Toiletries can take up so much room in your travel bags. But I've got some great tips for you to get around this issue. With some thought and planning you'll be replacing your huge toiletry bag with something so much smaller!
Have you seen the hashtag I use a lot #takewhatyouneed ? It's fast becoming my catch-phrase, but it's such an essential rule.
And it's achieved by decanting things down into smaller containers.
It's tips like this that had me able to hike for five hours between the village of Biassa down to Porto Venere in the Cinque Terre region. By the time I reached my destination my bag felt a lot heavier than 5.5kg.
Hiking the peninsula down to Porto Venere, Italy. I was moving between hostels so carrying all 5.5kg of my gear.
Start collecting small travel-sized containers.
I have an eye for travel-sized containers. It's like an in-built honing devise...usually followed by, "does anyone else want that container?"
The picture below shows containers like eye-drop bottles, medicine containers of varying sizes,a lip balm jar, and a sample soap box - that I put my cut-down shampoo bars into.
I'm hugely into recycling and reusing things, so nothing gets thrown out in my house without being asked - "have you got another use?"
Decanting cosmetics and toiletries.
Even though my makeup and cosmetics is quite small already, I still decant down into the tiniest bottle possible. The extra weight all adds up in the end.
These little plastic jars below save me nearly 200g in weight. I simply don't need to take all the rest.
With the small jar with moisturiser in it, I filled this up a month before I was going away to see how much I used. By the end of the month there was only a small amount left, so I filled it back up for the trip.
Calculating how much to take.
This is where maths comes in handy!
If I am going away for four weeks, and I wash my hair three times a week, and I use 5ml of shampoo for every wash then I need 5ml x 3 washes/wk x 4 wks - that's a total of 60ml.
I don't need a 100ml travel bottle or at least I don't need to fill the 100ml bottle. I simply take what I need - 60mls.
Decanting from a 350ml shampoo bottle to a 60ml recycled hand cream tube. You just don't need to take it all!
How much shampoo bar should I take?
I generally travel with shampoo bars. They don't leak! They don't go into my liquid allowance for carry-on luggage. And they weigh less than their liquid cousins.
To calculate how much of a shampoo bar I need:
- I weigh the bar.
- Then I use it for four weeks.
- I weigh it at the end of the four weeks.
- Calculate the difference and that is what I need to travel with.
I tend to take a slice of my shampoo bar - which is between 25-50g. I take half that amount for a conditioner bar.
I often take a Dr Bonner's soap bar - and cut that down to 50g. That does as a soap and laundry bar for handwashing.
Similar to the above process, for laundry bars:
- I weigh the laundry soap before I wash anything.
- Then do a couple of loads of handwashing.
- Weight it again once the bar is dry,
- And then calculate how much you've used.
- Think about how often you need to do handwashing (I hand-wash most evenings)
- And calculate from that how much you need for your trip.
I hope I haven't made it sound too difficult.
But there's nothing like coming home with empty containers, or tiny remnants of bars! It's a real wohoo moment (OK, so I'm a bit weird!!)
(L-R) Soap, shampoo and laundry bars.
Collecting bags for travel too.
It's not just containers I collect.
The blue bag below was what my laundry kit (with rubber plug and stretchy clothesline) came in.
I now use the bag as a holder for my power cables (on this trip it was a phone and laptop charger). Being bright blue I can find it anywhere in the bag!
Different trips require different gear.
Because different trips require different gear, my packing changes. For instance, going to Australia, I don't need a power adapter.
So while one container might be good for one use, next time it might need to be larger or smaller. I just make everything fit for purpose.
What other travel bags or containers do I use?
We get a paper delivered once a week in a long, narrow plastic bag. I keep these and use them to wrap my shoes in, keeping the rest of my gear clean.
I use a delicates laundry bag for carrying my dirty laundry. I wrap it up tight so it becomes a packing cell. And of course, I use it to wash my merino in if I'm staying somewhere with a washing machine.
Generally, I'm on the lookout for travel sized containers. Even if I'm not using them, someone in the family will grab them.
So start collecting your containers now!