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While we’re all for keeping things thrifty, using a plastic Ziploc bag as your carry-on toiletry bag can have some problems. They can easily rip and leak when your liquids leak, ruining the items in your suitcase.
They also aren’t as reusable as more durable types of bags.
The alternative to this is a solid, reusable toiletry bag that has all the features of a Ziploc without the downsides.
Features to Have
While it’s easy to pick a toiletry bag that’s cute or free with purchase of makeup, frequent travelers should seek out certain features in their toiletry bag. I have a nice leather dopp kit that I bring on longer trips where I don’t need to carry on my liquids, but for quick trips, I have another TSA-friendly toiletry bag, which came with my Pitotubes, that ticks all the boxes.
Clear: You’ll speed through security if your toiletry bag is clear or see-through. Or even better, one side with a clear panel and the other opaque.
The right size: Make sure the bag is 1 quart, the TSA-approved size for your toiletry bag. Technically you can have a smaller bag if you don’t have many liquids, but 1 quart is already pretty small.
Lightweight: If it’s going in your carry-on, you want to not only pare down in size, but also weight. Extra bulk and material should be avoided.
Waterproof: Make sure your toiletry bag of choice is waterproof or at least resistant to leaks in case one of your bottles spills. It should also be easy to wipe out in case something does bust in transit. Of course this is less of an issue if have some proper travel toiletry bottles. Brooke swears by her Nalgene travel bottles as they have never leaked on any of her adventures.
Extra features: Additional features you might like to have are the ability to hang up with a hook or carabiner. A mirror is another perk, as is a zippered mesh pocket.
Toiletry Bags We Recommend
Basic Toiletry Bags
In terms of more basic toiletry bags, you can find some for fairly cheap that are only a step above the Ziploc bag, yet more sustainable. They should cost you no more than $15 USD and often come with the bottles.
Some examples include:
- The REI 3-1-1 Air Travel Liquids Bag*, which comes with a carabiner.
- The Lewis N Clark Toiletry Pouch*, which has multiple colors while still being translucent.
- The Travelon Deluxe 1 Quart Bag*, which comes with its bottles and has a sturdy mesh exterior.
Bags with Extras
Tom Bihn 3D Clear Organizer Cube, $30 USD
While the price is a bit high for a toiletry bag, Tom Bihn makes high quality products for travel. The clear organizer cube comes in dozens of colors, has two high quality zippers and can have an add-on key strap or shoulder strap. It’s not waterproof, but is made of sustainable materials. It also has a hook to hang off your bathroom door or hostel dorm bunk. The cube clips into other bags by the company and can store more than just your toiletries. They also have mesh and solid fabric varieties.
Sea to Summit Travelling Light See Pouch*, $13 USD
The company makes an even more basic version that doesn’t stand up, but I liked the feature of a dopp kit while still being small to pack. It has one clear panel so you can see what you’re carrying, is made of water resistant ultrasil material and features tough YKK zippers. The pouch comes in three sizes and multiple colors, but the smallest size is 1 quart.
Arcteryx Index Dopp Kit*, $29 USD
This toiletry kit combines the best features of a dopp kit while also being TSA-friendly. It has three compartments: one that is clear and approved for airports, one that is mesh and zippered for non-liquids and one in the back for your comb and other essentials. It has a top handle that clasps so you can throw it on the back of your backpack or hang it up as needed. It comes in two colors and sizes.
Travelon Wet/Dry 1 Quart Bag*, $20 USD
Separate your liquids and non-liquids with this two-part bag that has a hook to hang up for ease when getting ready. The patented two-section feature keeps the rest of your items from getting wet in case a bottle leaks.
It comes in 3 colors and is TSA approved, even when closed or opened thanks to a mesh panel. The kit includes 6 travel bottles for you to reuse as necessary.
What’s your favorite carry-on toiletry bag?