Back in August of last year, I lamented that the United States of Advertising was collectively doing a terrible job of coming up with market-friendly solutions to this whole TSA airport security fiasco. Where were the ingenuity and market solutions for those of us who want to pack light, carry on our luggage, and still look suave the next morning?
Finally, over a year later, we are seeing real solutions hitting the market and the TSA itself finally seems to have realized that being a product placement spokesperson for Ziploc bags doesn't do wonders for their trustworthiness factor. Exhibit one: the 3-1-1 Travel Bag. I'm starting with this one not just because it's a great solution, but also because any company savvy enough to grab the domain name www.311TravelBag.com gets kudos in my book.
The concept is not radical. You put some reusable bottles in a clear plastic bag and sell it as a solution to our airport woes. This item gets extra credit for doing it right though.
1) It's the right one quart size. 2) The bottles are sleek and stylish, not like something cheap you picked up at Rite-Aid. 3) The capacity is marked on the bottles (a flimsy sticker though--something more permanent would save some later arguments in the security line). 4) There are five or six different vacuum dispenser bottles (depending on model), one ounce and 1.75 ounces. 5) The package comes with stickers to label things, like "shampoo" or "hair gel."
Despite all this, you probably won't find this at your local travel gear store, beauty store, or online retailer. For now anyway you have to order it direct and pay for shipping at the Clear Bag System site. There are three versions, from $25 to $40, and the higher end versions add small jars to the pump dispensers. For $2.50 extra, they'll gift wrap it for your road warrior friend.
After the run-ins I've had with the TSA folks over the past year and a half over similar packaging, I still wouldn't pack any really expensive cosmetics inside one of these, but as long as your luck holds out you should be fine. Of course flights outside the U.S. are smoother sailing (unless you're going to Israel).