A Perfect Spritzer

A quick note: Earlier today, I sent an e-mail about reactivating this site to the 1000+ readers who’d subscribed to my Yahoo Groups announcement list over the years. I was kind of steeling myself for a bunch of unsubscription requests and negative feedback, but I was pleasantly surprised to receive a number of messages thanking me for reviving the site. It’s nice to know people are still interested in this topic—thank you! You can sign up for the Travelite Yahoo Group announcement list here, or send e-mail to this Yahoo Groups address.

I’m always on the lookout for things I can use to travel with, and every so often I come across an “A-ha!” item. There’s just such an item on the market right now, and since I don’t know how long the fad will be happening, let me share this with you so you can buy a few for your stash.

Most smart travelers don’t bother traveling with aerosol cans, because it might not pass the security muster in some places. If you carry any spray bottles at all, they’re little pump spray bottles like the one pictured here:

Small spray bottle
Small spray bottle.

These spray bottles aren’t bad. I use them for all sorts of things, from hairspray to wrinkle releasers. I often also fill one with clean water to spritz my face with when I’m on a longer flight. But for most of my trips, I rarely ever use the entire contents of the bottle—and that means I’ve always had room to trim it down a bit. The problem is, it’s darn difficult to find spray bottles in stores—empty or not—that are much smaller than 2 ounces. You do occasionally run into a few; usually with things like eyeglass cleaner solution. You have to be rather careful with those, though, and make sure to wash and rinse them out really well to clean out the original contents.

Well recently, I’ve started seeing an even smaller bottle of pump spray—an amazingly tiny 0.17 ounce size! They are all sold filled with hand sanitizer, and they seem to be the current fad (remember when all hand sanitizers a few years ago were of the rubbing alcohol-gel type?).

Hand sanitizer spray
A little pen-style bottle of hand sanitizing spray.

Here’s what’s really cool about these things:

  • They all come with a pen clip on its cap, so you can clip it in your pocket for easy access
  • They are all about the length and size of a Sharpie marker
  • They are safe to refill (after proper cleaning) because the original product is meant to have contact with your skin
  • They are refillable!

So far, I’ve come across these at Longs Drugs, Walgreens, CVS, Wal-Mart, and other drugstores.

There are a couple of caveats:

  • The plastic spray bottle is manufacturered by at least a couple of different brands, and the Wal-Mart house brand has a “pen cap” that neither snaps in place nor has a long enough sleeve over the bottle, leading me to lose the cap in my purse all the time.
  • Some of the bottles have the labeling silkscreened on, so if you’re the type to “relabel” your empties you will have difficulty removing the original labeling.
  • There is at least one brand that allows you to pump the pen cap itself. These bottles are not refillable.

Now I routinely carry these little pen-sizes spritzers. I filled one with hairspray. I have another that I keep empty, then fill with water before I embark on a plane, which lets me spritz my face. I keep it in my breast pocket so I don’t even have to fuss through my carry-on. You could easily use these for things like bug spray, light cologne, and liquid sunscreen.

I use an address label to keep tabs on what the contents are (I use weatherproof mailing labels from Avery), but you could easily use a grease pencil as well.

Happy spritzing!


  1. I just recently discovered your site through Onebag.com because I’m planning my first “one bag” trip. I’m so pleased to come back today as my trip draws nearer and see you have reinstated this site! And this tip in particular! I’ve been wondering how I’m going to get little bottles of everything I need, especially spray items since it seems like with every four/five pack of travel bottles you’re lucky to get even one bottle with a spray when the rest are just caps. And strangely, the 3 oz. size seemed so impossibly small when I was first planning, until I really thought about how much I use of a product over a two-week time period. It just seems to be so much more than I would need and that space adds up. Anyway, I guess I’m becoming a little bit of a freak about this stuff since I can write such a long paragraph on it and really all I wanted to say was Thanks!

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed this tip, Maggie. One thing you might consider if the liquids you want to spray won’t fit into one small pump spray bottle is to just keep the extra in a small plastic bottle, and refill your spray bottle when it gets empty.

    Have a great trip!

  3. How about a good brand of spritzer that doesn’t leak? Nalgene seems to make a line of travel size bottles which don’t leak at all, but so far I haven’t found a good spray bottle that doesn’t leak….

  4. Jenny — Leaky spray bottles are a real problem, especially if you fill it with any type of fragrance, or a slick/oily product like some sunscreens.

    There are a couple of ways you could deal with this. First, if you can take the bottle apart before you buy it, see if there is a rubber or soft plastic gasket at the connection point. If there is, you’re in luck. The gasket is pretty effective in preventing leaks.

    Your second trick, depending on what you want to use your spray bottle for, is to leave that empty when you fly, and taking its contents in a normal bottle for transport. You can refill the spray bottle when you land.

    Third, you can make sure to fill your spray bottle to the brim, and/or see if you can squeeze out any extra air out of the bottle before twisting the spray cap on. Many spray bottles are too rigid to do this, but some of them will let you squeeze the bottle just enough to take the worst of the pressure off.

    Finally, you can always be extra cautious and cover the spray bottle top with a bit of plastic wrap, or put your bottle in its own little plastic baggie before putting it in your 3-1-1 bag.

    Good luck!

  5. Jenny — I did some research and came up with some possible solutions for you.

    #1: Nalgene apparently makes dropper bottles! Take a look at their product listing page for “dropper bottles” at their Web site. You want to specifically look at products 2750 through 2753. Avoid the “drop dispenser bottles” on that page… I don’t trust those caps for travel purposes.

    #2: Have you ever purchased a bottle of nasal spray where it looks like an eye dropper bottle but the dispenser sprays a mist instead of a drop? I’m not talking about the fancy “pump” styles like you see with Zicam or other nasal mist products. Well, it turns out these squeeze (vs. pump) bottles ARE eye dropper bottles, but they have a tube inside that dispenses a mist. These are called “indicator bottles” and are apparently common for science labs. You might want to Google that phrase and find some for your needs. I’m gonna order some myself to see if they actually work as a spray bottle. In which case, it might actually work for sunscreen liquids and hair spray! I’ll see how it goes.

  6. I found some good tiny spray bottles at Sally’s Beauty Supply, in the bins w/bigger sprayers & hair color bottles. They come in a pack of two, for (I think) $1.99. I bought 3 packs & got 6 different colors, so I don’t bother labeling & just use each color for a different thing. They haven’t leaked at all-there’s a rubber ring & threading enough for me to trust it full of jojoba oil for my hair. Not sure what the (small) capacity is, but they’re 4&5/16ths inches tall & 5/8ths inch diameter.
    Sometimes the website http://www.sciplus.com gets Nalgene bottles & other small plastic ones…

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