Slobodanka Graham


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[Podcast: Episode 5] Cosmetics and toiletries: what to pack?

[Podcast: Episode 5] Cosmetics and toiletries: what to pack?

Travel light cosmetics

Hello all light travellers! In this podcast, I talk about what cosmetics and toiletries to pack and how to travel with light luggage only.

I recently published a podcast about The Planepack Essential Travel List where I spoke about the clothes I take with me for a two or three week overseas trip. As mentioned, I travel and fly with carry on luggage only. That means I carry on only 7 kgs in my hand luggage - and that has to accommodate all my clothes plus my toiletries. 

When I prepare and pack for an overseas trip, I usually add my toiletries at the end. Cosmetics and toiletries, as far as I'm concerned, are more dispensable than clothes and shoes: you can always buy small items as you need them on holiday or when travelling. Packing toiletries once I have all my clothes selected means I can add or remove bottles and tubes to make sure I'm under the permitted weight.

Size matters

When it comes to cosmetics, it is essential that you carry on products that are only 100 ml in size. That's 100 ml for toothpaste; 100 ml for shampoo, and so on. Airlines do not permit you to take liquids and lotions in bigger quantities. Don’t make the mistake of taking any lotions that you’ve started to use where the quantity might be less than 100 ml, but is in a larger container. That 50 ml body lotion in the 200 ml bottle is going to be thrown away by the customs official; they don’t have time to measure weight - they just go by what the number on the container states.

Similarly, don’t forget that an impulse purchased bottle of wine will be dumped at customs - unless you buy duty-free bottles, which you are permitted to take on board. So leave those reds behind or buy duty-free if you must.

Talking about rules and regulations, I came across this recent update from the USA:

when it comes to liquids, the 3-1-1 rule still applies to carry-on bags. Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces [100 ml] or less per container; must be in 1-quart-sized [950 ml], clear, plastic, zip-top bag, and only one bag is allowed per passenger. TSA: What not to carry on your flight, Tuesday, May 2nd 2017, 6:52 am AESTTuesday, May 2nd 2017, 6:52 am AESTBy: Susanna Black, Weekend Anchor/Reporter

Based on their advice, your total amount of carry on cosmetics should not exceed 950 ml of content. Using this as a guide, my Planepack cosmetics list contains about 800 ml of content - well within the limit!

The Planepack cosmetics list

This is my essential toiletries and cosmetics packing list:

Slobodanka's toiletries

Slobodanka's toiletries

  • Toothbrush. I like an electric toothbrush. A charged electric toothbrush will have power to last for two weeks. It’s your decision to take the charger, or after two weeks switch to use the electric toothbrush as a traditional toothbrush.
  • Toothpaste
  • Moisturiser
  • Cleanser
  • Cotton cleanser pads
  • Earbuds
  • Body lotion (if not staying at hotels)
  • Shampoo (if not staying at hotels)
  • Conditioner (if not staying at hotels) - Hotels usually supply sample bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body lotion.
  • Sun tan lotion: I buy sun tan lotion at my destination. 
  • Perfume (one thing I cannot do without; I usually take a new 50 ml bottle with me as a summer treat.)
  • Makeup. I only use lipstick. Its up to you to take whatever makeup you think is absolutely necessary.
  • Medications. I take an antiseptic gel and headache pills. Mr PetMan takes tummy sickness prevention pills. I empty medications from their boxes and take only the blister packs: less packaging means less weight.
  • Samples: I collect cosmetics samples during the year and take these. They are light and easy to pack and carry, and I find it fun to try out new products when I’m on holiday. 

A few final tips

My advice is: don't stress too much about toiletries and cosmetics - unless you're travelling in remote areas where you absolutely cannot buy any. Take just the essentials - and have fun trying out new brands while you're on holiday.

One word of caution though, if you're buying lotions and shampoos overseas, you might find it challenging to get these in small amounts or travel-size packs. In Australia its easy to buy small containers; I didn't find it that easy in Europe. I solved this by swapping or giving away any unused lotions to a friend or family member. You can decant what you need into your small containers - and give the rest away. If you don't have small containers, pharmacies usually have these for purchase - or they give them away with certain products. 

Next time you travel, lay out your cosmetics and toiletries like you would your clothes - and consider what you absolutely need - and what you can do without. You might be surprised how much lighter your carry on luggage will be.

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