There's nothing worse than lugging around a heavy suitcase. Especially when you're jumping from country to country. I know from experience that overpacking not only becomes a huge hassle but can really ruin your mood. Especially if you're staying in hostels you should remember that your personal space is limited. You'll be given a single corner and maybe a large drawer. I always feel so proud of myself when I am able to pack strategically and lightly. In an ideal world, you should only need one toiletry kit. If there are any men reading this they're probably thinking, “Yea, obviously?” But for my nomad girls out there, I'm sure you know that the packing process is a difficult one full of choices to be made. Do you really need that full tube of body lotion or that 6 step Korean Skincare routine? If you're going on a leisurely trip and have the advantage of staying in your own place then, by all means, pack what you like. These five suggestions are for people who want to pack products they'll get the most use out of and avoid any overweight baggage charges. Now you'll have plenty of room for all your souvenirs!
1. Bar Shampoo & Conditioner
This is also something I recommend even if you aren't a traveller. I learned about solid shampoo and conditioner when I was researching about easy zero waste switches. Not only will you be creating less waste but you'll also be saving a lot of money. Bars of shampoo can last for up to 60 washes of hair. They're usually about the size of an Altoids tin can. They dry up after use so you don't have to worry about spillage in your bag and you don't have to think about the liquid restrictions that most airports have. If you're extra handy, you can make these on your own, saving even more money. Not only are bottles of shampoo and conditioner extra weight but I've always been taken aback when I find out how expensive they can be in other countries. Save yourself the trouble and pick up some bars of soap for all your shower needs.
2. Period Cup
This is another item that can be more commonly found on zero waste lists. It's quickly becoming more mainstream and for good reason. (If you're a guy reader I would suggest you skip this item because there's a whole lot of period talk.) Period cups are made out of silicon and entirely reusable. Most cups retail for about 25 USD. But once you purchase a cup you can use it for up to 10 years. On average a woman spends about 20 to 30 USD per month on period supplies. This price can vary when you have to buy these items abroad. I'm an advocate for Period cups for many reasons besides just minimizing my waste and saving the environment.
As intimidating as the switch may look, I strongly suggest doing it. I feel so much cleaner and more sanitary using a cup instead of pads or tampons.
A cup only needs to be removed and emptied twice a day, which I do in the shower in the morning and evening. I've been backpacking recently and was staying in a hostel when I got my period. Unfortunately, I had left my cup with my belongings in another town. I'll tell you, when you're sharing a bathroom with other people and sleeping in another bed, it can be really uncomfortable to get your period. Investing in a period cup will save you money and lots of uncomfortable moments. We all know how hard it can be to find a decent restroom when on the go, this will help out in terms of hygiene as well. As intimidating as it seems, do your research and I promise you'll never look back.
3. Baby Powder
This is probably the oldest staple in the book. In truth, it may seem outdated but Baby powder (or talcum powder) still proves to be a handy multi-use item. Spending a lot of time in the Philippines where the heat and humidity is something we battle every day, I got used to seeing my cousins pour some baby powder down the back of their shirts before they leave the house. According to them, it kept them fresh throughout the day. Others use it as easy foot powder to place in shoes that you don't wear socks with or that will make your feet sweaty. The most popular way that my sisters and I use it is as a dry shampoo.
Perfect for the days when you don't want to wash your hair or those mornings when your hair dried weird and you need something to soak up the excess oils. I prefer carrying a small bottle of powder instead of the dry shampoo that comes in spray cans because sometimes they don't pass the airport requirements. With a baby powder, you won't have any trouble. The next baby powder hack must be my favourite so ladies take note. Using a spool or old cleaned mascara brush, coat your eyelashes with a little bit of powder. Layer your favourite mascara on top and you'll have extra voluminous and thick lashes that will hold their curl all day long.
4. Pawpaw Ointment
This little tube became a cult favourite and mainstay on a lot of beauty lists over the past few years and for good reason. I used to hoard red tubes of Pawpaw ointment when I travelled to Australia. Made out of Australian Papaya, this ointment has a plethora of uses and really lives up to the hype. I like to use it as a lip balm, even slathering my lips with it overnight as a mask. I really believe it's handy because it has healing and antibacterial properties. You can apply it to burns, scars, or wounds. A problem I encounter when exploring a new city is that my thighs tend to chafe, creating bruises and soreness. Applying Pawpaw ointment immediately soothes my thighs and prevents them from being irritated further. The best part is that the most popular size, the 25g tube can fit anywhere and really lasts a while. This will surely become a staple both in your suitcase and medicine cabinet back home.
5. Toiletry Bag
This might sound like a no-brainer but buying the right toiletry bag will save you a lot of trouble. What exactly makes the right toiletry bag, you ask? I suggest the roll-up kind with three panels and plenty of pockets. But the real game-changer is one that you can hang on a hook. So make sure to keep an eye out for the bags that have some kind of handle. I've made the mistake of carrying three different toiletry bags and then having to juggle them and different products on the way to the bathroom. This is not something you want to deal with when on the way to a communal bathroom. It will also keep your belongings organized and remind you not to leave anything behind.
I can promise that you won't need three different makeup palettes or two jars of your favourite face masks. There are always lighter and more efficient ways to make sure you have all your beauty needs. Just pack smart and you'll be free to move and enjoy your next trip!