Becca Jane St Clair

Personal Blog

Packing Minimal Toiletries

12037841_10153724681382160_63833692_o I know I previously posted about packing toiletries in my Packing for Autumn in Austria blog post, but I decided to expand on it because I’ve been watching a lot of travel videos on youtube and a lot of “minimalist packing” videos and the amount of toiletries is insane! Someone went down to London for a weekend and they took a massive bag and then a huge train case full of toiletries and make up. Our weekend trip to London? A rucksack and the TSA sized baggie of toiletries. And some of the international travel ones make me laugh too. Americans visiting the UK or the EU, Brits visiting America…..people, none of these places are third world. If you run out of something or forgot something, you can buy it.

I decided to make my own “What’s in my Bag?” video sort of as a rebuttal, and as a way to show people who are looking for ideas on what they could do to pack into smaller bags. When we went to Austria, we each took a backpack and shared a wheeled suitcase. And the toiletries in this video and post are what we took with us and what I’ve taken before when we took backpacks only to Ireland to meet up with my cousins and it’s generally what I even take for a weekend away since it’s all basically what I use on a daily basis, although a single overnight I’ll take a lot less….I’ll detail that below too.

Tim’s Bag

Tim’s bag is the middle size of a three-pack of travel bags I bought at Marks & Spencer’s, but I’ve seen the three packs on Amazon for around £7. I used the big bag on our trip to the US in 2013 and I soon realised I did not need a bag that big. It took up way too much real estate in my suitcase, and half the stuff I had packed I never used. The middle sized is the appropriate size for taking in your carry-on and since it was piped in black, I gave it to Tim. Tim barely has any toiletries to begin with, so packing for him is simple and all his stuff, both liquid and non-liquid, fit in one bag. On longer trips, I sometimes steal space in his bag and put his non liquids in a separate bag! His toiletries are:

-Travel electric razor. I think its a Phillips, I’m not sure. I bought it at Boots when Boots had men’s razors on 1/3 off just before our trip to the states last May and it runs off AA batteries, so no charger to pack.
-Shampoo. He uses a 2 in 1, whatever is on sale usually. I think that might be an old bottle refilled.
-Body Wash. We use a 100ml bottle and I fill it with whatever he’s currently using (again, whatever was on sale)
-Aftershave. It’s in a little (30ml) bottle from Muji* because he really doesn’t use much on a daily basis.
-Deodorant. Whatever is available in the travel size.
-Toothbrush/toothpaste. We have folding toothbrushes where you unfold them and they’re the same size as a regular toothbrush. Toothpaste is, once again, whatever is available (do you see a pattern here? We are totally not brand snobs!)
-Deep Heat. This is in another bottle from Muji. We both use this for sore muscles especially after a long day of walking!
-Nail clippers. Because his bag has room for it 😉
-Tums/Pepto/Lemsip. Again, because his bag has room for it. We just travel with the things we might need if we get ill. Chances are, if we’re on a longer trip, one of us will get a slight cold or an upset tummy.

As you can see, not much. I think that’s pretty much all Tim ever needs even on a daily basis at home. Oh, and if we’re going on a longer trip, he’ll also pack his wet razor and a travel thing of shave gel. If he needs a brush, he just uses mine. Some of Tim’s things are from gift packs he was given for various gift giving occasions. We keep all that stuff in a drawer in the bathroom and pull things out as they’re needed.

For myself, I use one clear plastic bag that is size appropriate for a carry-on and then usually a second bag with my non liquids. I think my liquids bag might have come as part of a kit, either designed for travel, or with other stuff already in it. I had it in a box full of make-up bags (seriously. I have loads of free with purchase bags) and since it was clear and the right size for travel, it got used. My non-liquid bag is a Cath Kidston 20th anniversary wristlet that has served many purposes in it’s life so far**.

My liquids:
-Shampoo/Conditioner. I’m just refilling the bottles I bought ages ago with whatever I’m currently using. I saw on a video someone actually combined their shampoo and conditioner to make a 2 in 1 in a single bottle, and I might give that a trial at home to see if it really works…..if it works, I expect I’ll do that the next time we travel!
-Hibiscrub. It’s for my Hidradenitis Supperotiva. That’s a tiny bit that is enough for 4-5 days. For longer trips, I either pack 2 or a larger container….and when we go on a three week trips, I need about 200ml (but we also usually have checked bags for longer trips thaat I can put it in, and technically, hibiscrub is available without a prescription, it;s just pricey.)
-bodywash. Whatever I currently am using, usually decanted into whatever container I have around. Again, I’m not fussy.
-Deodorant. I prefer the Nivea Pearl stuff as it doesn’t agitate my armpits, but if that’s not available I’ll grab a different brand.
-Facewash. I bought 100ml foam pumping bottles off eBay before our trip to the US in May. I haven’t seen this in a smaller size anywhere yet, but if there was one I’d get it because even on a long trip I only use about 30ml as it’s a foaming pump so it distributes a lot per pump! I use a tea tree oil wash from Boots.
-Moisturisers. I bought the small tube at Muji and it’s filled with Boots Vitamin E face moisturiser. I also take a Nivea cream pot, since that’s good for all over the body. In the same vein, I always take a small pot of vaseline (it’s the lip stuff, but really it’s all the same). And there’s also a pot of Blistex lip balm. I recently discovered Lanacane anti-chafing gel and it’s amazing.
-Tea tree oil spot treatment gel and night cream. Zits happen. Especially when travelling.
-Antibacterial hand gel. I have a whole little drawer full of bath and body works mini hand sanitizers, so I just grab one in a scent appropriate for the season.
-Febreeze. Again, it’s in a bottle from Muji. Always handy if you plan on re-wearing clothing.
-Body Spray. I currently have Mist You Madly by Soap and Glory in a small sprayer I bought off eBay.
-BB Creame. I use this as concealer and foundation when I travel. It’s in a small pot from Muji (again!)
-Under eye brightener. Because I sometimes don’t get a lot of sleep on trips if we have late nights and early mornings.

Non Liquids:
-Travel hairbrush. £1 at Primark, though I just got a tangle teezer, so I might have to rethink this as the teezer is bigger (and I’m now obsessed with brushing my hair!).
-All-in-one Makeup pallet. Keeping it simple. 2 neutral eye shadows, blush, and a mini mascara in one little pallet.
-Face powder/Brush. Self explanatory. I wish they made these in a mini version. I’ll take any brand, so if you know of one, let me know!
-Lip crayon. It was in my advent calendar this year, but basically, I always have some kind of lip colour thing with me.
-Emergency sanitary product (you never know)
-cotton buds/cotton pads
-emery board
-mini first aid kit. just some plasters, blister band-aids, and antiseptic wipes. This goes with me when we’re out and about, too.
-Safety pins, hair grip/bobby pins, and hair ties
-mini medicine cabinet. Or at least, that’s what Tim calls it. It’s a weekly pill organizer I repurposed with all the little OTC things you might need – paracetamol, ibuprofen, kwells, pepto, and enough of my prescription Metformin for 2-3 days (any longer and I’ll add a strip of meds to my bag).

Missing from the video:
-Travel Razor. I got one of those Venus Snap ones and I love it. I’m hoping it’s in the bathroom and not left at Mom’s in PA! I’m not bothered about gel, so I’ll usually pinch a bit of Tim’s. I only take my razor on trips longer than a week because I’m lazy.
-Dry Shampoo. Depending on how long the trip is for, but this is handy especially if we have to be up early in the morning and shower the night before.
-Face wipes. They’re good for everything from their actual purpose to spot treating a stain or cleaning off a dirty table on a train. I usually grab the cucumber scented ones from Boots. They live in an outer pocket of my backpack when we’re out and about along with the first aid kit and pill container.
-Sun cream. Depending on where we’re going and the season. My face cream has SPF15 built in, but if we’re in FL or it’s the Summer, we usually take along a mini size of a sun cream and then buy more when we’re at our destination. Our three week trip to FL and PA last May we went through 3 cans between the two of us because Tim is a pasty British man and when he visited the US in the Summer of 2009 when we were dating I neglected to think about sunblock because I didn’t need any and he blister burned. And if we’re packing sun cream, I’ll probably pack a 100ml bottle filled with some aftersun too.

And, I think that’s everything. Anything else that we need or run out of we can easily pick up at a chemist/Apotheke***/grocery store. I tend to buy us pre-packaged travel sized bottles over refillable ones (And then refill them!) because if we need toss things due to space it’s not a huge loss, but Muji and Superdrug are both great places to get refillable bottles. Obviously, I use refillable bottles for things that either aren’t available in travel sizes or are specific products we need (like my Hibiscrub). And if we’re going to the US, we’ll only pack what we need for the first night in the hotel in London and usually make CVS our first stop (although now I have things at my cousin’s house in FL and my Mom’s in PA). For those trips, we usually take the dregs of a previous trip’s bottles and then we toss them in the morning.

I don’t wear a lot of make-up on a daily basis, so the items I pack is pretty much what I’d use on a day I felt like wearing make-up. When we went to the US in May for Laura’s wedding, I also took a whole bag full of my special occasion make-up.

I don’t pack many “what ifs?” because I think they take up a lot of space and I could probably fill a train case full of things I “might need”. Just about the only what ifs I take are all medical related – medicines, first aid, and creams/balms. And that’s because I know I will need those what if items. I’m accident prone. Chances are, I’ll cut my finger open or bang my knee against a table and need pain relief or plasters. My rule is always if there is something I discover I need, I can probably buy it. If it’s not available where I’m travelling to, well then I probably didn’t need it.

When we go on single overnights, I won’t pack all of this. If we’re spending the night with a local friend and planning on coming home straight away the next morning I might only take deodorant, face wipes, moisturiser, toothbrush/toothpaste, body spray, a hairbrush, and dry shampoo because I’ll shower when we get home. If we’re spending the night down in London and travelling by train, I’ll probably take shampoo, conditioner, hibiscrub, face wash, deodorant, toothbrush/toothpaste, body spray, and a hairbrush. The little Clinique pallet will usually go into my handbag along with a lip gloss and a little concealer if it’s a short trip as my Cath bag might wind up being my purse on those trips! But Boots often does 3 for 2 on the travel toiletries, so it’s super easy to pop into one on our way through King’s Cross or St Pancras.


*Muji is a Japanese store that has a few UK locations. I stumbled onto them when I had one of my “Day of her own”s in London back in August and they have all sorts of travel sized bottles — loads more than they show online.

**It’s been used as a purse, a camera bag, a make-up bag, a cords organiser, a handbag, a pencil case, and probably about a dozen other things. It’s super versatile! The ribbon strap is surprisingly strong and the inside is lined with red spotted fabric and it has a little pocket on the inside too.

***Apotheke is the German word that signifies a chemist. In Austria, it’s a giant A on the outside of the building. We needed one twice on our trip, once for some plasters and once for some additional deep heat.

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