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Packpourri: Travel with Babies | Toiletries | Put It All Together | Security



First things first. Ladies: Forget the Freedom Bag! The Freedom Bag is a rather handy carry-on sized shoulder bag that has tons of pockets, snaps, closures...and if you are moving cross-country and in need of moving all of your cosmetics, great. But do you really need to take full-size bottles of everything? Let's think about this, ladies. What are we being told? That we can't even go on a trip without lugging 10 pounds of make-up?

Most people carry way too much stuff in their toiletry bag. If you can't fit your toiletries into one ziploc sandwich bag, you've got too much stuff. I'm not kidding. There are two ways to succeed in paring down your toiletries. The first is to eliminate all items you don't need. Women--do you REALLY need three different tubes of hand lotion, face cream and night conditioner? Men--do you REALLY need a bottle of aftershave as well as cologne? The second is to use miniature sized containers of everything you use. If you follow these two rules of thumb, you'll be in great shape.

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What to Carry Your Toiletries In

Most people will want something a tad sturdier than a ziploc bag (although the freezer bags are pretty hefty). The standard toiletry bag looks like it would fit in a small shoebox. It usually has one zipper on top across the middle. You might remember these as "shaving kits." Containers fit sideways easily in these. About the only problem is that they can easily get too round, and may take up extra room in your carry-on.

Women are probably more used to the large vanity cases that look like stand-up suitcases. These are way too large for traveliters. Look instead towards using one of the smaller, flat, soft-sided toiletry bags you find at the cosmetics counter, with one single zipper across the top. These usually come in many sizes and in various fabrics and materials. The transparent vinyl kits are easy to see through.

Eagle Creek and Outdoor Research produce small unisex zippered sacks that I like for my toiletry kit. They come in different sizes and colors, with one zipper across the top. Eagle Creek has a newer version of its "Pac-It Sack" that includes its own ziploc vinyl bag inside, to keep wet stuff in.

Another great toiletry kit is made to hold your absorbent "Packtowl" towel (available in camping stores and through Magellan's and TravelSmith). These are like the zippered sacks, but they have a little handle, and are made of mesh fabric, so you can dry your towel easily. A good way to carry both your Packtowl and your toiletries together, and particularly handy if you are staying at a hostel or pension with a common bathroom.

If your toiletry kit is not waterproofed, take some 3M ScotchGuard to it. This will protect your toiletries if your kit drops into a full sink, or you are staying in a hostel or pension that has no shower curtains (or you have to keep the kit in your shower stall for security reasons). In fact, take your ScotchGuard and spray the outside of your travelpack while you're at it. You won't have to worry as much if you get rained on that way.

Zip-Lock Baggies: Traveling on the cheap or don't want to carry even the extra few ounces a toiletry kit would take up? Use a plastic zip-lock bag instead! I have never really encouraged use of these, because I am never sure the openings are totally sealed.

While there is a brand that "changes color" to indicate that a bag is zipped (one side is yellow, the other blue--zipped together the color turns green), I have recently discovered a wonderful zip-lock bag that I can ALMOST heartily recommend (and I say ALMOST because I wish they made a super-extra heavy-duty version with thicker plastic). That model is the new Hefty brand "OneZip" bag. These bags are zip-locked with an actual plastic zipper that rides along the lip. The only difference between a OneZip and a real zipper is that a real zipper has cogged teeth, whereas the OneZip seams are smooth.

I have inflated these OneZip bags and sat on them. I'm actually going to try an experiment next time by inflating it up like a lower-back pillow when I fly. The OneZips come in two sizes: Quart, and Gallon. They also come in regular, and freezer-bag styles. The latter is tough enough to hold your toiletries, and for most people, the quart-size bag should be more than adequate to store everything. You may want to use the gallon sizes to store underwear or dirty clothing, though. An additional benefit with these OneZips is that you can easily open and close them even if your hands are wet, or you are wearing gloves.


Next page: Eliminating Toiletry Items You Don't Need.
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