7 Smart Toiletry Packing Tips

Friday, January 06, 2012

Stuff it all in. Take this out, that one too, wait, let me see if I can squeeze this bottle in. Right. Here. Shit. There goes the Neutrogena, all over the bag.

It's probably the one thing that gives us the most anxiety when packing for a trip- How do I fit all of my toiletries, that I need on a daily basis, into my one tiny bag without sacrificing space for other necessities.

It's really not difficult, it just takes some thought and preparation.

Here are all of the products that I use each day. While I can't really live without the majority of them, I also can't take this pile with me in my 21" bag. There just wouldn't be a whole lot of room left for anything else.

So. Here's how I slim it down,

(1) I don't ever take up room in a suitcase for a hair dryer. Most hotels these days have them standard in each room. If you're worried, call ahead to double check.

(2) If you're traveling with a spouse or friend, consolidate products so you're not both bringing a tube of toothpaste, for example. Chad & I do this all the time. We share toothpaste, shaving cream, sunscreen, shampoo, face wash. Yes, even face wash.

(3) Sample & travel sized products. Anytime I stay in a hotel and they have a nice brand of shampoo, conditioner, and/or lotion in the bathroom, I always take them home. And they end up coming with me on my next trip. Rarely do I buy expensive travel-sized products at boutiques/specialty shops because I find them to be over-priced. Way more economical to heed my advice in #4 & #5...

(4) Hit the travel section of Target or Walmart for travel-sized deodorant, soap, aspirin, laundry detergent, and the like. These items are name-brand, most can be found for about $1, and they'll last you through this trip and beyond.

(5) Again, hit the travel section of Target or Walmart for little plastic apothecary bottles & jars. By transferring the contents of your large bottles to much smaller ones, the room you're saving adds up exponentially. Place all of the bottles & jars in a zip lock bag to keep liquid contents contained should they spill, particularly important when flying. With the ziploc of small bottles you're concurrently abiding by TSA, and we must, otherwise they frisk.

This is my average toiletry haul, for a long weekend away. I put it all in a ziplock to avoid spillage throughout my bag. Now if you're planning to be gone for a significant amount of time, anything over 2 weeks, my advice would be to buy common items once you get to your destination, then trash them before you leave to come back home. Not the most economical, but certainly works if bag space is the driving factor. Trust me, when you have to lug your bag through cobblestone streets, up stairs, on trains, in your lap on the sub, through town, the smaller & lighter your bag is, the better.

(6) A few items I don't use on a regular basis but I believe should be brought along, particularly when traveling overseas- Pepto tabs, Theraflu pouch, Alcohol Swabs, Bandaids, Anti-diarrhea. Basically a small medicine kit. All of these items can be found in that travel section I keep mentioning. You may not use any of it, but the minute you're sick because you drank too much wine on an empty stomach, beginning at 9AM, and not ending until well after the sun went down, and you're in the middle of small-town France where no one "Parler Anglais?"... you'd wish you would have packed that Pepto. Right Chad?

(7) If you're a frequent flying type, I love, love this product line for men & women by Clear Bag System. These sleek travel sets run about $30-$46 and will stand up after years of use. And aesthetically, they look good. What I really love though is that you can create your own custom set by purchasing jars a la carte, buying precisely what you need and nothing that you don't.

Hope this gave you some new ideas & products to help slim down the space your toiletries take up in your tiny bag. If you have any tried & true ideas to share, please do so!



  1. i don't see the toilet tissue mentioned. an emergency pack of tissue is mandatory for a bubbling belly!

  2. dear lord. Pepto. i'm not responsible for un-stocked toilet dispenses on old trains. i have to draw the line somewhere.


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