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30 Days to Packing a Better Bag – Day 15: Travel Size Hair Products

Day 15: Explore the world of travel sized hair products.

Welcome to Day 15 of 30 Days to Packing a Better Bag.

When it comes to staying fashionable on the road, keeping hair maintained can play a big part in that. Women with hair that is prone to frizz may not hesitate in making room for travel hair products on their packing lists. But do you really need to be chained to 20 pounds of haircare items in order to maintain that look on the road?

We say nay. With a bit of forethought and planning, your travel hair packing section can be reduced significantly. Trust us!

Ditch the Full Size Bottles

We firmly believe that virtually every trip can be taken without the need to pack full sized bottles of hair product. Here are some questions worth asking if you don’t agree:

    • How often do you wash your hair? If you wash your hair every few days and are only going away for 1-2 weeks, then a full sized bottle of shampoo or conditioner is obsolete.
    • Do you want to deal with extra weight from bulk bottles in your bag? We’ve seen them. Some of those shampoo and conditioner bottles could pose as a weapon because of their giant size.
    • Do you want to travel with the chance of spills and leaks? Regular bottles of shampoo and conditioner, and other hair products, aren’t made with the idea of travel in mind. Get them up in the air, with a bit of pressure, and pop! Leakage galore.
  • Can you buy your hair product, or something similar, abroad? You’d be surprised what you can buy in the most random places in the world. Pantene, for example, is a very popular brand that can even be purchased in countries like Kyrgyzstan.

So what’s the alternative to bringing normal sized bottles of hair care products on your travels?

    • Purchase travel size hair products, which are available in nearly every brand and for every hair style. Many salon brands are now sold in travel sizes. You can purchase in advance and place into your carry on.
    • Buy product when you arrive at your destination; leave it behind when you head back home.
  • Repackage your hair care products into special travel bottles. Pitotubes offer a set with a variety of tops for squirt or spray, allowing you to pack everything from hairspray to shampoo. GoToobs are easy to squeeze and come with a nice no-drop valve, but tiny Nalgene bottles provide excellent protection from leaks and tend to be our number one recommendation for travel bottles for that fact alone.
shampoo replacements
Fill travel sized bottles (the kind that are leak-resistant) with your favorite shampoo and conditioner. GoToobs are featured in this photo.

Planning Ahead to Save on Space

    • Call or email your intended accommodation to see what types of products they provide. Many women travel with a blow dryer or flat iron as their luxury hair care piece, but even some hostels will offer blow dryers these days.
    • Split and share with friends. Are you traveling with another female or two? See if you can’t share that pump hair spray or flat iron and cut back on wasted weight and space.
    • Check with other travelers who have been where you are going. Find out if your “preferred” products can be found in that destination and plan to refill as you go.
  • Look for fun ways to embrace your natural hair on the road. Learn some easy and cute up-dos, or integrate scarves and headbands into the mix. These are great ways to manage hair with minimal product.

What to Bring

Travel sized brush – A popular model is the fold-up brush and mirror combo, but even high-end brushes can be bought in travel size. They can be more difficult for styling purposes, but save room, which is the name of the game here at Her Packing List. You might also consider a comb or pick depending on your hair type.

Headbands – Headbands are the ultimate travel hair accessory as they keep the hair out of your face, can make it more manageable, and help to hide your 2nd, 3rd, or 4th day hair if need be. The Buff is another good option that can also serve as a neck wrap, scarf and beanie.

Hair ties – Look for types without the metal clasps, which prevent damage and the pain of getting hair stuck in the metal! Hair ties are essential for women with longer hair that plan to be outside in the sun and wind.

Hair spray – Don’t pack aerosols if you want to go carry on only. There are some pump alternatives for keeping your hair under control, but as always, we worry about leakage when it comes to packing those extra liquids. Alternatively look for products like gels and pomades.

Blow dryer – Most hotel rooms have blow dryers and even hostels allow you to rent them, so consider that before packing. If you do decide to bring your blow dryer, try to find a travel version that will take up less room in addition to coming with dual voltage settings.

Flat iron – Many traveling females swear by their straighteners and can’t leave home without it. Again, look for a travel variety if you bring one at all, but we highly recommend trying to embrace your natural hair on the road instead!

Liquid Shampoo and Conditioner – As stated earlier, if you decide to pack liquid shampoo and conditioner, go with travel size. If not repackaging into special leak-proof bottles, we suggest taping the lids before you leave and putting them in a plastic bag. Airplane cabin pressure is usually what causes leaks. Just remember to go with TSA compliant sizes!

Solid Shampoo and Conditioner – Solid shampoos and conditioners are convenient for avoiding the liquid restrictions, if your scalp and hair can handle them. Lush makes a variety in some great smells and from all natural ingredients.

Dry Shampoo – Dry shampoo is not an alternative to washing your hair, but it’s a great thing to have for those in between showering or hair-washing days. It soaks up the oil in your scalp to make it look cleaner. Tip: Baby powder is an alternative for those with light hair.

Extra Reading: Shampoo Options for Female Travelers; Leaky bottles? No, thank you!

Take Action: Choose Your Travel Hair Products
Evaluate your packing list. See if you can cross items like hair spray and blow dryers off your list. Look for alternatives, such as buying at your destination, sharing with friends, or using solid versions. Invest in travel sized versions of the necessities like hairbrushes, blow dryers, and shampoos, or repackage all your hair care items into travel tubes and bottles. Learn to embrace your natural hair.

Our post tomorrow will discuss this topic further.

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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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. Sarah says

    When I travel I use a solid shampoo and conditioner…and sometimes bring a hairdryer (if it’s winter). I’ve got curly hair, so I’m no sulfate, no silicone, and I’ve also got a soy allergy, so I get my bars from Chagrin Valley and Milk and Honey Naturals and I really love both of them–they’ve got great customer service! (I’m not affiliated with either one of these brands)

  2. Katja says

    I’d like to add that if you want to flat iron or blow dry your hair you really need to use a heat protector, or it will be fried all to hell. With that in mind, I’d suggest a better option is a leave in hair treatment. If you pick the right one for your hair I promise it’ll make embracing your natural hair a much more attractive prospect. 🙂

  3. Mary says


    Thanks for the brand names! I’ve got curly hair too, and I’ve been looking for a “no cone” solid conditioner and a “no poo” solid shampoo.

  4. Jennifer says

    People with curly hair don’t need shampoo at all, and if you aren’t drying your curls out with shampoo you can get away with less gel, spray, etc. because your hair will be more happy and cooperative. 😉

  5. Harmony says

    I took the plunge and cut off my mid-back length hair into a pixie cut. I haven’t had hair this short since I was 1 years old. It definitely cuts back on the amount of shampoo / conditioner I use. I need very minimal styling product, and I can bring a small comb instead of a hair brush. If it looks like poop, I just throw on my buff headwear.


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