ziplock top toiletry bag

Best Toiletry Bag

As en elite frequent flier, I always carry on toiletries. I will show you how to choose the best carry on toiletry bag for your needs. You will breeze through airport security.

Types of Carry On Toiletry Bags

Which type of toiletry bag is for you? Designer, Walmart, or plastic quart? There are a lot of good choices now for carrying toiletries on an airplane.  Some of my top picks include: 

Zip Top Bags

These bags are inexpensive, recyclable in many places, and easy to replace.  If you go with the gold standard zip top bag quart bag, some brands are thin and easy to puncture. Others are thicker plastic and withstand stretching. Unless you plan to change bags during your trip, find one that is strong and can stretch out without tearing.

Stretch strength becomes especially important later in your trip when you find yourself stuffing it to the max, and then it rips. Hefty One Zip Travel Bags Quart Size and Ziploc Double Zipper All-Purpose Storage Quart Value Pack Bags – 50 CT(2Pack) (or ziplock, depending on how you spell). Both companies make strong quart size plastic bags that meet TSA rules for liquids.

Another good option has emerged: the heavy duty polyvinyl chloride ziptop bag. These bags are TSA-approved and will take hundreds of flights before wearing out (assuming you don’t over stuff the bag and break the zipper).

Tip: Always carry backup quart bags in your luggage.

Type of Bag Closure

Most “zip top” plastic bags seal when you press two plastic seams together. Some even change color when the bag is sealed properly. This is fine for tonight’s leftovers, but for air travel it’s less than ideal. When you’re rushing to the airport at 4 AM it’s so easy to miss the seal, and colors don’t help in a dark hotel room. You end up later with a goopy mixture of lotion and toothpaste smeared into your luggage. Don’t get me wrong, this type of bag will work, especially if you’re careful to tighten all the lids inside and carefully seal the bag well. It’s just not my favorite.

I prefer the quart size bag with an actual zipper seal. These seal every time, and it’s obvious when they’re not closed. They’re also strong and stretch beautifully to accomodate that last-minute hand cream you just can’t travel without. As a bonus, TSA makes these bags available for free at many airports.

Hefty OneZip Storage Bags, Quart, Value Pack, 40 Count (Pack of 3) 120 Bags Total”>Zip top quart zie bag that meets TSA rules for liquids
This zip top quart size plastic bag cinches and stretches to accomodate liquids according to TSA rules. Even better, I got it for free at Portland International Airport.

For instance, I found a giant box of Hefty One Zip Quart Storage Bags, 22 Count Boxes (Pack of 4) Total 88 Bags bags just before the security ticket/ID check at Portland International (PDX). I grabbed a dozen to get me through the next year of flying. I always leave one or two empty bags in my carry-on luggage for the inevitable moment when the plastic bag rips and all of my toiletries spill out.

You might even try Hefty OneZip Glow in the Dark Halloween Quart Size Storage Bags (10ct) so you can easily find your toiletries in a dark hotel room.