What Not To Pack In A Carry On Bag – Do NOT Take These Items In Your Hand Luggage

What Not To Pack In A Carry On Bag – Do NOT Take These Items In Your Hand Luggage

When you’re not sure what to pack and what not to pack in a carry on bag, this article is for you. You might think it’s common sense what is allowed in your hand luggage, but there are many rules and restrictions that might surprise you.

Do you know whether you are allowed to take your bicycle? What about knitting needles? Breast milk? A meat cleaver? Or maybe you haven’t really given it a thought yet and just want to make sure you don’t get caught out at the security screening at the airport?

Find out about the restricted items below. If there is something missing from this list, please let us know and we’ll find out for you or point you in the right direction


Liquids – Follow The Liquid Rule

plastic travel bottles tsa approved
Plastic Travel Bottles

As stated by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), any liquids, gels or liquid-like or gel-like substances must be in separate containers of no more than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) and these must be placed inside one see-through, quart-size, plastic, zip-top bag.

The TSA makes special note, that the containers should fit comfortably into your bag. Also note that it is only one bag per passenger.

Anything over and above 3.4 ounces of any liquid or gel substance CANNOT GO IN YOUR HAND LUGGAGE, but should be packed in your checked luggage or can be shipped ahead.

Toiletries, Makeup, Hairstyling

When it comes to toiletries, remember the liquids rule and you should be fine. Again, anything over 3.4 ounces cannot go in your carry-on.

Deodorants in stick form should be fine, as well as powders and crystals, as long as they’re within the rules. Sprays, gels, liquids, creams, pastes, and Roll-On deodorants need to be in containers no larger than 3.4 ounces and placed in a clear quart-sized baggie. Remember, it’s only one bag per passenger.

Makeup follows the same liquid, gel and liquid-like and gel-like substances rules; anything resembling liquid or gel needs to be put in containers of 3.4 ounce or less and these containers need to go in a clear, quart-sized plastic bag.

This means liquid mascara, lip gels and alike go in the clear zip lock bag, solid items may be carried in your hand luggage. This includes lipsticks, solid powders and so on.

Perfume, Make up etc

When it comes to hair styling, you won’t be running into too much trouble either with your curling or straightening irons, unless they are the kind that take a butane cartridge. These should be placed in your checked luggage, with a safety cover over the heating element.

Please note that only one cartridge is allowed and no spare ones can be taken.

Curling or straightening irons with butane cartridge are not permitted in your hand luggage.

Medications And Medical Equipment

Basically the only thing in this category that is not allowed to bring as hand luggage is medical marijuana. It is also not permitted in your checked luggage. Anything else is basically permitted to be taken in your hand luggage, but some items come with special instructions, such as contact lens solution and medical liquids have to follow the liquids rule.

Anything to do with insulin, inhalers and external medical devices, please follow the special instructions as per the TSA website. (There is a link at the bottom of the page.)

Canes, crutches, walkers and wheelchairs, vitamins and supplements, casts, support braces and prosthetics, EpiPens and blood sugar test kits, as well as medication in pill form are all fine to be taken as carry-on.

Some of these items need to be shown to be security officer and some might need medical notification cards with them.


When you look at the TSA website you sometimes start to wonder what people are thinking they need to take in their carry-on luggage. For example, why would you want to bring an ice pick or a meat cleaver in your hand luggage? Do you really think you might need this during your flight from LA to Honolulu, where you are planning on spending a lovely holiday with your family?

So it may or may not come to any surprise to you, that ice picks and meat cleavers are NOT PERMITTED in your hand luggage. Neither are box cutters or cork screws with blades, knives (this includes pocket-knives, so your swiss-army knife has to go in the checked luggage), razor-type blades and you also have to leave your sabers, swords and saws out of your hand luggage.

Good news is, that all of these items should be fine in your checked luggage.

Permitted items include knitting and sewing needles, nail clippers, safety pins and tweezers.


Live Lobster does not go into carry on
Live Lobster

According to the TSA website, the only things not allowed to be carried in your hand luggage are ice-cream and alcohol over 140 proof (more than 70% alcohol). For live lobster please contact your airline. (Wait, what?)

Breast milk, formula and water or juice for babies are allowed in reasonable quantities. These items need to be removed from your carry-on bag to be screened separately.

Crackers, cookies, pies, cakes, pizza, sandwiches and solid snack foods, as well as any solid food items are fine to be taken onto the plane. Liquids are subject to the liquids rule mentioned above.

Weapons – Firearms, Self-Defence Items

Um, what kind of holiday are you planning? Just kidding, you might have your reasons for wanting to carry. But unfortunately, not in your carry-on. Sorry. For instructions on what can and can’t be packed in your checked luggage, best check back with the TSA website or ask your airline or check the security tab on the airport website.

The same goes for self-defence or martial arts items and ammunition. These are not permitted in your carry-on and many or most of these might not be permitted in your checked luggage either.

Sporting And Camping Equipment

Kayak paddles do not go into carry on

Sporting and camping equipment prohibited from bringing in your hand luggage include: baseball and cricket bats, as well as golf clubs, hockey and lacrosse sticks. Not allowed among others are also bear bangers and bear spray, bowling pins and bows and arrows, canoe or kayak paddles, cast iron cookware, tent spikes and poles.

Basically anything that could be used as a weapon, any kind of stick or pole and bat, or anything that is a weapon, cannot be taken in your carry on bag.

Check with your airline whether you are permitted to take your bicycle, tent or parachutes. Helmets, sand and even rocks are fine to bring along with your hand luggage.

Household Items And Tools

Many of the items have been covered under other headings already, but just to be sure, do not bring your hammer, anything with fuel in it. Also leave your drill and drill bits, your nail gun and screwdriver for the checked luggage. Pretty much all of your power tools and every tool measuring more than 7 inches are not allowed in your hand luggage.

What about your Magic 8 Ball? Yep, also has to go into your checked luggage.

Please note that you cannot take a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 at all. That is, neither in your hand, nor in your checked luggage.

You might be happy to hear that it is perfectly fine to take your tortilla press with you, as well as your waffle iron.


Sparklers are prohibited

If you thought it was bad that you had to check your meat cleaver and ice pick, than I’m sorry to tell you that you will have to leave that dynamite at home.

Unfortunately, you’re also not allowed to take fire crackers, fireworks, sparklers and even English Christmas crackers (they’re really harmless, they usually contain a small toy, a paper crown and a hilarious dad joke, but they do make a popping sound).

So anything like fuel, flammable paints, gasoline, lighter fluid, liquid bleach, torch lighters and strike anywhere matches are not allowed in either hand or checked luggage.

You are allowed to take cigars and cigarettes though, although you won’t be able to smoke, as that is prohibited on most airlines as well.

Smelly Items – Be respectful Towards Your Fellow Travellers

Although allowed in small quantities, as the liquid rule applies, please be considerate when using perfume, cologne or even strong smelling deodorant. You might also want to consider eating that smelly cheese or too much garlic before boarding the plane, especially if you’d like to have a chat with your neighbour.

One last word of advice: If in doubt, leave it out.

If you’re unsure what you should be taking with you in your carry-on bag, especially when it’s a long haul flight, have a look at my other post What To Pack In A Carry On Bag.

Please note that we did not list every single item that is prohibited, so if you’d like to double check with the TSA website to make sure your item is allowed, have a look at their page What Can I Bring.

Please also note, these rules are taken from the TSA website. These rules might be pretty much the same worldwide (with exceptions), but even so, there is always room for interpretation. This means that although one airport security officer might be fine with a debatable item, another might be very strict and won’t allow it.

So stick to this: If in doubt, leave it out – that is, leave it out of your carry-on and pack it in your checked luggage, or if that might even be a problem, leave it at home. I cannot mention it enough, that it is always a good idea to contact your airline and find out about the rules for specific items.

Leave a comment or ask a question below and I’ll get back to you soon.

Happy and safe travels!

10 Replies to “What Not To Pack In A Carry On Bag – Do NOT Take These Items In Your Hand Luggage”

  1. Thanks for writing such a detailed post regarding what to carry on and what to leave out of our hand luggage! I travel quite a lot, but often am stuck as to if this or that item can be included, so this post will be a great reference for next time I travel!

    1. Hi Alenka,

      Great to hear you will use this post as a reference, that was my intention. You’d think it was pretty much common sense what to take and what not to take in your carry on bag, but researching for this article taught me better!

      Thanks for stopping by,
      Petra 🙂

  2. I can understand that all the airlines around the world are now imposing these strict rules about what to carry in their bags. There are items that may be regarded as a threat to passenger safety, which puts people off flying. I hope that passengers do comply and make travelling a joy for all concerned.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Yes, most of the rules make perfect sense, especially when you see that such items as meat cleavers and ice picks could have been taken in hand luggage.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  3. Hi Petra,
    Thank you for this post. It was actually highly entertaining as I could just imagine the poor folk at the airlines with all these weird and wonderful things that could be carried onto the plane but shouldn’t be. It is incredible to think that people would carry power tools etc. onto a plane. I must say I have taken my sewing machine but it was put into the hold. Thank you.

    1. Hi Jill,

      Yes, when I was researching for this article I was many times surprised and other times I had to chuckle thinking of the reactions of the security officers when seeing some of the things. It would be quite an entertaining job at times and a bit scary at other times.

      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  4. Thank you for the post. I can say that i was a it shocked when i started seeing things which are not allowed to be taken in luggage. I have never been in airplane but am planning on doing so soon and will always remember this post as now i know what to take in my hand bag.

    I bet this information has a lot of new things in it for people who are reading this post.

    Thank you 

    1. Hi there,

      Yes, you most certainly can pack shoes and your Ipad. With the chocolate it depends whether it’s sealed and also where you’re traveling in terms of what you’re allowed to take onto a plan and/or into a certain country. You can check it going to immigration or the airport page for the according country.

      Generally speaking, the TSA advises that “Crackers, cookies, pies, cakes, pizza, sandwiches and solid snack foods, as well as any solid food items are fine to be taken onto the plane.”

      You might find more info on what you can pack here

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