The Space-Saving Travel Hack That Solves My Biggest Packing Problem (It’s Practically Free!)

published May 9, 2024
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semi wide shot of person packing a packing cube into cream tote bag that's on a bed with burnt orange sheets with shoes, and other packing cubes next to it
Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez-Hart

If there’s one thing to know about me, it’s that I hardly ever check a bag when I fly. I’m a carry-on queen and I do everything in my power to avoid waiting at baggage claim. And while I’ll happily admit to my impeccable packing skills, the trickiest part is always fitting my liquids in a single quart-sized bag. It would be one thing if the TSA stuck with just liquids, but the rule encompasses gels, creams, pastes, and aerosol — basically every toiletry under the sun. And as someone with a skincare routine who also wears makeup, packing them all in my quart-sized bag is a daunting task. Or it used to be, at any rate.

Recently, a travel-savvy friend told me about using contact lens cases for skincare and makeup, and my quart-sized dilemma became a thing of the past. This hack has been making the rounds on the internet for a while now, but as someone who had never heard of it (with terrible eyesight, to boot), it’s a secret weapon for packing my liquids and traveling light.

Why Are Contact Lens Cases Great for Traveling?

These small, compact cases are designed to hold liquid. They’re leak-proof and a case comes with just about every single contact lens solution you can buy. If you wear contacts, you probably have a ton lying around, and even if you don’t, you can buy a pack for just a couple bucks. And because they’re so cheap, it’s no big deal if you lose one to a hotel bathroom. Travel-sized containers are limited to 3.4 ounces in carry-on luggage, and because these cases are tiny, you don’t have to worry about exceeding the limit. 

Why I’ll Never Travel Without Contact Lens Cases Again

I’ve used these cases for cleanser, moisturizer, sunscreen, and foundation and they work like a charm. My problem was never about finding travel-sized containers for my liquids — it was just trying to fit all of them into the quart-sized bag. There are plenty of small, plastic travel cases for liquids, but I’d say only four of them fit into a quart-sized bag, and I don’t need a big one for something like moisturizer. A contact lens case is so small that it’s easy to fit multiples in your bag — a win all around. I also wear contacts every day, and am so happy to repurpose the free cases that come with my solution.

A majority of the trips I take are short, and if you’re going away for a long weekend or a few nights, I swear by this hack. If I was traveling for longer than a week, I probably would have to check a bag, as a dollop of skincare might not not see me through more than a few days, but I can make my liquids packed in a contact lens case work for three to four nights away. If I need to wear makeup everyday, I’ll make space in my bag for a full-sized foundation, but if not, a contact lens case will get me through about two days, which is perfect for business trips or weekend getaways. This clever hack has changed the way I pack — and solved my one and only carry-on luggage woe.