Photo of an open suitcase packed with at hat, camera, clothes, passport and headphones.

Which Toiletries are REALLY Necessary when Packing Light?

By: Vanessa Jordan

Image by Stefan Coders from Pixabay

Packing Toiletries for a Vacation: Essential Must-Haves for a Minimalist Carry-On


When it comes to packing for a vacation, one of the most challenging aspects is deciding which toiletries to bring. With limited space in a small carry-on, it becomes essential to prioritize and pack only the absolute necessities. Fortunately, there are numerous toiletries that can be easily purchased at your destination, lightening your load and freeing up precious space in your luggage. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the process of selecting the essential toiletries to pack, as well as those that can be conveniently bought anywhere.

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The Essentials


Travel-sized toiletries: Opt for travel-sized versions of your favorite products such as toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. These mini-sized items are compact, lightweight, and take up minimal space in your carry-on. Above is a little product I love! I love using the refillable perfume/colone atomizers for short trips, unless I am planning on buying a new full size bottle at the customs area in the airport.

Toothbrush and toothpaste: A small toothbrush and travel-sized toothpaste are must-haves to maintain your oral hygiene routine while on vacation. Consider packing a collapsible toothbrush to save even more space. Toothpaste can also be purchased anywhere. Here we are in Thailand getting toothpaste.

Deodorant: Choose a small deodorant stick or roll-on to keep you feeling fresh throughout your trip. Look for travel-sized options or transfer a small amount of your preferred deodorant into a travel container.

Skincare essentials: Prioritize your essential skincare items, such as a facial cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Opt for travel-sized containers or use reusable travel bottles to carry the required amounts.

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Medications: If you take prescription medications or require any specific over-the-counter remedies, pack them in their original packaging. It’s important to have an adequate supply for the duration of your trip. If you happen to need a pharmacy while on your trip, you should be ok. Many pharmacist speak a little English, if they don’t you can always use a translator app. (Which I recommend downloading and testing one before your trip.) Here is a great travel cooler bag for insulin.

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Purchase at Your Destination

Shampoo and conditioner: Most hotels and accommodations provide complimentary shampoo and conditioner. Unless you have specific requirements or preferences, leave these bulky items at home and use the ones available at your destination.

Body wash and soap: Similar to shampoo and conditioner, many accommodations provide basic toiletries such as body wash or soap. Check beforehand to ensure they’re available, and if so, eliminate the need to pack these items.

Hairdryers and styling tools: To save space and avoid potential damage, skip packing bulky hairdryers, straighteners, or curling irons. Most hotels provide hairdryers, and if needed, you can find inexpensive styling tools at local stores.

Disposable razors: If you use disposable razors, it’s best to leave them out of your luggage and purchase them upon arrival. They’re readily available at convenience stores or supermarkets, and you won’t have to worry about TSA regulations.

Liquid products: To avoid exceeding liquid restrictions imposed by airlines, consider purchasing items like face wash, toner, or makeup remover wipes at your destination. These can be easily found in local stores, saving you valuable space in your carry-on. I like using these clear travel bags, they are perfect for going through TSA and the best thing is…they are washable and reusable.

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Tips for Efficient Packing


Optimize space: Utilize packing cubes or travel organizers to maximize space and keep your toiletries organized. Roll clothing items instead of folding them to create additional room.

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Use multi-purpose products: Look for products that serve multiple purposes, such as a tinted moisturizer with SPF or a shampoo and conditioner combination. This helps reduce the number of items you need to pack.

Consider solid alternatives: Solid toiletries like shampoo bars, solid toothpaste, or solid deodorants are not only travel-friendly but also reduce the risk of spills in your luggage.


Packing toiletries for a vacation with limited space can be a challenging task, but by focusing on the essentials and being mindful of what can be purchased at your destination, you can pack efficiently and lighten your load. Remember to prioritize items that are essential for your personal care routine and leave room for items that can be conveniently bought anywhere. By adopting a minimalist approach and making smart choices, you’ll have a stress-free vacation with all the necessary toiletries at hand. Bon voyage!

Vanessa Jordan
Vanessa Jordan
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