Real life one bag travel – 3-1-1 rule packing challenge

Hi Frugalistas!

I don’t know about you, but everytime I pack that little ziploc bag I always wonder whether what I’ve packed will be the right amount.  I feel a bit like Goldilocks – too much? too little? or have I got it just right?  So, on my last trip I thought a bit more research was in order to test just how long those containers last.  Now, this is not scientific I know, but hopefully, we can all learn a little about how much stuff we really need to take, and how long a 3-1-1 compliant container lasts.

Airline amenity kits are a great source of traveling liquids Credit:

Airline amenity kits are a great source of traveling liquids Credit:

Obviously there is a lot of individual variation – it really does depend on the product, your individual habits and of course, how long your hair is.  But here are my (very) non-scientific results:

I used a mixture of containers and sources for my products.  Some of the products were mine, decanted into little bottles and jars.  Others were gift with purchase samples or airline amenity kit products.  A couple of them (the deodorant and the toothpaste) were travel size products from the supermarket.

  • I sampled the tiny 5g airline toothpaste I was given in my amenity kit:  3 cleans
  • The 45g (1.5 oz) travel toothpaste I bought at the supermarket managed 23 cleans
  • 30ml (1 oz) moisturiser decanted into one of my beloved Go Tubes lasted 27 uses


  • A 20ml (0.7 oz) plastic jar filled with my night cream:  23 uses.  That was wringing every last drop out with my finger
  • 70ml (2.3 oz) tube of cleanser.  A more rigid tube than the Go Tube, so not quite so user friendly, but it still lasted 26 face cleanses
  • 100ml (3 oz) body lotion, in the same type of tube as the cleanser only managed 11 uses.  You really need to either use the hotel body lotion, or buy some at your destination if you are away for any longer.
  • 20ml (0.7 oz) squeezy bottle (Japanese from a cheap chain store, and brilliant!) of shampoo:  6 washes (with no repeat shampoo!)
  • 30ml (1 0z) Go Tube of hair conditioner.  I got 13 uses out of this, but that was by taking the top off, and giving it a thorough clean out with my finger.  Less diligent and it would have only been 10 or so.
  • 3ml (0.1oz) eye cream.  This was part of a gift with purchase, and was probably the real surprise in my experiment – it lasted an impressive 44 applications (to both eyes!)
Gift with purchase makes 3-1-1 easy Photo:

Gift with purchase makes 3-1-1 easy Photo:

  • 20ml (0.7 oz) of tinted moisturiser from the same squeezy bottle as the shampoo.  Well, I’m up to 23 and still going (I didn’t use it every day while I was away, or wear it every day now that I’m back).  I think I’ll end up with about 30 uses.
  • Handcream.  This was a 20ml (0.7 oz) tube from an airline amenity kit.  It lasted 21 uses.
  • 5ml (0.15 oz) eau de parfum, that I got as a sample.  33 uses.

So, what is the lesson here?  I know now that I can get away with actually taking much less on most of my trips (I tend to only be away for 12-16 days).  I also know which containers are the right ones for which product.  I also know how much to put in each container.  I also know that samples from gift with purchase cosmetics really are worth saving up for travel!

Full size containers just aren't necessary most of the time

Full size containers just aren’t necessary most of the time

A great result for more informed packing choices I think!

What sort of things do you do or take to cut down on your liquids while traveling?

Photos:  As credited, otherwise author’s own

Disclaimer:  the author purchased her own products for this experiment.  The author paid for her own tickets where airline amenity kit products were tested.

Related posts:

5 common packing mistakes

Packing list for spring

Packing list for winter

Packing tips for business



Tags: , , , , ,

14 Comments on “Real life one bag travel – 3-1-1 rule packing challenge”

  1. Lynne in NC 16/06/2013 at 9:35 pm #

    Wow! Your challenge may not be scientific (your words), but it is certainly quite useful. Thank you for this post! It is so timely as we are curious to know what can be the right amount of liquids for each toiletry and cosmetic we pack and for what we need for a certain amount of travel days.
    Thank you for highlighting the various sizes and kinds of containers as well. This is so helpful in planning for the next trip.
    Happy Trails…

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 17/06/2013 at 6:28 am #

      My containers came from a variety of sources. Some from pharmacies, others from specialty travel good shops, and some from those cheap $2 chain stores. I just keep an eye out and try out anything that looks useful.

  2. Lorri 16/06/2013 at 11:26 pm #

    Wow! Airline amenity kits still exist…haven’t seen them for years!

  3. Geek Goddess 17/06/2013 at 1:24 am #

    I use those Go-Tubes

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 17/06/2013 at 6:25 am #

      I love mine, but what I’ve realised is that sometimes even the small ones are too big!

  4. ladylighttravel 24/06/2013 at 3:43 pm #

    One of the best tips I saw came from Lani Teshima and Travelite. She uses a permanent marker and marks the start date on her regular (home) liquids. When it is used up she divides the volume by the number of days it took to empty the container. This gives her the volume per day. Then she times it by the number of days she’ll be traveling. That determines the bottle size.

  5. Dianne W 25/06/2013 at 1:50 am #

    I use hotel shampoo bottles for my own shampoo. First, let husband use the shampoo, rinse the 1 oz. container, fill with my own brand. Same for bath gel. I scour the samples and travel items bins at drug stores for small sizes, you can even buy that spray that eliminates static cling in a travel size.

    I usually travel Southwest, with free bag checking, but have an upcoming trip on Delta. I’m determined to travel carry-on only for the one-week trip. I didn’t think I could manage to get all my liquids and gels into a 3-1-1 bag, but found an old zip clear vinyl bag from Paula’s Choice that will work. I actually fit everything into it, putting solids into other Eagle Creek packing aid quarter cube and cosmetic bag. This would only work for up to a 14-day trip for me, anything longer (which most of my trips are) and I’m forced to check a bag with liquids and gels.

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 25/06/2013 at 6:13 am #

      I love the idea of grabbing the hotel bottles! Thanks for sharing such great advice, hope your upcoming travels are successful!

  6. sarahandcraigtravel 09/08/2014 at 5:11 pm #

    I know this is an older post, but it really helped me when I was deciding how much product I needed to take on a two-week trip. It also helped me figure out what things I can and cannot live without in a foreign country (my stick sunscreen!!!!!!!) so thank you so much!


  1. Real life one bag travel – packing list for a New Year’s trip | frugalfirstclasstravel - 08/08/2013

    […] Packing Liquids For Travel […]

  2. Real life one bag travel – trans seasonal packing list for Europe | frugalfirstclasstravel - 02/10/2013

    […] 3-1-1 packing […]

  3. Real life one bag travel – how to put together a 3-1-1 bag | frugalfirstclasstravel - 02/06/2014

    […] Not sure how long those little bottles last?  Check out my (very non-scientific) research here.  I make sure I pack my goodies into the smallest possible bottle/jar/tube for my trip.  […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: