How to Establish a Permanent Toiletries Kit

You know what you need to take when you travel. Most often, you take the same things for each trip, especially when it comes to toiletries. If you travel often, it's better to plan them once and pack them once, so you can grab them and go at a moment's notice, and never forget stuff again.


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    Make a list. You know best what you need to take when you travel, so there's no list here. You can consult any of various packing lists online for ideas about what to take to certain locations or for certain conditions.

    • Include items for all seasons on your list. If you use sunscreen mostly in summer and lip balm mostly in winter, include both.
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    Gather the items you will need. Remember, you are leaving this bag packed, so these are not the items you use every day at home.
    • Get containers and pour in your preferred shampoo and conditioner.
    • Use the same products you use at home. It's cheapest to buy stuff like shampoo in the larger sizes and pour them into travel-sized containers, and you know exactly how your favorite shampoo will work in your hair.
    • Alternatively, if you aren't particular about things like soap and shampoo, you can collect travel sizes for free from hotel rooms and keep them in your kit for when you are places where they are not provided.
    • Wrap shampoo bottles in plastic bags, in case of undesired opening.
    • Before you travel with anything you don't normally use at home, try it at home before taking it on the road. Timbuktu is not the place to discover that you're allergic to something, or that you can't stand using it. Trying your kit at home is also a good way to find out how quickly you use up things like shampoo and toothpaste.
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    Buy duplicates of items that will go in your kit. Buy a separate razor from the one you use at home (this might be a good place for a disposable razor), a travel-sized tube of toothpaste, and so on.

    • Look for items you already have around. Do you already have a spare toothbrush, hairbrush, tweezers, or nail file?
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    Choose a bag. Try one of the many commercial bags available, or you can simply use a plastic zipper bag. If you're buying a bag, look for one with many separate compartments, so that items don't get jumbled up. Some toiletries bags are designed to hang from a built-in hook.

    • If you're traveling by air and have toiletries in your carry-on bag, you will be required to take any liquids out and have them in clear view. In this case, U.S. departures limit liquids to 100 mL or 3,4 oz. and require you put them in a clear one-quart zipper bag. Packing them in an easy-to-access location is extra convenient. Try loading solids in a separate clear bag if you run out of space.
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    Load up your toiletries bag. You should end up with a complete, compact bag of only the things you need to have to travel, but all the things you need for any trip.
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    Refill your toiletries kit and add or remove items from it just after you return, as part of unpacking. Your kit will be ready to go the next time you leave, and your use of the kit will be fresh in your mind. Is it time for a fresh razor or blade? Are you running low on shampoo? Take care of it first, then put the whole kit back in the drawer or on the shelf, or even in your suitcase, all ready to go next time.
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    When you graduate to One Bag Travel avoid the TSA hassle altogether and purchase your shampoo / tooth powder when you land. Some of my best souvenirs are foreign toiletries . If 300 million Europeans can live without a special brand of toothpaste,chances are you can too.


  • If you aren't sure what to put in your toiletry bag, here's a few suggestions: deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste/toothbrush, body wash/soap, hairbrush, face wash, lotion, shaving gel, and cosmetics.
  • When returning from a trip, make it one of your unpacking steps to replenish the supplies in your toiletries kit, so you're ready to go next time. This might include topping off mouthwash and shampoo bottles, and trading that almost-empty deodorant for a new(er) one. Don't throw these out -- you can finish off the almost-empties at home.
  • Choose travel-sized items and containers to save on weight and space.
  • Keep a master travel list that includes the contents of your toiletries kit. If you have time while packing, review the list against the contents of your kit before you go.
  • Avoid dipping into your toiletries kit while you are at home. Most toiletries items are inexpensive and easy to find. Buy duplicates so you never have to unpack them.
  • Because toiletries kits include many small items, leaving your toiletries packed can save you a lot of last-minute scrambling when it comes time to pack.
  • Keep a 3x5 card or Post-It note in your toiletries kit. During your trip, write down any items you'll need to refill or add when you get home.
  • Don't worry too much about omissions. Most items that go into a toiletries kit are fairly easy to purchase or refill on the road, in case you forget something or run out.
  • If you have a digital camera, take a photo of the items you will carry. It can serve as a visual inventory of your bags.
  • A few items that aren't toiletries could go in your toiletries bag, so you don't forget them. Include things like laundry supplies (sink stopper, travel clothesline, laundry soap), a sewing kit, and a travel alarm clock.
  • Pack medications each time, to keep them current.
    If there are special items that must go with you each time, such as eyeglasses or medications, they probably should not stay in the kit all the time. Instead, place them on your master packing list and consult your list each time you pack.


  • You know the drill, but please look it up if you aren't sure.
    If you will be flying with this toiletries kit, check the current airport security regulations and pack accordingly.

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