This Toiletry Hack Has Saved Me Countless Hours of Packing Time

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woman packing toiletry bag
Photo: Getty Images

I can't tell you how many times I've left my house for a trip and realized I've forgotten something. On a few occasions, it's been something big like a bathing suit or a favorite sweater, but more often than not, it's a small yet important travel essential like toothpaste or hair spray that has somehow slipped through the cracks.

Sure, beauty products and toiletries are easily replaceable, but every time I've had to buy the same items twice, I would become annoyed with myself for not being more organized — which is not a great way to start a trip! Determined to become a smarter packer, I started keeping a toiletry bag full of travel-sized duplicates of my favorite products stocked and ready to go at all times under my bathroom sink. That way, I can just pop it into my overnight bag or carry-on suitcase depending on the trip.

Now, instead of having to remember to add 12 different items to my packing list, I can just add "toiletry bag" and know that I'm covered and not leaving any important creams or serums behind. I've even gotten into a routine where I restock any empty products as soon as I get home from a trip, so it's one less thing I have to think about when I start packing for my next adventure. Having this prepared in advance has not only saved me time and money, but it's also helped me focus on more important things like which clothes to pack and what new book I want to download.

To help make the packing process a little easier for you, I've listed the exact items I keep stocked in my toiletry bag at all times. Use the below checklist as a template to start your own grab-and-go toiletry bag.

01 of 12

Toiletry Bag

Beauty On The Fly Bag
Courtesy of Sephora

The first step to building your go-to toiletry bag is finding the right pouch to hold all the supplies you'll need. I like this one from Sephora because it is see-through and fits the TSA-size requirements, so it makes getting through airport security a breeze. Plus, it doesn't hurt that it's affordable and cute.

To buy: sephora.com, $5

02 of 12

Dry Shampoo

Klorane Dry Shampoo
Courtesy of Sephora

Since hotels (and even a lot of Airbnbs) supply shampoo and conditioner, I typically don't bother packing them. But I make sure to have a travel-size bottle of dry shampoo in my kit to give my hair a boost on travel days. I love this option by Klorane, so I stock up by the three-pack to ensure I always have a replacement available.

To buy: sephora.com, $24

03 of 12

Hairspray

TRESemme TRES Two Extra Hold Aerosol Hair Spray
Courtesy of Walmart

It's smart to pack a travel-size hair spray to keep flyaways at bay and keep your tresses in place. Bonus: You can have your hairspray do double duty and also act as a static guard throughout your trip.

To buy: walmart.com, $6

04 of 12

Hand Sanitizer

Germ-X Natural Vanilla Citrus Hand Sanitizer Spray
Courtesy of Walmart

To help avoid germs while traveling, hand sanitizer is a must. This option from Germ-X is great because it comes in a convenient spray bottle and it contains aloe, so it won't dry out your skin.

To buy: walmart.com, $2

05 of 12

Face Serum

Environmental Shield Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum
Courtesy of Ulta

After a long day of traveling my skin is in of a boost, so I like to keep this serum on hand. Not only does it exfoliate dry skin cells, but it also evens out my skin tone. My complexion is brighter and glowing after using it.

To buy: ulta.com, $19

06 of 12

Moisturizer

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer
Courtesy of Amazon

Since flights tend to dry out my skin, I put on moisturizer after I apply the serum to lock in hydration. This travel-size option by La Roche Posay is great because the lightweight cream leaves my skin silky smooth and the oil-free formula doesn't clog my pores.

To buy: amazon.com, $20

07 of 12

Sunscreen

Banana Boat Sport Sunscreen
Courtesy of Amazon

I have fair skin so I take sunscreen with me wherever I go. I love these packets by Banana Boat because they give great SPF coverage without taking up a lot of space in my toiletry bag.

To buy: amazon.com, $15

08 of 12

Makeup Remover

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water
Courtesy of Amazon

There's nothing better than coming home and removing your makeup after a long day of sightseeing. I use this gentle makeup remover by Bioderma every day at home, so I always make sure to have the travel-size bottle and a few cotton rounds in my kit.

To buy: amazon.com, $6

09 of 12

Deodorant

Secret Deodorant Outlast Clear Gel Complete Clean Antiperspirant & Deodorant
Courtesy of Amazon

Deodorant is a toiletry bag staple. I like to use this option by Secret because it has a nice, clean smell and offers all-day protection. It also comes in a convenient three-pack, so I always have a backup at the ready.

To buy: amazon.com, $10

10 of 12

Toothpaste

Colgate Total Clean Mint Toothpaste
Courtesy of Amazon

Surprisingly I've never forgotten to pack my toothbrush, but toothpaste is another story. I can't remember all the times I've had to run out and buy a tube or borrow some from a traveling companion. So now I make sure to have one in my toiletry kit. I often buy them in bulk (like this 24-pack) to save money.

To buy: amazon.com, $17

11 of 12

Lip Balm

Sun Bum Lip Balm
Courtesy of Amazon

No one wants to deal with chapped lips while traveling, so I always have a lip balm in my bag. I like to stock up with an option that offers SPF protection like this Sun Bum balm, so I know my lips will be protected when I travel to sunny destinations.

To buy: amazon.com, $8

12 of 12

Comb

Mason Pearson Rake Comb
Courtesy of Neiman Marcus

I usually pack a round brush in my suitcase to style my hair, but I also pack this Mason Pearson comb in my toiletry bag to get rid of any snarls. It painlessly detangles my hair and doesn't take up much space. I've had it for years, and it is still as good as new.

To buy: neimanmarcus.com, $35

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