TSA Carry-on Rules for Your Packing List

TSA Carry-on Rules for Your Packing List

Traveling by plane can feel like a guessing game if you don’t know what you can bring and what you can’t. If you’re like us, you like to travel light and spend more time at your destination than getting there. TSA carry-on rules can seem overwhelming, but with a few simple tips, they don’t have to be. Check out our TSA carry-on list and learn how to pack for airline security so you can breeze through security and get on with your adventure.

Choose a Carry-on Bag

The most important item you can choose when learning how to pack for airline security is your carry-on bag. Duffel bags and backpacks are great options for carry-ons because they are quick to transport and lighter than wheeled bags. Whichever option you choose, a good carry-on bag should be versatile, fit everything you need, and last a lifetime. Follow the TSA carry-on rules and get a bag that fits the 9”x14”x22” size restrictions of most airlines. Some especially important features of a good carry-on bag are:

  • Lightweight—A lighter bag can hold more while still being easy to carry.
  • Holds Everything—A good carry-on bag shouldn’t be huge, but it should have enough space for everything you need.
  • Versatility—A carry-on that can convert into either a duffle bag or a backpack gives you more options when it comes to carrying your bag. The Nomatic 40L travel bag quickly converts from a backpack to a duffle for increased carrying options.
  • Full zipper—Bags like the Nomatic 40L travel bag can zip and unzip all the way like a suitcase make excellent carry-on bags. They allow you to see the full contents of your backpack or duffle bag, and allow better organization and access to items.

Finally, Don’t underestimate the importance of a good quality carry-on bag. Sure, you can grab a cheaper bag, but having a bag break on you in the middle of a trip is a very frustrating experience. Invest in a bag that will last—you’ll be glad you did.


What you pack depends on where you are going. Whatever you pack, you can most easily follow TSA carry-on rules by keeping your bag organized. This helps TSA agents if they need to open your bag to check the contents. Instead of pulling out your disorganized clump of clothing and shoes, they can unzip, take a quick look, and send you on your way. Depending on where you are traveling you may consider packing the following:

  • Shirts for layering
  • Lightweight jacket
  • Pants
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Dress or skirt
  • Scarf
  • Swimsuit

To pack light, opt for multifunctional clothing that you can layer, and dress up and down. If you need to pack more clothes for your trip, you can always consider a Nomatic compression cube or Nomatic vacuum bag to help save space.


Whether you’re a minimalist and simply need deodorant and a toothbrush and toothpaste, or you like to bring your entire medicine cabinet, this is where TSA rules can be the most confusing. So what can you actually bring? Thankfully, the TSA has broken it down with their simple 3-1-1 rule. That is, liquid, gel, aerosols, creams, and pastes must be in a container no larger than 3.4oz. These items must fit in a 1 quart clear, zip-top bag, and you are only allowed 1 clear bag per passenger.

For this TSA carry-on list some basics are:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Deodorant
  • Lip balm
  • Contact solution and case
  • Perfume or Cologne

If you’re unsure of what you can bring with you, check out the TSA’s website for a complete list. You can even send TSA a message via Facebook messenger or Twitterif you aren’t sure about a particular item.

Medications and Healthcare

With TSA carry-on rules, you might be worried about whether or not you can bring your medications with you on your flight. The answer is yes. In fact, you only need to let TSA security know that you are bringing medication if it is in liquid form. If your liquid medicine is more than 3.4oz, that’s fine as well. You don’t need to include it in your clear zip-top bag, just notify the TSA agent that you have it.

Preventative care and just-in-case items can come in handy too. Here are a few options to consider for your TSA carry-on list:

  • Cold medicine
  • Hand wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Allergy medicine
  • Sunscreen
  • Region-specific medicine-like malaria pills

Keep yourself healthy while you fly and you won’t end up staggering home with a bad cold.

Entertainment and Comfort

Plane rides can be long, so entertainment and comfort are critical for keeping boredom at bay. An eye mask, blanket, travel pillow, and earplugs can go a long way in helping you sleep. If you like to read, bring a book or kindle, and if you’re a movie buff you can download your favorites to your computer or tablet before you leave.

To follow TSA carry-on rules for electronics, make sure to remove them from your bag and set them in their own separate tray when you pass through security. Nomatic makes this easy by offering a separate laptop and tablet compartment, which allows you to easily remove your electronics for security screening and comply with TSA carry-on rules.

Important Documents

Depending on where you travel and for what reason, you will need to keep several documents with you at all times. Never place important documents in your checked luggage because you risk losing them if your luggage goes missing. Here are some of the most frequent travel documents you will need to keep with you as you fly:

  • Passport or other photo ID
  • Visas
  • Credit cards and cash
  • Health and travel insurance information
  • Car rental information
  • Reservations or itineraries
  • Hotel information
  • Emergency contact information

For documents like your passport or visa, you should always keep two copies; one physical copy and one digital copy. While it might be tempting to just snap a picture with your phone and call it good if you lose your passport and have to visit a consulate or embassy, they will need that picture—and they do not allow phones into the building. Bring paper.

Safety and Security

Depending on where you’re traveling, you will need to consider your safety and security to varying degrees. Some of the best advice is to keep valuable items tucked away and out of sight so you don’t become a target for theft. It’s also a good idea to put your wallet in your front pocket to discourage pickpockets.

There are several security clothing options available to help you hide valuables including:

  • Money belts
  • Hidden bra pouches
  • Travel locks for bags
  • Neck wallets
  • Security infinity scarfs
  • RFID blocking bags and wallets

The Nomatic 40L travel bag includes security features like a travel lock and RFID blocking zip pockets to keep your personal information protected. Keep your valuables safe and secure so you can enjoy greater freedom and more peace of mind as you adventure.

With over $3 million raised on Kickstarter, the features of the Nomatic 40L travel bag make it easy to see why a community of people was dedicated to making this bag a reality. Here at Nomatic, we wanted to make a bag that complied with TSA carry-on rules, organized your gear from your TSA carry-on list, and looked great doing it. Check out the full features of this amazing bag and learn how to pack for airline security like a pro before your next adventure.