No matter how much you travel, you probably have hacks to make it easier. Maybe you chug Emergen-C before you get on a flight or download language guides weeks before your trip. You might load up your phone with podcasts before a long drive or pack everything in those handy cubes. Anything to make life a little easier, am I right?
For me, it’s all about what grooming products I bring with me. I could forget my phone charger and even my phone, but if I have my favorite products, I’m good. That’s because I’m a creature of habit and I bet you are too.
My grooming routine at home is extensive. It’s a job hazard that I’m always trying new products and new combination to see not just what’s good, but what works for me best. But even though there are always new serums and goops coming into rotation, it’s anchored in a few desert island products that I will never go without.
My travel routine is similar. I do find travel is a good time to try out new products (that’s what tester sizes are made for). It’s easy to throw a new sample-size deodorant or moisturizer in my dopp kit. But I also want to pack light. I cannot stand to check a bag, which means I rarely take full-sized products on the go unless it’s really important (like sunscreen).
That presents a unique challenge, since some of my favorite products don’t come in sample size. I could buy those reusable travel bottles and fill them up from my bathroom, but I’m not good at that (too messy). Instead, I’ve spent years trying to find the best travel sized products to fit my needs (and it’s an ongoing quest).
The reason taking your own travel product is important is because you never want to be at the mercy of someone else. At best, you’re staying in a fancy hotel with a bathroom stocked with quality products. But even those products aren’t what you’re used to, which can be a problem if you have chronic skin issues or hard to manage hair. It’s always better to bring your own when you’re not sure what’s going to be waiting for you (and how your body will react).
But there’s another issue: quantity. Whether you’re checking a bag or not, you don’t want to take up too much space with your products. That’s why, even though I’m not a fan of multi-use products, my travel routine is like the skeleton of my normal one. It depends on high-quality products that I know work for me and does away with filler.
Illustration by Aviel Basil
I usually pack two dopp kits: one for my suitcase and one for my “personal bag.” I want certain things easily accessible while I’m on the plane or in the car. Things like face mist, hand sanitizer, and sheet masks are necessities for me to make it through a flight unscathed. As far as everything else I always have with me, read on.
Maapilim Travel Kit
Hotel body wash can be harsh and don’t get me started about using a bar of hand soap in a pinch (I’ve done it and it’s not pretty). I always have a small bottle of multi-use natural soap with me in case my body needs some TLC that the hotel products can’t provide.
Leonor Greyl Masque Orchidee
The only hotel-provided shower product I ever use is conditioner. My hair can’t get enough, but I supplement sub-par conditioner with a hair mask. Whenever I was my hair, I follow with a hair mask to keep it smooth and reset the oil content.
Oribe Creme for Style
Styling cream is the perfect travel hair product because it’s easy. It’s lightweight and hydrating, which is perfect for both dry and humid climates, but also has a little bit of hold so your hair doesn’t go crazy. The tube takes up less space in your bag than a jar of pomade.
Touchland Hand Sanitizer
I’m not the best at remembering hand sanitizer in real life, but I never get on a plane without it. I love this fragrance-free spray version which isn’t as messy as gel and won’t make you smell like alcohol.
Byredo Black Saffron Hand Cream
After I spray on some sanitizer, I follow it with hand cream and keep reapplying it throughout the flight. On a plane, our skin gets dry, so keeping hands moisturized is a must. Plus there’s nothing that makes you feel fancy like a high end hand cream.
Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator Face Mist
My carryon bag is never complete without at least one face mist in there. Since our body loses hydration on an airplane, I use them liberally throughout a flight. Then I carry it with me wherever I’m going for a refresh during a long day or just to cool down if it’s too hot.
Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Cleanser
When I’m traveling, I like a little extra cleansing power, but don’t want to sacrifice the moisture of my skin. I favor foaming cleansers because they make you feel really clean with minimal effort. This one comes comes out of the bottle already foamed, which means it lasts a long time without needing to carry around a big bottle.
Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm
Using an oil cleanser before a foaming cleanser will help take off extra oil and dirt without stripping your skin. I love using one after I’ve been flying or outside for a long time because it helps remove built-up sweat. I always make a point to have a small tub in my dopp kit at all times.
Biologique Recherche Lotion P50
File this under my ultimate desert island product. If this toner didn’t come in a travel size, I would strap it to my body. It’s a balancing toner that contains lactic acid for exfoliation and I use it every time I wash my face. I’ve never used anything that gets rid of irritation and blemishes faster, which is important when you might get a travel-induced skin freakout.
Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster
Antioxidants do the most to help our skin, particularly against environmental stressors like pollution, humidity, and sunlight. That makes them even more important when you travel since you’re not always sure what you’re going to putting your skin through. A high-potency Vitamin C formula like this serum always does the trick.
Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels
These are great for getting off an overnight flight looking like you actually got some rest. Putting these masks under your eyes for just 15 minutes completely erases eye bags and makes you look much more alert than you probably feel. They may even help with jet lag too, but I can’t prove it (yet).
Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream
I usually use multiple moisturizers for both day and night, but definitely don’t want to bring them all along in my dopp kit. I love this lightweight water cream because it has enough hydration packed into it to make a good night cream, but is still lightweight enough to wear during the day.
Carlen Parfums Aztec Noir 10ml
I’m a big believer in the vacation-specific cologne, but that’s another story for another time. Instead of wasting space with my big bottles though, I get small sizes of my favorites (or a new one) to pop in my dopp kit. They’ll usually last through at least the whole trip.