How to cut the cost of checking in liquids on flights

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Picture of suitcase and bottles of toiletries for my post on how to cut the cost of taking liquids on flights

How to take bigger bottles in carry on


Want to avoid paying to check in bags on flights, just because you need to take bigger bottles?

With the summer holidays looming, here’s my top travel hack: try Boots* order and collect.

I really resent having to pay for hold luggage, just because my contact lens fluid bottle is too big. I can’t take it in my carry on bags because of the security restrictions limiting liquids to less than 100ml.

(Anyone else ever wonder if the liquid rules are more do with pushing up the prices of dinky travel toiletries than preventing terrorism? Just me then?)

The cost of budget flights really adds up, if you have to fork out for hold baggage on top. If you’re zipping off for a quick weekend away, queuing to drop bags and waiting by baggage carousels also eats up a chunk of time. And that’s before any issues if you make the plane but your luggage doesn’t, or the contents get smashed to smithereens. Of course there are shops abroad where you can buy supplies, but costs and brands can be very different.

The solution?

Order liquids online at, to collect at Boots branches in departure lounges AFTER security.

Related post: five frugal things when flying

Here’s how it works:

  • Work out which bigger bottles you want to buy. Think lotions and potions like sun cream, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, moisturiser, insect repellent and contact lens fluid.
  • Flying with a baby? Lay in supplies for longer flights, such as ready made formula milk and baby food pouches.
  • Order online at*, and click to “collect in store“. It’s free!
  • Click to “find your nearest store”, then search for your airport and look for “airside” branches in the right terminal for your flight.
  • Allow time for collection. I’ve checked with Boots, and they recommend ordering at least five working days in advance.
  • Orders are held in store for 14 days before being returned for a refund, so you could order earlier to be sure.
  • Fill in your details and pay in full.
  • Add your mobile number, and you’ll get a text as well as an email notifying you when you order reaches the shop.
  • Swan through airport security, head to Boots with your email confirmation or order number and ID, and collect your bigger bottles. Simples.

Tips when ordering to avoid check-in baggage charges:

  • Double check which airport and terminal you’re flying from, and make sure you choose an airside branch. Check if there’s a Boots branch using the store locator*. I recommend googling the airport postcode and searching on that, to avoid searching on ‘Manchester’ and getting a long list of every store in the area. Then click on “in store services” to make sure it offers order and collect and check the opening hours too, if you’re flying at hideous o’clock.
  • Buy well in advance. This travel hack doesn’t work if you only remember the night before. So when you book your flights, mark the date at least 5 working days before departure on your calendar, or bung it in your phone.
  • Add your Boots Advantage card number to earn loyalty points.
  • Keep it to one carrier bag, so you’re allowed to take it on the plane, rather than buying up the whole branch.
  • Allow enough time at the airport – up to 15 minutes to collect your order at busy times.
  • Remember you can’t bring bigger bottles back in carry on for your return flight, so you could end up throwing away stuff you don’t use. May still be worth doing if your purchases cost less than check in baggage fees.
  • Only use for direct flights – you might have to give up bigger bottles if you change planes and have to go through another security check
  • If your flight is cancelled or changed, you shouldn’t lose out, as any orders that aren’t collected 14 days after arriving in store should be refunded.
  • Remember you’ll be paying normal prices, which could well be cheaper than paying over-the-odds in other airport shops.
  • Avoid ordering restricted items that can’t be delivered to airside stores. These include: sharp and pointed items like scissors, tweezers, nail files and nail clippers (including in first aid kits or manicure sets); nail varnish remover, hair dye, hair lightener and toy weapons like Nerf guns or water pistols. (Short pause to be grateful I won’t end up on a flight with small children armed with Nerf guns).
  • Be realistic. If you always pack everything but the kitchen sink, just pay to check in bags, and don’t pretend you’re going to skip on board with only carry on.


Now – over to you. Ever tried order and collect at the airport? Any top tips about the security restrictions on liquids? Do share in the comments, I’d love to hear!


*indicates an affiliate link, so anything you buy through it will help support the blog, as I will get a small commission at no cost to you. Many thanks!

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Pinterest image of suitcase and bottles of toiletries for my post on how to cut the cost of taking liquids on flights

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  1. Sue
    16th July 2018 / 11:01 am

    What a brilliant idea ☺

    You could also take some 100ml empty plastic bottles to decant any leftover products into for
    the return journey if you were worried about wastage.

    • Faith
      16th July 2018 / 11:26 am

      Great point Sue. I tend to focus on my contact lens fluid, which has to stay sterile, but virtually everything else could be decanted into smaller bottles if you want to bring the remains back.

  2. 16th July 2018 / 11:10 am

    I’ve never even consider that, what a great idea! I think Boots are missing a trick in not making this a big part of their marketing. Am now thinking what else could I pick up from Boots to make the journey easier, cheaper etc. Food? Drink? Chocolate!

    DD2 is currently abroad and this could have saved us the mad rush when we realised her bag was too heavy 10 minutes before the taxi arrived. We had to decant hairdryer, straightners etc into her hand luggage to get the weight down. (I tried to point out these electrical items really aren’t necessary but apparently they truly are!)

  3. 16th July 2018 / 1:21 pm

    That would never have occurred to me. What a great idea!

    • Faith
      16th July 2018 / 2:22 pm

      Let me know if you try it!

  4. 16th July 2018 / 6:07 pm

    I always have the same predicament with my contact lens solution! This is such a great way of overcoming the problem.

  5. 16th July 2018 / 9:15 pm

    This is a genius idea Faith! When I saw the title of the post, I was wracking my brains for ideas, but little did I realise just how simple the solution is!

  6. 22nd July 2018 / 7:17 pm

    I often buy bigger bottles in Boots once I’m through security – especially suncream. Good hack!

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