I’m a Travel Writer and This Is My Time-Saving Packing Hack (It’s Ingenious!)

published Jun 12, 2024
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unpacking suitcase

As fun as travel is, a lot needs to happen before you can step foot on a plane. There are flights to book and itineraries to plan, and as exciting as that process can be, getting the packing out of the way often takes work. 

I go on trips a few times a month as a food and travel writer, and whether it’s a quick weekend jaunt to check out a regional food festival or a transcontinental one to visit vineyards, packing is still a task that’s often as overwhelming as it is complicated.

However, no matter how short or long my trip is, if my destination is warm or cold, I always bring a bag of makeup and toiletries. And to make sure I’m ready for anything, I keep a travel-only toiletry bag stashed in my luggage at all times, even when I’m not going anywhere.

This has been a time-saver and streamlined my packing process. There’d been enough scrambling at pharmacies in other countries to pick up mascara or toothpaste that I realized there was a clear solution to always have what I needed ready and on hand.

Credit: Aly Walansky

My toiletry bag contains all my travel essentials. This includes items I use in the shower (like a shower cap, razor, and mini-sized bottles of shampoos, conditioners, body wash, and styling products), travel-sized cleanser and moisturizer, and SPF. The bag is rounded out with my makeup, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and any medications or other health items I may need, from tampons to fever reducers and a first-aid kit. 

It may seem like a lot, but these are items that are needed time and again, and if I was packing a toiletry bag from scratch every trip, chances are some would be forgotten along the way. But as they are always inside the case and packed, this takes one time-consuming task off my pre-travel to-do list to worry about.

It’s simply more convenient to have all my toiletries in one organized place, but it’s the greatest failsafe to ensure I don’t forget any important items each time around as I pack for a trip. Inevitably products will get finished along the way, and for those who don’t travel as frequently as I do, it’s possible items will pass their expiration date before they are used. For this reason, it’s a good idea to give the toiletry bag an occasional once-over and replace items as needed. 

If I happen to use the last of my toothpaste or concealer while traveling, I’ll always make a note for myself to add a fresh one to the bag upon unpacking when I return home. That way, I don’t inadvertently run into an issue of not having something I need next time around.

By having a travel-only toiletry bag constantly packed I feel so prepared and am less likely to have a panicked moment wondering why I forgot something because it’ll be in my bags or replenished before my next flight.