You’ve planned, plotted and patiently waited and now the time has come – your vacation has arrived. But, before you get ahead of yourself, remember you’ll have to jump through some TSA hoops before boarding that plane to paradise. One of the must-do-no-questions-asked requirements is that you place all liquids, creams and gels from your carry-on into a quart-sized resealable bag. And remember, each bottle should be less than the regulation 3.4 ounces per TSA requirements. So, are you the type who squishes all their products into one bag until it barely zips, or do you just forget the rules altogether? Whether you’re a “No space wasted,” a “Free sample guru,” or somewhere in between, your liquids bag is a little snapshot of who you are. So, what does yours say about you? Find out now…

The “No space wasted”

It’s probably safe to say, you’ve always been pretty good at Tetris. When packing is complete, there’s not an inch of space to be found, with every item strategically placed to make sure you are getting the most out of your standard quart-size bag. In fact, your liquids bag is a lot like a clown car, and hopefully you don’t need something from the bottom before you reach your destination because once packed there’s a real chance you will never be able to reassemble it again.

You’re one to always play by the rules, but if there is any wiggle room, you’ll find it. While your packing skills are expert level, and you may receive some friendly teasing for your bulging bag, you’re also a great travel companion — always prepared, efficient and knowledgeable with all your bases covered. They may have toothpaste where you’re going, but it may not be the cool mint, whitening, tartar control for sensitive teeth that you prefer. And when your travel buddy needs a dollop of hand cream to ease the effects of dry plane air, you’ll get the last laugh.

The “Oops, I did it again”

It’s not that you’re absent minded – you’re just a free spirit. And, really, who has time to pack a suitcase AND a baggie of liquids? While rushing to reach security, it dawns on you that you may have some liquids that need to be separated from the rest of your belongings. That nip of alcohol? Down it. That half bottle of leave-in conditioner? It’s called “leave-in” for a reason and you hear airplane air is a bit dehydrating to the locks anyway. You take a mental note of how you WILL remember to bring a bag next time. Then immediately remember you forgot to DVR “Scandal.” You probably aren’t much of a planner and consider it a win if you roll up to the gate before they have to call your name over the loudspeaker for final boarding. Those nice people in line behind you don’t mind watching you chug 16.9 ounces of bottled water before unbuckling the straps of your gladiator sandals and rifling through your bag for that can of hairspray you think you packed. (Maybe these airtiquette tips will help?)

The “If you can’t beat them, join them”

You go with the flow in life — and in travel. Never one to check a bag, you pack a small carry-on without any second thoughts or packing regret. You probably don’t even understand what all the fuss is about when your friends complain about having to ditch a few pairs of shoes to get their bag to zip. Truthfully, you’d probably be okay with no baggie at all, but since that travel-size toothpaste is still lingering around from your last trip, you may as well bring it along for the ride. And you don’t want to feel left out when everyone is reaching for their 3-1-1-compliant baggie at security. Some would say it’s an odd time to experience FOMO, but what can you say? You like to feel included. And your friends wouldn’t have it any other way. Travel buddies of the “No space wasted” variety are known to approach you with stray items that don’t fit in their own liquids bags. “Do you mind holding these eye drops?” You prefer to just let things happen rather than stress about over planning. You’re a firm believer that in life, things always have a way of working out.

The “Blame it on the alcohol”

This bag is VERY important to you, but not for toiletry purposes. Bathroom items are totally replaceable. But they might not have that special raspberry-infused vodka where you’re headed. You’re a “No space wasted” tried and true, except your essentials are less shampoo and eye cream and more Jack Daniels and Jose Cuervo. Everyone’s bag is their own prerogative – there’s no shame in your alcohol game. Owning this bag might mean you like to party, or it might mean you’re a forward thinker who can’t be trusted alone with a mini bar. (Those mini bar nips are expensive, OK?) Hey, when it comes to your trip, you’re here for a good time, not a long time. But truthfully, isn’t having fun what traveling (and life) is all about?

The “You fancy, huh?”

Just because you have to carry your liquids separately doesn’t mean it can’t be done in style. While you abide by the quart-size rule, you prefer to invest in a specialty bag over the standard flimsy variety. Maybe it even bears your name or initials — although no one would ever confuse your bag with that of anyone else. You believe what you wear and what you carry is an extension of yourself, and your carry-on liquids bag is no different. You cringe at travelers in old sweatpants and flip flops – you have your Pashmina and cute/comfortable flats laid out the night before your trip, ready to strut their way through airport security like you’re walking a different kind of runway. (And you’d never be caught dead without special airport security socks…bare-feet-to-floor contact? No, thank you.) Putting your best self into the world is important to you, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The “Must have missed the memo”

For you, the rules are meant to be broken. You aren’t quite sure how anyone fits everything they need into those little baggies, but you’re not about to find out. You need what you need. You’re fairly certain no one will really care if you upgrade to the larger size. Does it really make that much difference at the end of the day? You can’t help that you have specialty cream that cannot be removed from the oddly-shaped jar it came in. Also, why should you be without your favorite shampoo and conditioner because of some “rule?” Who is responsible for the sizing anyway? Certainly not you. Sporting this bag shows you’re a bit of a rebel. You prefer to test the waters to see if you can get what you want, rather than simply comply and compromise. You know you’re risking it all (well, all your hair products, anyway) but you want what you want and you aren’t afraid to at least attempt to get it.

The “Yeah, no need”

You never really understood why people felt the need to bring these bags in the first place. It’s literally extra baggage. You are of the mind that you’ll figure it out when you get there. If it can’t be bought, it can be borrowed – and vice versa. Vacations are for relaxing, not worrying about how you’ll tightly pack items into a ridiculously small bag. Plus, they have drugstores and hotel amenities for a reason (people like you). Why deal with the hassle? Plus, shampoo is shampoo is shampoo, amirite? You have seen full emotional breakdowns in the airport security line over the contents of those carry-on liquids bags and you’re just not about wailing over the demise of a pricey lip gloss. You prefer to go with the flow, depending on the kindness of strangers, friends and hotel staff. You are also probably pretty charming and know that you can get what you need with a wink and a smile. After all, what’s a little toothpaste between friends?

The “Free sample guru”

The free sample force is strong with you. You’ve collected and stashed these freebies for a moment just like this. In your eyes, you can’t go wrong filling your carry-on baggie with these bite-size upscale gems. You’re saving money, trying new things, living that luxe life and feeling that rush of finally opening products you held on to for months on end. You enjoy the satisfaction of a clean and tidy pack that causes you zero stress. If this is your bag, you are of the mind that the best things in life really are free. If you don’t have to spend money, you won’t. Deep down, others are jealous of your ability to sniff out a good deal. Fun times don’t have to break the bank. Just remember to open those slippery packets before showering.

The “Not quite sure what a liquid is”

To you, a liquid is everything one uses in a bathroom. You can be found making several attempts to squeeze in items that could easily be left in your luggage. That stick of deodorant you’re trying to cram into your bag? Not necessary. That chapstick you’re trying to wedge into the final inch of space? Hey, it’s a liquid if you leave it in the sun too long, you would defensively argue. Perhaps a refresher of liquids vs. solids would be helpful for your next trip. Carrying this bag probably means that you are easily confused or can’t be bothered reading the fine print. Either that, or you are the type of person who finds doing things exactly as asked to be a hassle. You’re OK with things not being perfect – that’s just life.

The “Wait, it’s only one bag?”

Maybe you’re used to traveling with children when your nine month old gets his “own” bag of products (he needs that fancy face cream…). Or, perhaps you’re simply hoping once all the bins are mixed together and careening their way through the X-Ray machine, TSA won’t realize that both of those bulging zip-tops belong to you. If called out for your double up, you play it coy (“Only one bag, you say?”) or immediately adopt the stranger next to you as your bestie (“Oh, this extra one? That’s her bag.”). You hope the TSA agents will turn the other way just this once, but the more likely scenario finds you tossing half your stash in the nearest trash bin. It’s unfortunate. After all, if you’re packing two bags, you’re most likely someone who likes being in control, and you strategically packed both bags with your travel must-haves – which no store at your destination will have on the ready. You’ll end up roughing it with drugstore brands this time. But, next time you’ll come up with a new strategy. You may be Type A, but you always have a Plan B.

All illustrations by Amelia Walske

About the author

Nicole RashotteIn addition to travel writing, Nicole creates content for several startups in the fashion, tech and corporate world. When not writing or doing community management, Nicole can be found forcing her dog into cuddles and Instagram photos, and searching for the perfect green tea.

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