Travel is the best way to feel alive and make memories. So why not make it even better by wearing your favorite fragrances or trying out a few new scents while you’re at it?
Unless you fancy a long-distance car ride or a weeks-long cruise (pass me the bathing suit, will you?), for most of us, there’s only one way to get to our final destinations, and that way is by plane.
Love it or hate it, air travel gets you from A to B quickly, safely, and affordably enough. In order to do so, it comes with certain regulations that restrict exactly what kinds of items (and how many/much of them) you can carry with you. Perfume, as you probably know by now, is no exception.
In this article, you and I will spend some time talking about the rules for—and practicalities of—wearing perfume and air travel.
So let’s get started by sorting out the basics: can you bring perfume with you on a plane?
You can bring one or more perfume bottles with you on domestic and international flights in your carry-on or checked bags. In carry-on, you are only allowed a single quart-sized liquids bag, and each item in it must be in a bottle or container that’s no bigger than 3.4 fl oz (100 ml).
Basically, you can pack as many perfume bottles as you want in your checked luggage. But you can only take a few of them in your carry-on bag (be it a handbag, travel bag, or backpack).
Yet you won’t see frequent flyers packing perfume in their checked luggage for a reason. Ever wonder why that is?
First and foremost, good fragrances don’t come cheap. If you pack your signature scents in a bag that gets lost and is never found (it happens more often than most of us think), you’ll have to buy them again.
Second, we’ve all seen the way baggage handlers throw bags when loading them onto the conveyor belt of a plane. Though it must be said that they do this because they’re given a tiny window of time before they have to move on to the next plane, it can do serious damage to the items inside your luggage.
That’s why it’s much better to pack perfume in your carry-on bag and not in your checked luggage. Still, if you need to pack your bags this way, like when you’re moving cross country, place the bottles between thick layers of soft clothing or towels so that they’re protected and won’t move.
What size perfume is best to travel with, I hear some of you asking?
Suppose we’re talking about a signature scent. In that case, I’d take an 8-10 ml (0.27-0.33 fl oz) refillable atomizer with me or a 20-30 ml (0.67-1.01 fl oz) bottle.
Suppose you’d like to give a new fragrance a try. Personally, I’d bring a 7.5 ml (0.25 fl oz) perfume spray, which, depending on whether you’re an overspray or not, should last for at least a few days.
Check out our guide for the number of sprays in perfume bottles to learn more.
How to Make the Most of Your Quart-Sized Liquids Bag
That quart-sized bag that goes in your carry-on luggage—the kind that you don’t leave at the check-in desk but take with you inside the plane’s cabin—is intended for toiletries that you want to access during your flight or for liquids that might spill if packed in your checked luggage.
As a general rule of thumb, you can take liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes with them inside the plane’s cabin as long as you’ve packed them in the quart-sized liquids bag.
You’re only allowed one liquids bag, and you can only squeeze so many items in it, maximum 3.4 fl oz (100 ml) each, until the agent at the security check starts rolling their eyes at you. So pack smart.
I used to fly, domestically and internationally, for work almost every week in my previous life. Coming from that background, I’ve shared some of my best tips for packing toiletries below.
Depending on the length of their flight, all passengers should consider packing travel-sized containers of toothpaste, mouthwash, fragrance, shampoo, hair conditioner, and hand cream.
When packing toiletries for a flight, women should include travel-sized perfume (sample, atomizer, or small bottle), deodorant, mini lipstick, mini mascara, concealer, powder, micellar water. A few Cotton pads, moisturizer, and hydrating mask can be especially handy on a long-haul flight.
When packing their liquids bags, men should include travel-sized cologne (sample, atomizer, or small bottle), deodorant, and moisturizer.
Not all products are sold travel-sized. Reusable travel bottles, which you can easily transfer liquids to, can be a real blessing for things like your go-to shampoo, hair conditioner, micellar water, and body lotion.
A few things to consider when you’re traveling as a couple:
Men, offer some of the abundant space in your liquid bag when you see your lady struggling to fit all that she needs to in hers. You’ve got plenty of it most of the time, anyway (trust me, she will find a way to make use of it).
Ladies, I know it’s tempting, but don’t go overboard when your man offers you some of the space in his liquids bag (or he might be reluctant to do so the next time the two of you fly together).
Kids—and the extra stuff you need to pack for them—may make the tip above redundant.
What’s the Best Perfume When Traveling by Plane?
While some prefer not to put on perfume at all, those who do want to wear perfume should consider reaching for one that’s light and subtle.
Traveling by plane usually puts you, whether you like it or not, in a confined space and intimate setting with others (especially if you don’t travel business class).
A devil-may-care scent is great for cocktail parties and nightclubs, don’t get me wrong. Less so for air travel, where you don’t know who is sitting next to you and whether they might feel queazy from inhaling it or not, no matter what the reason.
On the day of your flight, you want to be wearing a fragrance that complements your character without overwhelming every other human being in the cabin.