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Complete Packing List of Travel Toiletries

It’s taken me years to feel like I’ve mastered a well-stocked toiletry bag. I plan carefully to ensure I have everything I need to look and feel my best on a trip, from my favorite skincare and makeup to essential medicines and first aid items. Here’s a packing list of travel toiletries you may find handy for your next trip.

belt bag and hand sanitizer
TRAVEL BELT BAG / SANITIZER WIPES / SANITIZER SPRAY

If you travel often, you can buy seconds of all of your favorite items and keep your toiletry bag packed and ready to throw into your suitcase. I’m not that organized… but that concept has always appealed to me 😀

A reader asked a few weeks ago how I bring all my hair and skin products since I only travel with carry-on luggage. The trick is using travel-sized items because the TSA’s rules on liquids just limit the volume in each bottle, not how many tiny bottles, so I bring small containers.

Essential Travel Toiletries for Women

Shower Toiletries

  • It’s easy to bring your favorite shampoo, conditioner, and body wash with you by transferring them into these TSA-approved containers.
  • A mini razor (or you can bring your regular-sized one!)
  • Shaving cream

Laundry Essentials

Skincare, Hair, and Nail Toiletries

  • Hairdryer: Most hotels supply them, but to be safe, you can pack a mini and put it in a bag like this.
  • Curling Iron or Flat Iron: Make sure if you are traveling internationally that you have one that’s dual voltage.
  • Hairspray: I shared in this post all about how I take care of my thinning hair and the products that I use.
  • Lotion
  • Face Wash
  • Moisturizer
  • Lip Balm: While you can usually pick this up when you’re traveling, it’s always when you need it the most that you don’t have it.
  • Serums, toners, etc., that you use
  • Manicure Set
  • Tweezers
  • If my nail polish chips while I’m on a trip, I use these wipes to remove the polish!

Makeup Products

This is going to vary from woman to woman, depending on how complex your routine is. My routine is the same whether home or away…it’s just a habit, so I always pack the same things. These are my current favorites you’ll find in my travel makeup bag:

Hygiene and Medicine Essentials

  • Personal First Aid Kit: I love that this portable 10 piece first aid kit comes in a small pack. Throw one in your car, your purse, your suitcase. You never know when you will need one.
  • Bandaids: While your standard bandaids come in the pack above, I would suggest buying the blister bandaids just in case. They make a world of difference with the extra cushion.
  • Underarm Deodorant Wipes: These can be a lifesaver to have in your purse and refresh with after a long flight.
  • Toothbrush and toothbrush protector
  • Hand Sanitizer Spray or my favorite Wipes
  • Disinfectant Spray
  • Bug Spray or wipes…I use these natural Deet-free wipes
  • Sunscreen: You can read this post with all of my favorite sunscreens here.
  • Daily Medicines
  • Tums
  • Tylenol, Ibuprofen, etc: In case of a headache, toothache, sore back, you will be glad you have a pain reliever with you.
  • Antihistamines: Especially if you suffer from seasonal or food allergies.
  • I always bring anti-nausea and anti-diarrheal medicines because nothing is worse than battling an upset stomach on an airplane or a long car ride.
  • Poo-Pourri Spray: You may not need this, but I guarantee it will get used if you leave it in the bathroom.

Well-Designed Toiletry Bags

This bag looks ingenious and may need to be mine. Hanging toiletry bags are just so convenient and keep the bathroom countertop clear while you’re getting ready. This one has room for all of my essentials. If you’re going on a shorter trip and don’t need as much storage space, this one is great.

The two side compartments are perfect for storing items you need to grab quickly, like hand sanitizer, pain medicine, band-aids, and other things you may need to grab to use while you’re still en route to your destination whether it’s at the airport or on the road. I like to place those items in small clear bags like these.

More Travel Toiletries for Women:

What are some of your “must take” items when you travel?

67 Comments

  1. Wonderful and thorough post! I’m sure I’ll be referring back to it many times.
    When I saw the toiletry bag, it reminded me of hanging garment bags, and from time to time you ask what you can help with.
    I need to store away a number of winter coats and jackets and I don’t have lots of extra space for them. Any suggestion would be welcome. I don’t know if that would be of general interest, but just an idea.

    1. I hang mine in garment bags in our guest room closet.

      1. Thank you!

  2. As a firm believer that you should never carry on unless you can lift it into and out of the overhead bin yourself, alas, I’m now relegated to checking my bag.

  3. Jennifer, do you have a printable available for this list?

    1. I’m sorry I don’t but that’s a great idea!

  4. Jennifer – It was spooky when I opened your email today. We are flying to Texas for our grandson’s 7th birthday soon, and for the 1st time I am trying to go carry on bag only, and this morning had begun researching and planning how to get the toiletries I need ready. Voila! You had a post about this very thing. You are a treasure, and I thank you for all the time and effort you put into helping others.

    1. Have a fabulous trip!!

  5. Frances B says:

    Great list of travel essentials. Liked the manicure set but the scissors will need to be removed and placed in your checked baggage as TSA will confiscate scissors when your carry-on items are screened. Learned this the hard way; wanted to cry while I watched my favorite small pair of Henckels scissors confiscated and thrown in the trash.

    1. I carry scissors all of the time-knitting and embroidery. Have TSA rules changed ?(again)

      1. I bring tiny scissors all the time in my carry-on. I think it depends on who is doing the screening.

  6. A big shout out for Compeed, which you have pictured at the bottom of the post, saved many a vacation for me. They are gel pads that will stick to your skin. I had a blister on the sole of my foot in Italy and these saved the day! The pads, if carefully applied, will stay on for several days. I always have them when I travel and my medicine cupboard at home. First discovered them in Italy, they are available in many European countries.

  7. Like some other readers, I am very curious about how much all the things on your list would weigh.

  8. Unless I’m traveling for a formal event I go personal size only. We always stay places with laundry facilities. I buy health and beauty aids at a dollar store at my destination. I can go a week or two without my “gear”. I’m very low maintenance.

  9. I use single dose shampoo and conditioner discs that I love. I bought them for traveling, but now use them regularly. They are called Gemz at shopgemz.com. I cut them in half, as a whole one is too much for my hair (Jennifer’s length and thick).

    1. They sound brilliant!

  10. Jennifer,do you take an adapter for the clothes steamer,for countries that don’t have 120V outlets. Thanks for all the great travel info,I have already ordered from some of the links! I have a daughter that lives in Brussels, Belgium,so when we go to visit her,these items will come in handy!

    1. I do not, but I haven’t taken mine overseas. I think it’s a very good idea to bring one when traveling internationally.

  11. Christine says:

    Thanks for this post; I do use a eco friendly and moisturizing hand sanitizer on every trip because I use it to spray other things. I get it from Germstar.com online. Save the planet!

  12. Brilliant post! I leave in a week for a river cruise, and am already packing! One clarification is that all of 3 oz bottles of liquid have to fit in your quart size TSA clear bag, so you are “limited” to about nine.

    1. Yes, mine all fit in a quart bad. Tiny bottles are the answer.

  13. I now subscribe to sheets laundry club. No liquid or powder to travel with. They are the same size of dryer sheets just thicker. I throw them in a ziploc bag and I don’t have to worry about spillage. When we all had to wear masks and travel ( I am a Travel Agent) I could easily tear off a portion of the sheet and wash my face mask in the sink.

    1. I’ve never heard of those. What a great idea. Thanks for sharing them.

    2. I love those too. They take up so little room in my laundry cabinet too and seem better for the environment!!
      XOXO
      Jodie

  14. I always travel carry-on only plus one personal item bag. I wear minimal makeup anyway, so usually only bring a pressed powder, eyebrow product, blush and lip gloss. I do have to bring a 10x mirror so I can see to apply these though. I also make sure to bring a microfiber cloth to clean my eyeglasses. Skincare products are the ones I use daily, just decanted to smaller containers. I’m becoming less high maintenance the older I get!

    1. I forgot to add the magnifying mirror. I go nowhere without one now 🤣

  15. Oh my, this post is terrific! And great timing since we’re traveling May 1 for the first time in 4 years. I can’t go ‘carry on’ only because we’ll be gone several weeks but at my age I can’t lug around a 50 lb suitcase either so I’m determined to streamline my packing and your tips are a great help. Thank you so much!

    1. I hear you. It’s so much easier to check a bag. Have a wonderful trip, Isabelle.

    2. I dispense my cream foundation and blush into contact lens cases. I don’t wear much foundation but find these work well and are leak proof! Anything that I use only a bit of goes in one of those. They’re tiny enough to get a lot of them in that TSA bag. I love to shop for cosmetics when overseas, so I generally buy lip balm, moisturizer, etc while I’m there, not big sizes. I carry adaptor plugs, two or three of them. My curling iron is mini size. Almost everyone has hairdryers now, so I don’t carry one. We share toothpaste and floss between my husband and me, as well as hair brushes, tweezers, first aid stuff. I never travel without a few OTC drugs. Pharmacists are more than happy to assist you in Europe (it’s been my experience as have gotten sick a couple times in France). Most places we rent (apartments) have washer and dryers too. I use a sheet detergent with fabric softener in it. Works well. Looking forward to the next trip. I always travel to the destination carryon only even for two weeks. However, I also pack a large duffel to check for purchases while there. I’ve only had to wait for for luggage to arrive one time and it was fine.

      1. The contact lens case is brilliant! Stealing that idea.

      2. I put OTC drugs in a daily pill organize. I label each section with a sharpie as to what is in it.

  16. Love your columns, Jennifer. I always pack a small bottle of aloe vera gel…for the bug bite or sudden breakout…

  17. SuzanneGabrielle says:

    I love this topic! I could write a book on minimalist packing. As a long-time frequent traveller due to family geography and before we retired, business trips, I’ve learned that every trip needs are different so I have lists” for all types of scenarios. Our eldest lives in Australia and our youngest now in Montana (and before that Germany). My husband’s family is in India and in Sweden so how’s that for a contrast in packing needs? That being said, I start out by thinking what would I absolutely need in the middle of the night and couldn’t get to a pharmacy or store or wouldn’t want to wake up my host to ask for it. So I pack a lot of the essentials you’ve listed, but in the smallest quantity I can. You don’t need multiples of so many of these “just in case” items. Also on longer trips when I want or have to do carry on only, I pack for a day or two of supplies, and then hit a pharmacy or grocery store for whatever I may need on the rest of our trip. We went to Sicily for a month with our best friends and because of the small trunk situation with the rental car, the 4 of us had to bring only the smallest carry-ons and 1 tote each. The day after we landed, we hit the open air market in Palermo and bought our shampoos, conditioners, SPF, soaps, etc. It was fun, cheap and we could leave whatever we didn’t need or want by the end of our trip. I also have the perfect travel make-up routine. Chanel CC Cream with SPF 50 that does double duty, a Bobbi Brown or Laura Mercier eyeshadow stick, a wind-up eyeliner and lip liner, brow gel, mascara, 1 lipgloss, 1 lipstick, my Hourglass palette that has blush, bronzer and finishing powder, plus a few retractable brushes I’ve collected over the years. It all fits in one small pouch. I’ve found that unless we’re traveling to attend a very special event, I like a fast and easy make-up routine. I do keep a stash of the foil samples you get from Sephora and other beauty counters, but tend use them for overnights or very short trips. I have TSA approved scissors for those because sometimes tearing them open is a challenge! Sorry to be so long here, but it’s a topic I can totally relate to. Have a wonderful weekend.

    1. Brilliant ideas, thank you for sharing, Suzanne! Please share your TSA scissors. I don’t have a pair and need them.

  18. Susan, Your last sentence had me laughing. I totally agree with you!

    1. My response was to the Susan who mentioned packing her pillow and sheets and maybe she should just stay home.

  19. This is really helpful info! I try to keep certain things in my travel bag and then just add travel size for other items. I have more meds then anything and those have to be carried on no matter what!

    1. I agree. My meds never ever leave my side. Including my supplements which get packed with my meds.

      1. Jennifer, I recommend to anyone (over 65) travelling overseas to take with them Paxlovid and antibiotics. Europe is packed to the gills with tourists, very few, if anyone is a wearing a mask. I was extremely careful during my month away, sanitising and wore a mask on planes, trains and inside venues, but still caught noravirus in Italy and was bedridden for 4 days. One day after returning home, I became ill with Covid. Thankfully, because I had my box of Paxlovid, I could start them immediately. I believe anti virals are not easy to obtain in Europe – but is anyone still taking Covid seriously?

      2. I see some people wearing masks but not many. No one wore them in Mexico but we wore ours in close quarters while in the airport and on the plane. I’m sorry you got so sick. Great suggestion to have Paxlovid.

  20. This is a great post full of many good suggestions and ideas. I would love to see how all of these items get packed (arranged) into your cosmetic bag and how much it weighs when full. Also it would be great to see how you pack your carry-on suitcase and the weight of that when full. Are you able to lift it into the overhead bin on the airplane unassisted? I am a frequent traveler by plane, train and automobile. Always striving to be as efficient with my packing as possible. Love all your suggestions.

    1. I am able to lift it but always appreciate when a neighboring traveler assists. They always seem to lately. Both men and younger people. It must be the silvering hair 🤣

  21. I add portable travel waterpik, portable travel electric toothbrush, tiny free perfume samples. I transfer all makeup into tiny containers, or use sample size mascara, travel shower cap, tiny sewing kit with mini scissors, safety pins, earplugs! Eye mask for sleeping. Small packable nylon grocery bag for Europe grocery pick up. Wash cloth, European rentals don’t include wash cloths.

  22. Thanks for this. I’m packing for a trip now and don’t want to forget my first aid kit or sani wipes. BTW, a waving out a lit match is much easier than a poo spray.

    1. Matches are hard to come by these days. Safe travels!

      1. Thanks! Any hardware or grocery store has matches — at least in New England. I’m a luddite who lights candles the old fashioned way LOL

      2. But I don’t want to minimize the difficulty of traveling with matches!

  23. Kris Wolff says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    I don’t usually make comments but I always enjoy your posts. I just read your new post about comfortable shoes. I also have foot issues and have one pair of sneakers I wear with orthotics all of the time and with every outfit. It sure would be nice to some different looks. I also have a narrow foot and most of what is made is medium with some wide. How about passing along to Easy Spirit and other shoe contacts that we with narrow feet buy shoes too. Thanks.
    Kris

    1. If only brands listened to us!! I wish they did. I’ll keep my eye out for narrow shoes too for you.

    2. Easy Spirits has several styles in narrow

  24. Great list, Jennifer. I’m always envious of people who can travel with only a carryon.

    One of my “must take” items when I’m staying in a hotel is a small spray bottle of Lysol, for disinfecting the bathroom floor and tub before I take my shoes off, as I have a lifelong repulsion at the thought of catching athlete’s foot.

    Happy Passover.

    1. Interesting idea! I wear the hotel slippers if they have them. I hate walking on rugs or floors barefoot. Happy Passover, Kelly. We’ve been invited to attend a Seder this evening and are looking forward to it.

  25. Pat Patterson says:

    Good morning Jennifer, great post today 🙂🙂
    Happy Easter💐

    1. Happy Easter, Pat 🌷

  26. This is a great post, thank you. Susan, I am with you and wish we could travel lighter but as we aged, my husband and I have a bag for medications alone. I do envy those that pack light. Road trips make it easier to bring what we need or may need 🙂. It’s ridiculous what we pack and a challenge to improve for future trips. Happy travels!

    1. Happy Easter Jennifer. Keep up the good work with your helpful,posts

  27. I am confused, even with the small container size, all our liquids have to fit into a quart sized clear bag. That includes makeup as well. I had a friend travelling with me who had some of her things taken because she was using a clear makeup bag, and then had to move it all into a bag that was supplied by the airport. You have the option to put it in your checked baggage, but if you are only carry on then it goes in the garbage. I did lose a small face mist this way. They told me I could take it back out to my car… ha, as if I would leave the line. When I take a checked bag, I can take all my favorite things and the sunscreens alone are worth it. As mentioned already, the 5 pound carry on limit makes it impossible to go that way for me. Even purse size was limited last flight. Remember the good old days. I do still enjoy dressing nicely to travel though.

    1. I transfer my foundation to a tiny sample container like they give you at makeup counters. I never include my makeup in the plastic quart size bag. I had a serum taken once, but it was over the size limit. Some airports are stricter than others. I agree, I miss the old days.

  28. Such great tips and ideas Jennifer! I have done a lot of traveling and recently have gone to a carry on only! This is challenging for me as I tend to pack heavy and I have many products I use that have to come with me! Thank you for all the ideas on travel size products and also the makeup ideas!

  29. I envy those who can do ‘carry on’ only. My toiletries and medications alone on my recent 4 week overseas holiday weighed 4 kgs and as hand luggage has a weight limit of 7kgs, I had to check on my bags (except medications). My ‘must have’ items are just about everything I use on a regular basis and have come to realize, as I packed my pillow (and a top sheet, in case the hotel didn’t use 100% cotton bed linen), I should really stay home.

    1. I’ve sure thought of bringing my pillow too. I hear you Susan.

  30. Jennifer, this is one of the best curated and most helpful blog posts I have ever read! For us travelers, these suggestions are priceless. Thank you for sharing with us.

    1. I’m glad it’s helpful, Nicole.

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