Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Top Ten Ways to Travel Without Liquids

Simone getting "nail-buffed" in a mall in Toronto, Canada (photo by Luis Bastardo)

There are two ways to look at it: 1) the tasks of checking in, passing through security and boarding the plane are getting to be more of a challenge and an exercise in hair-pulling frustration every day or 2) that the seemingly daily tighter TSA restrictions imposed on travelers make us more efficient then ever: minimizing, paring down, getting back to basics, lightening the load. While acknowledging the real security threats of travel, I always have the paranoid sense that the airlines secretly got together to pull off a large-scale, ongoing practical joke to see how many fraternity hazing pranks they can pull on their passengers and still get away with it. Witness shoe removal, belt removal, watch removal, invasive futuristic body scans and the confiscation of highly dangerous substances like bottles of jasmine-scented body wash and eyebrow tweezers (I mean, really, has any jet ever been hijacked by terrorists threatening to perfume the pilots and shape their brows?). I'll bet airline security officials are all sitting behind two way glass partitions laughing their asses off as we strip down to our skivvies. Well, it's all good, because we have our own tricky ways and know how to outsmart them. Although the TSA allows a large Ziploc bag filled with mini versions of liquid cosmetics, these don't last long when traveling. The good news is that almost everything that comes in a liquid also comes in a solid, long-lasting version, or at least, a less liquidy version.

Old Jamaica Mint and Aloe Soap (photo courtesy of

1) Soap: I know this sounds basic, but instead of carting around leaky bottles of body wash, body gels, liquid cleansers and creams, get back to using the original, highly-efficient form of body cleanser: soap. It's solid, cheap, effective, efficient, portable, doesn't leak, smells good, lasts forever and you can buy it anywhere. You can also buy it in unscented forms or in every scent imaginable, with moisturizing ingredients such as plant oils, aloe or coconut, or with exfoliating ingredients such as pumice or loofah. You can carry a dozen bars of soap in different varieties in your carry-on or luggage and security will never confiscate them.

2) Nail Buffer: instead of numerous fragile bottles of nail polish, take a small lightweight nail buffer. They normally come with three sides: one for smoothing, one for polishing and one for buffing to a high shine. You can use it anywhere without the strong smell of nail polish offending your fellow passengers and your nails will always look great.

3) Nail Polish Remover Pads: leave the smelly bottle of nail polish remover at home and take two Ziploc bags (one inside the other) filled with cotton pads saturated with remover. Since this is not officially a bottle of liquid, it is unlikely that it will be confiscated and it is much less likely that there will be leakage in your carry-on.

Island Solid Perfume by Michael Kors (photo courtesy of

4) Solid Perfume: almost every perfume brand has a solid version, some in chunky pencils (Clinique Happy), some in sleek, cool-looking compacts (Marc Jacobs or Chanel). The bonus is that they are generally a better buy than liquid perfumes, more subtle, longer lasting and are easy to tuck into small bags or pockets.

5) Solid Deodorant: much lighter and easier to carry than sprays or roll-ons and there is much less waste. They also dry faster and leave fewer marks on clothing.

6) Sunscreen Sticks: several companies make solid sunscreen sticks for the face or the whole body (Hawaiian Tropic, Banana Boat). These are especially useful for children to use on their own, since they are easy to hold in small hands and are less wasteful than liquid or cream versions.

7) Solid or Wet Towelette Insect Repellent: much more convenient and portable than sprays or lotions and usually less smelly also. It is much easier to use towelettes or apply solid insect repellent without getting any in your eyes or ears and again, much easier for children to use. These can be purchased with DEET or without, with the standard preparation or in an organic formula. Off! even makes a clip-on version.

A variety of Lush solid shampoos (photo courtesy of and Valli Ravindran/

 8) Shampoo Bar: believe it or not, it is even possible to buy shampoo in a solid form.  Lush  makes several varieties including Henna, Mint, Coconut, Violet Leaf, Jasmine and Patchouli. Some of the formulas even include conditioners and detanglers.

9) Anti-Bacterial Wet Wipes: instead of carrying numerous bottles of liquid sanitizing gel, carry plastic, resealable packs of anti-bacterial wet towelettes such as Wet Ones. They are much more convenient, thorough, and can also be used for a million other things, such as cleaning faces and hands, wiping down telephones and toilet seats, express "bathing" when on camping and hiking trips, and removing spills and stains from clothing.

10) Wax Strips: instead of carrying sharp objects like razors or tweezers which may be confiscated by security agents, or liquid or cream depilatories, take a box of pre-waxed strips for hair removal. Brands such as Sally Hansen or Moom Express make strips that you warm in your hands and apply. Lightweight, tidy and convenient.

Hawaiian Tropic Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Stick (photo courtesy of

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