List of prohibited items inside an airport, showing what you cannot and can carry in your purse on a plane

What Can I Carry in My Purse on a Plane?

What can you carry in a purse on a plane?

You can bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, gels, and creams in your purse on a plane, and they must be in travel-sized containers that are a maximum of 3.4 ounces or 100ml. Any full-sized toiletries in large bottles will need to be packed in your checked luggage. 

TSA Rules about what you can and can’t bring in your carry on luggage can be confusing. We all know approaching a security checkpoint can be intimidating enough without worrying if they will confiscate your lip balm or snacks. 

As a former flight attendant, I am here to answer your questions about getting your carry on baggage through the airport security checkpoint. I will give you a concise list of what you can and cannot bring in your carry on suitcase, plus tips on how to get through security as quickly as possible.

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What Can I Bring on an Airplane in My Purse? 

Items you may carry on a plane in a purse include:

  • 1 Quart size bag of travel sized liquids and gels ( 3.4 ounces/100ml or less) 
  • Wet wipes
  • One package of safety matches
  • Snacks (that follow the TSA liquids rule) 
  • Power bank
  • Solid Deodorant
  • Sewing kit
  • Nail Clippers
  • Knitting needles
  • Over the counter medications (including liquid medication)
  • Disposable Razors
  • Baby food and formula

These are just some examples. In general, you may bring any non-prohibited item that fits in your purse.

One of the potential advantages of bringing a purse on a plane is that a purse counts as a personal item, not your carry on, so you can separately bring a lightweight suitcase or backpack as your carry on.

Of course, to really maximize space, consider upgrading your purse to a larger model or a personal item backpack. I will often pack a small purse to use at my destination but at the airport you will see me using something like this as a purse: 

My Pick
Overnight Bag

For personal items I love using this style of bag (bonus this one has a waterproof pocket inside) It is easy to strap on to your checked bags when going through the airport and as enough space to pack everything you need for the longer international flights. It also fits easily in the allocated space underneath the seat in front of you. 

What Can I Not Bring on an Airplane in My Purse? 

A woman putting her passport inside her bag

You cannot carry the following prohibited items onto an airplane in your purse:

  • Pepper spray
  • Pocket knives
  • Utility knives 
  • Safety Razor
  • Anything that could be reasonably considered a weapon 
  • Large sharp objects

For more, see the TSA’s full list of prohibited items.

Do I Need to Take Everything Out of My Purse at Security?

Bags on queue to be scan on an airport

The short answer is no, you do not need to take everything out of your purse at airport security. You will put your entire purse and carry on bag in the provided bins and everything will be x-rayed together. The two things you will be expected to take out of your personal item and carry on bags are electronics, liquids, and gels, which need to go in a separate bin. 

My suggestion is you keep all your liquids in a clear plastic bag or liquids bag like the one linked below. That way when you get to the security checkpoint you can just pull it out from your hand luggage. The security agents can see you are following the liquids rule and you did not have to scramble looking for the tiny bottles. 

Make sure you put your mobile phone and any other electronics are put in a separate tray. The other item they will check is your water bottle. If you bring a refillable water bottle, ensure it is empty when you get to security screening. If it is not see-through, the TSA agent will ask you to take the lid off and check there is nothing inside. 

My Pick
TSA Approved toiletry kit

This is honestly the easiest way to pack liquids in your carry on. The bag and all the refillable bottles meet the TSA requirements so there is no guesswork involved. You can bring all your favorite products with you from home and it usually ends up being more affordable than buying travel sized everything. 

Tips for Purse Travel on Airplanes

Here are some practical tips for carrying purses on planes:

  • Remember most airlines only allow only one personal item
  • Keep liquids and gels together in a clear bag that is easily accessible when going through security
  • Take all of your electronics out of your purse before you get to the front of the line
  • Bring travel sized hand sanitizer to use in the bathroom and before consuming airline food
  • Pack a spare phone charger and power bank
My Pick
Electronic Organizer

There is nothing worse than realizing you forgot your phone charge or accidentally put it in your check in luggage. Packing a little organizer like this the night before prevents mishaps. Put your spare phone charger, power banks and any other little bits of electronics you need during the flight. It also means you are not digging through your bag trying to find the cord you know you packed when your phone is at 8% battery. 

  • Avoid bringing your designer purses and opt instead for something easily washable like a tote or small duffel bag 
  • Keep all essential documents together in your purse 
My Pick
Family Document organizer

A document organizer that is specifically designed to hold passports and travel documents is such a lifesaver at the airport. You know all your boarding passes and travel documents are in one place. This organizer also has space for cash so you can swap currencies out of your wallet and prevent confusion when arriving at your destination. 

FAQs about What I Can Bring in My Purse on a Plane

Can I Carry Hand Lotion in My Purse on a Plane?

You can carry your hand lotion in your purse on a plane as long as it is not larger than 3.4 oz/100ml and first into your liquids bag. Any full sized creams should be placed in your checked bag.

A woman putting her things to be check on the airport

Can I Have Lipstick in My Purse on a Plane?

You can bring lipstick in your purse on a plane. If it is a gel or cream style lip color then you must put it in your liquids bag, but if it’s a solid stick then it can just stay in your purse. 

Can I Bring Snacks in My Purse on a Plane? 

You can bring snacks in your purse on a plane. The best food to bring is solid snacks like granola bars, fruit and nuts. Avoid bringing liquid and gel food like pudding, hummus and dips. 

For more, see our guide to what food you can bring on a plane

✈️ Read Next: Can I Bring Nailclippers on an Airplane?

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Now you don’t have to wonder “what can I carry in my purse on a plane” anymore!

You can bring travel sized liquids and gels along with snacks in your purse on a plane. Don’t bring anything big and sharp, stay organized and you should have an easy time getting through security. 

(Cover Image : ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock)