You need to think more carefully about your travel toiletry items if you are travelling for a longer period of time and staying in 2-3 star hotels or other accommodation away from major cities than if you are staying in a big hotel or resort for a few days. This post describes some of the items that over the years I have found to be essential in my toiletry kit when I travel to some of the more remote and unusual destinations.
First step is to get a good toilet bag – I travel with two different toilet bags:
- a small 1 litre clear plastic zip up one that I can use in my carry-on luggage and is much stronger than a plastic bag. In this one I carry very small containers of basic toiletries. It can also be very useful when you are travelling on an overnight train or when you have to pack just a small back-pack to go on an overnight adventure somewhere.
- a larger toilet bag that opens right out with different compartments and has a hook for hanging it up. This is really useful in some of the tinier bathrooms that have nowhere to put anything and you don’t want to put your things on the floor.
1. Hand Sanitizer
I always carry hand sanitizer with me on my travels. I keep a small bottle in my hand bag along with some tissues for those public toilets that are lacking in facilities such as toilet paper, soap or water. It is really good to get into the habit of sanitizing your hands regularly to avoid foreign bugs that can make your trip a misery. I’m told that money can be one of the worst carriers of bugs so good to sanitize after handling it, and of course before eating any food. I usually have some Sanitizing Wipes with me in my day pack as well for when you need to remove dirt or stickiness as well as the bugs.
2. Facial Cleansing Wipes
I now take cleansing wipes with me instead of cleanser and a flannel because I found that my flannel never dried and it would start to smell after a few days in my toilet bag. Cleansing wipes are disposable and have the advantage that the pack gets smaller as you progress through your trip and need more room in your bag for things you’ve bought along the way. They are also fantastic for a “sponge bath” when you don’t have access to a shower such as travelling on an overnight train or just want to quickly freshen up before your next adventure.
3. Insect Repellent
Most people just think about malaria when they are travelling to hot countries but there are lots of different insect-borne diseases and plenty that are transmitted by daytime flying mosquitoes e.g. dengue fever, chikungunya fever and yellow fever. If you are going to an area that is low risk for malaria, then rather than taking malaria tablets it is often better to just get into the habit of applying an insect repellent regularly and/or covering up. I was delighted to discover that there are now new generation insect repellents that are effective but don’t contain DEET. I remember being horrified after watching my handbag dissolve after I got DEET on it – what on earth was it doing to my skin if it could do that to a fabric?!
4. Solid Moisturiser Stick
I wrote in a previous post that I always struggled to work out the best way to take moisturiser with me, often resorting to taking lots of little bottles so that I could throw them out once they were empty. I discovered a recipe for making a solid moisturiser stick that is much more compact because it doesn’t have lots of water in it. You just glide it across your skin to apply the moisturiser.
5. Sun Block
I have fair skin so sunblock is a must almost everywhere I go. I usually apply it as a matter of course in the morning and was very pleased when I found a mini version that I can carry in my handbag to apply to my face in particular during the day (there is nothing worse than standing around outside with no shade and feeling your nose burning but knowing that your sunblock is in your back-pack somewhere else).
6. Solid Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
I also wrote in a previous post describing making solid shampoo and conditioner bars. I have been really impressed with these: I am now using them even at home and am absolutely amazed by how long they last. So much so that I have cut them in half and am confident that this will easily last me a month away.
7. Battery-powered Toothbrush
I can’t help myself – I’m one of those people who scrub their teeth much too diligently and start wearing away the enamel on the corners. So a battery powered travel toothbrush is a must for me. There a few different types. I got my first one at a travel shop and more recently have bought a replacement online. The battery lasts for a very long time.
8. Dental Floss
No, my dentist isn’t sponsoring this (but he will be very happy). I used to think this was something I could leave behind if I was trying to save on weight but not really a good idea if you are away for a month at a time. But I have found that there can be many other handy uses for dental floss for holding things together or tying them up. I haven’t tried it for emergency shoe laces but if you doubled it up, it would probably do a good job.
9. Dry Shampoo
This is a new discovery for me – how did it take me so long to find it? If you need to wash your hair often and dread not having the time or the facilities to do so on your travels, then this amazing product will change your life. Just spray on and rub in, and you’re good to go.
10. Bar Soap
Most hotels provide soap so usually you wouldn’t think about bringing this with you, but if you are staying in budget hotels, campsites or other less standard places then it can be a good idea to bring a small bar of soap with you as they don’t always have any. You can use it for emergency laundry soap too.
11. Deodorant in lightweight refillable container
Many deodorants come in large and/or heavy glass containers and are not so good if you are trying to cut down on the weight in your bag. I found a brand that has a small light-weight plastic container with a removable top, so I keep the container and just refill it if I don’t have a new one (I couldn’t find it last time I went shopping).
12. Panty liners
These can be useful to help get an extra day before needing to wash underwear, so you don’t need to take as many pairs and/or can survive if you are on the move and don’t have enough time to get your laundry done.