3-1-1, No Problem

I stayed with a good friend in DC last year. She was off to Italy for 2 weeks with 2 checked bags and two carry-ons. That was me 4 years ago. Her ratio of items was totally different from me though. She had one checked bag of toiletries and another with three-quarters shoes and one-quarter clothes. I would have had two bags almost completely full of clothes, you know, just in case I got invited to a wedding or something. Now I have always struggled with the shoes thing, finding the perfect pair to go through many outfits is a toughie and deserving its own post. But an entire suitcase of toiletries? Sure, if you're moving for a year to Africa maybe.

The fact that I've come a long way was emphasized this weekend when I followed a friend into the hotel I was staying at in Salt Lake. I asked her if she was extending her stay after the conference she was attending over the weekend and she said "No, I just like my gels." as she dragged in a suitcase almost as big as she was. When she looked at my small roll-on, she was astounded and asked how I do it. So here you go, my two cents worth.
Travel Toiletries

Basic daily must-haves for purse size makeup bag are: pressed powder compact, travel-size cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen combo, lip balm, lip color, mascara, travel-size hand sanitizer and breath mints. Anything more is probably extra and hard to justify. Ask yourself why you need it.
  1. Need a facial scrub? Grab packets of regular white sugar from the restaurant. Just lather up your face with a cleanser, then scrub in the sugar using your finger tips in small circular motions.
  2. Q-tips work just as well as brushes, don't pack a ton of brushes.
  3. Don't pack blush. You can use a great lipstick color as a cream blush or buy a lip/cheek stain. Choose lighter shades and blend on after foundation but before powder.
  4. Shampoo & conditioner are available in 99% of hotels. If you're going the hostel or couchsurfing route I would suggest solid shampoos from Lush rather than fooling with more items in your 3-1-1 bag.
  5. Don't use the size of your toiletries as an excuse. You can alway repackage them. You can find some really cute toiletry bottles to repackage everything in. The ones below are from the UK, but you can get them almost anywhere.
  6. If you really need to scrimp, your hotel can probably provide you toothpaste and a toothbrush once you get there, but I wouldn't chance it.
  7. Use hair conditioner instead of shaving cream.

The items above are a picture of my typical travel toiletry bag for trips less than 3 weeks. In addition to the list above, I usually add in hand lotion, undereye concealer and deep cleaning wipes. The wipes are great when on a plane because really, who wants to wash their face in an airplane bathroom? All the liquids easily fit in a single quart-size bag. Take a look at your toiletries, and you'll probably be able to trim it down to the point where you can fit it all in your carry-on. When I travel these days I fit all of my toiletries, wet and dry in my 3-1-1 bag if its a less than 1 week trip. Unbelievable to think.