Toward the end of last year, I decided I was sick of packing, unpacking, and repacking for the number of short trips I go on. This was near the end of the holiday season, when visits to Chicago, Iowa, upstate New York, and Disney World in a matter of weeks had really started to wear on me.
One of the changes I’m making is that I’m switching to some “full time” packing items. I’ve now got a toiletry / liquids bag and an electronics pouch that will remain stocked and packed at all times.
No more scrambling around the apartment before we head out the door to grab lightning cables or realizing at 11PM that, once again, I forgot toothpaste. Now, all that stuff stays packed in pouches that get thrown in my bag when it’s time to pack and gets restocked quickly when I get home. Since we have TSA Precheck, the liquids bag doesn’t even have to leave my backpack in domestic airports.
In this post, I’ll discuss what’s in my toiletries and liquids bag.
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The Liquids Bag Itself
I use this CGBE Quart Sized Toiletry Bag. They came in a three pack, so I’ve actually got two fully packed and ready to go with a third being used for some other purposes. There’s nothing fancy about the bag but it works fine. I recommend a multi-colored option (if available) so you know immediately which one is your go-to and which one is a backup.
Toothpaste. One thing that I can’t understand is 1 oz “travel size” toothpaste. That’s maybe enough toothpaste for one trip, but we all know you inevitably get to the middle of a trip down the road having to squeeze every molecule out of that bottle wondering why you’d ever buy 1 oz of toothpaste to begin with. TSA allows 3 ounces, and we compromise at 2 ounces.
Toothbrush. This is a personal decision. I go with a cheap foldable travel toothbrush, but some people may be more discerning.
Mouthwash. Maybe 3 ounces of mouthwash is excessive, but it’s the size I go with. I think a smaller 50 ml (under 2 ounce) amount is probably a better size for most people.
Floss. I go with a small roll, but I confess to not being the best flosser.
Deodorant. Not much to say here, except make sure you don’t have a liquid deodorant over 3 ounces. Also, keep in mind that airplane cabin pressure can mess with anything that isn’t totally solid. I had to ditch a gel deodorant that kept getting greasy on the outside anytime we flew. Now I use solid Native deodorant.
Hand Sanitizer. This one actually goes in and out of my liquids bag during a trip. It spends most of its time magnetically clipped onto my backpack, but it goes in the liquids bag for airport security. I use one with a carabiner, but Emily uses one like this.
Sanitizing Wipes. These are used almost exclusively on airplanes to wipe down armrests, seatbelt buckles, and tray tables that Zoe will be touching immediately before putting their fingers in their mouth.
Chewable Pepto Bismol. My standard stomach relief item for my kit is chewable Pepto Bismol. I overall prefer stronger TUMS and will probably switch to those soon.
Cough Drops. There are lots of reasons for these, but I want to pick a straightforward one. Maybe you have a nagging, long-term cough. Maybe you swallowed some crackers wrong. Whatever the reason, no one wants to hear you cough the whole plane ride these days.
Ibuprofen. My preferred pain reliever. Not one I need too often, but sometimes I’m awful at balancing flying, hydration, and coffee and wind up with a killer headache in the afternoon.
Child Ibuprofen (w/ syringe). In Iceland you have to go to a pharmacy to buy children’s Ibuprofen. In Iceland, Zoe caught COVID and then screamed for about an hour in the car between cities while we raced to track down Ibuprofen for the fever. We now travel with children’s Ibuprofen.
Bandaids. Our toddler likes to pick at their fingers and gets the occasional scrape falling down, so I threw a few bandaids into my toiletry kit.
A Dude Wipe. Dude wipes were a staple of the runner swag bag for the years I was running a lot of races, so I have a few. I decided it’s a good idea to keep at least one flushable wipe on hand. If anything, these should probably make it into my daypack, rather than be tucked away safely at the hotel most of the trip.
Odds and Ends
Travel sunscreen. We visit Florida with some frequency, so sunscreen is a must-have.
A spare Ziploc bag. This is mostly for the hand santizer to go in and out of, but it’s a good thing to have on hand. Several other items above, like the mouthwash and children’s ibuprofen are kept in Ziplocs, too.
Earplugs. I don’t actually use these often, and I prefer to try and fall asleep with headphones in if noise is a problem. I carry some I’ve picked up over the years from airlines and hotels, but here are some for sale if you need to buy some.
Hair clips. For our long-haired toddler.