Comparing Travel Toiletry Bottles: Don’t Let Leaky Bottles Ruin Your Trip

Travel Toiletry Bottles Showdown

The post September 11 era of air travel has become much more strict, especially when it comes to packing liquids. The 3-1-1 Rule has made it so that you can’t pack more than 3.4 ounce bottles into a one quart bag in your carry on. Full sized bottles of shampoo and snowglobes are out of the question unless you want to check a bag.

Thankfully, you can fill travel bottles with your favorite toiletries from home to keep within the liquid restrictions and avoid the hotel toiletries. Some bottles are better for certain liquid items, so we’ve picked a few of our favorites to compare.

Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.

The Contenders

travel toiletry bottles - Nalgene bottles

Nalgene Travel Bottles, $7.99 for 6 assorted bottles
The creators of one of the top brands of water bottles also makes BPA free polyethylene bottles for travel. They come in tubs and various sizes of bottles. They’re made to be leak proof and resistant to breaking. Nalgene bottles have color coded lids for you to remember what’s in them. They’re also dishwasher safe and come in jars. This type of bottle is best for things like shampoo and conditioner that will be squeezed from the flexible plastic. If it’s much thicker, you’ll have trouble squeezing it out. These liquids should be placed in the tubs instead.

>> Check for Nalgene travel bottles on Amazon.


travel toiletry bottles - GoToob travel bottles

GoToobs, $19.99 for 3 2oz bottles
The GoToobs are a popular choice for travel toiletry bottles for their soft silicone material, flip caps and suction cups that you can stick onto the wall of the shower. It’s BPA free and easy to clean, not to mention under lifetime warranty. GoToobs also have indicators that you can switch to denote what’s inside, which is super handy so you don’t squeeze out your conditioner before you’ve shampooed!

>> Check for GoToobs on Amazon.

travel toiletry bottles - Pitotubes travel bottles

Pitotubes, $26.00 for 3 pieces
Developed using space technology pump systems and shatterproof glass, Pitotubes are recommended by flight attendants for their ability to get as much out of the bottle as possible without leaks. They come in two different sizes, 1 ounce and 0.5 ounce, as well as two choices of lids, spray and squirt. Pitotubes also come with a cosmetic bag in a quart or half quart size to easily throw into your carry on.

>> Check for Pitotubes on Amazon.

Screw Top vs. Flip Top vs. Pumps

The lids are the most important feature of your travel toiletry bottles. The lids should all seal tight and not let what’s inside leak out- one of the dreaded fails of liquids in your luggage.

Nalgene’s screw top lids hold up well, but at the same time, you have to carefully choose what you put in them, as it may become difficult to get them out. Once they are out, there’s no bottleneck area to slow down the flow.

GoToobs have a spout that controls the pour of the liquid, but the flip top has been known to break off from use.

Pitotubes can get highly pressurized due to its pump technology, making some liquids dangerous. But they hold up for a long time and are easy to clean.

Materials and Durability

I found the Nalgene and Pitotubes bottles to be most durable from wear, although the actual bottle of GoToobs held up just fine. I dropped a GoToobs bottle once and it busted the cap (this just recently happened to Brooke as well, but she has had several drops in the past without issue). While they will replace them if you send them back in to the company, some people may not want to bother. I never worried about the Pitotubes being dropped, as I have accidentally done so many times without incident.

What These Travel Toiletry Bottles Hold

Some types of bottles are incompatible with some types of toiletries. Nalgene bottles are best for slightly runny liquids like shampoo and lotion. Anything firmer, like gels and creams, work best in the Nalgene tubs. Brooke has been using Nalgene bottles and tubs for travel toiletries since 2007 and has never had an issue with leaks.

GoToobs have a number of things they won’t hold, listed on this website, but they’re also incompatible with anything containing any alcohols, salicylic acid, hair serums & treatments, silicone-based lubricants, DEET or hydrogen peroxide. They work wonderfully with your normal shampoos and conditioners and body lotions because of the flexible bottle.

Pitotubes are best for things that won’t congeal and won’t be difficult at high pressures. Avoid contact solution for either lid. The bottles come in a number of sizes, but are typically in 0.5 ounce or 1 ounce bottles, which you can mix and match to meet the 3-1-1 requirements.

Price

When it comes to travel toiletry bottles, you get what you pay for. The cheapest that you find in the travel toiletries aisle of the local grocery store or Walmart may not last the longest. Even though Pitotubes are $26 for 3 bottles, I’ve had my set for over three years and they are just as good as new.

At the end of the day, filling travel toiletry bottles can save you money and is more environmentally responsible than buying new travel sized toiletries or using them at hotels, which are subsequently thrown away. And you get what you pay for in terms of refillable bottles.

You may want to read more:

travel toiletries comparison

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Jessica Lippe says

    Thank you for the comparison and individual information! My friend gave me a Mary Kay travel kit for my birthday six years ago, and the travel toiletry bottles in that pack are absolutely outstanding. I was considering switching to GoToobs for a three-month trip, but after your advice on how the caps tend to break off, I think I’ll stick with my reliable Mary Kay bottles! Thanks for the help, and I hope you check out the travel tips on my blog, too!

  2. Michelle says

    My favorite bottles are from Muji. They sell a couple different options and sizes and are super cheap but last for a long time. I’ve only had one lid break on me.

  3. Annemette says

    I’m a Muji fan, too. They have both bottles, tubes and tubs and different sizes, so I can take small amounts of all my favourite products and still have room for it in a one-liter bag. And I haven’t had one break yet.

    • S. Brooks says

      Yes, it seems that the silicone in the Go Toob containers allows air in, causing the product to dry out in storage between trips. Also, I find that my hair gel sticks to the silicone so I can’t even shake it down off the sides of the GoToob to let me squeeze it out the end. Sad. The silicone seemed like such a good idea.

  4. Jamie says

    I’m surprised that is wasn’t mentioned that Nalgene doesn’t make 3 oz travel containers.
    They have 1 oz, 2 oz and 4 oz, but in the 7+ years since the 3-1-1 rule was enacted by the TSA, Nalgene couldn’t manufacture a 3 oz bottle? What’s up with that??? I used their products extensively up until then, but ultimately switched over to GoToob & GoTub products. And I did have to replace one GoToob that I used for hand cream. Carrying it in my purse everyday for a couple of years did cause the lid to crack off (and, since Isabelle mentioned it, it was clumpy, too). Good to know some of the ladies endorse Muji. Always looking at what’s out there to make traveling with skin care products easier.

  5. MEISSOUN says

    Actually I find that most of these products are too big. Unless you are going on a really long trip you will never use that much product. My advice is to test-run your tubes and containers at home. Fill in your product and then see how long it takes you to empty them. You might be surprised! I get small plastic tubes for really cheap from a Chinese vendor on eBay and they are great for trips of just a few weeks. There’s an article on my blog where I go into more details (click on my name for the link).

  6. Julia says

    Empty eye dropper bottles can be bought online for very little money and I find them really useful for liquids that you typically don’t use a lot of e.g. Dr. Bronners, body/face/hair oils, liquid seasonings (hot sauce, soy sauce), liquid sweetener… I even use one bottle to carry some water based lube with me for when I use my menstrual cup on the go. Just don’t put undiluted essential oils in them because they’ll “eat” right through the plastic. (There’s a reason they always come in glass bottles!)

  7. Kathy McIntyre says

    Caroline,

    I have a different experience with GoToobs. They do leak regular shampoo. I tested them at home overnight, and I will stick to Nalgene bottles with the flip spouts. Too bad they don’t come in 3oz. size.

  8. Idgy says

    I use 15 ml Nalgene bottles for shampoo, conditioner and concentrated Method laundry detergent. Face cream goes into contact lens case with screw top lids. I can usually last 7-10 days with this amount of liquids.

  9. cheryl says

    Thanks so much for this article. I couldn’t understand why I kept having problems with my GooTubes. Turns out they’re incompatible with everything I put in there! Who knew???

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