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The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for a Perfectly Packed Travel Toiletry Bag

Vacation is exciting, but packing—not so much. This toiletry bag cheat sheet, modeled after the new pre-fab design from Birchbox, can help you cover the bases stress-free.


Toiletry bag

Sure, you could buy Birchbox’s first ever limited-edition, neoprene dopp kit and instantly have everything you need for your next trip—voilá. But if you’d like to customize your travel toiletry bag with your personal favorites, start with a great bag. “Choosing one bag to hold everything ensures you keep track of everything and limit the quantity of items you bring,” explains Anna Bauer, Thumbtack pro organizer and founder of Sorted by Anna. You’ll want something spacious enough to fit all your essentials—in TSA-approved sizes, of course—but not so big that you can’t throw it in your carry-on. Other important attributes? Look for a bag that’s lined (hey, leaks and spills happen) and easy to clean. Herschel Supply Co. Chapter Travel Kit is rendered in a durable ballistic weave, so it can stand up to major wear and tear. And it comes in fun floral, camo, and leopard prints. Don’t be afraid to borrow a bag from the guys! Merona Men’s Nylon Dopp Kit is super sturdy and affordable at just $15! Don’t miss these genius ways to organize your makeup bag.

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Every dermatologist on the planet will tell you that—regardless of the weather or time of year—sunscreen is a must. When it comes to optimizing space in your travel bag, multi-purpose formulas are a must. Opt for a dual-purpose face and body formula—but be sure to read the label carefully, because when it comes to your face, it needs to be non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores. (If you have acne-prone skin, these are the sunscreen ingredients to watch out for.) Try: Aveeno Protect+Hydrate Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30 or Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen with Cellular Response Technology SPF 50. , You can also try a face formula that doubles as makeup. Need help navigating the product-packed sun care aisle? These are the 13 sunscreens top dermatologists actually use on themselves.

03-How-to-Pack-the-Perfect-Travel-Toiletry-Bag-maybellin-via-target.comMaybelline via


Lack of sleep and dry plane air can cause skin to look less than its best. Any makeup pro will tell you that concealer is a must for covering problem areas—particularly dark circles and redness around the nose—plus blemishes, if you have them. Look for an oil-free formula that has an applicator/tube combo for easy on-the-go application. Try: Maybelline Fit Me! Concealer and Covergirl Ready Set Gorgeous Concealer. These are the 10 brilliant concealer tricks every makeup-wearing woman needs to know.

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Fragrance rollerball

First off, whoever came up with the rollerball concept is a downright genius! Not only are they beyond convenient to apply (dab on pulse points and go), but they’re less likely to spill than sprays. Now, when it comes to the actual fragrance, we recommend steering clear of anything overly saccharine or overpowering. After all, travel often causes us to spend time in some pretty confined spaces (ahem, planes) and you want to be respectful of those around you. The Birchbox dopp kit has a Citrine Eau de Parfum rollerball from Nest, a cheery blend of sparkling citrus, lotus flower, and freesia. Or, consider something fresh and subtly floral, like philosophy Pure Grace Fragrance. Or perhaps something with uplifting citrus notes, like Lavanila Vanilla Grapefruit Fragrance, or Pacifica Malibu Lemon Blossom Roll-on Perfume. For those that aren’t too keen on perfume, an essential oil blend is a great alternative. Try: 21 Drops Carry On or Yuni Pocket Savasana Aroma Concentrate. Read up on the seven essential oils that calm anxiety.

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Lip and cheek tint

“Be realistic about your beauty routine on vacation. If you tend to not to wear a lot of makeup on vacation, opt for products that do double duty,” notes Bauer. A multi-tasking tint is sure to brighten up your complexion, without taking up extra space. Birchbox packs Supergoop! Perk Up! Lip & Cheek Treat SPF 40, a double-duty balm for the perfect flush on lips and cheeks that also protects against sun damage. You can also try Pixi By Petra MultiBalm, infused with nourishing rosehip oil, it glides on like a cream dream. Natural beauties will love 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Lip & Cheek Tint, which blends shea and cocoa butters and fruit pigments and is available in six super pretty colors. Here’s more multitasking makeup to save you time, money, and space in your toiletry bag.

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Dry shampoo

After a long-haul flight, locks can look less than ideal. (Don’t miss the secrets to not looking like a mess after hours on an airplane.) Whether you’re dealing with limp, lifeless, or greasy strands, dry shampoo is going to be your savior. Aerosol formulas (3 oz. or less, of course) tend to travel better than powders, which are more prone to spillage. Try: Eva NYC Freshen Up Dry Shampoo – 1 oz or Batiste Original Clean & Classic Trial Size. These are the nine things you don’t know about using dry shampoo.

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Face wipes

When traveling, you never know where the day, or night, might take you—or when you’ll get ice cream all over your hands, so it’s always best to be prepared with a pack of handy cleansing clothes. While most wipes come in resealable packs that are pretty already portable, they tend to take up a lot of space. Thankfully, some brands make specific travel-sized packs—perfect for freshening up after a long flight (or a grueling workout), or taking it all off before bed. Try: Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes – 7ct or Yes to Cucumbers Facial Wipes Trial Size. Wondering how bad it is to sleep in your makeup? Here’s what you need to know.

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No matter how little sleep you got the night before, mascara always seems to make it better. And these tiny tube are so darn cute! Try: Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash Mascara Deluxe Mini or Clinique Chubby Lash Fattening Mascara Travel Size. Looking for a new formula for at home? These drugstore mascaras deliver mega long lashes.

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Snack bar

When hunger strikes, you don’t know how far you might be from a nutritious snack. Your best bet? Pack your own. Birchbox has Pressed by KIND Fruit Bars in flavors like mango. Larabar Cashew Cookie tastes deceptively delicious for only containing two ingredients (cashews and dates). If you’re craving something crunchy, salty, and sweet, we suggest KIND Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt Bars. To keep up your healthy habits at work, check out the nutritious snacks you should always keep in your desk drawer.


Face mist

Whether midday or mid-flight pick-me-up, a face mist is a must. Just do yourself a favor and swap glass for plastic or aluminum containers, which are less likely to break on turbulent flights and and bumpy car rides. Tonymoly Pocket Bunny Sleek Mist is infused with a plethora of fruit extracts, and Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist SPF 50 – 1 oz has the added benefit of sun protection!


Hand sanitizer

Keeping germs at bay is ultra important while on the road. EO Lavender Hand Sanitizer Spray .33 oz is so slender you can practically fit it anywhere. And individually-packaged Wet Ones Antibacterial Hands & Face Wipes Singles wipes are great for disinfecting any dirty hands, faces, and surfaces you might encounter along your travels.

Lindsay Cohn
Lindsay Cohn is an avid traveler who has visited 45 countries across six continents and writes about travel for Reader’s Digest as well as USA Today, Fodor’s, Travel + Leisure, Brides and PureWow. Beyond travel, she covers a variety of lifestyle topics including beauty, wellness and design. Her work has also been published on Well+Good, Elle Decor, Martha Stewart, Domino and Mindbodygreen. Follow her on Instagram @lindsay_cohn

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