Do you also hate to wait for your luggage once you've arrived and then having to drag it onto public transportation and to your hotel? Yeah, me too. That's why I often try to travel carry-on only and to show you how you can do the same, I put together this essential travel toiletries checklist.
It holds all of my essential travel toiletries and a few extras – you know, things that aren't absolutely essential but that are definitely nice to have with me.
At the bottom of this post, you'll also find a handy packing checklist to help you pack for your next carry-on only trip!
Lastly, I share some general tips that make packing toiletries for carry-on easier.
General tips for traveling with toiletries in a carry-on
1. Buy solid toiletries
The hardest part – for me at least – about packing toiletries for hand luggage, is not exceeding the 1000 ml total liquids/100 ml maximum bottle size rule. If I were to bring everything I really wanted to bring in liquid form, I'd probably exceed the limit.
So I don't.
Instead, I take solid forms of whatever toiletries I can find solid forms of. Solid shampoo bars, solid deodorant, solid toothpaste tabs… Not only do these solid toiletries not count toward the liquids limit, they also can't open up and run all over your other toiletries. Bonus point.
Don't know what toiletries for travel you can find solid versions of or where to get them? I'll share which ones I use a bit further down.
2. Buy mini toiletries or travel-size containers
Taking solids isn't always an option. When it isn't, I take small travel toiletry containers and fill those up with whatever I want to bring. You can find 100 ml small travel containers but I also have some smaller ones I use for things I know I won't need 100 ml of.
On Amazon, you can find all kinds of 100 ml travel toiletry bottles, but also tubes and other types of travel containers for toiletries in different sizes. Think about what you usually pack before buying a set. I find bottles easiest for shampoo or body lotion, while tiny pots are handier for facial cream.
For facial and body care, some brands also sell travel pack toiletries. Usually, these are packs with three or so mini versions of their regular products. I don't recommend getting these as they're usually more expensive than just buying the normal versions of the products and pouring them over into mini travel bottles.
3. Use a clear toiletry bag or Ziploc bag to stow your toiletries for traveling
You'll have to present all your carry-on liquids in a transparent bag when you go through the security check. Most people use Ziploc bags (or those kinds of bags from whatever brand), but you can also use a proper toiletry bag as long as it's transparent.
I prefer using a Ziploc bag because it takes up no extra space and I can just stuff it into my bigger toiletry bag after passing security.
Travel Toiletries Checklist
Below you can find a list of all toiletries I usually pack when traveling carry-on only. What I bring may vary a bit as I'll leave some things at home when I know that I'll be staying at a hotel that provides soap, shampoo etc.
If you'd like an easy-to-use and printable version of this toiletries packing list for yourself, scroll down to the bottom of this post, where it's waiting for you :-)
1. Basic body maintenance and medication
1. Shower gel: I only take shower gel when I'm staying at an airbnb and don't know if there will be any provided. I don't stay in hostels and hotels usually offer at least soap. When I do bring some, it's usually one of those travel size shower gel bottles I took from a hotel. Yes, I'm one of those people but hey, those miniature shampoos and shower gels from hotels are perfect for traveling carry-on only!
I don't bring solid soap because I usually won't finish it on one trip and then it gets all sticky in my toiletry bag.
2. Toothbrush: At home I use an electric Oral B toothbrush, but when I'm traveling it's just a regular one from the supermarket. I'm not loyal to a specific brand.
3. Toothy tabs: I love Lush's dry version of toothpaste. Sometimes I run out before I can get new ones, and then I'll just put some regular toothpaste in a mini container. Some dentist also offer travel size toothpaste samples, so try to stock up on those if you can :-)
4. Dental floss: I have very sensitive gum and so flossing is a must for me. I use floss from Oral B.
5. Solid shampoo: Also from Lush.
6. Solid deodorant: I use Lush's Aromaco and it works well, but it doesn't come in a container which means you have to find a container for it yourself. It lasts ages, but once I've finished it, I'll probably go for a travel size deodorant stick.
7. Razor:At home I use a Venus razor, but on the road, I usually take one of those small throw-away razors. Not the best for the environment, I know, but I have to admit also these often come from hotels.I never pack shaving cream but use soap if needed.
8. Travel size comb and brush
9. Diarrhea, nausea and headache/painkiller medicine
11. Condoms: I don't pack these myself as I've been with Boyfriend for 10+ years now, but if you're single, you better be safe!
12. Q-tips: Both for the ears and for makeup misdrawings :D
2. A little bit of luxury
1. Solid conditioner: From – indeed – Lush.
2. Body lotion: Usually I pack travel size lotion bottles I got at a hotel as well, as these are the perfect size, just like the other toiletries you often get at hotels. Otherwise, I'm not loyal to a specific body lotion brand and will go with what's cheapest.
3.Facial cream: I always put a bit in a mini container. Not really loyal to a specific brand.
4. Travel-sized sunscreen: From whatever brand has a travel-sized version and is paraben-free.
5. Nail clippers or a travel size vile: I prefer iron-ish viles.
6. Cottons: I prefer flat round ones. They don't take up a lot of space.
1. Powder (insteal of liquid foundation): I always use Clinique's “Stay Beige” mattening powder.
2. Eye pencil: I'm not loyal to a particular brand.
3. Lipstick: I only travel with lipstick when I know I'll be attending a conference or another event for which I need to look a bit fancier. I love Rimmel's Provocalips. While these are liquid and thus not as suited for carry-on only travel as solid lipsticks, they really do stay on for 16-hours straight, even when you drink and eat as usual. It's magic.
4. Concealer stick: I use a stick instead of liquid concealer. It's a bit of a compromise as I do find liquid concealers usually work better. I usually go for one of the cheaper brands.
5. Mascara: I always buy mascara from Rimmel's Scandaleyes series. Usually the ExtremeMascara. It's good, it stays on and it's not expensive.
6. Facial wash and make-up remover: I used to buy Nivea, but now I switched to a cheaper store brand. I put these in small travel bottles for toiletries as well.
Custom stuff and other things
1. Contact lens container and travel size bottles of contact solution and false tears: The containers are included with the big bottles I buy and the lens fluid is of a store brand.
2. Case for glasses
3. Prescription medication
4. Menstrual cup: Obviously only when I'll be having my period while I'm traveling.
5. Earplugs: I don't like wax earplugs and have been buying these colored ones by Quies for years now.
1. Clear toiletry bag for liquids security check: Make sure this is big enough and zips shut. You can take 1000ml in total in your carry-on, so that's 10 travel-size toiletry bottles of 100ml. It would be a shame if they didn't all fit into your bag, wouldn't it? Now, I've seen people with two small bags as well, but I rather not risk it and just make sure everything fits into one Ziploc bag.
2. Main toiletry bag: This is where all your other stuff goes. I use a simple square one in which I stuff a small make-up bag as this combination is easiest to squeeze together and fits just about anywhere in my trolley or backpack. I've seen other people rave about hanging toiletry bags, though, so I might check those out sometime. Just don't get a hard case. It'll never completely fit around your stuff and will always take up more space than needed.
And that's it! I hope this post has given you an idea of how to pack toiletries for travel with a carry-on only. Have a top if your own? Share it in the comments!