Quick Packing Tip: Have Two Sets of Toiletries

a group of bottles of cream and a towelOne of the easiest things to speed up your packing is to keep two sets of toiletries. Have one full size set that you use every day at home, and have a travel-size in a bag ready to go at all times. Some people may worry about the expense, but there are ways around that. One idea is to use samples from your favorite makeup store (Sephora in my case) or freebies from the hotel. Another way to cut costs is to simply purchase a set of toiletry bottles and fill them up. Sometimes I have had to purchase travel size toiletries, but that isn’t common–usually just contact solution and toothpaste. I have a mix of refillable toiletry bottles (love the Fillables from Aveda), samples, and free hotel toiletries. I keep them packed at all times, my liquids in a plastic Ziploc and the rest in a cute bag.

The only set I don’t keep duplicates of? Make-up. There aren’t a ton of sample or smaller options available, and so I would basically have to keep a whole second set. I’ve thought about getting less expensive makeup for travel, but my thoughts are that it is hard enough to look good while traveling, and I don’t want to use sub-par products. So I’m still working on that. I may have to just bite the bullet one of these days, especially after forgetting my makeup last month.

I am curious what other people do with their make-up. Readers, what do you do? Do you keep a full set of all of your toiletries, including makeup? Just shower stuff?



  1. I do the same. The makeup quandry has been with me for a while, and I don’t see a solution. And not just for travel. I have a gym bag that requires a whole set of toiletries since I either go before work or at lunch. So I have three sets: home, travel, gym.
    Makeup..I’ve tried having a second, subpar set to keep in the gym bag or for travel. I always end up at the drug store because I don’t want to spend the money for a twin set of the good stuff. And then I hate what I buy and end up bringing my good products anyway.

  2. Switching to mineral makeup made a huge difference in my packing – I have some small jars that I put enough foundation, blush, powder, eyeshadow, etc., in for that trip. I take a big brush to use for foundation and blush, then a smaller eyeshadow brush, plus mascara.

    I always take my own hair products – what is it with hotels not having conditioner lately?

  3. Great tip! I have traveled a lot for work over the last 4 years and I have always kept a complete set of travel toiletries filled and ready to go. This doesn’t cost extra because shampoo, conditioner, etc. don’t go bad and I will need the same amount of the products either way. For shampoo, conditioner, face wash, face lotion, and body lotion, I fill reusable containers using the bigger bottles I keep at home. I have found that some hotels offer very nice mini bottles that can be emptied, washed, and reused for my own products. For makeup I currently travel often enough (every week) that it makes sense for me to have duplicates of my mascara, foundation, and powder. If I was traveling less frequently, I might worry about the makeup going bad before I used it up. I even bought an extra flat iron so I don’t have to worry about forgetting to pack my home one or packing it while it is still hot. While buying duplicates might add a little extra cost, it is probably worth the piece of mind knowing you have everything you need already packed.

  4. I just buy empty travel bottles and fill them with shampoo etc. from my containers at home. That way I don’t spend more than I would have anyway.

  5. I kept two sets of everything. The first thing I did, however, was par down my makeup routine so there wasn’t so much to keep track of – foundation, powder, blush, mascara, and lipstick. I always wore the same color lipstick and had one in my purse, to-go bag, bathroom, and desk at work.

  6. I’m male, so makeup isn’t an issue 🙂 But on the notion of having a second set for toiletries – that’s exactly what I do. For shampoo/condition/hair gel, I actually got my salon to give me sample size bottles, which fit perfectly. Then, I actually purchase the salon-sized products (the really large ones they use when they wash your hair), which save money at home too.

    I also have a set of clothes that are pretty much dedicated to travel as well (basically, I’m always packed 🙂 )

  7. Get a second set of the good makeup. You’re going to use it all eventually anyway. You’re not spending any more by having duplicates, just making the investment a little sooner.

    Keep the newest set at home, and bring the half-used ones on trips with you. As you use up the travel set, rotate the stuff from home into your travel bag, and buy new for home.

  8. Traveling for business up to 40 weeks per year, I also keep a 2nd toiletry kit ready for travel including my preferred brand of cosmetics. I’ve built a friendship with the counter manager of my preferred brand at my favorite department store. She often provides skin care product, mascara, and perfume samples and, in return, I only shop with her. She occasionally has small sample bottles available for the asking. If you’re traveling internationally, look for the “all in one” makeup kits that are commonly offered in duty-free shops in Europe and Asia. My local outdoor specialists also carry a selection of small jars and bottles that are great for travel – their camper’s salt and pepper shakers work great for powdered mineral makeup. I also suggest using dual-purpose produts such as a tinted moisturizer (no separate foundation required) or a cream that works for both day and night to reduce the number of little bottles in your bag.

  9. There are some excellent brands of makeup that are not at all expensive. Don’t be scared to try them and you might be pleasantly surprised. I prefer natural cosmetics, Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm, for example. I also use virgin or extra virgin coconut oil (wonderful for cooking, btw) as a moisturizer for face and body, and even as a leave-in hair conditioner. But be VERY careful as a tiny bit goes a long, long way (especially on hair).

    I’m cheap but extremely fussy, too, so my makeup costs basically nothing but works great for me.

  10. Actually I keep three complete toiletry kits ready to go at all times; one for overnight or weekends away, a full bag for trips of a week or more and the third kit is for traveling with my family. The time I’ve saved by not having to re-think the packing of these essentials is worth whatever small amount it may cost.

    When I run out of something on the road, I put a note into the bag and make sure it gets replaced before the toiletry kit gets put back in the closet at home.

  11. I keep a minimal set of toiletries in my notebook bag, and another larger set in my roll on.

    Whenever possible (for free), I check in my roll on, so there is a possibility that it does not arrive with me.

    Statistically, it happens about one flight out of 20 for me, but never more than 24 hours late.

  12. I keep an extra set of toiletry items for travel but I only have one makeup bag. I keep the following in it: foundation, blush, several powders, eyeliners, mascara, pencils, brushes, etc. Surprisingly, it all fits in a rollable pouch (Sonia Kashuk from Target) that I use at home and on the road. I didn’t like the idea of buying duplicate items either and this seems to work.

    Love this blog — thanks!

  13. Love MHA’s response– I do the same thing and I always feel good about the products I’m using on the road. I keep refillable bottles of the products I use at home for most everything else and I feel more pampered on the road! I also keep a lavender travel candle in my bag and enjoy its fragrance when I am working in a hotel room in the evening or getting ready in the morning.

    I keep a “carry-on” bag packed and ready to go at all times. Everything is wash and wear and I never stress about packing and only have to think about how to accessorize for weather (tights, nylons, scarves, gloves, etc). It has helped me and has taken me over 7 years of regular travel to learn!

    Lastly, I keep an extra pair of flip-flops or comfortable UGG boots (depending upon time of year) in my car so that, after a long trip, I can feel more relaxed on the drive home. 🙂 It works!

    Thanks for this fabulous blog!

  14. If you don’t want to purchase a full size of your favorite products, try eBay. There are lots of sellers who don’t want their samples. If you get enough of them, you could end up the equivalent of a full size for half the price! Happy bidding!

  15. When space is an issue I combine my favourite shampoo and conditioner together in a small refillable and well sealing plastic bottle. I look out for small tubes of toothpaste and use that when travelling. Having a separate Jiffy bag with travelling contents helps to avoid forgetting something – like a good 5 blade razor!

  16. I keep a second set of toiletries, but just one bag of makeup. A lot of makeup should be tossed after just 3-6 months, and I don’t even empty any of my products in that timeframe when I’m using one set!

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