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How do I pare down my toiletries?

Dear Editors,

OK, so I’m fine with packing fewer clothes, making pieces do double-duty, etc. How in the world do I pare down my toiletries? For a short trip, I can skip my shampoo/conditioner, maybe even body lotion. But what about sunscreen, day lotion, night lotion, hair products, etc. I’ve managed to downsize before, but I’ve had to do without certain things I like and usually come home with fried hair and rebellious skin. Any tips, please?

Melissa


Hi Melissa,

I’ve been hopping on and off of planes on a regular basis for years, and guess what? I still haven’t mastered this one yet! I, too, have products galore and struggle when I’m forced to choose which ones I must leave behind when I travel. Over the years, I’ve managed to develop a few toiletry strategies that I follow…all works in progress. Here they are:

1. Buy when you arrive. Even though it may not seem like it at first, buying your toiletries in your destination is sometimes the easiest way to go. It relieves the stress of trying to pare down and gives you extra room in your suitcase. I use this strategy when I’m headed to a big city where there’s a drugstore on every corner, and I just buy travel size soaps, lotions and shampoos to use while I’m there.

2. Think small(er). For short trips where I may not have time to pop into a drugstore, I take a very small amount of each thing that I will need. I’ve actually found that most travel size bottles are still too big, so I’ve begun to hoard tiny bottles and jars from various cosmetics that I use. My eye makeup comes in tiny pots, for example. Once they’re empty, I use those to store everything from body lotion to hair cream. I’ve also started asking my choice cosmetic counters for samples of products when I buy them, and I save those for my travels.

3. Just check it. When I’m going on longer trips where I can’t pare down to itty bitty jars, I suck it up, pack what I want and check my bag. Sometimes, you just have to accept the fact that looking fabulous is going to cost you $25 each way!

Hope this helps with your dilemma!

Happy Travels,

Jennifer

Jennifer

My name: Jennifer Gaines, but my friends call me Gaines, Jenni-Dallas or just plain Jenn.

(Find me on Twitter @jenngaines)

Travel ambitions: It's my mission to visit each of the New 7 Wonders and to step foot on every continent before my next milestone birthday.

Greatest travel lesson learned: Find the local hangouts to experience the real, true culture of a place. During a trip to Europe, my friends and I spent several days with a French family in the small town of Vichy. We had a private party in their family-run creperie, feasting on cheese-stuffed crepes and sampling wine that we picked up in the Bordeaux region a few days earlier. Their English wasn’t much better than my French, which is limited to a few well-known phrases from Moulin Rouge and the question: Parlez-vous anglais? (I'm proud to say that I can spout this question off in several different languages, and luckily most Europeans do indeed speak English!) After a few bottles of wine, the language barrier was hardly noticeable (slurring actually sounds the same in French!), and we managed to swap stories about life in other places. What a slice of local flavor!

My most beloved place in the whole world is: My grandparents place in Texas. It’s a 10-acre oasis in between two sprawling cities: Dallas and Fort Worth. A creek runs through their enormous backyard, where Granddad built a deck over the water. The entire place is shrouded with all types of trees (mainly pecan), blocking the Texas sun in the summer. Dusk is the best time to sit on the deck, drink a glass of ice tea and watch baby raccoons from the spring litter surround their back porch as Gram feeds them bread (no lie!). There will be dozens of raccoons eating on any given night. In the fall, my family gathers in the courtyard in front of their house for an annual “weenie roast.” Granddad lights the bonfire, and we roast dogs and s'mores. Yes, y’all, we’re from Texas!

Favorite way to get around: Well, I’m not much of a driver. I get lost easily and my tires have never come across a curb they didn’t want to get to know a little better. But, I do enjoy cruising around and listening to music. That said, I much rather explore a place by foot (with my iPod in tow) for a more intimate encounter.

View that took my breath away: Coming from Texas (where the view is wide but there’s not much to see), scenes from my new home of San Francisco never fail to amaze me. The city is a pedestrian’s dream, but don’t forget to turn around and look behind you as you meander through its neighborhoods. You won’t realize it, but you’ll be at the tip-top of a hill and the ocean will suddenly seem to be at eye level. Take a drive through the Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge where even more stunning views await!

Comments

stag weekends nottingham
Reply

Some hardy souls use soap, but my fair, sensitive skin demands something with more lubricative value. A remarkably effective alternative to a (bulky, often aerosol) container of shaving cream is shaving oil,

Amanda Inglis
Reply

Interesting dilema – as carriers charge for hold luggage more and more passengers look to fly with hand luggage only, however the current ridiculous security requirements that no more than 100ml of liquid be carried on a flight means that many people simply leave health and beauty products behind choosing instead to purchase them on arrival – only to then throw them away before the return flight. This sort of waste makes my blood boil and is totally unecessary.

villa benissa
Reply

Thanks for this knowledge its make to get good knowledge and prepare for my next travel trip.Toiletries is the one of the important part to carry during travel.

leeleelew
Reply

If we are staying at a resort or good hotel, those type of toiletries are always available, with few exceptions. If it is not my usual brand, I just suck it up and use their not so great shampoo a couple of times until I get home. I also take any that are left when I check out and save them for the next trip. They are usually the perfect size for TSA regulations.

S. Sanders
Reply

Paying the $25.00 baggage fee might actuall be cheaper than buying all the products you need when you arrive at your destination…..think about it!

Minnie2Zig
Reply

I save “Free Samples” that come in my mail.There is always a shampoo and a conditioner in the small,flat package.I also save “Samples” of face creams, body lotions,etc.A week or more supply takes less space than a pocket pack of tissue and can fit in anywhere easily.

ldeland
Reply

-Buying stuff there seems really wasteful and may not be that much cheaper than paying the baggage fee!
-Free hotel stuff and samples are good- if you have to have your brand, go to a camping supply store- they have lots of little bottles/ containers you can fill with your stuff.
-If you really need lots your own products, you can often mail them to your destination for much less than paying the full $25 baggage fee. Just let your hotel/ resort know that it’s coming! BOnus- you can mail the stuff back home, with a few souveniers as well.

Susan
Reply

All comments helpful but I agree that on a long trip, take what you want and check it in. It’s worth it!

deborah
Reply

When you are at your favorite department store, ask for samples of your favorite products. Some stores (Nordstrom, Sephora) will even make you samples in tiny jars, if they don’t have any pre-made. Sometimes, they will give you a few of their tiny jars! Go to a crafting-type store and purchase the little plastic containers for paints (tight lids) or in the bead section.

Just be sure to label the container with a permanent marker!

Susan Smith
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Nothing touches my hair or face that aren’t my brands. I decant them into camping size containers with refills in a checked bag for trips over a week. The perfect plan – EXCEPT for contacts. The saline solution comes in 4 oz bottles and decanting loses the sterility. That means a checked bag for 4 ounces! If there’s a drugstore at my destination, I can buy a pack of 3 bottles and then throw them away before I leave. Colossal waste of time, money, packaging, etc.

Nancy Chandler
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Why would I want to waste time”shopping” on vacation, when I could be doing something fun………bring what you need, just think of really what you need and nothing more…………no shopping on vacation for me!!!

DJR
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Some of the things I pack in my “dry” cosmetic bag include: Olay (or other) face washing cloths; intuition razor blades (includes a solid form of shaving lotion); Bobbi Brown foundation stick. I bring my own conditioner (in a smaller bottle), but use the hotel shampoo. Packing a separate “liquid” and “dry” bag ensures I’m not overloading my zippered bag with things that don’t need to go in it. Think about sizes and how much you fill them, how much are you really going to use during your trip? As for contact solution, there is technically a TSA exception – but I’ve never pushed it. When I buy the 2-pack of Clear Care, a 3oz bottle is included.

BT
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I agree with the comments above. However, I take as few liquid/cream items as possible in my carryon luggage (which is how I prefer to travel. And some TSA people over look items while others consider an item as a cream that isn’t. I traveled from Pittsburgh to California, Texas, Utah, and Arizona in one long trip last September. I got held up in my last stop by TSA in training. When I first checked my bag in July traveling from Alabama to Pittsburgh, my checked bag got torn up in baggage claim. I saw where it happened and when it happened. So even checking your bag isn’t always the safest, besides the possibility of it getting ‘lost’. Ultimately, I guess we just have to take our chances. I would hate to have to throw away items purchased at my destination. Our things cost too much money.

BT
Reply

I agree with the comments above. However, I take as few liquid/cream items as possible in my carryon luggage (which is how I prefer to travel. And some TSA people over look items while others consider an item as a cream that isn’t. I traveled from Pittsburgh to California, Texas, Utah, and Arizona in one long trip last September. I got held up in my last stop by TSA in training. When I first checked my bag in July traveling from Alabama to Pittsburgh, my checked bag got torn up in baggage claim. I saw where it happened and when it happened. So even checking your bag isn’t always the safest, besides the possibility of it getting ‘lost’. Ultimately, I guess we just have to take our chances. I would hate to have to throw away items purchased at my destination. Our things cost too much money.

PWW
Reply

May I help you with your grammar? Your quote below should read, “bringing FEWER toiletries”. In the second sentence, “on how to pack FEWER products” would be correct.

Things you can count–use “fewer”; things that you weight or measure–use “less”.

You wrote:
For some of us, when it comes to packing, bringing less toiletries is no easy matter. Get tips on how to pack less products and still look your best when you’re on the go.

stace
Reply

I completely agree that I wouldn’t want to hunt down specific products in an unfamiliar city and I transfer my must haves to little camping jars.

I’m generally not overly fussy about specific products as long as they’re good products that meet my skin’s needs. I tend to buy lancome, products when they have a free gift with purchase and persuade the salesgirl to sub as many eye makeup remover samples as I can for the eyeshadows etc that I don’t really use (not that I don’t use the eyeshadows, I’m just particular and the sample shades are so generic that I’d rather have a product I love). Anyways, the lancome eye makeup remover is the BEST eye makeup remover ever and the samples are perfect for traveling.
I agree with the comments about using hotel shampoo and bringing your own conditioner. regarding face wash I pack as many of those presoaked face wipes in a ziplock bag as I will need.

I don’t wear contacts, and don’t know about the TSA exception but if space is an issue what about sterilizing a little glass jar and metal lid (i’m thinking about the tiny ones from some specialty jam in a gift basket) by boiling in water… would that work?

Please correct my grammer and slpeling its midnite and im to lasy

arisaidh
Reply

I am an elementary teacher who has spent every summer since 2001 in Scotland. Since I travel on a “shoestring” (actually a fine silk thread is more appropriate), I use every budget idea that is useful to me. I do take all of my toiletries in tiny bottles that I have saved from one thing or another. The difference is, I am glad when those bottles are empty. Their contents last for a few days, then I go shopping. Shopping in a drugstore, grocery store, or dollar/pound store is an exciting experience. I create an opportunity to speak with some of the city’s inhabitants. I think of a valid question to ask a clerk. One of my favorites is, “I am unfamiliar with this brand. Can you offer a suggestion or help me with that?” Or, “This is my first time in your shop. Can you tell me what is the most favored toothpaste, antiperspirant, etc. locally?”

I have been known to spend most of an afternoon in a large, busy grocery store. I learned a great deal about Inverness inhabitants by discreetly noticing what other individuals have in their carts, and “taking my time” in different areas of the store, such as dairy products or produce.

Try shopping locally, it is a great cultural experience that you seldom get at museums,exhibitions, or other “touristy” places.

Jan
Reply

Check ebay for sample size toiletries. I buy Clinique travel sizes there.

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