Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"What's in your suitcase?" Wednesday: Toiletries

Those of you who have even taken one plane ride know the struggle that is carry-on toiletries. While I completely value the need for TSA regulations on what can be brought on board an aircraft, these regulations have proven to be quite an obstacle for my packing, particularly in the area of toiletries. After some trial and error, I have managed to meet airline regulations without having to go without too much of what I'm used to using. Here are my best tips for traveling light and smart in the toiletries department:

Here's what is packed into that TSA approved bag you see above:

  • Shampoo
  • Body wash
  • Leave-in conditioner
  • Hair gel
  • Facewash
  • Lotion
  • Toothpaste
  • Sunscreen
  • Bugspray
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Mascara
  • Tinted chapstick
  • SPF chapstick
  • Tinted moisturizer with SPF
  • Roll on Icy-Hot
  • Anti-itch cream
  • Medication for mouth sores
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Tide to-go pen

That list covers the liquid toiletries. I also packed a travel razor, eye liner, face powder, and a toothbrush in a different bag. The key to packing all of the liquid toiletries is finding a TSA approved bag with a sturdy zipper so you can really squeeze everything in there without worrying about it exploding in your suitcase.

Here are the overall rules I set for myself when choosing what to pack:

1. Only pack what you absolutely need.

Remember, you're traveling, not being judged in a beauty contest. You would be shocked at how little you can actually use and still look clean and presentable. As you've seen above, I brought minimal makeup on this trip, and I haven't regretted it for a minute. In fact, I have felt quite free to go without makeup in many countries where that is the norm for women.

In many of the countries that I have visited, people don't bathe every day, so packing the bare minimum is not only good for your luggage, but you also won't stand out if you aren't wearing your normal amoung of perfume, make up, or hair product. Though the list above looks like a lot, it really isn't when you lay it all out and compare it to what most of us keep on hand.

2. Use travel-size items and buy in country.

I used small bottles that I collected from various hotels, as these are even smaller than the typical travel size containers. This meant I could pack a variety of things, just in small quantities. When I arrive in a country, I usually buy shampoo and some soap so that I'm not using up my precious supply. With everything else, I buy some when I need to refill and try to use all that I have bought before boarding another plane. For some items, you don't realize how small you can actually go and still have it function. My favorite find in the travel-size arena is my mini razor and replacable blades:

Be sure to do research about the country you are going to. Some might even have your exact preferred brand of a product at a reasonable price! Even if this isn't the case, don't waste your precious packing space on a stock of shampoo. You'll be much more grateful for something like an extra t-shirt.

I have also been able to get some things sent from the states when I cross paths with friends who have been recently. It has certainly been a huge blessing to have some toiletries that I'm accustomed to, but many people go without for much longer than I am!

3. Pack dry toiletries instead where possible.

I have to give credit to my mother for this one. I did not originally pack these items, but since she sent them to me they have proven to be a great backup to have on hand.

These do not have to fit into my TSA-approved liquids bag because they are dry, thin sheets that don't turn into soap, shampoo, or detergent until you put them in water. Even still, these fit in the palm of your hand, so they don't take up much room anywhere in my suitcase!

It can be helpful to think of other products you can get in dry form as well - a bar of soap instead of body wash, face powder instead of foundation, etc...

I hope this was helpful! Obviously everyone is different and will have very different preferences for which toiletries are necessary (I also recognize that this post is certainly more applicable for female readers). However, these rules I tried to follow for myself can definitely be helpful for anyone wanting to travel light.

Stay tuned for an update about what I am learning in India coming soon!



No comments: