Minimalist Travel

Pack like a Minimalist: My Minimalist Toiletries for Every Trip

Last Updated on August 26, 2020 by queenie mak

Packing for a trip can be fun and also a task at times. Especially when it comes to packing travel toiletries. It took me a while to figure out what I need to bring each time.

With all the new airline regulations for carry-on luggage and extra fees for checking in bags, budget travellers are finding ways to get around the system and not pay the exorbitant amount for just to checking in a bag.

This means travellers also have to abide by the strict Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations when it comes to bringing liquids in a carry-on bag.

And since I am a minimalist traveller where I only travel with my favourite minimalist backpack, I also make sure to bring a minimal amount of travel toiletries for every trip.

In this post, I’ll share with you all the items in my minimalist toiletry bag and show you how you can pack the perfect amount of toiletries to travel light.




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Benefits of travel with less

It has been quite the process of travelling with less.

I love travelling minimally because it allows me to focus on my journey instead of my stuff. I really enjoy packing light, which also means I cannot bring my whole bathroom with me.

Say goodbye to full-size facial products, multiple facial moisturizers, curling iron and anything else that doesn’t fit in my hanging toiletry bag and TSA-approved ziplock bag.

And by travelling with less, you save money by not buying additional products.




Minimalist Toiletries: What is in my Minimalist Toiletry Bag?

My minimalist toiletry bag is really two different bags. I always travel with a hanging toiletry bag and a small ziplock bag that is TSA-approved. The two toiletry bags hold all the items I need for every trip.


Inside my hanging toiletry bag, my set of toiletries include:

  • Toothbrush 
  • Floss
  • Comb
  • Eyeliner
  • 2 chapsticks
  • Tweezer
  • Nail clipper
  • Contact lens case
  • Soft hairband
  • Lush Godiva shampoo bar*
  • Diva Cup
  • Cotton pads*
  • Qtips*
  • Other items: hair tie, several hair clips, several safety pins 



Inside my TSA-approved bag, I have:

  • Toothpaste*
  • Facial cleanser*
  • Toner*
  • Face cream*
  • Sunblock*
  • Contact lens solution*



*Note – for these items, I only have a sufficient amount for a few weeks. For a trip for more than a few weeks, I typically buy other toiletries at my destination.





How to pack the most efficient minimalist toiletry bag



1. Use a hanging toiletry bag to keep your toiletry organized

One of my favourite travel tricks is to keep all my travel toiletries (other than liquids) in a hanging toiletry bag.

A hanging toiletry bag is essential for every type of traveller, especially if you are a backpacker. It keeps all the contents together, and you can hook it somewhere in the bathroom if there isn’t a whole lot of counter space.

Since my first purchase 10 years ago, I haven’t used anything else.

My favourite is the Muji hanging toiletry bag. I like the brand but it is mostly available in Asia, and parts of North America and Europe.


But here are some suggestions from Amazon. These hanging toiletry bags are similar in size and have similar functions and compartments.




2. Minimize the number of products you use during your trip

For my facial routine, I condensed it to three steps only: cleanse, tone and moisturize. Whereas if I am at home, I use another toner, eye cream and various face masks. While it is nice to have all the luxuries at home, I am completely happy to bring fewer products and still somewhat achieve the same facial routine.

And I keep my minimalist travel makeup kit very simple. I only have black eyeliner and lipstick. I always leave my blush, bronzer, eyeshadow and everything else at home. I really don’t need to put on my whole face while I am travelling. I love how my travel makeup routine is short and takes no time at all.




3. Bring enough liquid toiletries for two to three weeks only

The rule applies to all your liquid toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap and any other type of product in a liquid format.

Liquids tend to be heavy, and if you are only packing a 7kg carry-on luggage, you want to minimize as much liquid as possible.

If you want to travel like a minimalist, then don’t bring shampoo for the entire duration of your trip! Six months of shampoo is very heavy!

Use small bottles that are 100ml or less to store your liquids. Clear bottles that are 100ml are great because you can see what products you have. And they are TSA-approved. Which brings me to my next point…



4. Always use travel size bottles (100ml or less) and a TSA-approved toiletry bag

You may have a few travel size bottles that you can reuse. You know, the little sample bottles of products you get as a free gift when you purchase cosmetics? These are perfect for your travel-size toiletries kit!

If you don’t have the small travel size toiletry bottles, consider buying a whole set or several of the same size. Use it for your shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap, toner or anything else. The same size and style of the bottle allow for versatility.

Make sure the bottles are 100ml or less because you can only travel with bottles that are 100ml or less in your carry-on bag.

Then put the bottles in a TSA-approved toiletry bag. A TSA-approved toiletry bag is about 1 quart size bag.


Here are some ideas for travel toiletry bottles and TSA-approved toiletry bags:






5. Bring products that contain simple and natural ingredients

By using products that contain simple and natural ingredients, the goal is to minimize allergic reactions and any other complications.

I tend to have dry skin so products with natural ingredients work best for me as it doesn’t dry out my skin.

And if you travel long term, you can find similar products with simple and natural ingredients at your destination. Keep reading to find out more about how you can make your natural DIY products.



6. Swap your liquid product for a solid version

If it is at all possible, swap your liquid products like shampoo, conditioner, and liquid soap to a solid version.

Since TSA has strict guidelines on how much liquid you can bring in your carry-on bag, you may want to save your liquid “quota” for products that do not have an alternative version, like facial toner and sunscreen.

You can easily swap your shampoo, conditioner and soap from a liquid format to a solid version.

I always bring my Lush Godiva shampoo bar because it is lightweight and I can get about 80 washes from a small bar.

Shampoo bar, conditioner bar, and bar soap are lighter, which is perfect for your minimalist toiletries packing list.

And you can save a bit of money because you get more usage out of it than a liquid version. And it eliminates plastic waste. It is a win-win for both your wallet and the environment.


Here are some products I like from Amazon:




7. Buy toiletries at your destination especially if you are travelling extensively 

Whether you are going on a one week trip or slow travelling around the globe,  you only need to bring a few weeks of toiletries only.

You can find most of the products you use or a close alternative at your destination. I found most of my toiletries in Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America.

If you must use your products because you are used to particular products or if you are going to completely remote areas, then, by all means, bring them with you.

But if you want to travel light and pack a minimalist toiletry bag, then bring as little as you can and buy products along the way.






8. Use easy to find products to make natural products for long term travel

Since I only bring a few weeks of products, I typically have to find replacement products while I am on the road.

I like making my own natural products with easy to find ingredients that are good for my health and also great for the environment.

The key is to use ingredients that you can find almost anywhere. That means you should use simple and everyday products that you can find at supermarkets and pharmacies.


I’ve included my favourite natural DIY products below and all the products I use.



From the list above, I can make natural toothpaste, exfoliant for my face and body, facial toner, shampoo and moisturizer.

Learn how you can make your own eco friendly toiletries here.




Future goals for my minimalist travel toiletries

My minimalist toiletries list is not the perfect list for everyone.

The perfect list is one that fits your lifestyle and your needs.

However, I always think there is room for improvement, especially when it comes to sustainability and being mindful of waste.

Even though I do not bring or use a lot of products, there is still room for improvement.

Here are some things I am considering for the future when it comes to putting together my minimalist toiletry bag.




1. Swap current toiletries for eco-friendly toiletries

I’ve already swapped my feminine disposable products to a Diva Cup, which is one of the best things I ever did. But there is so much more I can do to help the environment.

One way is by swapping everyday toiletries to environmentally friendly products.

Here are some eco-friendly toiletries to consider for your next trip:

  • switch from a plastic toothbrush to a bamboo toothbrush
  • instead of using q-tips, buy a reusable ear cleaner that doesn’t produce waste
  • swap disposable cotton pads for a re-usable version
  • buy biodegradable floss instead of the regular floss


Below are a few suggestions on the type of products you might want to purchase for your travels:




2. Make your own DIY products before your trip

I have very lofty goals when it comes to my minimalist travel toiletries and making sustainable products that will not harm the earth.

In the future, I would like to make natural soap, shampoo and conditioner bars before my trip. I already started my research, and I am very excited to experiment a bit.

The process will require a bit of planning, purchasing ingredients and finding a place and time to make the products. So stay tuned!




Are you inspired to bring fewer toiletries for your next trip?

Packing less is not an easy task and especially for all the essential items that we all rely on every day.

But there are many ways to travel with less. And each of us will have a different list of items in our travel toiletry list so have fun with creating your own and don’t feel you are bound by any type of restrictions (other than the TSA ones! Ha!).

I hope you enjoyed this post as I had a lot of fun writing about it. I hope my toiletries packing list will inspire how you pack your toiletries for your next trip.



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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 18+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

1 Comment

  • hfghgfh
    September 17, 2020 at 8:29 pm

    • Loved your article.
    • Loved your blog
    • Your blog is impressive


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