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favorite toiletries bag

Do you have a favorite? I tend to travel with quite a few toiletries, so I want something roomy....but also easy to organize...but also as small and lightweight as possible, given the above restrictions. (I know....I'm asking for everything. But that's why I'm asking here, because if anyone has figured it all out, it's probably someone on this forum!). Thanks!

Posted by
2108 posts

For things like 3 oz. containers of liquids, I use the good ole zip-lock plastic, easy, clear, replaceable, generally leak-proof.. Then I'll insert the quart bags into a gallon bag, for extra protection in the unlikely event of a leak. Once at hotels, etc. it's easy to see what's in each bag, and they are easy to pack/unpack. I also carry extra bags in case one develops a problem. Any prescription liquids go into their own bag, again quart bag inserted into a gallon bag.

Even though we are Global Entry, this method is handy for when being screened in other countries for entry into the US. Once screened, it's easy to quickly unzip the rollaboard and insert the bags into it.

For other toiletry type things (non liquids), I love the little bags that one can get with make-up promotions (such as Clinique or Estee Lauder). You'll see the department store promos advertised a couple of times each year, along the line of: buy $30 worth of XXX and get the free kit (of sample size products, lipstick, etc. in a cute little zip bag). I don't generally don't use make-up other than lipstick, so I give away many of the make-up sample products to friends, other than the wonderful samples of cleanser/lotions/creams that are a great travel-size and typically high quality.

But, I have a collection of, perhaps, 6 or so of the colorful zip bags, and they are great for inserting into a carry-on tote to hold several eye glass cases, bandaids, earplugs, wet wipes, etc. The really small little zipper cases (sometimes the promotion is for a set of of which is extra small) are great for earrings, etc. I've found the promo zip bags are wonderfully washable, too.

When my husband is looking for something in a carry-on tote, I can just say, grab the sunflower zip case, or grab the pink zip case...easy.

You didn't ask, but for point/shoot camera, chargers, etc. those go in similar-size zip cases (often see-thru mesh) that we've received when lucky enough to manage reasonable upgrades to business class. What's nice about the see-thru mesh is that you can SEE what's inside them.

Posted by
3725 posts

I just received the red toiletry bag Rick sells on this site. I haven't used it yet, but it seems very roomy and compact. Maybe someone else uses this one and can comment.

Posted by
472 posts

Another vote for clear zip-lock bags. We use them for everything - toiletries, clothes, cameras, cables... Everything's instantly identifiable, slides in & out of the luggage morass easily, airline inspectors can see what's what, and they're cheap.
We're cheap; helps us afford to travel.

Posted by
1077 posts

I love the Rick Steves small red toiletries bag, it is the perfect size and has been with me on 10 trips to Europe!

Posted by
2454 posts

What Wichita Donald said, just substitute my 6 for his 10.

Posted by
3171 posts

I've always traveled with a small dry toiletry bag and wet toiletry bag (3 1 1), which were ziplock bags. I did this for years. Two years ago I upgraded to two small plastic-type zip bags. I like those very much, I can't justify another suitcase, for my entertainment I searched the internet for a small toiletry bag. I ended up with the SMALL ebags Portage bag. It's turquoise so I won't forget it. I just packed up my toiletries, which are always in my suitcase. I LOVE it. It fits everything and has room for more if needed. My 3 1 1 ziplock with wet items fits perfectly inside it, while keeping everything else organized as well. That being said, I do not wear makeup...I'm a 1970's NE girl. However, there is still room for some makeup; i.e., foundation, blush, mascara (I do use lipstick these days), but not for extreme makeup people. I also only keep a contact lens container of backup, daily meds in there, so if you have lots of pills included in your toiletry kit, it won't work in this size. It will be really nice to hang it up. My toiletry bag contains purely toiletries. Again, it is well organized, soft and can fit in my carryon size suitcase as well as my prior systems. I'm just getting to the point in life where I like all parts of my luggage to be functional and somewhat bright and attractive. :)

Posted by
982 posts

I like the small red one sold on this site. It’s very light, but roomy enough for everything I need. I don’t take a lot, but there is a bigger one also sold on this site. I really like the small red one because it has two separate organizational pouches, and because it has a hook to hang it. I used to use plastic zip locks, but I love the hanging ability of my toiletries kit. I do put the liquids in the required plastic bag for the flight and then transfer them to the toiletries bag once I get to my first stop.

Posted by
2788 posts

16 years of using RS red toilet bag or its predecessor including on 14 RS tours.
It suits us fine and we have never wanted to replace it. I have run into too many US travelers who think that they have to take everything from their bathrooms not realizing that they can buy almost anything that they need in most every place in Europe. We travel for about one month in Europe each year and only take one RS 21/22” roller bag each plus our day bags. We have refined this traveling light over the years and find it liberating.

Posted by
3996 posts

LLBean has sold the same toiletries bag for many years. Very sturdy (so not light). Harder to pack than tiny plastic bags that can be crammed into odd corners of the suitcase. But instantly organized: Unzip, unfold, hang it by a hook-and-chain onto a convenient part of the bathroom and you're almost like home.

Posted by
6895 posts

You're receiving good examples for a toiletries bag. I just use one of the past freebies from a promotion for Clinique. I will share some ideas that have helped me pare the space down significantly.

Liquid foundation - I pack it in a tiny sample jar from Clinique that's about the size of a stack of 5 quarters. That has been enough for 3-week trips.

Lipstick & mascara - normal size
Blush - a Clinique promotion sample size.
Lotion - bring a past one from a hotel.
10 Band-aids, Comb, Q-tips
Cholesterol med packed in the tiniest day-of-week pack found on Amazon. Also, a sheet of cold/sinus meds.
Toothpaste - 3 travel size for 3 weeks.
Soap to wash clothes in the sink - I used to purchase the travel packs of Woolite. Now I just use the free travel shampoo in the hotels. (I do bring 2-3 with me to begin the trip.)

Posted by
10829 posts

I have my second Rick Steves hanging toiletries bag. Love it. Most European bathrooms do not have any place to put things so having a hanging hook to place on a towel rack or back of door works very well.

Posted by
32154 posts


I use an older Eagle Creek Toiletries kit for my checked luggage and couple of other products for my carry-on. The EC products have changed slightly over the years, and this is their current lineup.....

You could also have a look at these products.....

For my carry-on bag, I use these products.....

Posted by
1396 posts

We've used the larger RS version in yellow sold on this site. A few months ago I got the red smaller version and love it. Very lightweight, but sturdy. I expect to use if for many trips! Both the RS versions have a hanger which I have found to be extremely useful in some very small European bathrooms.

Posted by
221 posts

I second the earlier response suggesting using the Clinique give-away bags. I also write on the outside with a Sharpie to know what is inside. My favorite is the "Necessaries" bag with odds and ends - house key, moleskin, carabiner, extra luggage tag, bandaids,sewing kit, etc. We use one for chargers also. As to the RS red toiletry kit, I also like it but had to re-sew the seams after a couple of trips. It may have been a defective one but the seams unraveled from the binding. It is very convenient and holds all my toiletries. I usually fill the 3-1-1 bag for flights and then shift over to the red bag once I am on the ground. Then I put it inside a gallon ziplock bag and into the suitcase or backpack - helps to prevent nasty leaks! It's the last thing into the backpack before leaving the hotel.

Posted by
489 posts

I've used RS red bag for 6 long trips to Europe and several smaller trips in the USA. I've had to also resew it., but I like it as I really like lots of pouches, the hanger, the mirror and the fact that it is narrow. It has worked for me for 4 week trips or weekend trips. It is also the last thing that gets packed and the first thing out. It does wash well. But again I'm not impressed with the construction as the fabric is ultra light weight. I DO NOT over pack it.
I have a larger version from e-bags (i think) that I used once but is larger and smaller space and weight are my mantra now.
I think you need to determine what you need to take, how much you like organization (On long trips with lots of moving, organization is a must!) and weight. Also if you travel where you can totally unpack, then a toiletries bag could be a zip lock, but if you are moving every few days, then you don't unpack, you unzip, hang and use.

I never travel with shampoo, but use theirs... I might change this. I now travel with conditioner because it seems not to be complementary in many Europe hotels. Concentrated items ... a little goes a long way. I have yet to find a city in Europe that you could not purchase toiletries. Perhaps if you are very sensitive you would need to be more careful. I trust the EU for good quality toiletries.

Posted by
3509 posts

1 qt Zip Lock bag. :-)

Perfect size, leak resistant, cost only a few cents, easily replaceable, never takes up more room than the items inside it.

Over the years, I bought and carried so many different bags I have forgotten most of them. Never found one I liked. They were either too bulky to fit on the limited sink area in most European hotels, or had a hanging hook that ended up puncturing my suitcase when I put it in there, or were just the wrong size where none of the items I wanted to put in actually fit.

Posted by
6988 posts

I carry one like the Eagle Creek one that Alan linked to but it was much cheaper (not a fancy brand). I love the configuration and the way it hangs. Had to give one of my travel companions one like it for a gift because she liked mine so much. While it was a cheapie, it has lasted me for over 20 years of travel and is still going strong. When flying I put the restricted liquids and gels in my 3-1-1 bag but when I get where I'm going I transfer them to this toiletry bag - it holds everything I could possibly need.

Posted by
10829 posts

Much of what I put in my Rick Steves’ toiletry bag is in small zip lock plastic bags. I have it down to a system and can travel with it for six weeks. I have pared down what I take. I love that the toothbrush and a small toothpaste are in a mesh compartment on the side where the roothbrush can dry out. I keep bandaids in the zipper compartment on the back of the bag. When on extended grips, I replace toiletries as needed. And the reson I am now using a second RS toiletry bag is that the first one was stolen along with our luggage in South America. Car was broken in to while we were checking into a hotel.

Posted by
78 posts

I use the Eagle Creek Specter Quick Trip. It looks like an old-fashioned dopp bag but is very light. There is a loop at the end to which I attach carabiner in case I need to hang it. Not much organization unfortunately.

Posted by
26436 posts

I reduce the contents of my toiletry kit to a minimum by keeping just a modest amount of each regularly-used product in the kit. Additional quantities of hard-to-resupply items required for my long trips are stored in separate small zipped bags that don't need to be placed on the bathroom counter. Things not regularly used, like Band-Aids, are also kept in a separate small zipped pouch that remains in my suitcase.

Hooks are very handy, but I haven't found a kit with a hook that is light enough in weight. Those are usually larger than I need and have organizing sections that add to their weight.

Posted by
2258 posts

I use the eBags pack flat kit (the "small" version here: plus a quart zip lock for my 3-1-1 items (that get stored in the large left side pocket once I'm on location). It takes some getting used to, but once you figure out how your things fit, it works great and is less awkward packed in your bag than a traditional square/rectangle shaped kit. One of the pockets is used for my emergency gear (sewing kit, gorilla tape, etc.) that would otherwise be loose in my bag. eBags has lifetime guarantee (they really will replace it for free if something breaks). A recent design upgrade improved it immensely, and it now comes in neat colors (I have boring grey). eBags has regular sales - keep an eye out.

I like LLBean or similar for organization. I like zip locks for 311. For zip locks - get a 1 quart size, freezer bag with the plastic square sliding tab on seam. The freezer bags are more heavy duty. Worth the few extra pennies. Get a bright color toiletry kit - easier to see and not leave behind. The hanging hook is a good feature.

Posted by
1625 posts

The last trip we took was with another couple and some of the apartments we stayed at had one bathroom so I needed to be neat , tidy and efficient with my toiletries, and baggies did not fit the bill. After much research I found a bag I LOVE. It is this flat one:

What I pack in here: make-up remover, Face wash, face lotion, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, hair product, hair clips, hair ties, bobby pins, mini shaver, q-tips,round cotton pads, band-aids and ointments. My makeup goes in a totally different bag, but I think I could pack it in here if needed (good you tube video on a girl who gets it all in here). It kept me much more organized than the baggie method, as I did not to look for baggies, just pull one thing out and Viola, all set.

I love that the bag lies flat rather than a big bucket were you have to fish around. It also expands and has a "wet" compartment (thinking I could use that for a washcloth next time). Plus it comes in great colors easy to spot in my suitcase and It is a good "yup I packed everything" visual.

Since we do carry on only, everything that needs to go into my 3-1-1 bag goes in there, then gets transferred into the liquids bag on arrival as the rest of our trip is usually on trains. I have used this bag on four trips, including a camping trip and I can make it as big or as small as I need it to be.

Posted by
11507 posts

I love toiletry bags with hooks sonyou can hang them in bathrooms , many of the European hotle rooms seem to be small and only have pedestal sinks so no where to put your bag down ( ugh unless you use toilet tank top) so for me any hanging bag is better than others with out hangers .

Posted by
139 posts

I downsized to a Tom Bihn 3D Organizer Cube for my 3-1-1 bag, supplemented with a Bihn small organizer pouch for "dry" things (Qtips, nail scissors, sampler of Bare Minerals, etc.). The cube/pouch combo fits in my personal item, and can be clipped together or hang from a hook later. I don't take much makeup or product (or flatiron or hairdryer) any more, because I need that space for an extra pair of shoes.

For something bigger, I'd consider the EMME bag recommended on the Une Femme blog.

Posted by
156 posts

I second the earlier post about the eBags Pack it Flat bag. Surprisingly roomy and lays on top of your clothes to take up less space. It's a hanging bag too.

For my medications, I use the small pill packets you can get at the dollar store and put them together in a larger zip lock bag. They take up little space this way. I do carry my liquids (travel size) in a separate clear pouch, but have been able to put that bag inside the Pack It Flat if I'm not bringing a lot of other stuff. I've been able to pack enough for two weeks with this bag.

For shorter trips, I use one of Eagle Creek's smaller hang up bags. The RS small bag here looks pretty good as well, though I don't own one.

Posted by
1018 posts

I'm with Akros and Becky on the Eagle Creek Specter Quick Trip for all dry toiletries plus a 1-qt ziplock bag for wet toiletries / security inspections. If it doesn't fit in these two, it ain't going. Both bags are ultra light. The Specter QT has a main compartment for most stuff and two side zip pouches. I use one side for toothbrush/toothpaste/floss, the other side for the minimum make-up I take (liner pencil/mascara/lipstick). I try to go with as many solid or dry toiletries as possible (e.g., shampoo and conditioner bars not liquids) to reduce weight. I use this system on all leisure and business trips of whatever duration, and restock locally as needed.

Bonus tip: there is a limit to this strategy. Powdered toothpaste is nasty, I went back to my gel toothpaste in the 3-1-1 bag

Posted by
156 posts

I agree about that little Eagle Creek kit. I have one, and it's great for short trips. Perfect for a backpack or small carryon.

Although the 3-1-1 clear bag rule may be an inconvenience for some, I think it has a practical side, too. I've been the victim of leakage in a Dopp kit in the pre-"liquids rule" days, and it makes a lot of sense. Nothing like trying to clean a nice toiletry kit late at night in your hotel room to convince you of the wisdom of keeping the liquids separate and in a leakproof container. Plus, it frees up space in the main kit. My only caveat is in choice of the clear bag. I've had "equipment failure" using Ziploc type bags due to the flimsiness of the closers, so use the heavier Travelon-type bag with a real zipper. They're really cheap on Amazon and quite durable.

As always, you need to pack your toiletry kit the same as your main bag--light and with essentials only. Three ounces for liquids is generally fine with me. If I run out of something, I can usually pick up a replacement. I always pack a few days' extra medications just in case, but otherwise really try to keep the total number of items to a minimum.

Posted by
572 posts

If you looking for a variety of zippered bags, I just picked up five of them at Target in the Christmas markdowns for 90% off. If you sew, it is easy to find a free pattern online for zippered bags. I just made one with five inside pockets to use for my cords, earbuds, and chargers.

Posted by
6895 posts

I responded earlier that I just have used a freebie Clinique bag for years. Well, I decided after reading the reviews on the LL Bean site to splurge for my next trip. I tried it out last weekend and loved it. I purchased the medium personal toiletry bag.

My role at work to is organize our manufacturing floor, tools, etc. to have everything efficient, visible and at-hand. This bag reminded me of all of those positive attributes; no more fumbling in my past bag to find items. And I’ll use the front zipper for my second pair of earrings and a necklace.

When I travel for work, I always set my items on a washcloth on the bathroom counter. No need to do that now, and a quick zip and it’s ready to go back in the suitcase.

Posted by
250 posts

Also LOVE my Ebags pack it flat bag! Tired of trying to make a bulky shaped toiletry bag fit in my carry-on puzzle, this one lays flat like a packing cube.

Posted by
630 posts

I think I've tried them all and I finally found what works for us:

We use REI's toiletry kit. It's extremely lightweight and it has side buckles that you can clip onto a towel rack which comes in very handy in small bathrooms if you need to keep it off the sink counter. I believe you can sign up to receive their emails and receive a coupon (I believe it was for 15% off REI brand product). I purchased the red one for me, and I got the grey one for my husband.

I use this bag for my 3-1-1 liquid bag. I realize we can use ziplock bags, but this bag holds more and I've never had a problem using it going through security. I like it because it can stand up on its own when placed on a counter. It also contains spills very nicely (found this out the hard way). I purchased it for under $10 at Bed, Bath and Beyond with their 20% coupon. I do include a quart-size ziplock bag in this bag in case security gives me a hard time about this being too big (but I've never been questioned).

I've tried a lot of the toiletry bags that have compartments, but I found they are too big and bulky and take up too much room in my luggage.

Good luck finding your solution. Everyone travels differently, and it may take awhile to figure out what works best for you.

Posted by
3005 posts

My husband gave me a set of three small mesh bags for travel.
The biggest is about 8X6 ins. , then getting smaller.
I used to pack all my toiletries in one bigger bag, but last trip I split them between two smaller bags, and they fitted into my case much better.
Did the same with my travel first aid kit.
Much more efficient.

Posted by
19 posts

OK I just have to add my proverbial two cents! ;-). I "third" the two LLBean comments above. I have the medium toiletries bag
I have used it extensively for long trips to Hawaii, England, US west coast - it fits quite a bit of stuff. I do carry a small separate makeup bag though. After reading the reviews I am intrigued by both the Rick Steve's bag and the Eagle Creek - I also use the Eagle Creek carry on size roller bag for all above mentioned trips and love that too so may give their toiletry bag a try.

Posted by
80 posts

I, like Selkie, have used the Red Oxx Lil' Roy, but as it now holds my electronics (chargers, reader, headphones, cell, etc.), I switched to the Red Oxx Nomad, which can hold all of my toiletries, including wet in its separate bag, makeup, swabs and cotton rounds, safety pins, hair clips, mirror, brush and comb. It may be tool large for some, but I like the side zippers for organization. I have used one similar to the ebags Portage, but found the shape was not conducive to my other packing cubes and took up too much room. My husband also uses the Nomad and he has plenty of room left over in it.

Posted by
156 posts

I just purchased the RS basic toiletry kit (on sale), but was a bit disappointed. Way too thin and flimsy to hold more than a few items when hanging. It’s fairly roomy, and the thin nylon makes it possible to stuff it, but the lack of structure makes it floppy and distended when used as a hanging kit. It’s fine for packing, as it lays flat, and will be good for, say, electronics accessories like chargers and cables, but unless you’re packing for a short trip with very lightweight items, I’d go with Eagle Creek’s kits (though they’re a bit pricey). Okay for the price, but that’s about it.

Posted by
4132 posts

I looked at the RS red toiletries bag long and hard yesterday, and decided it was too big for the small amount of stuff I carry. I don't seem to have the same issues as most people do with where to put stuff.

I do have issues about where to set things in the shower, so I decided to try the shower caddy by itself on my next trip. I hope that hook works well and doesn't poke a hole into anything.

Posted by
1338 posts

My husband and I are both the do-it-yourself types, so when we can't find the thing we want to buy, we make whatever-it-is ourselves.

Nobody loves ziploc bags more than I do, but I found it annoying to have to paw through several bags and bags-within-bags to find the bag with the item I needed.

I took several quart-size ziploc zipper freezer bags and sewed them together at the non-zip end to form a sort of book with pages. Just used a sewing machine and a regular stitch. It took about one minute. But these "pages" were still bags with stuff loose inside of them, so I sewed pockets into the bags the sizes of the things I needed to pack. Oh, and I labeled the pockets so I would be slightly more likely to put things back where they belong. Slightly. I've used the same "book" for three long trips now and it has held together just fine.

Also, I made a ziploc bag with pockets to hold chapstick, kleenex, sunscreen, hand lotion, and hand sanitizer in the back pocket of my travel purse --- no more fishing around for those items in my purse.

Posted by
57 posts

Until recently, and for the last 30+ years, I've used a traditional men's Dopp kit with all my toiletry items, wet and dry, and just checked my bag (since I get one free checked bag with both AA and UA). Never gave it a second thought, until this year, when I'm going to go carry-on only, and a Dopp is just too rigid in size. With the few liquids/gels/pastes I need in my 3-1-1, the other items like a razor, shaving brush, hair brush, clippers, travel-size deodorant, and other items will easily fit in a small malleable bag. I only bring travel sizes or the smallest sizes sold, and I decant from big bottles into 2-oz bottles for the 3-1-1. There's no reason that I can find to bring full size containers of anything for less than a month—and even then, the Apothek will sell what I need. The only exception to this rule for me are mouthwash and toothpaste. I know what I like and I don't intend to change that. I just bring 3 little travel sized tubes of regular Crest in my 3-1-1 and a couple of mini bottles of Scope classic. The rest I can find over there easily.