Toiletries can take up a huge amount of space – let’s say you wanted to pack all this stuff:
How did we get from the first picture to the second picture? Let’s go through step by step (starting with pictures):
We accomplished this with just a few simple steps:
1. We take our at-home toiletries and pour a reasonable amount into the smallest container we can. Wherever possible, we prefer to use the same toiletries and brands that we use routinely at home, rather than using hotel toiletries or alternate products (avoids confused hair and skin and keeps your “getting ready” time quick since you’re used to everything that you have with you. (Here’s a use for those hotel toiletries.)
Need help figuring out what to pack? Start with the toiletries section of our packing checklist. Keep a copy handy one day as you get ready for your day in the morning and as you get ready for bed – check to be sure each thing you use is on the list.
For example, OUR FAVORITE TIP THAT SAVES LOTS OF SPACE: Use sealable, screw-top contact lens cases then label with a permanent marker! You will see that several of the above toiletries (e.g., face lotion) are small enough to meet the TSA 3-1-1 requirements, but they are still much larger than necessary. One side of a contact lens container is enough lotion for up to 2 weeks and takes up much less room than the full-sized container.
We put our shampoo and body wash in GoToobs – we started using these this year and love them. They come apart for easy cleaning, have a dial built-in to label what’s inside, are more flexible, and are so far much more durable than many toiletry containers we have tried (which broke and cracked in transit). They also come in a variety of sizes, which is handy. We have a 2 oz for shampoo and a 3 oz for body wash. (Seal the base tight and they work really well. No leaks after months and many trips. The suction cup feature is nice too, but we find they still fall down if you stick them to a shower wall.)
Face wash wipes and dryer sheets each went into ziplock baggies, only as many as we needed. Pills into the smallest travel pill case that seals well and will fit them. Hand & body lotion into a screw top container just big enough to fit as much as we needed. Contact cases were not enough space for this.
2. We purchased smaller versions of our day-to-day toiletry items when impossible or impractical to scale down ourselves, keeping to the same brand/type whenever possible. For example, in our case – makeup, lint brush, nail file, brush, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant. Again, even if the original day-to-day versions are allowable, invest in a smaller version. A little bit of space saved on each one really adds up. In addition, you can leave these in your toiletry kit so your toiletry kit is always ready to go. We keep a list in our toiletry kit of what needs to be added and refilled before each trip. (More on this technique in a future post.) Makes packing quick and easy!
3. Pack everything up in an organized toiletry kit. We have tried all sorts of toiletry kits, and the one pictured above is our favorite by far. (We’ll do a detailed review of it with more pictures in a future post.) We like that it has a detachable clear liquids container for airport security but that the liquids container can re-attach to the rest of the toiletry kit so everything stays together and organized. We also like how organized the compartments are, that we can see everything at once, and that it is very flexible and does not take up extra space. A more affordable alternative is this toiletry kit (available at Target but only in store) – more bulky and less organized but a good second choice. We used and liked it before we found the Kiva.
If you’re traveling with someone, see what items you can share to avoid doubling up and wasting space. For example, perhaps you only need one lint brush and one tide pen.
Again, see our packing checklist to get you started. Also, don’t forget to cover your razor with a binder clip (#3)!
And there you have it! As we explained in our packing guide, we think it’s possible to balance packing light with the preference to bring everything and be well-prepared. We don’t cut back on the toiletries we bring, and we are very light packers!
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