Travel Tips: Perfume

No one smells their best after a long flight. Dousing yourself with perfume before boarding might help, but at the expense of other travelers. The better way? Stash a small amount of a favorite scent in carry-on bags or checked luggage so it's handy after landing. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and airlines treat perfume just like any other liquids – but because it can do a lot of damage if it leaks, pack perfume carefully.

Packing Perfume in Baggage

In carry-on baggage, liquid perfume falls under the TSA liquid rules or the TSA's 3-1-1 rule. The rule allows each passenger to pack liquids, gels and aerosols in containers of up to 3.4 ounces, with all containers fitting in a single quart-sized bag or plastic bag. That's no problem for most perfume lovers, as few bottles are larger than 3.4 ounces anyway, but carrying around a full-size bottle is impractical considering how little most people use during a trip. Decant a small amount into a sample-size vial, which should be a sufficient amount of perfume for even a long voyage. Still, the vial must be packed in your 1-quart bag, and the entire bag must come out of your bag for screening unless you're exempt as a member of TSA's PreCheck program.

The TSA doesn't restrict liquid container sizes for checked baggage, so even a full-size perfume bottle can be packed there as it it not allowed and won’t pass through the airport security checkpoint for personal items for air travel.

The threat of your perfume leaking or spilling in your toiletry bag during the trip is a more pressing concern than the size of the bottle. Bags get jostled during the screening process, especially checked bags. Double-bag the perfume bottle or vial to contain any spillage, or skip the liquid perfume altogether and travel with a solid perfume stick instead. If you do opt to pack a large bottle of perfume in your checked bags, it's a good idea to wrap the bottle in bubble wrap to cushion the glass as the bag is tossed around, especially if it’s in a glass bottle.

Managing Fragrance in Flight

Bothered by the smell of perfume? You're far from alone. An estimated 30 percent of Americans are irritated by fragrances on others. Those with allergies may experience headaches, watery eyes, nausea and breathing problems when exposed to perfumes and other fragrances like scented detergent.

If you find yourself stuck next to someone who smells strongly, discreetly explain to your flight attendant -that you're having a strong, and ask if it's possible to be moved. But because being moved isn't always feasible, especially once the flight begins, anyone who has a strong reaction to fragrances should prepare for the possibility of being seated near someone wearing perfume.

Wear a turtleneck and pack a scarf in your carry-on to cover your nose and mouth. Spritz a handkerchief with a fragrance that's pleasant to you and hold it near your nose when the perfume odor is overwhelming, or ask a flight attendant for tea bags and sniff them instead; the mild scent of tea may neutralize any strong smells. Carry migraine medication or other over-the-counter pain relievers to ease any physical symptoms of fragrance sensitivity. And if the smell of perfume doesn't bother you, keep in mind that others on your flight may be sensitive. Wait until after the flight to spritz yourself with your signature scent.

Tip: Duty-free perfume

If you don’t want to manage the hassle of packing perfume in your hand luggage or carry-on luggage, check out the duty-free shops in the airport once you land. You can buy a full bottle of cologne or perfume at a retailer in the airport without worrying about fluid ounces or having the right travel-size container. Especially for international flights, this might be a better option.