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How to Travel With Your Favorite Perfumes: A Guide to Decanting

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Traveling is amazing – one of the most amazing parts of life. TSA restrictions and bag packing on the other hand… not quite as amazing. 

You want to smell good on your trip, but how do you bring along all of those different scents for all of those different sights? Enter, this article. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know all you need to in order to properly pack the perfumes you want to take along with you. 

Stay tuned to hear tips, packing tricks, and even a guide to the art known as decanting

Let’s get into it. 

What are the TSA Restrictions?

Well, for liquids, you can bring along quantities of up to 100 mL, or 3.4 fluid ounces in carry-on baggage, with no limits placed on liquids in checked-bags. Carry-on liquids must be placed in a see-through bag. 

So yes, you could probably get away with dragging along a few 100 mL bottles of fragrance, but that gets clunky quick, and can make traveling feel like a chore. 

Let’s take a look at some ways you can travel lighter without sacrificing your scent selection.

What Are My Options?

You have a few options to think over when you consider packing. 

1. Pack the full bottle/bottles

In theory, packing full bottles of perfume or cologne would work. It really depends on your travel situation, baggage allowance, and amount of muscle. 

However, there are a few reasons we don’t recommend it

First off, it’s heavy; with better options out there, there’s no reason to add another stressor to the travel experience. 

Secondly, your bags aren’t always treated as nicely as they should be when you’re traveling. They get thrown around at the airport, rolled over bumps and curbs, and knocked into things. That’s an easy equation for broken bottles and ruined clothes

There are some times when traveling with full bottles might be a good idea. If you’re going on a loooong trip (think a month or longer), it’s probably worth considering. 

But for shorter travel, take a look at some other options below. 

2. Buy the Small Sizes

Oftentimes, designers will sell a version of their fragrance that is specifically designed for travel. The scent is the same, just packaged with travel in mind. 

There are a few different ways that a company will do this – you can find small sizes with a standard spray applicator, small splash bottles, and roller ball applicators. 

If you have the option, we’d say go with the roller ball applicator. These travel incredibly well, and minimize the amount of fragrance lost when applying. They also make it super easy to properly apply to pulse points. 

While purchasing travel sized fragrances can be very convenient, they’re often more expensive on a per-ounce basis, and you’ll end up with duplicate fragrances. 

3. Buy a solid perfume

This is a really cool option if you don’t mind trying out a different scent. Solid perfumes travel really well because they won’t count against your liquid limit, are lightweight, and won’t break and spill all over your bag. 

In addition to their travel benefits, solid perfumes have some general benefits as well. They usually contain higher concentrations of fragrance oils, so they smell bold and last longer on the skin.

Like roller ball applicators, solid perfume is also very easy to precisely apply to pulse points. Additionally, the delivery method is usually some sort of oil instead of alcohol, so it won’t evaporate as easily. 

4. Stock up on samples

Samples are a great way to travel with a bunch of different fragrances. They’re lightweight, and you can take a bunch with you, giving you a lot of choice in what you want to wear. 

In addition, you can often find retailers offering a plethora of free fragrance samples, with places like Sephora and Macy’s even allowing you to choose which ones you want to try from off the shelf. 

One thing I’d recommend is to keep the samples in a bag; while it’s unlikely that they would break, it’s a better safe than sorry kind of situation, and they can sometimes leak a little due to pressure changes in the plane. 

5. Use an atomizer

You can decant the perfume or cologne into a small scent-spraying bottle known as an atomizer. This has all of the benefits of purchasing the smaller size travel bottle, but is more cost effective, and you won’t end up duplicating fragrances. 

Decanting involves transferring some of the liquid from the bottle you own into the atomizer. For a guide on how to properly decant, in order to minimize drippage and scent profile loss, see below. 

How to Decant a Perfume

You’ll need to gather a few things before you can begin your decanting journey. You’ll need:

  • An empty atomizer or vial
  • A small funnel
  • Pipette(s)
  • Labels

For travel, ⅓ ounce atomizers are a perfect size. They’ll provide ample sprays without being too bulky or heavy in your baggage, even if you take a bunch of them.

One of the biggest questions people ask about decanting is how they can reuse the vials or atomizers. Generally speaking, you can’t. If there’s any part of the container that’s plastic, the fragrance will permeate into the material and contaminate any other perfume you put in there going forward. 

Remember to label your atomizers; if you make multiple, they’re nearly impossible to tell apart with the naked eye. 

Decanting From a Splash Bottle

Decanting from a splasher bottle is much easier than decanting from spray applicators. 

Basically, you just pour the fragrance from one container to the other. Easier said than done, especially if you go with a smaller vial. 

Using a funnel can really help here, so that you avoid spilling any precious perfume. Ideally, you’d use one made of metal so that the funnel remains uncontaminated. If you don’t have a funnel, you can try and fashion one out of tinfoil. Just test it beforehand with water to make sure it works. 

For filling smaller vials, a plastic pipette works great, and pipettes can be found for a relatively low cost.

Decanting From a Spray Bottle

While decanting from a spray bottle is a little trickier, it can still definitely be done. 

The best way I’ve found is to align the sprayer with the mouth of the vial and spray directly into the container. Just be sure not to spray too hard, as this can easily cause the liquid to spray back out at you. 


If you’re traveling and planning to take fragrances with you, without a doubt the best way is to decant into atomizers or smaller vials.

While it may seem intimidating, it’s well worth it. 

Once you master it, you can even get into bottle splits and perfume swaps, a fun way to try new perfumes without spending any money, and get involved in the fragrance community.

Isaac Marks

Isaac Marks

Isaac is a fragrance expert from Chicago, Illinois, specializing in smelling good at all times. When he isn't sniffing things, Isaac likes to read, write, run, bake, and play the guitar.

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Jack Harbor

Full Time Fragranista

Jack Harbor is an expert in all things scent – from wearing, to mixing, to making perfumes, his expertise is varied and robust. He loves to smell good, and loves helping other’s smell good – for the good of us all!

Jack Harbor

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