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Day 26: The Best Toiletries Bags for Every Trip

SmarterTravel

Packing Hacks is a 31-part series devoted to helping you become an expert packer! Each installment offers advice on how to get organized, pack smarter, save on bag fees, and eliminate packing stress. New to Packing Hacks? Start at the beginning.

Yesterday, we talked about how shampoos, soaps, and other such items can add up, making your travel load heftier. But is your toiletries bag contributing to the problem, too? In today’s post, we’ll help you sort it all out.

You’ll learn:

That size matters when selecting a kit

Which features are most helpful for your travel style

Where to find better TSA-friendly bag options

Cleanliness is next to godliness, and having a well-packed toiletries kit can help transform you from suitcase schlepper into the Ares or Athena of road warriors. Choosing the right size, weight, and style of case can make all the difference when it comes to packing just what you need for your trip. Here are a few things to consider, plus suggestions for bags we love.

Weight

It’s easy to blame those bottles of liquids and gels for adding weight to your dopp kit, but it could be that your toiletries bag itself is heavier than it needs to be. Consider options made with lightweight fabrics and be wary of extra buckles and doodads that can add weight. At just 2.8 ounces, Sea to Summit’s small Travelling Light Hanging Toiletry Bag is my go-to for every trip. It’s made with parachute-like “Ultra-Sil” material, it’s lined with lightweight mesh pockets, and it even has smaller-than-normal zippers. If you need to supersize, it also comes in a larger, but not much heavier, 4-ounce version.

Size

Be sure that you’re selecting a bag that’s just big enough for your traveling needs. Otherwise, it’ll just take up unnecessary space in your suitcase, and it might even encourage you to pack extra stuff. If all you need is to hold a few basic items, Flight 001’s F1 Aeronaut Mini Dopp Orange might be the perfect solution, at just 7.25 x 2 x 5 inches. Baggu’s similarly sized Small 3D Zip is machine washable and constructed with ripstop nylon.

If you have a lot to bring, the Pack-it-Flat Toiletry Kit from eBags will help keep things tidy and streamlined in your suitcase.

Style

The style of your toiletries bag is a personal choice, but it pays to ask yourself some questions. Are you a no-frills traveler who just wants to toss items into a bag and go? If so, a pouch-style bag like Lug’s Travel Essential Kit might be just enough to get you by. Do you have a lot of little things to pack, or do you like to stay super organized? Then a bag with multiple compartments, such as Baggallini’s Flat Fold Organizer or The Weekender from Sephora might be best for holding it all together.

Also, consider how you’ll use your bag. If you just want to set it on the counter so you can easily rifle through your things, then look for an option with a sturdy bottom and water-resistant material. But, considering that counter space is limited in many hotel bathrooms, a bag with a built-in hook can be an instant space saver. For a useful mix of everything, the versatile Hanging Toiletry Kit by Victorinox is sturdy, hangs, and is made with an antibacterial liner (which is helpful if it gets wet).

TSA-Friendly

If you’re toting toiletries in your carry-on, you’ll need to be mindful of TSA rules. But before you go reaching for that chintzy zip-top plastic bag, know that there are better-made (and classier) options that you can reuse over and over again. Flight 001 has a clear, carry-on-approved quart-sized bag and a mini version for just $10 each. Travelon’s version comes with reusable plastic bottles, jars, and an atomizer.

Extras

If you’re a maximizer and you want to get the most out of your kit, look for bags that do double duty and provide useful extras. For example, Dakine’s Prima 5L 15W soft-sided toiletries kit has convenient interior pockets (so you can easily store smaller items), plus a separate see-through vinyl TSA-friendly bag. SedaFrance offers an adorable cosmetics bag that comes with three removable pouches and a roll-up bag with four detachable zippered compartments.

Tip: Since bottles can leak in flight and it’s easy to pick up dirt and grime while on the road, look for bags that you can throw into the wash, or at least bags that you can easily wipe down once you’ve returned home.

Up next: Day 27: Essential Tips for Downsizing Your Toiletries Kit.

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