Whether you have a pretty extensive skincare routine, or if you always wear a full face of makeup, packing all your toiletries and make-up when travelling with just hand luggage may seem impossible, but I promise you, it can be done.
1. Make a list of your essentials
I swear by lists, they’re so useful for many reasons, but particularly if you want to travel light and ensure that you don’t forget anything. Start by writing down all of your essentials and the products you can’t live without.
Once you’ve done that, separate all your items into two piles; ‘liquids’ and ‘everything else’ – you’ll probably be surprised to find that you don’t actually have as many liquids as you thought you did. However, you need to bear in mind that all of these need to fit into ONE clear plastic bag.
I often chance it with two bags (because I’m a rebel like that) and get away with it around 80% of the time. Usually, because I travel with Jass who barely has any liquids, they’ll squeeze the remainder of mine into his bag and once they made me throw something away – I’d always opt for the toothpaste as it’s the cheapest to replace!
2. Pare down your routine
Ask yourself whether you really need to take 15 different shades of red lipstick? Think about multitasking products where possible; for example, a lipstick can double up as a blusher, or chose a palette that not only contains eyeshadows, but blush, bronzer and highlighter too.
Do you really need to pack shower gel, shampoo and conditioner if you’re only away for two nights? Can you make do with the products provided by the hotel?
3. Save all your samples and travel miniatures
This step requires some prep in advance, and it’s also where most people would tell you to buy travel sizes, however, I disagree with this for 2 reasons. I think they’re a huge waste of money; for example, the Original Source shower gel (250ml) that I always purchase is nearly always on offer for £1 (or £2 full price), and the 50ml travel sized version is also nearly always on offer for £1 (or £1.50 full price). You’re literally just paying for the packaging which is a bit of a joke!
The other thing to consider is how much product you actually need. If you’re travelling with just carry-on luggage, chances are that you’re only away for 5 nights at the most. While the liquids allowance is 100ml each, do you really need 100ml of foundation, toothpaste, hair product etc for that period of time? You certainly don’t!
I always keep any samples I receive in a dedicated drawer specifically for when I travel. Often, once I’ve finished a sample product, particularly if it’s a pot of moisturiser or cleansing balm, I clean out the containers and re-use them for my next trip. I find these containers are better quality and less likely to leak in transit compared to the cheap ones you purchase in pound shops. Not only that, you’re being more environmentally friendly too, so it’s a win-win!
Where do you get travel sized samples from?
- Gift with purchase, particularly when you shop online.
- Ask for foundation samples when getting shade matched or shopping in store.
- Save them from beauty advent calendars or Christmas gift sets.
- Keep an eye out on social media – every now and again, brands will offer free samples in exchange for signing you up to their mailing list. I see this a lot on Facebook in particular, and I’ve had samples of Charlotte Tilbury foundation, Lancome skincare and YSL perfume in the past.
- Freebies in magazines – I’m not sure if this is still a thing. Do people even buy magazines these days!?
- If you go big events (especially if you’re a beauty blogger) you often get goodie bags that often contain tiny samples from numerous brands that aren’t usually big enough to test out properly. Save them for your travels!
- I used to buy all the travel minis in Sephora when I went to the USA. These were never available to us here in the UK, however I recently noticed a huge section of travel sized beauty in Debenhams – we can finally buy all our favourites in miniature form. Just look at how adorable they all are!
I recently flew to Dublin for two nights with just an under-seat bag – thanks Ryan Air. *rolls eyes* so space was even more limited than usual. These are all my liquids that I just about managed to cram into a clear liquids bag.
As you can see, the only miniature I had to purchase was a deodorant – very annoying as I hate roll-ons and it took up the most space! I could have done without my full sized foundation bottle, but I didn’t have a small pot or have time to visit a counter for a sample before I left. My hair product had to be decanted into a small pot and I took a full sized toothpaste (175ml) that was more than three quarters empty!
BONUS TIP – I always rescue my regular toothpaste from my bathroom at home before it’s empty (around 1/4 full) in advance, if I know I have a trip coming up! That way, I don’t need to purchase an overpriced travel size one, and I can bin the remainder while I’m away and it’s not too wasteful!
I like to think I’m quite good at packing minimally, particularly as I’m a beauty junkie and always wear a full face of make-up. I used every item I took with me, which is brilliant, but the only thing I missed was some micellar water/eye makeup remover.
This is the rest of my makeup and brushes, including a razor that I packed in a separate toiletry bag. And yes, you are allowed to take disposable razors in your carry-on, as long as the blade isn’t removable.
One last thing – once you’ve packed your liquids bag, make sure that you place it in the most accessible section of your carry-on bag. Either the outer pocket of your suitcase or at the very top of your bag, as you don’t want to hold up the line at security by digging through your belongings to get your bag out!
Do you have any other tips for packing toiletries when travelling? Please share them in the comments below.