11 Essential Items You Need In Your Travel Bag


I spent five months of this year living out of a 40L backpack. A third of that was taken up by my toiletry bag. I thought at first I might have over-packed like I always do, but I used pretty much everything I brought with me.

This bag is perfect. It’s been my long time, go-to makeup carrier for traveling and moving abroad. It holds everything. In addition to everything laid out below, I shoved in two bottles of bug spray, a bottle of sunscreen and an annoyingly shaped bug repellent plugin that Luke insisted we bring with us which was never, ever used (it looked something like this).

Okay, now for the goods. These are the lovely bits that I used regularly over our five months and was consistently happy that I’d packed them (even though at times I thought they were wildly impractical).

1. Nail Polish Remover Pads. These are from Superdrug in the UK. It was a nice small container, it meant I didn’t have to bring a separate remover bottle and cotton swabs. It was really easy to take off my nasty nail polish when the time came to it. I’m never going back to bottled nail polish remover again.

2. Hair bands. Buckets of them. I must have had about 15 or 20 of them when I started the trip and when I emptied my makeup bag at the end of it these three sad little guys were all that were left. I literally have no idea where they all went, but I always needed one.

3. Travel Sewing Kit. I kind of brought it as a just-in-case thing, but we ended up using it a lot. Rips in our backpacks that needed repairing, buttons falling off of things, stray strings that needed cutting, blisters that needed needling.

4. Razors. Lots and lots of them. I ran out with about two weeks left of our trip and I was so glad it didn’t happen sooner. I couldn’t find razors anywhere except Thailand and that was because they have 7-11 on every corner, and even then I had to buy men’s razors (which I actually prefer anyway – SO many more blades!). If you’re traveling through South East Asia, bring your own blades.

5. I packed a spray deodorant and ran out after a month. All I could find after that were these strange liquid roll-ons which just didn’t seem to dry. I was so happy to get back to the US and get me some Dove.

6. I traveled with nail polish. Just the one. People laughed at me, Luke thought it was silly, but, come one, five months of wearing flip flops. Imagine what that looks like without a touch up. I didn’t have to pay for a pedicure on our entire trip and I hardly ever had nasty, peely toes. It just made me feel better about looking down at my feet with a little pink polish on them.

7. Fresh Sugar Lip Polish. Being out in the sun constantly meant lots of sunburn and dry skin. My lips got especially battered. Whenever I remembered this little guy, I’d dab a little bit on my lips at night, rub it around a bit and rinse it off and they felt so much better. If you’ve never had really dry lips and then tried to put lipstick on them – let me tell you, it’s not pretty.

8. Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment.  It’s glorified chapstick. I love it in Rose and Ruby and it has been one of my summer favorites for a few years now (it’s only been a few years since college, right?). It makes my lips feel so silky and as an added bonus is perfect for the beach with it’s SPF 15.

9. Mary Kay Lipstick. This is an old one, but I’ve linked to a similar color there. It’s bright pink and makes me feel all girly and makes my tan really pop. Winners all around.

10. Ulta Lip Crayon. Something happened when I turned 26 and I simply cannot go anywhere without a little bit of red lipstick. I like this crayon because it packs loads of moisture which was key while we were on the road since I was moisturising with sunscreen and hydrating with beers. While I was still incredibly pale at the start of the trip I loved pairing it with a dress. It was my go-to to look cute in Japan (and everywhere else for that matter, even now).

11. Maybelline Great Lash. I think I’ve been using the same brand of mascara my entire make-up life. I literally cannot leave the house without a swipe on the lashes. If I put only one bit of makeup on, it’s this, so I wasn’t about to travel anywhere without it.

Honorable Mention goes out to a favorite that Luke carried. We never travel without Tiger Balm. A rub that soothes muscle aches, itchy bug bites, headaches and a big problem for me, motion sickness on bumpy bus rides (of which there are many in South East Asia). It was totally invaluable to us while we traveled.

This post originally appeared at Collecting Labels.