Opting to only travel with carry-on luggage can feel like a huge time and effort saver for travellers, but there are restrictions you must adhere to when choosing not to take a suitcase. If you’re planning to travel this way, it’s worth knowing what to avoid packing in your carry-on so you can make it past the security screening unscathed.
Some items are only allowed in checked baggage, while others are only allowed in carry-on baggage in certain quantities. Then there are the items you just shouldn’t bother with…
Here’s everything you need to know about what not to pack in your carry-on so you don’t end up featuring in an episode of Border Security.
What not to pack in a carry-on luggage
Prohibited items for carry on luggage
Some items with sharp edges or points capable of hurting people are not allowed onboard with you. These are considered prohibited items and can include sporting equipment, kitchen utensils or gardening tools. Weapons and dangerous goods are also, unsurprisingly, not allowed. If you are unsure whether or not you can pack something in your carry-on, check with the Department of Home Affairs or with your airline. Alternatively, you could pack it in checked baggage, or just leave it behind.
Powders, liquids, gels and aerosols
According to the Department of Home Affairs, there are no restrictions on the liquids, aerosols or powders you are able to pack in your carry-on while travelling domestically in Australia.
Where you might trip up with this rule is if you are travelling domestically and then departing from an international terminal. In this case, you will be subject to international powder, liquid, gel and aerosol restrictions. So, double check!
If you are flying on an international flight, the Department of Home Affairs restricts the quantity of powders, aerosols, gels and powders you pack in your carry-on onboard an international flight. This includes if you are leaving Australia, transiting through Australia from another country, or travelling on the domestic leg of a flight and then departing from an Australian international terminal. Per the Department of Home Affairs:
- Organic powders, such as food or baby formula, are allowed in carry-on luggage with no quantity restrictions. There are, however, quantity restrictions on inorganic powders such as salt, talcum powder and sand. Any inorganic powders in carry-on must be in containers of 350ml or 350g, or less. If you are packing multiple containers of powder into your carry-on, the total of all inorganic powders must not exceed 350ml/350g per person. At the screening point, all powders in your carry-on must be presented separately for screening, but, unlike liquids, they do not need to be packed in a resealable plastic bag.
Any liquids, aerosols and gels must be in containers of 100ml or 100g, or less.
All liquids, aerosols and gels in your carry-on must be packed in one transparent, re-sealable plastic bag (most people use a snap-lock sandwich bag). The four sides of the plastic bag must add up to no more than 80cm (e.g. 20x20cm or 15x25cm).
Where people often get caught is if they bring a large container that’s only partially filled with a powder or liquid. However, partially filled powder containers larger than 350ml/350g will not be allowed past security. For example, a 500g container that is only filled with 200g of washing powder will not be permitted. And the same rule applies for containers larger than 100ml/100g for liquids and gels.
Other things to keep in mind
Travel TikToker Eden, better known as @edenineurope, has suggested that travellers who are embarking on a long trip with just a carry-on, only bring as much as they need for the first portion of their trip. Don’t bother packing large toiletries that will take up space. It is easier to buy the products you need as you go. That way, you won’t have to deal with any carry on issues when moving through security screenings.
If you want to pack some toiletries that won’t cause any issues (with spillage or getting through security) @madamesweat on TikTok suggested bringing bars instead. Packing a shampoo bar, a moisturising bar and a body soap bar makes your carry on a little simpler.
You can also check Can I Pack That to make sure what you’re popping into your carry on luggage is a-okay. For example, umbrellas are accepted, as are disposable razors, but golf clubs and Swiss army knives are not allowed.
If you’d like to learn about what you should be packing in your carry on luggage, check out this article next.
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