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TPG reader question: How do I pack enough toiletries without checking my luggage?

Aug. 22, 2022
4 min read
passengers boarding plane
TPG reader question: How do I pack enough toiletries without checking my luggage?
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Airline travel this summer has been a roller coaster.

Canceled flights, worker strikes, mileslong security lines and lost baggage are the norm, rather than the exception, right now. The passenger experience should improve from October onward, once the busy summer travel period has finished and recruitment of new staff is finalized. For now, though, it’s best to be prepared to ensure your travel runs as smoothly as possible.

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You can alleviate travel stress this summer in lots of ways, including arriving early enough for a flight (but not so early that your flight hasn’t yet opened for check-in) and investing in Apple AirTags so you can track exactly where your baggage is anywhere in the world.

Another tip is to avoid checking luggage if possible. Not only can you skip the check-in and baggage-drop lines, but also there’s no chance of your baggage getting lost.

Related: Ryanair, easyJet or Wizz Air: Which has the cheapest cabin baggage charges?

How do you fit a full vacation’s worth of possessions into carry-on luggage if you are used to traveling with a full-size suitcase? That brings us to this week’s TPG reader question.

I am flying to Malaga for a week’s beach holiday soon and I am terrified of my bag going missing. I want to travel just with hand luggage but don’t know how to pack enough toiletries into a single clear bag for a whole week. How do I survive with only 100 mls of sunscreen without getting burnt?
How do the experts travel like this?Kathrine, TPG Reader

I rarely check bags and have traveled for several months at a time with hand luggage only. In terms of clothing, try to pack items that have multiple uses. For example, pack a pair of shoes you could wear on a morning walk and also to a nice dinner.

Related: 7 items you should always pack in your carry-on bag

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If you’re heading somewhere warm, check the weather forecast as you’re packing. If the temperature won’t drop below 68 degrees Fahrenheit even at midnight, you probably won’t need to pack any warm clothes.

Remember that most airlines allow you to take a second small personal item like a handbag or laptop bag with you on a hand baggage-only fare. You can buy a bag that fits these exact specifications to give you extra baggage space without exceeding those strict limits.

Related: 5 reasons why families should travel to Spain: Madrid, Barcelona and beyond

For your toiletries, I’d recommend packing them into a clear plastic bag before you arrive at the airport, rather than waiting until you reach security. This way, you’ll know exactly how much space you have. I can’t tell you how often I see people waiting until the last second to pack toiletries before realizing they have too much and will inevitably need to throw them away at security. It’s much easier to do this in advance. Remember, you are only allowed one liquids bag per passenger — even if you are traveling with two cabin bags.

One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t need to pack your toiletries into a clear bag if they are not a gel, aerosol or liquid. Your toothbrush doesn’t need to be squeezed in there.

Related: 3 tips to avoid gate-checking a bag on your next flight

As for sunscreen, I have an easy tip: Buy a bottle in the duty-free area after security and take it with you. This Australian has been burned paying high prices for sunscreen across the world, but the prices in U.S. airports are extremely reasonable and you can take a large bottle with you to use on your trip. Two people traveling together would usually go through a 200-milliliter (6.7-ounce) bottle in a week at the beach. If you use it up during your week in the sunshine, you won’t have to worry about packing it to bring home.

Hotels and Airbnbs may also provide items like shampoo and conditioner, so if you're not fussy about the brand you use, you could rely on that rather than packing miniature bottles.

Enjoy your time in Spain!

Featured image by Featured image by Ben Smithson / The Points Guy
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
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Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023