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Luckily, organizing pro Peter Walsh is sharing his best tips for what to pack in your carry-on — and what to skip.
DO PACK IN CARRY-ON: Solid toiletries
AVOID IN CARRY-ON: Travel-size liquids
The TSA 3-1-1 rule for carry-ons can make bringing liquids, aerosols and gels in your carry-on luggage tricky. Peter's solution? Spend a few extra dollars on solid toiletry products, which are longer-lasting and less messy.
"All of those products, whether it's shampoo, deodorant, moisturizer, shaving cream — you can now get all of those as solids, which means you don't have to take them out of your bag for TSA screening," the organizing expert says.
Plus, as Peter points out, a solid "will last well more than a year and weighs a fraction of a year's worth of [liquid]." A win-win!
DO PACK IN CARRY-ON: Empty pillowcase
AVOID IN CARRY-ON: Pillow
Peter says he always travels with an empty pillowcase, because it allows him to rest on a long flight without having to bring a pillow. You can stuff your sweatshirt or other soft clothes in the pillowcase, and voila! — instant pillow. Likewise, you can use the pillowcase to hold bulky clothes like a puffer coat in order to save space in your luggage.
As a bonus tip, you can also use the pillowcase to hold your dirty laundry when packing for the return flight.
DO PACK IN CARRY-ON: Dryer sheet to keep your luggage fresh
Speaking of dirty laundry, Peter also brings scented dryer sheets in his luggage to keep everything smelling fresh. "The fragrance is pretty strong, so I suggest starting with half of one of these at most," Peter says. (You can put the other half in your pillowcase with the dirty laundry!)
Another option is to toss a miniature bar of hotel soap in your bag for the same effect.
DO PACK IN CARRY-ON: Unwrapped gifts
AVOID IN CARRY-ON: Gifts wrapped in wrapping paper
Traveling with gifts in your checked luggage — especially over the holidays — means TSA may pull your bags aside for additional screening.
Rather than risk having your carefully wrapped gifts ripped open for security reasons, Peter suggests skipping the wrapping paper altogether and packing gifts unwrapped along with gift bags and sheets of tissue paper (which both travel flat). That way, you can easily wrap presents once you're out of the airport.