What’s In My Pre-Packed Travel Toiletry Bag?

For me, the excitement of a new adventure begins when I start accumulating a pile of “trip clothes”. Within a few days, the pile grows, so much so that the suitcase comes out and the actual process, one I have been anticipating for weeks, officially begins.

However as much as I love to pack, coordinating colors, outfits and the like, I loathe the last part of the packing process, stocking the toiletry bag. I keep a collection of travel-sized products in a cosmetic bag the size of a small baby. Weeding through that collection to find the bare necessities tends to turn into several hours of work. Over the years, I have turned my hate into something more productive and useful.

If you are like me, struggling with this last stage of packing, I have come up with a solution that has aided me when I pack and travel, the pre-packed toiletry bag. These are my permanent travel toiletry bag fixtures, those that will always travel with me, all set to go even when I’m not traveling.

Travel Size Bar of Soap

I used to travel with several 3oz tubes of body wash. They took up unending space in my jam-packed Ziploc bag and in my toiletry bag. After traveling for years now, I have made the move to a bar of soap. Not only does it cost less than body wash, but a travel sized bar lasts me a whole month of travel. Whenever I think my supply of these beauty bars are low, I grab one at the supermarket. They usually run under a $1 or just over a $1. If a last minute trip presents itself, I am ready to go in the cleanliness department. I don’t have to worry about searching for tiny bottles of body wash and losing space in my liquid bag.


Travel Toothbrush

In all of my years of travel, I can’t believe it took this long to make the transition from hauling my large toothbrush around the globe with a cumbersome case around it to a travel sized toothbrush. I would always have trouble fitting the lengthy toothbrush into small cosmetic bags to take on the plane for long haul flights. Now I always keep this mini-tooth brush in my permanent go-to toiletry bag. The brush itself is not too small like some travel toothbrushes can be. The last thing I want to do when I get home from a long trip is unpack, especially my toiletry bag. I don’t have to for my toothbrush at home never leaves its cup in my bathroom.


Mini Pain Relievers

For some reason, I always need an Advil when I travel when I have forgotten to pack one. To solve this lapse in memory, I always have a mini-bottle of pain relievers in my permanent toiletry bag so that I am never without basic medicine. My medicine cabinet at home doesn’t always make my travel checklist so buying smaller mini bottles of pills help with my forgetfulness.

Travel Hairbrush

My hair is long, fine and tangles easily. You wouldn’t think fine hair would be an issue, but I have a lot of it. I had always packed my large hairbrush for I have never found travel sized hairbrushes that didn’t pullout my hair every time I tried to brush. However this mini hairbrush gets the job done. Combing my hair doesn’t turn into a sob-fest and I still save the room in my bag. I can throw this hairbrush virtually anywhere in my bag and I know I am covered when those airplane seat tangles make me look like the bird lady in Mary Poppins.


Slipper Socks

On long haul flights or car trips, I would scramble to find some socks to put on my feet when it turned cold. The problem with big, bulky socks is that they look like socks. When you slip off your shoes on a flight, you become that person with stinky socks and feet. Instead I now travel with these slipper socks from Old Navy. They look very similar to flats, but provide that warmth and comfort you need on plane rides. They also have grippers on the bottom so that I am not slipping and sliding around the airplane on less than cleanly surfaces.


Small Loofah

There is nothing worst than packing up a large loofah when you travel. It doesn’t dry quickly or even ring out quickly. Also it is a drag when you get home and have to unpack more toiletries and items you will need to shower with after 24 hours of travel. I keep this small loofah permanently in my go-to toiletry bag. It is small enough that I can ring it out on a towel when I travel and it is dry. Also I never have to worry about trying to suds up that bar of soap with a creepy hotel towel.

Solid perfume

Nothing can make you feel cleaner while traveling than a nice spray of perfume (or cologne for men). I have long tangled with this mess. I have split bottles of travel-sized perfume and broken glass. I have filled up travel spray bottles and wound up smelling like a grandma. To solve the problem and still come out smelling like roses, I pack a solid perfume. This one from Crabtree & Evelyn eliminates any of the mess of a regular glass bottle or perfume or the bulky body splash bottle.

 What’s in your permanent travel toiletry bag? I can always use more tips on how to make the toiletry packing process easier. If anyone has solved the travel shampoo and conditioner dilemma, please teach me your ways.


  1. says

    Have you considered a solid shampoo and conditioner? I know that Lush carries them and other bath & body shops might as well. I’ve tried the shampoo before and it takes a bit of work to get a lather but it’s not bad. I haven’t tried conditioner. I have a hard time believing it would really soften and detangle though.

    • says

      I have heard about Lush’s shampoo and conditioner. I have the same concerns about solid conditioners though. My hair tangles so easily, but perhaps I should give the Lush one a try.

      • says

        I have horribly thick, tangly frizzy hair and I swear by the solid conditioner bar from Lush. It can take a bit to learn how to use, but I realized that if I held it under the hot water for a bit, instead of pulling a chunk off, I can just run it over my hair a few times and it works just as well and you don’t spend 3 days smelling like you rolled in a bed of flowers.

      • Katie says

        Totally old post, but I had to comment on Lush’s solid shampoo. I got the Godiva version to make flying easier and ended up using it exclusively even at home. I tried their solid conditioner and it works for short-term traveling, but is too irritating to lather up, so I don’t use that at home.

  2. says

    I honestly think we would be friends in real life! I believe we have some of the same clothes and shoes – is that a polka dot bathing suit? If so, I have a very similar one. I also have that fab little fold-up hairbrush and love it! I keep a pre-packed toiletries kit but have started just using hotel amenities. I used them on my last trip and they worked fine. Some are nicer than others but they all do the job. I also have a small, pre-packed first aid kit that I pack. I have used it several times for blisters, colds, headaches, etc. Really handy.

    • says

      Ahh the first aid kit! That’s a good tip. I always need a band aid when I don’t have one. Yes, it’s a polka-dot swimsuit. I love it! Glad to see we both have good taste ha.

    • says

      I just have a soap dish from the supermarket I use. You can find them almost anywhere. They dry out the soap and keep it contained so you don’t have suds everywhere!

  3. says

    This is a great list and very similar to mine. I’m partial to using 3oz bottles and hotel complimentary bar soaps =) I need my set of facial cleansing wipes though and with having kids – a first aid kit is a must. Thanks for the slipper socks tip. I will need to look for it at Old Navy.

  4. says

    Wow, I’ve never seen solid perfume before! 😀

    And why on earth did I never think about buying soap instead of body washes? I feel so slow. Haha.

    I do have to add that one of my ‘must haves’ for my toiletry back is a pack of face wipes. They’re the only way I can remove my makeup properly at the end of the day and they also remove any dirt or yuckiness that’s clung to my skin when I’ve been travelling.

  5. says

    I actually also pack a makeup palette, because it is small, has all the things you need to look pretty (eye shadows, blush and bronzer)and doesn’t have to go in your 3-1-1 either.

  6. says

    I never thought of bar soap because I don’t generally like to use it at home, but it really does make sense to travel with. I started traveling with makeup remover face wipes instead of face wash recently, and that’s a godsend in terms of liquids space (and great for washing your face if u are hiking/camping).

    Like Shereen I have to have my makeup, but having sold Mary Kay products I have tons of makeup that works for a traveler. All their different compact styles have magnetic parts that fit into it, so you can configure different shadows, blushes, etc… great for having diff. makeup options for different trips. I’m actually working on a post now which features this compact because the product has been a great travel face tool for me. Chapstick is also definitely a must.

    I have to look into this bar shampoo thing – I never knew. Thanks for the tips.

  7. says

    Wow, I never knew you could get solid perfume, and from the comments, solid shampoo & conditioner. I’ve been sticking to palm sized bottles for shower gel, shampoo et al.

  8. says

    Travel size toiletries are my #1 item. I go to a place like Target (or Tesco, ASDA, Walmart) and buy a bunch of the $1 toothbrushes, toothpastes, soaps, and whatever else I need. Whether I stay in a hotel one night or many, I always just pitch everything I opened. So I pack based on the # of hotels I am in (current trip: 5 weeks, 7 hotels. So I packed 7 $1 toothbrushes, toothpastes, soaps, and so on).

    These keeps everything clean and fresh, and avoids carrying around wet, used, and dirty toiletries.

  9. Jill says

    I have seen where Walgreens also sells another brand of solid shampoo and conditioner along with etsy.com. I always have dental floss/floss picks and toothpaste in my bag as well and q-tips. There is also a clear flexible tape that I get on the band-aide isle and it is amazing for preventing blisters on your feet (it looks like a tape dispenser). I have a roll everywhere I go.

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