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30 Days to Packing a Better Bag – Day 17: The Essential Toiletries Kit

Day 17: The essential toiletries kit.

Welcome to Day 17 of 30 Days to Packing a Better Bag.

Today’s post is pretty much the culmination of the last few days of topics, so if you haven’t done so yet, we suggest reading about travel size hair products and how to pack liquid toiletries. Now’s the part where we give you the list of items you absolutely need to take with you, the essential toiletries kit, along with a little advice on how to pack them all up nice and neat in your luggage of choice.

The Basics

Hair Cleanser and Conditioner: In other words, you need a shampoo and conditioner of sorts for your hair. If too many liquids make you worry, look into a solid shampoo bar. Dry shampoo might also be a good addition that can help you cut back on the amount of liquid shampoo you bring. Remember to take only what you need in order to conserve space and weight.

>>Consider cutting out shampoo with the no poo method.

Body Wash: We recommend going with a bar soap, like Dove, in order to clean that travel grime off from time to time — and to cut back on liquids. If space is a worry, try hacking a normal sized bar in half instead of paying more for those special travel size bars in the shops.

Facial Moisturizer: Every lady needs a facial moisturizer of some kind. For extra bonus points, get one with SPF built-in since you will more than likely be spending more time in the sun on your travels. Try to go with a moisturizer that you can use both day and night.

Face Wash / Cleanser: Bring along your favorite facial wash or acne cleanser. With new diets, changes in sleep patterns and more public transportation use, breakouts are sure to happen when you travel. Keep them at a minimum by keeping your face clean. Depending on your skin type, a facial wipe might be a good option. (Brooke calls these her “bath in a bag” since they can be used in a pinch to wipe down your body if you don’t have time to shower before your next activity.)

>>To further reduce your liquids, check out the best toiletry items for carry-on travel.

Toothbrush: This is a no-brainer! If you want to go minimal, go for a brush that is travel sized, or one that folds in half.

Toothpaste: Just like the brush, paste keeps you fresh and clean. Go with travel size tubes, or try something different like toothpaste sachets or toothpaste tablets.

Floss: Floss is a must-pack. Not only is it vital to your oral health, it can also function as string in a pinch to sew up holes and tie bits and bobs together.

Razor: If you can handle going a few days without shaving, perhaps waiting to buy a disposable razor until you arrive is an option. Or, get a good wax before leaving home and ditch the razor if you can.

Deodorant: Go for the solid kind in order to cut back on your liquids. If you want something that lasts several months, the crystal deodorants will do the trick. (Brooke is trialing one right now by Grants of Australia that is said to last up to 4 months!)

Q-tips and Cotton Pads: For cleaning your ears and removing makeup or dirt. Just put a handful in a ziplock bag before putting in your toiletries kit.

The Extras

Hair Items: Leave-in conditioners, hair oils, hair sprays and dry shampoos.

Skin Items: Body lotions, cuticle creams and body sprays.

Tips for Packing Toiletries

1. Go for the smallest toiletries bag possible. Just like choosing your luggage, having a toiletries bag that is a size larger just means you are more likely to fill it with things you don’t really need.

essential toiletries kit - large toiletries kit
Large toiletries kits are great for better organization and separation, but they can add a little extra bulk to your luggage.
essential toiletries kit - fit it all in a smaller bag
We choose to go with a smaller toiletries bag instead so we aren’t tempted to fill it with stuff we don’t truly need. That is the moral of the story for just about everything. All the necessities packed into the Tom Bihn’s 3D Clear Organizer Cube.

You’d be surprised what you can fit into a smaller bag. This holds: Dr. Bronner’s Soap (shampoo and body wash), conditioner, facial cleanser, facial moisturizer + SPF, eye cream, leave-in hair oil, toothpaste sachets, floss, toothbrush, razor and crystal deodorant stick. And there is still a little room to fit something else if needed!

2. Plan your toiletries packing according to your packing goals: checked or carry-on. If going carry-on only, your liquid toiletries will need to be located in a separate bag that can be scanned at security.

essential toiletries kit - think about checked versus carry-on
Think about checked versus carry-on. If going carry-on only, you will need to have one see-through bag that includes ALL liquids and gels. This includes having extra space for anything that might fit that criteria in your medical kit (post coming soon), like anti-itch creams. In this case, remove non-liquids, such as razor, floss, toothbrush and put those in a separate bag or organizing unit.

Remember: Compartmentalizing your toiletries will help you to stay organized on the road, as well as keep potential mess and leaks confined to a single space in your bag or suitcase.

We’ll be talking about an essential beauty kit and medical kit in the coming posts!

Take Action: Trial Run Your Toiletries Kit
Get out your packing list and make sure you are only taking the essentials with you on your trip. Make a trial pack to ensure your toiletries bag is the correct size for your intended packing goal. Refrain from taking a toiletries bag that packs on extra bulk or is larger than absolutely necessary.

Let us know if there is anything you’d add to this list in the comments below. Or, let us know your favorite toiletries bag.

Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm planning adventures or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

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Gear We Use

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Speakeasy Hidden Pocket Scarves


Splice Jaisalmer Reversible Tunic
Splice Reversible Jaisalmer Tunic


Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes
Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes


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Tom Bihn 3D Organizer Cube


Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack - Fits in the palm of your hand!
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack


Turkish Travel Towels


Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

Handbag Packing Masterclass – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing class run by HPL founder, Brooke.

Creative Ways to Minimize Your Toiletry & Beauty Kit – Practical tips alongside DIY recipes designed to help you pack lighter, smaller & with fewer liquids. (Also included as a bonus to Handbag Packing Masterclass.)

Book Your Trip

Viator – Enhance your trip experience by booking from thousands of tours across the globe. – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

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

Reader Interactions


  1. Caroline says

    I bought the small size of this, then thought it was a perfect size for my electronics (which it TOTALLY is!!) and decided to buy the large as a toiletry bag. It may be a bit overlarge, but I’m packing more things in there, like laundry soap and all my medicine and all that so it’s not unneeded stuff.

    Will update after my trip on how it goes 🙂

    • T. says

      Hairbrush should be added as an optional for this list, because though some people may be able to go without it, I know I certainly can’t.

  2. Maria says

    Thank you! I am getting ready to leave for a trip and I had no idea what toiletries to pack, so I looked it up and used all of your tips. It really helped me tackle the toiletries part off my list of things to do! Tank you!


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