Welcome to Day 16 of 30 Days to Packing a Better Bag.
That includes everything: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, facial moisturizer, facial cleanser, foundation, sunscreen, hair oil, hair spray, toothpaste, mouthwash, laundry wash, serums, and anything else that might come in a liquid, gel or paste form.
That’s a long list of items to worry about, right?
If you’re packing it all into your suitcase, the more liquids you have, the more chance of things going very, very wrong. (Spills are a luggage nightmare!)
With a list that long, that carry-on option isn’t going to fly… literally.
In previous posts, we already discussed investing in some travel sized products, for your hair care especially, but today we’re going to take this into full detail.
Step 1: Cut Items Out
That list at the beginning of this section is extremely long, so to become the packing master you are, you’re going to need to pare it down.
What can you do without on this trip?
- Mouthwash is an easy one to cut out. A trip is temporary, so you can always get back on the mouthwash train when you return home.
- If you learn to embrace your natural hair on this trip, hair spray could be the next cut you make.
- For those that are willing to deal with the free hotel shampoo, conditioner and body soap, that’s another 3 off your long list!
Also consider whether or not you can pick an item up once you arrive at your destination.
Even if you have to spend a buck or two more for it, or have to leave half of it behind when you leave, that cost far outweighs the danger of it spilling or leaking in your bag.
You should also consider the cost of having to check a bag instead of going carry-on only, in addition to the worry of your checked luggage getting lost altogether.
Step 2: Look for Two-in-One items
Another one of our favorite things when packing is to find items that serve multiple purposes.
- Can you handle a shampoo and conditioner in one?
- Instead of a facial moisturizer, foundation and sunscreen, can you pack a BB cream instead?
- Some liquid washing products (like Dr. Bronner’s) claim to serve as body wash, shampoo, toothpaste, laundry wash and dishwashing liquid all in one.
These could also cut back on a number of liquid items you have to pack.
Step 3: Repackage Everything
Repackaging your liquids, gels and creams has two main benefits:
- It puts them into leak-proof containers.
- It cuts back on unnecessary space and weight usage.
Transfer Your Liquids to Leak-proof Containers
Most items these days are also sold in travel sized bottles, but those bottles aren’t always designed to avoid leakage to the best of their ability. For that reason, it is wise to invest in small leak-proof bottles, like those of Nalgene, and transfer the amount of product you need to them.
When flying, the pressure has a tendency to pop bottles and caps open, or cause just enough pressure so they leak. Quality travel bottles will help avoid this issue.
Recommended Travel Bottles
Nalgene Travel Bottles: I’m a big proponent of Nalgene travel bottles as I have been using them for over a decade without a single leak… ever. The only downside is that they do not squeeze. If you have large fingers, you can also find it difficult to get some of the product out. I don’t have that issue, though.
If your priority is leak protection, these can’t be beat.
Remove Wasted Space and Weight from Unnecessary Packaging
Besides preventing leakage in luggage, the space and weight that can be saved when repackaging is invaluable.
Think about it. A small jar of facial cream will often contain something in the lines of 25% or more of just the container.
When traveling, recognizing this extra space packaging takes up and figuring out a way around it is one of our top ways to become a packing master.
In your carry-on bag:
Pack only as much product as you need by transferring your liquids to small containers (or even contact lens cases).
Remember: If going in your carry-on, these travel-sized bottles must be no larger than 100ml or 3.4 ounces.
However… a standard travel-sized bottle might actually be TOO MUCH product for your trip length. If you pack a 3.4 oz bottle of moisturizer for a 1-week trip, you might still be overpacking. Cut back on wasted space and weight by going smaller and taking only what you need.
- See this tip in action with my full toiletry kit inside my 12L handbag packing list.
In your checked bag:
Do not, whatever you do, pack full-size bottles of shampoo and conditioner. A couple of giant bottles can weigh up to a pound, and that’s not including any other full-sized bottles of product you might bring.
When airlines put so much restriction on the weight and size of your luggage, the smallest subtractions can make a huge difference in the amount of money you might pay at check-in. Forty extra dollars for a last-minute checked bag is not fun to have to pay.
Step 4: Look for Solid Versions
Many toiletries can be found in a solid, non-liquid form. This means you won’t have to worry about spills and leaks in your luggage, or about having other liquids to stuff into your tiny 1-quart bag in your carry-on.
While solid shampoos aren’t for everyone, they are an option that should be embraced by those who can. You can even dabble in solid conditioner bars for a double win. Go with a bar body soap, as well.
In addition to these options, it is possible to invest in other solid toiletries like toothpaste tablets, solid perfumes, solid lotions and laundry soap sheets.
Remember, every little bit counts!
- Read about the best solid toiletry options for travelers.
Step 5: Look for Different Carrying Options
These options give you less chance of messy leaks in your luggage.
Do wet wipes count as liquids on a plane?
Wet wipes actually act as a solid and therefore do NOT count towards your liquid restrictions when flying.
How to Pack Liquid Toiletries
When placing your liquid products in your luggage, even if they are in travel sized and leak-proof bottles, we recommend having them in a special place of their own. A good toiletries bag is great because it helps you compartmentalize your belongings while also providing an extra barrier between any potential leaks and the rest of your gear.
If you have only invested in buying travel size products, we’d recommend also putting them in a reusable ziplock bag (alternative) for extra security.
When packing your liquids for carry-on, it is wise to take the smallest size bottles and containers as possible. Every little bit of space and weight matters!
Again, Nalgene has a great selection of 1 and 2-ounce bottles (and even .5oz or .25oz) that are great for face creams, hair gels, laundry wash and so on. Mix and match in order to maximize the space in your small 1-quart plastic bag.
- Read our post on the best travel toiletry bottles.
Take Action: Minimize and Pack Your Toiletries
Re-read this post going through all the points with your packing list in mind. What can you take off your list, what can you substitute for something else, and is there a solid version that might serve you better?
After that, invest in some travel sized bottles and repackage your liquids into a smaller and much more manageable size. Then, enjoy the sight of how much less space your toiletries will take up.
Let us know how you go in the comments below.