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Packing toiletries is like an art form. You want to pack the essentials, but you don’t want to overpack and weigh down your suitcase. Follow our ultimate guide to creating the perfect travel toiletries list and master the art of packing!


How to Pack Toiletries for Travel



Table Of Contents



You’ve packed your carry on, and everything fits perfectly. That is, until you need to fit it in your toiletry bag!

We’ve all been there, trying to travel light but not sure how to because of our toiletries. It’s a very common issue. You obviously want to include the essentials, but not overpack and weigh down your suitcase. especially since airline weight restrictions are even more stringent nowadays.

This is an issue I’ve personally tackled before myself! I made it my mission to not only choose the right clothes and shoes to downsize my packing but also do the same with my toiletries while still being able to take my favorite beauty products. Check out how I started in the video below:



Learn how to start downsizing your toiletries in this video!


First, let’s cover the basics of downsizing your toiletries, followed by a step-by-step walkthrough of how to master the art of packing toiletries.




Toiletries make up your beauty and hygiene regimen on a trip!


What Are Toiletries?


Here’s a toiletries definition that’s simple and easy to understand: any item used to groom or clean yourself is considered a toiletry item, whether it’s soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, face cream, sunscreen, toothpaste, or even makeup is considered in the same category.

Most travelers bring travel size toiletries with them, either in carry on luggage or in checked baggage. Nowadays, the most popular way method of vacation is by taking a carry on suitcase on board an airplane, which means it’s necessary to minimize the size of toiletries so you don’t exceed weight or size limits.

The best way to pack beauty products is to use travel bottles for toiletries or a specific travel bag for toiletries.




Before packing toiletries for a plane trip, check the allowed items for your suitcase.


What Toiletries Can You Bring On a Plane?


One of the most important things to know about toiletries on plane trips is to start planning before you leave by finding out what you are allowed to bring in your suitcase. To meet TSA toiletries requirements depends on whether or not you are checking your luggage.

For cabin or carry on toiletries, airlines require that liquid products be no more than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) and all bottles must fit in a clear quart size ziplock bag when traveling with a carry on. Products that need to be inside the quart size ziplock bag are liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes. This is called the 3-1-1 Liquids Rule.


Now that we’ve covered the basics, follow the step-by-step guide below on packing toiletries for travel to determine what you will and will not need to bring, along with strategies for downsizing products:




Most travelers pack travel-size toiletries in their carry-on or checked baggage.


Step #1 – Decide What Toiletries to Pack

​Once you know what you’re allowed to take, you can save a lot of space and weight in your luggage by minimizing your toiletries and eliminating certain items altogether. Just stick to the basics!

Start by composing a list of toiletries and listing all the grooming and beauty products you use daily. Then, consider which ones you must take and which ones you can leave behind. Remember, a trip is temporary, so you won’t be without something forever.

Certain things might be non-negotiable, such as your favorite brand of shampoo or premium face moisturizer.




Dr. Bronners Travel Size Soaps can double as hand, body, and sometimes shampoo for hair if you are really traveling minimally!


One of the best ways to minimize toiletries is to choose multi-use products or items.

Determine if there are any products you already own that can work double-duty. Choose between two products that serve the same purpose.

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and Sea To Summit Wilderness Wash are two of the most popular travel all-in-one travel products.


You’d be surprised how many products can be used for multiple needs!




Don’t default to using travel size containers when decanting products, as that can often be more than you need!


Step #2 – Downsize and Decant Toiletry Products


The biggest mistake travelers make with carry on toiletries is not considering how much product they actually use and then overpacking the wrong sizes. This is why I suggest experimenting at home to discover the amount you use of each product.

Before packing anything, note the essentials you’ll need, such as shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste, as well as your skincare and makeup products. Then, log how much you use of each product throughout the number of days your trip will last.




These refillable Kitsch Ultimate Travel Containers are perfect for shampoo, conditioner, or creams. And since they sit flat, they take up very little room!


Measuring what you’ll need allows you to refer back when you’re ready to make the final plan.

After measuring what you need, you’ll be able to easily decant the perfect amounts into travel containers for toiletries.

Choose empty containers of various shapes and sizes, and DO NOT default to choosing “TSA toiletries size” 100 ml or 3 oz options, as they’re often too big for what you actually need. This is my ultimate secret for fitting various toiletries into a minimal space while still complying with the liquid rules.


These are the best travel containers because you pack only what you need:

  • Stackable Pots: These work extremely well for women who use various beauty products or have an extensive skincare routine. Use one stack for shampoo/conditioner/body wash and another stack for face moisturizer/body lotion/sunblock.
  • Individual Pots: Use these for makeup and beauty products you won’t need often; I especially love using individual pots for items like my concealer and foundation. I don’t need to use a large quantity, and they usually come in a heavy glass bottle, so decanting them saves weight, too.
  • Cylinder Soft Tubes: Use these for runny, thin liquids or for products you’d prefer not to dip your finger into. They’re also ideal for when you need a larger amount of a certain product, such as body lotion or shampoo. They tend to be leakproof and long-lasting, making them the best travel containers in comparison to hard plastic bottles. GoToob is the most popular brand and has a convenient 2 oz size.




The 14-pack Teapile Travel Containers are designed to be leakproof, and they’re durable and BPA-free!


When using your own carry on toiletries size containers, remember these golden rules:

  • Only fill 2/3 of the container to avoid compression leaks.
  • Use a piece of saran wrap under the lid for extra leak prevention.
  • Avoid water-like substances such as toner. The thinner the liquid, the more likely it is to seep out.


Tip: We often get asked how to label toiletry containers. It can depend on what you’re using, be it a cylinder tube, stackable pot, or the newer, popular flat containers. You can purchase labels specifically for travel containers or use something simple like a permanent Sharpie marker to identify your products. The flat containers usually have an area for you to write with a marker. Whatever system you decide on, make it easy for you and aim to only do it once, so you can always have your labeled containers ready!


Keeping these tips in mind, here’s a list of products you may or may not need; you’ll find a list of toiletries examples below. Remember: be vigilant in eliminating what’s not necessary!



Sample Travel Toiletries List:


(Click any item for product suggestions)

​Find out the most creative ways readers pack their creams, toners, and foundations for travel!




Solid toiletries are more sustainable because you can reduce wasteful packaging.


Step #3: Replace Liquids with Solids

If you’ll be packing your toiletries in your carry on luggage, note the TSA restrictions on bringing liquids on board. The TSA requires that liquid products be no more than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) each and that all liquids fit inside a clear, quart-size bag when traveling with a carry-on.

Liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes must be inside the quart-size bag. This is known as the TSA 3-1-1 Liquids Rule, which was discussed above.

Limiting your toiletries to one quart-size bag means you’ll need to get creative with what to bring. This is where solid toiletries come in!




Popular with readers and travelers, this Ethique Solid Shampoo and Conditioner Variety Pack saves space and helps the environment!


While not necessarily helping you downsize, replacing liquid beauty products with solid toiletries will help you meet the carry on liquids requirements. And you can put them into a smaller travel toiletries bag and separate them from your liquids.

There are some fantastic products on the market, from solid shampoo and solid face cleanser to insect repellent and sunscreen to even toothpaste, that can all help you abide by the TSA liquids rule but still look, feel, and smell your best while traveling.

​Check out the most popular solid toiletries that TFG  readers swear by!

For specific items and requirements, always check the airline and airport websites or contact them and ask them directly.




You can not only decant certain makeup products but also buy travel size or solid products to reduce your liquids allotment.


Step #4 – Downsize Makeup Products


Besides considering travel sized toiletries, another essential aspect of packing light is downsizing your makeup! Of course, you want to look somewhat polished on vacation, but remember that makeup can take up a lot of space.

Because a lot of readers have asked me how I travel with makeup, I thought I’d share how I downsize my everyday makeup to a simpler travel routine. (I also share my skincare routine in this post and how I make it work for travel.)

Check out the video below to see how I organize my makeup items and get them downsized for a trip!



Watch this video to learn how I downsize my makeup for travel!


As you learned how to pack toiletries for a flight, the same applies here. Create a travel capsule makeup collection that includes only the essentials and eliminates the clutter. Travel mascara, brow liner, eyeliner, blush, and travel size lip color are the most visually enhancing products, giving you the biggest bang for your buck.




The Vera Bradley Cotton Cosmetic Bag has a washable lining and is great for holding cosmetics! Or you can use a small travel bag for toiletries for makeup too!


So, how do you build a capsule makeup collection? Here are the best ways you can downsize your cosmetics:

  • Decant products where you can: Things like foundation and concealer can be transferred to smaller containers; that way, if you lose your makeup bag, you won’t lose everything and have to start all over again.
  • Exclude duplicates and pack multi-use products: Determine if there are any products you already own that can work double-duty. Avoid makeup similar in purpose or color, and only choose one to pack.These travel size multitasking face makeup palettes might be small, but they offer a lot of options!
  • Opt for solid stick products: Makeup products, including liquids, gels, and creams, will need to go inside the quart size clear bag, along with the rest of your toiletries. Buying products like stick foundation and compact cream blusher will help maximize space.
  • Use Double-Sided Makeup Brushes: Bringing a bunch of brushes can be a pain. Instead of having many different eyeshadow brushes, I just use one that’s double-sided. My favorite is from EcoTools, and it’s one of the best multi-use makeup tools.


Another thing to consider is removing makeup—wipes or liquids can take up space. I use a makeup remover cloth, like the Original Makeup Eraser Cloth, which only needs water and removes waterproof mascara!


With these tips in mind, here’s a list of products you may or may not need; you’ll find a list of makeup examples below. Remember: be vigilant in eliminating what’s not necessary!



Sample Travel Size Makeup List:



​Learn all the ways I downsize my makeup for travel here!​




The wrong toiletry bag can make it difficult to organize products or be too bulky for a carry on, so choose what’s appropriate for your trip!


Step #5 – Choose the Right Toiletry Bag

Along with downsizing, a carry-all toiletries travel bag can keep your beauty care products organized while traveling.

Toiletry bags are travel pouches designed to hold everything from toothbrushes and toothpaste to shampoos and conditioners to skincare and makeup! These bags will keep all of your toiletries organized and mess-free and allow for easy packing in your suitcase, trip after trip.




The Bagsmart Hanging Toiletry Bag is #1 for readers due to its numerous water-resistant pockets, which keep everything organized!


Not all toiletry travel bags are created equal, and there are many different styles to choose from depending on your packing style, products, and the trip you’re planning. Here are the most popular types:

  • Hanging toiletry bags: Are the most popular style among readers, and I myself typically avoid toiletry bags that don’t have them! Hung up rather than sitting on a wet counter, hanging toiletry bags saves space and keeps things tidy and organized. The Vasco toiletry bag has been my go-to lately. It initially grabbed my attention with its slim, flat design that won’t take up a lot of space in a carry-on suitcase or personal item.
  • Non-hanging toiletry bags: Some travelers prefer a classic, non-hanging toiletry bag. They’re often more compact, polished, and sometimes more versatile than their hanging counterparts. If you’re staying at an accommodation where you’re not worried about counter space, then these bags are great. A popular one is the Away Large Toiletry Bag.
  • Dopp kit for women: Typically slim and rectangular, dopp kits are practical when it comes to packing. They feature a simple main compartment that makes it easy to see everything and have plenty of versatility in terms of what fits inside. Readers love the Quince Nappa Leather Toiletry Bag!
  • Cosmetic Bags: While excellent for storing makeup, travel cosmetic bags also make great toiletry bags if you’re looking for a nice open space to organize your products. It’s a simple, fuss-free way to keep your toiletries packed away. TFGs really love Longchamp, and many have sung the praises of their compact cosmetic bag for makeup or small toiletries.


Tip: If you’re traveling carry on only, keep that quart-size ziplock bag (storing your liquids) easily accessible when you get to the airport. Once you get through security, place them back into your toiletry bag.


Check out all the best toiletry bags for travel in our ultimate guide! 




No matter how long a trip is, a toiletries packing checklist can make planning and organizing less stressful!


Step #6 – Use a Printable Toiletries Packing List


To ensure that you don’t forget to bring anything on your trip, we’ve created a helpful printable toiletries checklist.  Click here or click the image below to open the editable file.



Click here to download


The list features unique categories to help you pack for your trip efficiently and includes all the items listed in various categories above and has spaces where you can fill in your own information:

  • You can write in an item’s weight (lighter items mean less overall baggage weight).
  • You can note if you need to purchase something or if you already own it.
  • And most importantly, you can organize where you’ll pack each item including suggested packing organizers like these.


Read this article for a printable packing list for clothing and shoes!



What are your tips for packing toiletries for air travel? Share with us in the comments!





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