Your Ultimate 2024 TSA Carry-On Checklist: Permitted Items vs. Prohibited Items

Packing for a flight can be stressful, especially when it comes to figuring out what you can and can’t bring in your carry-on bag. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has strict rules about what items are allowed on planes, and it’s important to follow them to avoid delays or issues at the security checkpoint.

To help make your travel experience smoother, I’ve put together the ultimate carry-on checklist. I’ll go through all the most common items and let you know if they’re permitted or prohibited in your carry-on luggage. I’ll also provide some helpful examples for each category. Let’s dive in!

What Does “Carry-On” Mean?

“Carry-on” refers to luggage or personal items that passengers are allowed to bring onto an airplane and keep with them in the cabin during a flight. These items are typically stored in the overhead compartments or under the seat in front of the passenger. Carry-on items are distinct from checked luggage, which is stowed in the cargo hold of the aircraft and inaccessible to passengers during the flight. The size, weight, and contents of carry-on luggage are subject to regulations and restrictions imposed by airlines and aviation authorities to ensure safety and efficient boarding processes.

Permitted Items in Your Carry-On


Liquids are generally prohibited in carry-on bags due to security concerns regarding liquid explosives, but exemptions include essential items.

  • Toiletries (e.g., shampoo, conditioner, body wash) in containers of 3.4 ounces or less
  • Contact lens solution in small bottles
  • Perfume or cologne in travel-size bottles
  • Hand lotion or moisturizer in travel-size bottles
  • Mouthwash in travel-size bottles
  • Sunscreen in travel-size containers
  • Liquid makeup (e.g., foundation, mascara) in small containers
  • Toothpaste in travel-size tubes
  • Hand sanitizer (up to 3.4 ounces)
  • Liquid soap in small bottles


Passengers should ensure that medications are properly labeled and easily accessible for security screening. Additionally, it’s advisable to carry a copy of the prescription or a doctor’s note, especially for controlled substances or medications with specific usage instructions.

  • Prescription medications (in labeled containers)
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers (e.g., ibuprofen, acetaminophen)
  • Allergy medications (e.g., antihistamines)
  • Cold and flu medications (e.g., cough syrup, decongestants)
  • Antacids and digestive aids
  • Inhalers for asthma
  • Eye drops
  • Liquid medications exceeding 3.4 ounces (must be declared)
  • Medical creams and ointments
  • Vitamins and supplements

Medical Devices

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines
  • Portable oxygen concentrators (POCs)
  • Nebulizers and accessories
  • Blood glucose meters
  • Insulin pumps
  • Epinephrine auto-injectors (e.g., EpiPens)
  • Hearing aids and spare batteries
  • Prosthetic limbs and associated tools
  • Mobility aids (e.g., canes, walkers)
  • Orthopedic braces and supports

Medical Supplies

  • Syringes and needles (for insulin or other medications)
  • Lancets for blood sugar testing
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Bandages and gauze, micropore tape
  • Ice packs or gel packs
  • Catheters
  • Ostomy supplies
  • Saline solution for contact lenses

Lithium Battery-Powered Devices

  • Hearing aids
  • Pacemakers (implanted devices do not count as carry-on)
  • Portable oxygen concentrators (POCs)
  • CPAP machines with battery packs
  • Blood glucose meters
  • Electronic pain relief devices (e.g., TENS units)
  • Personal humidifiers
  • Nebulizers with battery options
  • Electronic muscle stimulators
  • Medical alert devices (e.g., bracelets with GPS)

Personal Items

  1. Toiletries in travel-size containers
  2. Passport and travel documents
  3. Small books or e-readers
  4. Snacks (solid foods)
  5. Water bottle (empty, to be filled after security)
  6. Travel pillow and blanket

Electronic Devices

  1. Laptop computers
  2. Tablets
  3. Smartphones
  4. E-readers (e.g., Kindle)
  5. Portable chargers (power banks)
  6. Digital cameras
  7. Noise-canceling headphones
  8. Smartwatches
  9. Portable gaming consoles
  10. Bluetooth speakers

Sporting Equipment

  • Baseball gloves
  • Tennis/Badminton rackets
  • Yoga mats
  • Golf balls (without tees)
  • Frisbees
  • Roller Skates, Rollerblades, and Ice Skates (ice skates may vary based on individual judgment)
  • Fishing Poles and Lures
  • Longboards and Skateboards
  • Skis and Snowboards


  • Solid snacks like granola bars, nuts, chips, and dried fruit
  • Sandwiches, wraps, and other solid meals
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables (non-liquid and non-cut)
  • Baked goods like cookies, crackers, and muffins
  • Candy, chocolates, and other confectionery items
  • Cheese slices or blocks
  • Canned or jarred foods (with no liquid content)
  • Packaged meals or ready-to-eat meals

Prohibited Items in Your Carry-On

  • Sharp Objects: Items like knives, scissors, and razor blades are not allowed in your carry-on. These should be packed in your checked luggage to avoid confiscation at security.
  • Firearms and Ammunition: Firearms, ammunition, and firearm parts are strictly prohibited in carry-on bags. If you need to travel with a firearm, it must be declared and packed in your checked luggage following specific guidelines.
  • Explosives and Flammables: Items like fireworks, flares, and fuels are not permitted in your carry-on due to safety concerns. These items should be left at home or properly disposed of before traveling.
  • Sporting Equipment: Items like baseball bats, golf clubs, and martial arts weapons are generally not allowed in your carry-on. Consider checking these items or shipping them separately if needed.
  • Food: When packing food items, it’s essential to consider their consistency, packaging, and potential for leakage or spoilage. Additionally, always check the latest TSA guidelines and any specific regulations imposed by airlines or destination countries to ensure compliance and avoid any inconvenience during your travels.
    • Liquids and gels exceeding the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule, such as soups, sauces, dressings, and spreads
    • Large quantities of liquid-based foods, like yogurt, pudding, or gelatin
    • Beverages including water, juice, soda, and alcohol (unless purchased after the security checkpoint)
    • Perishable items requiring refrigeration or insulation, such as raw meat, seafood, dairy products, and prepared meals with liquid components
    • Items in glass containers that could break and spill during transit

Packing Tips for Your Carry-On

  • Pack Essentials First: Place essential items like travel documents, medications, electronics, and valuables in your carry-on bag first. This ensures they are easily accessible during your journey and reduces the risk of misplacing them.
  • Utilize Space Wisely: Maximize space in your carry-on by rolling clothes instead of folding them. This not only saves space but also minimizes wrinkles. Use packing cubes or compression bags to organize and compress your clothing efficiently.
  • Follow the 3-1-1 Rule: When packing liquids, gels, and aerosols in your carry-on, adhere to the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule. Ensure all containers are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less, placed in a single quart-sized clear plastic bag, and easily accessible for security screening.
  • Layer for Accessibility: Arrange your items in layers within your carry-on bag, with frequently accessed items like electronics, snacks, and travel documents on top. This makes it easier to retrieve items during security checks and in-flight.
  • Pack Multi-purpose Items: Opt for versatile items that serve multiple purposes to save space in your carry-on. For example, a scarf can double as a blanket or pillow, and a portable charger can also function as a flashlight.
  • Consider Security Screening: Pack your carry-on in a way that facilitates smooth security screening. Place electronic devices in a separate compartment for easy removal, and avoid overpacking to prevent delays during inspection.
  • Pack Light: Avoid overpacking your carry-on to prevent it from becoming too heavy or bulky. Stick to essentials and items you will need during the flight.
  • Know Your Limits: Familiarize yourself with TSA guidelines before packing your carry-on to avoid any surprises at security. Check the TSA website for the most up-to-date information on permitted and prohibited items.


By following this ultimate TSA carry-on checklist, you can streamline your airport experience and ensure compliance with TSA regulations. Remember to pack smart, know what’s allowed and what’s not, and always stay informed about any changes in TSA rules. With a well-prepared carry-on, you can focus on enjoying your journey without any unnecessary stress or delays. Safe travels!

Polly Amora

Polly Amora is the señorita behind GoldenIslandSenorita.Net. A corporate warrior by day, and a perpetual explorer by heart. She is a lifelong learner who is very outgoing, speaks four languages, loud & outspoken, and loves to have adventures in the mountains, on the beach, and in the city. You can throw her anywhere, and she'll handle it like a pro. Ice cream and bourbon are two of her weaknesses.

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