Alternatives to liquids on commercial aircraft

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Alternatives to liquids on commercial aircraft

Several years ago, a man brought several bottles of water on board an aircraft in China. As it turned out, the bottles actually contained white gas, such as is used for camping stoves. When the plane had reached maximum altitude, the man – who was in severe financial difficulties and had recently purchased a great deal of life insurance – poured the gas all over the inside of the plane and lit a match. The fire killed all on board in matter of minutes, and the plane crashed. As a consequence no liquids are allowed on aircraft in China.

We have learned to deal with this in China, and, since it is only a matter of time before this practice gains universal acceptance outside of China, we pass on the following tips for other travelers in a world where liquids cannot be carried onboard.


Shampoo and shaving cream: We use a Neutrogena bar for both. Plus, it leaves no residue.

Toothpaste: We use tooth powder and or baking soda. Sometimes supplemented with breath strips.

Contacts: We carry a very small plastic bottle with the contact solution on our person.

Deodorant: We use stick or the crystal salt deodorant SunScreen: Ozone 50+ sunblock stick by Hawaiian tropic.

ÆGIS, August 2006 6Bug Repellant: Most are available in stick or wipes (it is 50-50 on wipes getting through).

Colognes and perfumes: We spray our choices on paper towels and seal them in small sealable plastic bags, being very careful to get out as much air as possible. Double seal the baggies in a second bag, or everything in the bag will smell embarrassingly good!

Prescriptions: The label on the prescription better have the same exact name on it as you have on your ticket and your ID.

Leave the lap top at home and travel with a new memory stick with e-mail software (see the July 2006 issue of ÆGIS) and (encrypted) needed records.

Wear slip on / off shoes – even if you need good dress shoes where you arrive, put those in your checked luggage and switch them after you retrieve your luggage on landing.

For speed and ease, carry a transparent bag that will hold all of the stuff in your pockets. Fill it up before you get to the scanner and put in a tray, and pick it up on the other side. The bag can be a simple Ziploc® bag or something fancier.

Liquids in checked bags:

We travel a great deal to buggy places so we buy a pump spray (aerosols in luggage are frowned-upon) of Off or similar products with DEET. Unfortunately, these and other pump bottle will leak in your luggage. (We learned this when we arrived to discover that everything we had in the bag smelled like DEET). If you are lucky, you will find a solid top that will temporarily replace the pump. If not, we now wrap the tops of the bottles with a paper towel and use a rubber band to hold the paper towel on bottle. This will catch most of the leaks. Then we put the bottles in a plastic bag.

When traveling it is fun to bring back a new booze found locally but not at home. In a liquid-free carry-on environment it needs to be in your checked bags. Wrap it cardboard, and then in bubble wrap. Pack in center of your bag (this is when having hard luggage – see June 2006 issue of ÆGIS – pays off). With duty free, pick it up at the airport and place it in your bag before you check it. If it is an airport where bags are checked before you go to duty free, you may have a problem. We will have to see how this is handled in the future.

And a warning…

Remember that you can no longer lock checked bags. This has been a boon for thieves, and it means that you can no longer put jewelry, cameras, laptops, or valuables in a checked bag with any assurance of them being in the bag when you finally arrive.

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