How many times have you settled for an inferior product just because it came in a travel sized container? Worse – the products are overpriced for what you get. Another problem is that these products come in the maximum size approved by TSA – 3 oz / 100 ml. It only takes a few 3 oz bottles to totally fill up your 3-1-1 bag. This is fine if you need all the product, but often the traveler only needs 1-2 ounces. Do you really want to use all the room in your bag for excess product?
If you decant product into smaller bottles you can take “just enough” of your favorite product for the trip, saving space in your 3-1-1 bag. You save money by buying in bulk and transferring the product to a smaller container. This technique will also work for dry products such as detergent. The convenience gained and money saved will quickly counter the cost of purchasing travel sized containers.
Decant to the smallest amount needed
One example of this principle is my liquid makeup. It comes in a 1 oz container, and lasts for about 6 weeks. Technically I could just put it in my 3-1-1 bag and be fine. I didn’t like the big and bulky container so I put the makeup into a smaller 1 oz bottle. But I didn’t need 6 weeks of makeup, only 2-3 weeks. I finally put the makeup into a 1/2 oz eye dropper bottle. If you look at the picture below, you can see that the final container is significantly smaller than the original one. Use an oral syringe to decant heavy creams and lotions. It will save you from mess and frustration.
I also used this principle for my cream blush and concealer. They both come in small containers, but I didn’t need all that product for my trip. In this case I used a contact lens case to hold both items. It is much smaller than the original containers.
Solids need repackaging too
This principle also works for solid products. Packaging can add to the size and weight of almost any toiletry. My deodorant crystal is a great example. It is fairly small, even in its original package. But if you look at the photo below you will see that removing it from the original container makes it take up less space (and weight) in my toilet kit.
Ideas for small amounts of product
What if you only carry a few drops of something, or will only be gone for a few days? Consider soaking any liquid in cotton balls and placing the balls into a small plastic bag. Technically it is now a “solid” so won’t have to go in your 3-1-1 bag. Also consider pre-loading Q-tips with your favorite product, such as eye shadow or makeup remover. Again, these are now “solid”, so won’t need to go in the bag.
It is worth the effort!
There was small investment of time when I first decanted all of my liquid and solid toiletries. It took about 2 hours to assemble the bags and bottles and get all the product into the right containers. It takes a few minutes to refill them after every trip. It is totally worth it. I have a lot more room in my 3-1-1 bag, and I don’t have to carry all that extra weight!
Can you please post a list of all the makeup items you take?
I’m currently working on a post on just that. Stay tuned…
And here it is!
I travel a lot and I have NEVER put my liquid makeup in my 3-1-1 bag and I’ve never been stopped by the TSA. I use Eucerin as a neck, lip, and under-eye moisturizer. Since I use it on my lips, there are tiny containers in my toiletry kit, makeup bag, purse, and tote. Those always pass by the TSA, too.
I use roll on deodorant and I’m going to pop out the ball and put it in a small container. I can use a tissue or makeup sponge to put it on. That bottle is a huge waste of space.
Thanks for your tips!
I’ve found a big difference between airports and even TSA agents on what does/ does not get through. The TSA website is very clear that liquids need to be in the 3-1-1 bag. If you do get caught you can then expect to get a very thorough search (and a delay at the security site) I’d rather spend the 2 minutes to put the liquids in my bag. To me the consequences outweigh the hassle.
Mousse- Don’t buy travel size mousse. Spray a blob the size of what you would use each day into a large bow. Add enough for the duration of your trip. The mousse will lose its air and turn into a gel-like texture. Put the gel into a small container and use a bit each day. It has the same effect as the mousse without weighing down your hair like a gel would.
I now use dry styling powder when I travel. But I’m going to give this a try just because I’m curious. Thanks!
J. Thompson said:
Thank you so much for your wonderful suggestions. I used a few and they really work–I am amazed as I am a frequent world traveler! Keep the tips coming!
I’ve never thought about a contact lens case, that’s a great idea. Sephora a lot of times will give out sample products and they put them in these little containers that are about the width and height of a penny. I always save those and use them for traveling. I’ve found that certain things that I don’t need a lot of like facial moisturizer work perfectly in these tiny containers and they take up hardly any space. I’ve also quit bringing liquid makeup remover (even the travel sizes are entirely too much) and just pack some wet wipes in a small zip lock bag. One thing I always struggle with is shave cream. The travel sizes are always too big for one week vacations and take up too much room. I know some people will repurpose their shampoo or even conditioner and use that to shave with, but I prefer shaving cream, I just don’t need that dang much! I’ve also switched to using sunscreen that is a solid, and that tends to help too. I feel like the solids go further than bringing a similar sized bottle of liquid, and the solid doesn’t have to go in the little bag required by TSA.
Kimberly B. said:
Cindy – I am down the rabbit hole on your site after seeing one of your posts on the RS Travel Forum. toothpaste dots, cream blush in contact lens cases, oral syringes, silicone pot holders as an alternative to sink stoppers for laundry — I am finding all sorts of fun ideas! You have really put together some great stuff!!
Cindy Heazlit said:
I’m so glad to hear it is helping. That’s why we’re here.
Your site has been most helpful and I am already a staunch one carry on gal!
Thought you might like some of my tricks I’ve learned through the years.
I often put small make up products that are getting very low in my travel bag and then I just throw them out on the last day. Especially good with lip balms, powdered eye shadows, blushes etc.
I also have “disposable” clothes, those that have seen better days. Undies, bras socks, tanks, pjs and t shirts that are layered and unseen anyway get tossed. I put them in my carry on when I think they are getting too old. Now I have room for souvenirs!
Thanks, How do you repack solids like deodorant or lip balm?
Cindy Heazlit said:
I take my crystal deodorant out if the plastic container and use a snack size zip lock instead. It is lighter with less bulk.
Snarky Nomad repacks his stick deodorant into lip balm containers: http://snarkynomad.com/how-to-shrink-your-deodorant-to-the-size-of-a-chapstick-tube
Lip balm is small enough that it doesn’t need repackaging. Or it’s not worth the effort!
Thanks! I’ll try melting! I have a big stain removal solid in the form of a (huge) lip balm, just wondering how I can make it more portable, thinking of putting it in a lip balm container but was wondering if melting it would spoil the properties.
Cindy Heazlit said:
Have you tried the small single use wipes like Shout? I carry a few packets with me each trip and that seems to be enough.
I carry the wipes and a small stick of Janie stain remover for oil based stains. They are both very small.
Thanks! These products are not available where I am, but I’ll search online! Super!
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