Thursday, July 26, 2012

Disposable Single-Use Straw Containers for Flying

The Man and I are taking a vacation!  Well, we will be, eventually.  A couple months after we move in to our new house, we'll be taking off for somewhere warm and sandy, er..., um..., somewhere hot, dry, and no beaches in sight.  How did I get roped into going to Sin City again?

I've never flown anywhere, and with the super cheap flights from Eugene to Las Vegas, it makes more sense to fly than to drive.  Yay for my first flight!  We're hoping to be able to pack everything we both need into carry-on luggage in order to avoid checking any bags.  I've been reading up on all the rules for flying, and while I'm stoked that I'll be able to keep my every-handy nail clippers on my person, I'm a bit worried about this whole 3-1-1 liquids rule.

According to the TSA, one person is allowed to take one quart sized freezer bag with as many containers of liquid inside as will fit and still close completely.  The liquids inside must all be contained in 3oz containers or smaller.  Makes sense, but by the time you add up my toothpaste, contact solution, make-up, sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, we're talking quite a few bottles of liquid!

I could run out and buy a bunch of travel-sized pre-filled tubes of toothpaste, bottles of shampoo and conditioner, and tiny contact solution packs, right?  Easy peasy, right?  But that's expensive, and the flavors or colors or scents (or lack thereof) that I like most--or am not allergic to--don't come in travel sizes.

I could run out and buy a bunch of empty travel-sized containers and fill them with my own supplies, right?  Not quite as easy peasy, but at least I'd have some control over the ingredients. But then I have to deal with wasted space since not all of the travel-sized containers will be filled completely, and not all of them are shaped to play nicely in a single quart-sized freezer bag for maximum space saving.

So I've been thinking.  I'm a smart cookie.  There has to be a better way to pack all of these liquids without resorting to repacking expensive little containers that I only need this once.  There has to be a way to get five days worth of health and beauty products to all fit neatly into one zippered bag that is guaranteed to be leak proof, puncture resistant, easy to open, and TSA-compliant.

Cue straws, stage right.  I've seen this idea before, and I executed it for our homemade first aid kits for both of our cars.  We have little single-use packs of antibiotic cream, hydrocortizone cream, and other gels (although the burn gel wouldn't seal no matter how many I tried, grr) in our car kits.  These were super easy to make, durable, and pack very well.  If I ordered the bubble tea straws--really wide ones at almost a half-inch diameter--I could pack single-use straws of shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, body wash, you name it!  They open really fast with nail clippers or scissors, and they squeeze flat for dispensing.  I can write on the outside with a sharpie or color code them with labels to keep them all straight.  Due to their shape and not having any wasted space, I'd be able to pack probably a full week's worth in my little quart bag allotment and still have plenty of space for other things.

My only concern is that my shampoo straws might be mistaken for a contraband liquid.  Once opened to prove that the shampoo is shampoo, I can't exactly close them without a lighter--which is definitely not allowed on the plane.  I don't want to take the time to make seven straws of sunscreen, seven straws of shampoo, etc., and then get to the airport and find out my straws are not acceptable.  I am not breaking any rules, I'm just using a non-traditional container.  Who says the squeezy tubes are more or less of a hazard than my single-use straws?

If you were a TSA agent, would you let these onto a plane?  Why or why not?

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