slosed bag, in their own bottles. We have never, ever had them looked at or asked about.

If you want names of brands or companies regarding solids let me know.

Posted by
4590 posts

If you have liquids in a packet, they're still liquid and must be inside your plastic bag, i.e. Woolite packs. I take the Woolite packs out of the small cardboard box, and slide them flat underneath everything in the bag. If you're staying in hotels, you shouldn't need to bring shampoo and shower gel.

Posted by
9904 posts

So, you have time now to figure out how much shampoo and conditioner you will need for 2 weeks or however long you will be traveling for. Decant some in to a 2 oz bottle and see how little you can get away with. I have pretty short hair and I used a 2 oz shampoo and 2 oz conditioner over an 8 week period. I had conditioner left over and had to supplement my shampoo stash as I stayed a couple of places that had shampoo or liquid soap available. I did the same with my hair goo and put that in a small tub. I also did a trial with toothpaste. (Really it sounds like I don't have a life, right?) Your lipstick/chapstick/lip gloss also have to go in the 3-1-1 bag.

Go to Bed Bath and Beyond or KMart or Target and all have travel kits with 1 and 2 oz containers in them. Those stores plus RiteAid, Walgreens, your local grocery will have travel sized toiletries including small toothpastes. I found 2 small toothpastes was better than one of the larger ones that was still within the 3oz rule. They also usually have travel deodo but I usually use the crystal stone which does not count.

Also, if you use a body cream, you might be able to find the same brand there. Others will pick up a brand in their destination, but my skin is sensitive and I can only use a few products. For instance if you use Eucerin brand that is available in Italy, where I think you said you will be traveling to.

Also, you can't take say , an oversized tube of toothpaste that you have used halfway down.

Some people (like Monte, above) use solid shampoo bars. I tried that out and my hair did not like it, so I needed to take my regular shampoo and conditioner. (PS I can tell you from our local Rick Steves' Meetups that Monte's hair looks fine, lol!! So does his wife's.)

editing to add: Monte also demonstrated the toothpaste tabs at one of our meetings. Foaming at the mouth was an interesting and hilarious addition to the meeting.

Posted by
507 posts

Talcum powder can be used as a dry shampoo, esp short hair. Just sprinkle in hair, tossle your hair, comb out with a hand cloth thru the teeth to pickup the powder w/ grease.

Useful if your accommodations do not furnish shampoo.

Posted by
2070 posts

Also Chinalake, the contact lens solution does not have to be in the 3-1-1 quart bag but can be in a separate "medicine" bag for prescriptions as well as OTC meds. That ziploc can actually be a quart or gallon size bag.

Posted by
31513 posts

I assume you're planning to travel with carry-on only, and not checking any luggage?

As the others have mentioned, you can carry several liquids in the 3-1-1 bag, as long as they're no more than 100 mL each. They're usually not too fussy about whether the bag is exactly a quart, or whether some other type of container is used, as long as it's clear and they can see everything. Some toothpaste is now packaged in larger 75 mL tubes which are still within the limit, and those will last for several weeks.

Be sure to pack the 3-1-1 bag where you can reach it easily, as they usually ask for it to be taken out and placed in the bin for examination.

Posted by
1810 posts

I've been able to get by with more than one quart bag on U. S. Flights, but Heathrow was not so lenient - one bag meant one bag.

Posted by
507 posts

To Jean,

Is your post intended to indicate . . . {Edit: I defer to Nancy's answer below. :-) }

Posted by
9363 posts

I believe Jean meant that she takes the Woolite packets out of their box and slides them into the 3-1-1 bag so they are flat against the side of the bag. I don't believe she meant that she tries to conceal them in her carryon bag.

Posted by
180 posts

China,
Just to be clear the 3-1-1 rule applies ONLY to your carry on luggage. If you have checked luggage then in it you can pack as much contact solution, lotion, etc. as you wish.

Posted by
3713 posts

As Pam said, you have time to work out what is mandatory for you to take in your 3-1-1 bag.

Most stores like Target, Walmart, Walgreen's and many others have small sized products that meet the requirements. Not all stores have the same products. Some stores have them in a special travel section, some with their other larger sizes and some both.

When I am in any of those stores, I check out what's new that might work for my next trip and buy it right then, including small sizes of perfumes.

We do carry-on only.

Some things I have learned over the years:

  1. A travel size Dove cake deodorant will last over a month.

  2. A tiny toothpaste (like the dental hygienist party favor) won't, a 3 oz one might.

  3. The SPF face lotion I use at home is the right size for the bag.

  4. If I don't use it at home, I won't on a trip--makeup is a prime example.

  5. Most lodgings provide basic shampoo, conditioner, bath soap or gel, but my husband and I prefer to get a large bath gel/shampoo upon arrival for use on the trip and toss it at the last place we stay.

  6. I can never take enough body lotion for a month, but anywhere we go I can find great body lotion, often my brand from home or something better.

  7. Purex 3-in-1 complete laundry sheets work great, can be cut up for sink washing and don't have to go in the bag.

  8. Wipes (face, antibiotic, sunscreen, bug repellent) don't have to go in the bag.

  9. Anything we run out of we can replace while we are there.

Posted by
2081 posts

67,

have you thought about buying most of your stuff over there instead?

I hate dealing with the TSA so i dont play the game and i buy my stuff once i land. I know it cost some additional $$, but to me, not having to show/remember and estimate how much liquid/paste/jel is left in a tube/container is worth it.

Also, i had to bring contact lens solution with me since im wearing a contact now and they didnt have any issue with my "travel" size bottle. I did end up buying a larger size over there since my "travel" size ran out and i did bring the larger size back since that was all i had. It had more than the allowed requirements but i noticed that in the cities i visited, they didnt offer any "travel" size containers so i bought the smallest size i could. Worse case, i just remove my contact.

happy trials.

Posted by
9363 posts

You can put as many 3 oz bottles in the bag as you can fit with the top closed. For example, you can take two little bottles of shampoo, two little toothpastes, three little bottles of lotion, or whatever you need. The sign at our airport says if you can pour it out (liquid), squeeze it out (gel), or spray it out (aerosol) it must be in the bag. You probably don't need as much of anything as you think you do. Try using a sample toothpaste or shampoo at home to see how long it lasts. Tide or Woolite packets are liquid and have to be in the bag.

Posted by
192 posts

Walmart has a very inexpensive large bar of laundry soap. I just cut a small piece off of it and took it with me to use for washing items in the sink. Even my husband thought that it smelled great! I think that it only cost a dollar.

Posted by
646 posts

Frank II--

The TB forums use the 3D Clear Organizing Cube instead of a quart sized bag . . . that has been acceptable?

Posted by
6509 posts

I think the bar of laundry soap at Walmart is Zotes - $.97 a bar.

Posted by
507 posts

To Frank II,

The Walmart laundry bar soap is Fels-Naptha according to my BRO who works at Walmart.

This was another poster's idea.
"My must have travel product is
Washezelaundry sheets!!!!
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/packing/what-are-your-must-have-travel-products

The detergent is all in the sheet and I just put one in a zip lock. I can cut it into squares so it is the perfect size for a hand wash in the sink if needed. There is no spill or mess."

Purex 3 maybe another laundry sheet.

Posted by
6509 posts

Collette, I have bought Fels Naptha at several places (Walmart, Target, Walgreen's, etc.) but it's a little strong for me. Zote's pink bar is available at the Walmart near me and it's also available online at Walmart.com and if it's not carried at your Walmart you can order it shipped to your store (no shipping cost) and pick it up.

Posted by
11434 posts

Thanks for the laundry suggestions....I've been using the RS Laundry Soap for years and also use Dyson Laundry Detergent that I find in the UK for about a pound. Recently, I've used the Laundry sheets by Travelon/Sea to Summit but I'm always on the outlook for something new. I already take a bar of soap for personal cleaning and I guess one more soap dish won't really matter.

I remember fels naptha can be a little strong but I plan to pick up a zote bar and give it a try.

CS67.......Regarding the 3D clear cube...yes...technically is should be fine. However, I have heard that some places won't accept it. It's really up to the airport security person. As is everything in life.

Posted by
9904 posts

Oh my word, that Tom Bihn organizer cube is $30. I am all for buying the proper equipment, but really a name brand quart ziplock (the ones with the slider top not just the seal) works just fine.

Posted by
2081 posts

@ FrankII

i just got a couple boxes of the washeze for my future travels.. If you're up for some testing, you can get a free sample sheet.

happy trails.

Posted by
1277 posts

your'e right, Pam, in terms of just a zip lock bag......but that is definitely something that is worth having a spare or two buried in your bag in case you need to replace it for the flight home.....

Posted by
9904 posts

Doric8, I do agree with having a spare or two. I usually travel with extras in case of picnics etc.

Posted by
1179 posts

The biggest mistake people make with the 3-1-1 rule is to bring 3 oz containers of product. For a 2-3 week trip you only really need around 1-2 oz of product except for sunblock.

Another mistake is to buy odd sized bottles. Go-Toobs are some of the worst offenders. They are oddly shaped and don't pack together. They waste space in the bag. The triangular tubes are slightly better, but not much. Two triangular bottles will pack against each other if you put them skinny end to fat end. I find that a cylinder or square tube packs into a clear bag the best.

Like Monte, I rely heavily on dry and solid products. Onebag.com has a nice list of them. Google "travel solid alternatives to liquid" to find some nice products.

Posted by
11434 posts

Ray....thanks for the info on the Washeze. I ordered a sample. Since I spend most of my time in the U.S. living in hotels and using their laundry rooms, it might be easier to carry a box of Washeze rather than a container of liquid detergent. Overseas it's mostly sink washing.

For shaving, for the men, I switched to a shaving stick and a lightweight shaving brush. Shaving sticks are not well known in the U.S. but they are solids so they don't have to go into the 3-1-1 bag. To use one basically wets the end of the shaving stick, rubs it onto the face into a thin layer, then uses a brush to work it into a lather.

Regarding Lush bar shampoo--are there any "fragrances" that are subdued--not very strong? I usually use whatever is supplied by the hotel but if my hair smells of apples one more time.....I'm gonna scream. I want my hair to smell clean not as if I dove head first into a barrel of fruit and spices. (I have a trial size bar of jr liggett but I've never used it.)

I like this thread because it has given me some new ideas about sold alternatives to liquids. The smaller the 3-1-1 bag, the better.

Posted by
2070 posts

We've found several of our favorite products on minimus.biz although most liquids we decant into Go-Toobs, which we like and have no problem packing end-to-end.

Posted by
2081 posts

@ Frank,

The Washeze will come in a smallish size box about the size of a ziplock sandwich bags. The sheets themselves are in a ziplock bag. i decided to get/try them since i got tired of buying a bottle of detergent just to leave it behind. I didnt want to carry it across 1 or 2 countries and/or have to deal with TSA.

Just a note on your sample, they have scented ones and unscented. Make a note of what you get if thats important to you.

happy trails.

Posted by
123 posts

I switched to a Tom Bihn 3D clear organizer cube for the durability. I fly just a couple times a year (carryon only), but haven't had trouble with TSA in US or in France. When we used Ziplocs, sometimes bags got damaged or messy before the flight home. So I'd have to pack extra bags. The 3D bag sits flat and is sturdy. If something spills, it won't leak into my bag. The 3D bag has o-rings, so it can be tethered to my bag with a slim strap, and gets pulled out and set on top of the bag when I send the bag through security. I've been surprised that the width doesn't cause trouble with TSA, but no one gives it a second glance. It's been a good investment through the years, for me.

I find that this fits in my 3D for 2 weeks: full-size solid deodorant, 2 GoToobs (goofy shape, but I like the capacity) with shampoo and fragrance-free hand lotion, 1 travel toothpaste tube, hair spritz in small travel size, tiny tubs with moisturizer (I get samples from Origens counter) and face soap, an RS travel soap. I'm allergic to fragrance, so must carry enough of my own soaps/lotions. I don't travel with contact lens solution any more, but when I did, I put it in a separate Ziploc as a "medical" item.

It's easy to find a less expensive "TSA-friendly" 3-1-1 clear plastic urethane bag. These are also durable. If you find one with a tag or loop, you can thread a split ring through it (such as a ring for keychains) and clip a strap to it, to tether your 311 bag to your carryon bag. That tethering gives me peace of mind while going through security-- one less "loose" thing to remember on the other side of the xray scanner. I've never been asked to unhook my 311 bag.

Posted by
9904 posts

Tavapeak, the tether is a good idea. I had a novice screener the last time I went thru my local airport so everyone's bags went thru 2 or 3 times and everyone's stuff got intermingled. I did not realize my 3-1-1 had gotten moved from the bin I had placed it in until I moved thru to the waiting room to "recombobulate" so then had to go back to the screening area and retrieve it. A tether might have worked to keep stuff together altho I am not sure they would not have taken it apart. At that time I realized perhaps my name needed to be on/in my 3-1-1 as well.

Posted by
123 posts

Pam, that must have been frustrating. I got the tether idea from TB forums...can't take credit. But the older I get, the more I forget stuff. So I have to keep it simple going through security. Too much chaos on the other side of the scanner. ;-) -- Sherry

Posted by
1179 posts

@Frank II - As far as I know, all Lush products have a strong scent. It is one of my biggest complaints, as a lot of them smell very "spicy". That said, they work for weeks at a time no matter where I'm at.

I have heard good things about Chagrin Valley bars. They are currently not listed on my website because I have not personally tried them. I only post products I have personally used and tested for several trips. Something may be fine initially be have problems on longer use. I need to order the shampoo bars and try them out.

Posted by
192 posts

Frank II, the bar of laundry soap that I bought at Walmart is called Zote. The size of it is 14.1 oz. As I just cut off a small piece, it will last for a long time.

Posted by
3428 posts

One thing that really helps (at least on the USA end of your flights) is to get Global Entry or TSA Pre-check. Then you don't have to take your 3-1-1 bag out at all! I also often keep the bottles from the shampoo, lotion and conditioner in hotels. I clean them out well, then use them for my other liquids. Additionally, I use the very small ziptop bags (like for daily pill organization) to put individual bottles in before putting them in the 3-11 bag. May seem like overkill, but I really don't want perfume all over my bottle of lotion or shampoo covering my bottle of makeup.

Posted by
11434 posts

Bought the Zote bar today.....I didn't realize it would be so big...I'm going to have to carve it down to fit into a travel soap dish.

For those who have used it....can I just dissolve a few pieces of the soap in a sinkful of water and wash that way or do I have to rub the soap on the garment?

Posted by
192 posts

Frank II, Of course, I managed to spill something on a top the first time that I wore it, so I rubbed the bar on the spots. Usually, I would rub the soap in my hands to work up a lather in the sink and then just let the items soak for a bit. If I felt rushed, I would swish the items around in the suds. I just cut the end of the soap off and carried it in a ziploc snack bag. Because it is so inexpensive, I threw it away at the end of my trip. I keep my nice soap case for my body soap.

Posted by
7 posts

We just bought two of these:
http://www.ebags.com/product/flight-001/clear-carry-on-quart-bag-s/268225?productid=10287186

They are a heavy plastic and the shape allows for a lot of items inside. I fit a shampoo, cond, hair spray, mousse, tooth paste, plaque rinse, face cream and sunscreen in one with some room to spare.

We get great products from Minimus. They have most name brands in sizes that work well for travel.
http://www.minimus.biz/

I'm sure my husband will have more room in his so he will have to carry the laundry soap bottle. No where on the TSA site does it say the items inside the "quart size" bag must be in clear containers so it's up to you what you put in that bag.

Posted by
11434 posts

I bought both the "Zote" Laundry Bar and Fels Naptha for a side by side comparison.

The Zote is over twice the size of the Fels Naptha and comes in three colors. I found the Zote, while unfragranced, had a very strong soap smell. The Fels Naptha had a very strong, lingering smell that I can't describe except to say it fills the room and is a little more stinging.

They both do a good job of making suds out of a small piece of soap.

I'm really not sure which one I like better or rather which one is dislike the least. What I may do is carve slices out of each one, put them in a ziploc bag and use both when washing. Perhaps one odor will drown out the other.

I prefer the smell of the the Rick Steves wash, Dr. Bronners mild or even the Travelon/Sea to Summit Soap Sheets. But if I'm trying to get away from liquids, I guess I'll have to choose between the two.

Or should I also consider a bar of Dr. Bronners???

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

In regard to a 3-1-1 bag I've been using this:

http://www.rei.com/product/837264/rei-3-1-1-air-travel-liquids-bag

Posted by
9363 posts

The bottles in the 3-1-1 don't have to be clear but they do have to have quantity markings on them. Nothing can be over 3.4 oz (100 ml).

Posted by
1834 posts

Just to add more fuel to the fire let me say that if necessary you can stuff as many "Medicine" miniatures from the liquor store in your paranoia bag as will fit. I have a collection of legal size plastic bottles that I decant scotch and vodka into.

As far as Lush products being spicy I will say that that is one of my most enduring qualities.

Posted by
1277 posts

Nancy, I have a set of cylinder bottles that came with a humongous LL Bean toiletry bag, they are 3 oz., but are not labeled at all, and I have never had those questioned. someone at the top of the post said she had been able to get thru with 2 zip lock bags, I'd say she was lucky. I will say I carry a tide pen loose in my purse along with a highlighter and a couple of cheap plastic pens, and the tide pen has never been spotted as contraband.

Posted by
11613 posts

In my I-quart ziplock bag I pack a travel-size toothpaste, shampoo, 2.7 ounce sunscreen, and 20 packets of Woolite. When the travel sizes are used up, I buy what I need in Europe and use the toiletries provided by the hotel. Other items are solids, not liquids.

Posted by
725 posts

I have the Travelon laundry sheets and like that fact they are not a liquid. They don't suds up a whole lot but the clothes smell clean enough after washing!

I DO utilize the travel sized products at Target. I buy them and go home and use them on a daily basis to see how many days we can get out of them. Then I refill them for the trip.

I have a heavy, clear, zipped bag for my 3-3-1 bag. It was pretty cheap and I got that at Target as well. It's heavier than a regular quart sized baggie and it doesn't rip.

Posted by
1834 posts

Soap. We have used soap sheets, bars, and powder. A soap powder called Forever New beats all other for sink laundry as far as I'm concerned. Macy's, Nieman's ,and Amazon all have it. I some out of the 16oz bottle into a 5oz bottle. shake it good and you can get more in. A teasepoon full will do a single garment.

A partially used bar of Dr. Bronners goes with us too in case we need some shower soap. I've only used it a very few times.

Ibis hotels is Europe all seem to have liquid soap tubes in the shower and by the sink. This stuff is excellent for laundy.
On to inflateable hangers.

Posted by
206 posts

I know this topic is about a month old but I was in a Publix a couple days ago and was surprised that they had a decent travel section. What was really interesting was, that they had a TSA approved travel bag that was stocked for either men or women. I bought the men's bag for $9.99 and it had everything I would need for a two week trip. I will substitute the razor and the toothbrush but everything else will work fine. Best thing was, that it is in a see through zippered bag and has TSA approved on it. Much stronger than a quart baggie. It also has a thing on top of the bag that you can hang it on a bathroom hook. So, if you have a Publix near and are interested in something like this, check it out. Am pleased with mine.