Right after 9/11 there were incredibly strict rules put in place on what you can and can’t bring on a plane. Nowadays those have loosened up some. Here are the current things you might encounter when organizing a student trip. My focus is mostly on carry-on bags. Any items marked YES can also be checked. Any that I mention going in your 3-1-1 bag must be in 3.4 oz (100mL) amounts in that bag but can also be in a checked suitcase with unlimited volume unless otherwise noted.

Just to be clear, when in doubt, you should check the TSA’s “What Can I Bring?” page, for an exhaustive list of things you can and can’t bring.

Hair Care Items

  • Shampoo & Conditioner: Liquid in 3-1-1 bag. Aerosol “dry” in 3-1-1 bag. Paper/bar, YES
    • Liquid: 3-1-1 bag
    • Aerosol (dry): 3-1-1 bag
    • Paper/Bar: YES
  • Curling Irons/Straighteners: With a cord, YES.
    • With a cord: YES
    • Cordless: Carry on ONLY, with heating element in safety cover.
  • Hair Dryers: YES
  • Styling Products: 3-1-1 bag for all gels, sprays, mousses, etc.

Body/Skin Care/Beauty Items

  • Razors:
    • Typical disposable razors/blade cartridges: YES (blades covered to protect handlers & inspectors)
    • Electric: YES
    • Safety razors: Carry on only
    • Shaving cream: 3-1-1 bag
  • Dental:
    • Toothbrush: YES (electric or regular)
    • Toothpaste: 3-1-1 bag (unless you have toothpaste tablets, then those are YES)
    • Floss: YES
  • Cleansers:
    • Wipes: YES
    • Sanitizer gel: 3-1-1 bag
  • Lotion: 3-1-1 bag
  • Deodorant: solid YES, roll-on or aerosol: 3-1-1 bag
  • Metal nail file: YES
  • Nail clippers: YES
  • Sunscreen: 3-1-1 bag
  • Menstrual care items (cups, pads, tampons): YES
  • Makeup
    • Liquid concealer: 3-1-1 bag
    • Liquid eyeliner: 3-1-1 bag
    • Liquid foundation: 3-1-1 bag
    • Mascara: 3-1-1 bag
    • Nail polish: 3-1-1 bag
    • Nail polish remover: 3-1-1 bag (and in checked bag total amount limited)
    • Makeup remover: 3-1-1 bag (and in checked bag, total amount limited)
    • Powdered makeup: YES
  • Chapstick/Lipstick – YES (this is NOT considered a liquid)

Food Items

  • Utensils: Fork/Spoon YES. Knife if plastic or round-bladed butter knife, YES.
  • Gum: YES
  • Snacks: Dried fruits, Candy, Cookies, Crackers, Granola bars, Nuts (but don’t, because of allergies), Pizza, Sandwiches: YES
  • Snacks: Peanut butter (but don’t because of allergies), yogurt, dips: 3-1-1 bag
  • Tea (bags or loose leaf): YES
  • Coffee (beans or ground) – YES
  • Bottled Water – 3.4oz or less in your 3-1-1 bag. Checked bag is fine. (I’ve seen it. One kid brought 2 gallons to Mexico. 🤷‍♀️)

Recreation/Miscellaneous Items

  • Sports Balls: YES
  • Binoculars: YES
  • Crochet Hooks/Knitting Needles: YES (be sure sharp points are wrapped to protect handlers & inspectors)
  • Scissors: YES if blades are shorter than 4″ from pivot point. (Wrap sharp end securely to protect handlers & inspectors)
  • Bug repellent – 311 bag, there are some restrictions on what kinds. They need to be ones you apply to skin, not any designed to spray the air.
  • Self-defense spray: NO

Tech Items

  • Extension cords: YES
  • Batteries (regular AA, AAA type): YES
  • Spare electronic fuel cells: YES (limit of 2)
  • Headphones: YES
  • Tablets/E-readers: YES
  • Cell phones: YES
  • Power banks/Phone charger: YES (MUST be in carry-on bag)

Medical Items

It’s always best to check with the TSA on specific items. Generally medical items are allowed, but must be declared to TSA officer at checkpoint. If it is an attached device (like an insulin pump or ostomy) it may impact the screening process. You may need to have a medical card or documentation available.

  • Contact lenses & solution: , no restrictions on lenses. Disposable lenses in negligible amounts of solution are fine. If you need more volume, TSA does allow for medical liquids but you MUST declare those at the checkpoint. See the TSA site for more details on medical transportation.
    • Solution: 3-1-1 bag
    • Lenses: YES (disposable lenses sealed in negligible amounts of liquid are fine)
  • Pills & tablets: YES
  • Inhalers: YES, but must be declared at checkpoint


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