While packing for my recent trip to Central America, I dug through my supply of travel-sized toiletry bottles and weighed my options. The trip was 3 ½ weeks long, about 24 days total. I knew my 100ml/3.4 ounce shampoo bottle was overkill, but could I get away with only taking the 30ml/1 ounce bottle?
I was skeptical but also unwilling to pack the bigger bottle, so off I went with just 1 ounce of shampoo. I knew I could always buy more on the road if I had to, so it wasn’t really a risk. And every time I shampooed my hair, I jotted down the date in my phone to keep track of how long the shampoo lasted.
How long can you travel with just 1 oz of shampoo?
At the end of the trip, I counted up the dates. I had shampooed my hair 12 times in 24 days. And I STILL had shampoo left! So I kept using the travel bottle when I got home, and I got another 5 shampoos out of it. That’s 17 washes total with only 1 ounce of shampoo!
I have thin, fine hair. At the time it was a little longer than my profile picture at the bottom of this post. I made a conscious effort to use as little as possible, and I definitely learned that I don’t need to use as much shampoo as I thought I did, despite the fact that my hair is oily. If you have thicker hair or longer hair, you might need a little more shampoo. If you have short hair, you can probably make your shampoo stretch even longer.
What our readers say about their travel-sized shampoo
When I got back home, I asked the ladies in our HPLWorld community how long their travel toiletries last, and here are some of the responses:
Michelle: I use Lush shampoo bars (when I travel and at home because no packaging!) I was in Central America for 3 1/2 months and I didn’t even go through the entire bar! So I’d say I probably go through about a bar every 4-5 months. I go through sunscreen soooooo quickly though (like, a bottle every two weeks).
Karina: Til late last year when I moved to Lush solid shampoo I usually took 2 X 100ml bottles for 6-7 week trips each year and brought one back half full. 40ml roll on deodorant lasts that 7 weeks. 15ml toothpaste. 30ml moisturiser. 50ml sunscreen. 150ml contact lens solution (the no rub kind). 1 sunscreen lip balm stick. For the lush bar usage – I bought my bar mid Oct and have been using every 3 to 4 days on very long hair and it’s about a third of its original size so it’s lasting well.
Meissoun: I usually don’t bring any shampoo. Most hotels provide it. Or if I am in a country where service is cheap, I get it washed at a salon. (I usually wash my hair every 4 days.)
Shawn: On my last month-long trip I used 3 little hotel bottles of shampoo, but a full bottle of conditioner. It’s going to be so different for each person. I have really long hair but I co-wash, and only use shampoo about half the time.
Meredith: I wash my hair 2-3 times/week. When washing 3 times a week, a bar will usually last me about three months (give or take, my boyfriend uses the bar too sometimes) and I have been using Lush bars for about 3 years. When I’m traveling I tend to bring the bar with me and then if I am staying in a place for an extended period of time I will buy some shampoo in a local store. Cuts down on my liquids in my carry on and will make my shampoo bar last for a very long time.
Annemette: 60 ml is enough for me for 4 weeks.
>>Want more about travel shampoo options? Check out these helpful posts:
- Best Concentrated Shampoo for Travel
- Cut Out Shampoo Completely: The No Poo Method
- The One Little Thing: Dry Shampoo
Travel-sized deodorants: How long do they last?
We asked HPL readers in the past about their travel-sized deodorant, and these were the responses:
Cailin: I’d say a month max.
Flissy: I can answer this! Travel size secret lasts 2 weeks. I WISH it were half the size of a regular deo. Doesn’t seem like much considering how (relatively) bulky the container is.
Roni: I never take travel sizes, I always take the regular one because I don’t ever want to run out. And it can go in my carry-on.
Kaylin: I guess it depends on what kind of deodorant it is. I find the stick kind lasts longer than the spray-on…
Cailey: I took a travel size for a month and that would have lasted just fine. HOWEVER, I was in Africa and the days were very hot and it made the deodorant melty and it fell out of the tube in a big chunk. I couldn’t throw it out though, so I kind of had to make do but it was just such a mess and totally crumbled by the end. If you’re going to a hot climate just keep that in mind!
Suitcase Stories: About 2 weeks for me if its a spray, longer if its a roll on but I’m not keen on those.
George: I had a 50ml deodorant with me this trip, it was pretty good, pretty strong, I’ve been travelling a month, and it’s quarter through, this is a liquid roll on, so it doesn’t melt. Hope that helps.
Hannah: I use this stuff daily and it is amazing. [The Crystal body deodorant stick – see on Amazon]. It’s better for you than normal deodorant and lasts forever. Doesn’t leak and all you need is water (doesn’t even have to be drinking water). They even have travel size which lasts 4 months.
Michelle: I’m with Hannah. I learned a long time ago to pack the Crystal rock deodorant in warm weather since all others just melt and cause a mess in my travel bag. I absolutely love it and if you want a scent, carry some essential oils with you (if you must).
To Travel Too: Lost most of ours when we were in Cusco, Peru due to the altitude and leakage.
Track your toiletry usage before you go
An easy way to figure out how long your travel toiletries will last is to test them out before you leave for your trip. Fill up your travel-sized bottles, use them at home, and keep track of how many uses you get out of each bottle.
Karina says, “Years ago I stuck post-it notes on everything I use and marked them off with every use. So now I have a spreadsheet that tells me what to pack for which length trip.”
Restocking toiletries on the road
If you’re traveling for several months or a year, you KNOW you’ll have to get more shampoo or toothpaste along the way. Buy whatever size travel toiletry bottle you’re comfortable with, and when it starts getting low, pick up more to refill or replace it. Even if you have to buy a bigger bottle, you can carry it around with you as long as it doesn’t bother you and ditch it or donate it to another traveler (after filling your travel bottle to the brim) the next time you have to hop on a flight.
Unless you’re going to an extremely remote location, you will be able to find what you need. It won’t always be the brand you like, but people in other parts of the world do wash their hair, brush their teeth, protect their skin from the sun, and just about anything else you need to do.
Best travel-sized refillable travel bottles
It’s more environmentally friendly and cost effective to get refillable travel bottles instead of buying new travel-sized products every time you travel. But with so many to choose from, it can be difficult to know which ones are the best.
Look for bottles that work well with the product you plan on using it with. Some work better with thinner liquids, while others work with thicker liquids. Some bottles are not compatible with certain chemicals, like alcohols just to name one, so it’s important to read the labels.
Pay attention to the tops as well. Spray tops work for your perfume (try solid perfumes instead), but not for your shampoo. It’s also important to make sure they seal well so your liquids won’t leak out. You don’t want to lose your toiletries OR have a big mess in your bag!
The material the bottle is made out of matters, too. Are the bottles flexible or stiff? How hard will it be for you to squeeze your shampoo out of the bottle? Will it break easily if you drop it on a hard surface? These are all important questions to ask yourself when choosing travel-sized toiletry bottles.
Some we’ve used here at HPL:
Caroline did a great comparison of three different brands of travel bottles which will help you decide which one is best for you.
How long do your travel toiletries last? Let us know in the comments!
Lavilin deodorant! It’s a tiny tub of cream that you apply either daily or every few days depressing on your chemistry/the weather. One tub lasts me about 6 months.
….er, that should be ^depending on your chemistry!
Thanks, this is very helpful! I hate having to buy things on the road and am always paranoid about running out, so it’s nice to have others’ experiences to work with.
I would love more articles like this!
We share (husband and I) the Crystal type deodorant. Lasts about 6 months, is small, light, cheap and effective. Very inexpensive in Asian countries. We always use packing cubes in our packs and always roll our clothing.
I also use the Lush shampoo bars, and they’re amazing. When I’m traveling I also use them to wash my face, body, and even clothes!! (When I’m doing ultralight travel I only bring undies and tops that can be washed out in the sink and dried easily… my jeans just get worn mulltiple times!) The key, though, is keeping them dry – they will melt away in nothing flat if they’re held under the water. It seems counterintuitive, but I get my head wet, then rub the bar on top of it a couple of times and then put the shampoo bar well away from the tap. I also make sure it’s dry before closing it away in the tin; it turns to slime otherwise.
I’ve also just started using Lush’s powdered deodorant for travel, and I like it so far. It smells a little odd in the container (very tea tree) but it seems to neutralize once I put it on my body. I carried a small amount in a snack-size Ziploc bag.
Finally, I just discovered dry toothpaste and like it as well. It may not be for everyone – it’s very baking-soda-heavy. But I’ve been brushing with baking soda (instead of toothpaste) about once a week for awhile because I find it whitens and I really like how clean my mouth feels afterwards. So anyway, I’m kinda used to the taste.
I love this article! I would definitely read more like this.
Little J says
I use JR Liggett’s shampoo bar – similar to Lush but available with Amazon Prime / less scented. Because I have curly, long hair, I don’t shampoo that often (hello frizz!) and when I do it is only my roots, so I’ll tell you how long my shampoo bar lasts, once I use it up. So far I am at a year+ of use and it is still going strong. The key to using a shampoo bar is to remove its wrapper and dry it out ahead of time, and then keep it in a case that allows it to dry quickly when traveling. The brand I use has a case with a hook and a strap and a suction cup so that you can use it in the shower as a shower caddy, but an old pantyhose leg (or in my case a knee high) will work just as well so long as it is suspended and can air dry.
In terms of deodorant and even shampoo, I am slowly transitioning to the world of “Baking Soda for Everything!”. I used a crystal deodorant (which has also survived a year of weekend travels with the occasional week in there and is still going very strong) or a sliced off chunk from regular deodorant. However, since the active ingredient in deodorant is a strong salt, a bit of water and a bit of baking soda can make a (warning: harsh) deodorant in a pinch. Baking soda + water also makes a shampoo in a pinch if your hair is really oily because it saponifies (makes into soap) the oils in your hair and so basically you are using your own hair oils to clean your hair. It can also act as a dentifrice (toothpaste powder).
I’m happy to use hotel toiletries because my skin isn’t picky and I’m juuuuuuuust shy of the courage to travel with a 1c ziplock container of baking soda as a backup toiletry in case the hotel doesn’t provide.
I try to reuse my little pantene bottles (from that one time I had to buy the travel sized ones). It works out pretty well. The bottles are better than the generic ones and I keep the shampoo in the shampoo one and so on. I find toothpaste to be the hard one. I tend to use 1/4 on long trips, but don’t like using old ones because *gasp* what if it runs out?
Anyway, I thanks for making this post. It made me more comfortable with what I’m going to take on my next trip! 🙂
Wow, I know personally that the 2 oz tubes filled full will only last me 4 showers – I still have shampoo left, but have to squeeze out every drop of conditioner! That said I have dry light blonde processed hair, but am naturally oily, and so shower daily, or every day and a half where possible… We are all different! But I need enough conditioner so that I can am actually able to comb out my thin strands!
That doesn’t last you very long at all! You’re right, everyone is different. At least you know how much you need so you know exactly what to pack. And don’t forget that you often buy what you need there to save packing space 🙂
I go on a months trip and spend days at the lake so constant showers were a must and I found I needed at least one travel shampoo worked, I know I ran low a few times. If you spread out good it would last you about 25 uses.