A toiletries kit can make up a large percentage of your luggage, or it could be so small it’s barely noticeable. Purging your toiletries can be a great way to lighten your packing, but there are some things that you really shouldn’t be without.
As a general rule, choose things that are in containers smaller than 100ml so that you can carry your toiletries on the plane with you — this also encourages you to pack light! Keep the small bottles and refill them as you go; if you’re travelling with someone you can split the cost of a larger bottle of shampoo (or whatever) then decant it into your two separate bottles, leaving the large one behind.
Choose a roll-on to avoid problems with aerosols on planes; spray deodorant usually comes in containers larger than 100ml anyway.
2. Soap and/or shampoo
There are many options when it comes to soap. Lush makes a shampoo soap that’s suitable for washing your hair and body, or you could just use regular shampoo as a body wash. We use Head & Shoulders two-in-one and use a Lush container to carry around a medium-sized soap. We also have a small collection of hotel-sized soaps, just in case.
3. Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss
It’s a good idea to get a plastic cover for your toothbrush head to keep it separate from the other things in the toiletries case. Check that the toothpaste is 100ml or less as most tubes are just a little over — most supermarkets have at least one smaller option. Dental floss doubles as minty-fresh string.
4. Comb, hair gel, hair ties
You’ll know what your hair needs, but I discovered that a comb works just as well as a brush while taking up a fraction of the space. I don’t use the gel that often, but it is necessary in humid environments, or will be until frizz becomes cool. Boys, feel free to leave out the hairties.
5. Nail clippers and tweezers
You might not use them every day, but you’ll be surprised at how useful they are. Cutting your nails with paper scissors is not fun. Believe me.
6. Moisturiser and sunscreen
How much you need these will depend on your destination, but it’s worth having a small container of both. When travelling in the South Pacific, you should use sunscreen everyday as the hole in the ozone layer makes the sun more vicious than you might be used to.
7. Razor, shaving gel
Generally a razor with replaceable cartridges is a better idea than disposable ones that lose their edge and rust up with alarming alacrity. When it comes to lubricant, a gel will go further than foam, or you could try the tiny bottles of shaving oil that King of Shaves make.
8. Contact lenses, solution, eyedrops
If you are not blessed with perfect vision, contact lenses, solution and eyedrops should go in the case too. Consider getting daily lenses if you don’t wear contacts that often, as they are easier to transport and don’t weigh very much: less than the bottle of solution that you won’t need if you chooses dailies.
9. (Girls only): Makeup
Actually, you don’t need makeup at all. If you wear it at home, start to cut down a bit before your trip… You’re gorgeous enough without it. Plus, you can save a lot of time in the mornings if you cut makeup out of the equation.
However, it is nice to be able to get a bit dressed up, and two or three items can make all the difference: a lip liner, an eyeliner and mascara. Use lip balm under the lip liner to make it look more like lipstick. Do not pack foundation or powder. Similarly, avoid nail polish as it constantly needs to be touched up.
How big your toiletries case is depends on how ruthless you are. We tried to cut down by buying a tiny case that could only hold the essentials, but ended up with an extra plastic bag of shampoo and hairgel secreted in another section of the backpack that we tried to ignore. In the end we bowed to the inevitable and decided to use a larger bag that fits everything, even full-size shampoo bottles (not that we have any of those…). Find a solution that suits you and don’t skimp on the necessities: those around you will thank you.