I’m a big overpacker. If I need to pack for a weekend, then I’ll pack what I would really need for a full week. I need to have multiple choices for all planned activities and options for activities not yet planned, and I always am unsure of the weather. This goes for both clothing and beauty products. I can easily bring four large eyeshadow palettes on a three day vacation.
This is a habit that I’ve been trying to break, and my ultimate goal is to reduce myself down to a carry-on for travel. My biggest sticking point has always been the 3-1-1 bag — carry-on beauty packing is not easy! It is really hard to be a beauty addict and fit all of your grooming products into that bag! It turns out, there are some big tricks to packing that 3-1-1 bag and still having all of your basic beauty products.
Fit It All In A Carry-On 1 of 16
After years of trying to fit everything I need for a weekend into a carry-on bag, I've learned the tricks of the trade. Read on to find out how even a beauty addict can pack lightly!
The 3-1-1 Bag 2 of 16
The TSA allows each 1 quart-sized, clear plastic, zip-top bag holding 3.4 ounce (or 100 mL) or smaller containers. You need to put all liquids, gels, and aerosols into the bag, but solids and wipes are not included in the bag. You'll need to convert everything possible from liquid to solid or wipe form to remove it from the 3-1-1 bag.
Eliminate Liquids 3 of 16
When you list the liquids that most women consider "must-have" products for travel, it is amazing to realize how many of them can be converted over to a solid product. Shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, and even toothpaste all have alternatives in a solid form.
Shampoo and Conditioner 4 of 16
I'm a girl who takes her hair very seriously, and many times I have shown up at a hotel to find that I'm not a fan of their complementary products. Luckily, Lush makes several solid bar options for shampoo and conditioner, so you're sure to find a formula that works for your hair! These products work just as well as my normal liquid products, but don't take up precious 3-1-1 bag space.
Face Wash and Treatments 5 of 16
Almost everyone has tried a makeup removing wipe for those nights that you're too tired to go through an entire skincare routine before falling into bed. But did you know that you could upgrade your wipes to a version that will treat your skin with what is left behind? There are options for anti-aging, fighting blemishes, cleaning out your pores, and even soothing the irritation of travel. Many of these wipes do dual purpose as a treatment product, letting you leave your regular serum home for short trips.
Ole Henrikson Truth To Go Vitamin C Wipes $15
Murad Clarifying Wipes For Blemish-Prone Skin $18
Garnier Soothing Remover Cleansing Towelettes $5.95
Alba Botanica Hawaiian 3-in-1 Clean Towelettes, Deep Pore Purifying $5.99
Toothpaste and Lotion 6 of 16
Perhaps the hardest to replace is toothpaste. You can make your own tooth powder, or chew a Lush Toothy Tab, and then brush like usual with the powder in your mouth. Brushing with powder can take a little getting used to, but you'll feel every bit as clean!
Lush also has a collection of solid body butters. It does take a bit of practice to get the bar to melt into your skin at the end of your shower, but after rinsing, your body will be super moisturized.
Makeup Trade Outs 7 of 16
There are a few products that most of us use in a liquid form, and with a few easy change outs, you might find a new favorite — or at least make some room in your 3-1-1 bag. A stick or cream foundation can offer great coverage, concealer in a stick form can cover that pesky under eye circle more easily than a lightweight liquid, and a glossy balm offers the same shine and translucent color as a gloss.
Decant 8 of 16
There are some products that you just won't want to leave at home for travel, and in those cases I recommend decanting into special containers. I tend to be more selective than just grabbing what is in the "travel" area at my local big box store. If you look around, you'll find some very specialized containers that will save you a ton of space!
Bottles 9 of 16
There are certain products that I just can't bear to swap out for solids or wipes, so they'll just need to come with me. For products that are liquid, I prefer the Nalgene travel bottles. They come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, are inexpensive, and never leak or spill! They're perfect for that body wash you can't bear to part with. For products that are thicker and will be hard to get out of a bottle, I use a GoToob. These tubes are thick rubber, so you can easily squeeze out product when you need it.
humangear GoToob, 3 pack $22.49
Nalgene Wide-Mouth Leakproof Bottles $0.79-$4.49
Kiehl's Aromatic Blends: Nashi Blossom & Pink Grapefruit Liquid Body Cleanser $24
Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream $10.79
Small Atomizers 10 of 16
For liquids that are very lightweight and you only need a small amount of, consider decanting into a small atomizer. These sprayers aren't only for your favorite perfume; they'll also work for toner, mouthwash, hydrating face oils (I refuse to travel without my beloved Kiehl's Midnight Recovery), and even lightweight facial serums.
The Container Store Mini Sprayers $2.29
Sephora Collection Colorful Universal Atomizers $16
Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate $46
Murad Resurgence Hydrating Toner $26
Rembrandt Deeply White + Peroxide Fluoride Mouthwash $6.99
Decanting Assistance 11 of 16
Sometimes, decanting is much harder than it should be. Luckily, there are a few cheap products out there to help get the product into its new container. A mini spatula can help pull product out of an "empty" bottle, and a mini funnel can save you untold amounts of time.
Smaller Containers for Makeup 12 of 16
Usually when decanting, there are products that take up quite a bit of space but that you probably never thought of decanting. Like your foundation or your favorite face primer. You can put enough for a day or two in either side of a contact lens case, saving a lot of space. Small jars can work for longer trips or for products you might a little bit more of, such as hair smoothing cream.
AquaRefresh Contact Lens Case $2.99
Nalgene Leakproof Jars $1.99-$2.19
Freeze 24/7 Freeze and Go Primer $70
Urban Decay Naked Skin Foundation $39
Oscar Blandi Pronto Gloss Instant Glossing Cream $21
Samples Are Your Friend 13 of 16
You don't always need to find a replacement product or decant to bring your favorite product with you. Some brands are generous with samples of their most popular products, especially if you mention you'd like a few for travel and you're already buying full size versions in the store. I opt for skin care treatments like hydrators, scrubs, and masks that I might need to help deal with the stress of travel, but only in very small amounts.
Individually Sized Products 14 of 16
There are some items available that come in individual serving sizes. Throw a few into your 3-1-1 bag, and dispose of them as you use them. They're perfect for travel!
Smaller Travel Sized Version 15 of 16
The holiday season is the perfect time to be stocking up on travel-sized products. Many of your favorite brands are putting out collections of their most popular products in smaller containers, and they are often refillable. Most of these products are only available as a full-size the rest of the year.
Bring Your Tools 16 of 16
When packing space allows, it really is worth it to bring your own hair appliances. Who hasn't spent over an hour "quickly" drying their hair with the hotel blow dryer? Or had their hair frizz out because of a change in water, but not had a flat iron with them? If you have a little extra space, having your own hair tools with you can save a lot of time and headache.