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Travel Toiletries: On-the-Go Must-haves

Most people think of airline travel when they hear "travel toiletries", yet many of these pocket-sized conveniences are just as at home in your purse as in a suitcase! Miniature versions of our favorite cosmetic and hygiene products have become increasingly popular given the new TSA guidelines for flying with liquids. This means a whole new world of portable conveniences ready to fit in your everyday bag!

TSA Regulations When Traveling with Liquids

The new federal regulations for carry-on liquids state that you cannot have more than a 3oz. container of liquid or gel packed in your carry-on luggage. This means your perfumes, shampoos, hair gel, and body wash all have to be contained in a bottle no larger than 3oz.

You can have as many bottles as you want, but they all must fit in a single 1-quart sized zip-top clear plastic bag. Only a single 1 quart bag is permitted per passenger, and it must be removed at the security line to go through the scanner. The liquid rule, known as the 3-1-1 rule, does not allow for containers larger than 3oz., even if there is less than a 3-ounce portion of the contents within the bottle.


Travel-Size Trinkets: Where to Buy

When you're looking for mini-sized versions of your favorite brands, you often need look no further than your grocery store or local pharmacy. Most major grocery chains carry a small selection of the basic needs for travel: shampoo, body wash, deodorant, toothpaste.

If you're looking for a wider variety of brands and items, most Bed, Bath and Beyond stores have a whole section of bins filled with everything from travel-size mouthwash to hand lotions. They also carry empty 3oz. bottles in TSA approved bags to fill with your favorite shampoo if it doesn't come in travel size.

Some travel specialty stores also carry a good stock of portable toiletries, as do airports. However, airports tend to charge much higher prices for the convenience factor, so shopping early at your local stores is often a better choice.

The Bare Necessities

For short business trips that involve just a few nights, 3oz. size shampoos and other items will be perfect for your needs. Many major shampoo brands such as Pantene, Herbal Essences, and Suave produce their original, normal formula shampoos in travel-size bottles. If you use a special formula that you don't want to leave home without, filling your own empty travel bottle packs is your best option.


Shaving creams and gels have also made their way to portable sizes. Gilette, Barbasol and many other shaving companies make compact sized cans for portability and airline compliance. Just be sure you're not packing a straight razor!

Perfumes are often difficult to travel with, as most bottles exceed the 3oz. rule and very few companies sell TSA-compliant sizes. You may need to purchase a small pump spray bottle to fill with your favorite fragrance when traveling. Eagle Creek has a great set of 4 bottles with pop, flip, spray and pump interchangeable tops, as well as 2 pill cases and a toothbrush holder. It's all TSA compliant (case too!) and allows you to take your favorite toiletries along.

If you're not picky about the brands you use and want just the basics, many drug stores and general goods stores carry pre-packed travel kits to suit a variety of needs. Convenience Kits International has a large selection of kits tailored to men, women, babies, and even specific brands or body needs. Many stores also sell combination sets with a collapsible toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash for a quick grab-and-go solution.

Everyday Hygiene Items Your Bag Shouldn't be Without

Pocket-sized toiletries aren't just for travel anymore. There are plenty of instances in our daily lives where travel toiletries can come in handy, so they're worth packing in your purse, gym bag, or laptop case.


Hand sanitizers are becoming more common with the prevalence of new pandemics such as H1N1 or even the common flu. Purell and many other hand sanitizer brands offer compact bottles with secure snap lids, perfect for when the restroom runs out of soap, or your hands land on a sticky surface.

For cleaning germ-prone surfaces such as telephone receivers and shopping cart handles, moist anti-bacterial wipes are available in handy travel packs. WetOnes offers 15-sheet anti-bacterial hand wipe packs and 24-count individual wipe packets.

If you need a quick mouth refreshing but don't have the time for a full toothbrush job, Colgate Wisps are the perfect solution. It's like a tiny toothbrush and paste in one, plus it's disposable and comes in a 2-pack. They're easily found in the oral care aisle of most grocery and drugstores.

It's also a good idea to keep some dental floss picks in a small baggie for those stubborn little pieces of food that get stuck when you're not near your bathroom.

Finding More Convenient-Sized Travel Items

If you don't want to pay for the empty bottle sets in travel kits, or really don't need a 3oz. bottle, there may be some good solutions already in your home! A great tip for transporting small amounts of liquid, like eye makeup remover, is to put some in a clean empty contact lens case. They're airtight and perfect for liquids you only need a small amount of in a few days.


Another great small bottle find that adheres to TSA rules are extract bottles. An empty vanilla extract bottle is perfect for small amounts of liquid - just be careful as many are still glass. McCormick bottles have also started using flip-top lids, which may not be as secure as the older screw caps so be sure to properly wrap these bottles if used.

Almost all hotels provide small 1-2 use samples of shampoo, bar soaps, and even sometimes conditioner, lotion, and mouthwash right in your room. These are free to use and take home, and you can often request any forgotten common items from the front desk (though sometimes for a fee). Higher end hotel chains will even have brand-name samples waiting in your bathroom.

Don't forget that many companies offer sample sizes of their new products to get consumers to try new brands and items. There are plenty of free sample sites like Shop4Freebies that list sample-size offers from around the Internet. Even large retailers such as Walmart have created free samples and savings pages that let consumers request samples of new and featured products. These samples are often mini-versions of the full thing - perfect for travel!