There are a few hacks for not paying an arm and a leg for an overpriced bottled water in the airport terminal once you made it through security. Of course, you can’t bring in a full bottle of water, even if it’s unopened so what’s a smart, savvy traveler like you to do? Before you can begin planning your trip, let’s go over the TSA Liquids Rule just one more time.
Fairly easy to remember, the TSA operates under the 3-1-1 rule. Per the TSA website, here is the Liquids Rule.
You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. Placing these items in the small bag and separating from your carry-on baggage facilitates the screening process. Pack items that are in containers larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in checked baggage.
You may carry duty free liquids in secure, tamper–evident bags, more than 3.4 oz or 100 ml in your carry-on bag if:
- The duty free liquids were purchased internationally and you are traveling to the United States with a connecting flight.
- The liquids are packed in a transparent, secure, tamper-evident bag by the retailer and do not show signs of tampering when presented to TSA for screening.
- The original receipt for the liquids is present and the purchase was made within 48 hours.
So, now that we’ve covered the actual rule, let’s talk hacks.
Hack 1: Bring your own empty water bottle.
This is, by far, the easiest hack that I use every time I travel. Many airports nowadays have large water refill stations, often near the restrooms. I bring my empty Nalgene water bottle through security, and typically hook it through the lid loop on my carry-on luggage to ensure it stays hands-free. It remains on my luggage through the security checkpoint, and I’ve never been stopped by Transportation Security officers for it.
Once through security, I fill up the refill stations. I love this hack because it means that I have a water bottle with me on my travels that I can refill from the hotel room or Airbnb for things like day hikes, sightseeing, and other activities that are often hindered by pricy snack and water stops at convenience stores.
Hack 2: Freeze your water bottle.
Frozen liquid items are allowed through the checkpoint as long as they are frozen solid when presented for screening. If frozen liquid items are partially melted, slushy, or have any liquid at the bottom of the container, they must meet 3-1-1 liquids requirements.
Of course, this whole process remains set on the fact that your liquids will stay frozen through the security line to make it through screening. If you live about 3 hours from the airport, it might not be the best plan of attack. However, if you live within a half hour of your airport, you can try to keep your beloved drink frozen in a small cooler until you arrive.
So what would you freeze? Well, The Points Guy recommends freezing your iced coffee or breakfast smoothie, the kind of airport buys that eat away at your budget on vacation. Do you have any travel hacks like this for the Transportation Security Administration’s strict liquid rules? Share in the comments below!