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Things You Can Take Through Airport Security

Posted by Emily Cummings on 7/2/17 10:38 AM

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If you’re like me, you spend the night before a trip Googling what kind of things can actually go in your carry on bags. Reading this list before you travel might help you get through security a lot easier. 

So you’re about to pack up for your semester abroad or quick international trip  and you are not quite sure what you can actually pack on your carry on. What sorta snacks are okay? What about things to do? What about my musical instrument? Relax, we can help.

Get more tips on packing for an international trip here

Hopefully these tips can help you save some time going through security and save you some stress.

Looking At TSA Rules 

The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is responsible for the rules on things you can and things you can't bring on your flight. You'll want to double check the TSA rules for a more comprehensive list but here are some more common options that you're probably wondering about. 

Rules On Water Bottles 

You know you are going to be thirsty while traveling but you can’t bring liquids more than 3.4 ounces … so no water bottle. Think again. Bring your favorite water bottle, just carry it through security when it’s empty. The same rule works for a thermos if you want to fill that up with hot water for tea later on in your flight. It can come through security with you (in your personal item or your carry on, as long as it is empty). 

This is one of my favorite money saving tips because I'm not about buying a $4 bottle of water at the gate.  Pretty much every ILP volunteer was glad they brought an insulated water bottle that kept your water cold (lots of volunteers bring a Hydroflask). 

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Rules On Snacks

Most things are a go — you can pack more things than you might think, even fresh fruits like an apple (as long as you eat them before you land). 

It does get tricky when you deal with creamy spreads like hummus, jams, honey, vinegar, salad dressing, yogurt, soups and peanut butter: you’re good to go as long as they are under 3.4 ounces. Just make sure you've got them in a really tight, spill proof container because no one wants that kind of explosion in their carry on bag.

 Here are our favorite go-to travel snacks

ILP Adventure Abroad

Rules On Musical Instruments 

Wondering if you can pack your guitar on your way to Mexico or if you need to leave it at home? Not to fear, we have a whole blog post about traveling with your musical instrument.

For that post, we talked to ILP alumni and gave some pointers about how to travel with your violin, saxophone or other instrument.  You'll want to read that post to make sure you're adhering to current custom regulations for the country you're visiting.  For more guidelines, here's the official stance on all musical instruments: "Please check with your airline for their policy. Musical instruments must undergo screening when transported as carry-on or in checked bags. Musical instruments transported as carry-on require a physical inspection at the security checkpoint. Inform the TSA officer if your instrument requires special care and handling.: 

Rules On Knitting Needles 

It turns out some of these flights can be long … like really long! For these long flights, you are going to want something to do. Bring whatever you want to help keep you entertained, like these podcasts. I'm a huge fan of listening to podcasts while you're flying. 

And for our knitters out there, pack your needles and yarn! You can’t pack circular thread cutters or any sort of concealed blade, but your basic knitting needles are A-OK (so are your cross stitching needles). You can pack scissors as long as the blade is less than 4 inches.

ILP China

What About INSTAX Film?

Here’s the deal with traveling with film: You can put your film through security. Problems do happen when your film goes through the scanner a lot of times, so you should really be okay if it's just a couple of times. 

If you are nervous about it, you can talk to the TSA workers about checking the film by hand instead of running it through a machine. For a few more Polaroid packing tips we also have you covered. 

ILP Adventure

Feel a little more prepared for your next flight?

Or maybe you’re looking for another excuse to actually hop on a plane and go on a new adventure? Come volunteer with International Language Programs! You can live in lots of different countries while teaching English, always with weekends off and vacation time to do some traveling. Interested about our program? Come start your application! 

Start My Application! 

Topics: All The Travel Tips


We are ILP, a Utah based non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We're sharing all our tips for making the most of your time traveling and living abroad.

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