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Normal travel-size toiletries vs. travel bottles?

When packing toiletries, I've always just raided the travel aisle at Walmart or Target and got what I needed in the mini size. However, after all of my obsessive travel blog reading, I've heard a lot of talk about transferring personal toiletries into the little travel bottles; I've specifically heard a ton of good things about "GoToobs". What does everyone usually do in terms of toiletries? Would it be worth it to purchase GoToobs or a similar alternative over the regular travel size toiletries? Thanks!!

Posted by
3243 posts

I do what you do and buy travel size EXCEPT I can't find a travel size in my face lotion, so I purchased a GoToob and love it. I think I'll get one more for my shampoo, because hotel shampoo is awful, IMO. Otherwise, I just hit the travel aisle, as I find that fun...sick as that is. Wray

Posted by
630 posts

I bring home the hotel shampoo bottles and empty them out. Then I refill with my shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc. Also note that some TSA agents can confiscate a bottle where the liquid content amount isn't stated on the bottle (even if the bottle is tiny). The bottle has to be less than 3.4 oz (or whatever the amount is these days) and it should be stated on the container.

Posted by
16731 posts

I bought a set of plastic travel bottles from REI. I like that some of them hold 3 ounces, which is good for the longer trips we take.

Posted by
2768 posts

I buy cheap travel bottles from the container store for my products that don't come in travel size. Label (just paper with clear tape fully covering it) and go. The small plastic pill boxes (or contact lens cases) sold at drug stores are good for small amounts of lotions or creams that don't transfer easily into bottles.

Really the main advantage is that the bottles are refillable (if you can get it clean, sometimes I end up tossing the bottle, unfortunately). Also, you can use whatever brand you prefer, not be limited to what comes in a travel size. Also, varying sizes - shorter trips don't need the full 3oz travel bottle, so I use a 1 or 2 oz container.

Posted by
544 posts

I've done both. And sometimes I even bring big bottles. The main thing for my packing is that I don't trust the bottles and keep the bottles in ziplock bags.

I've found whether driving up into the mountains or packing bottles on the plane, that every now and then one will open on it's own or totally break. The plastic bag at least contains the mess.

Posted by
8597 posts

the travel aisles in my Walmart, Target, CVS, etc., also sell bags of little plastic bottles for this purpose too. So do shops in Europe.

Posted by
326 posts

FYI, My experience with a 1.25 oz GoToob left me with two problems.

One: I used one for muscle cream (ingredients: camphor and menthol) and the odor absorbed out through the silicone, smelling up the entire luggage bag. There was no leak.

Two: Had an hard time cleaning the tube to use for something else. It is not easy to get last bits out of the tube and in this case it still smells even after washing with various solutions and sitting out in the sun for days to air.

My conclusion is that I will use a tube only for a product that isn't available in a travel size (and doesn't have a strong odor). For example, I'd prefer to take two small travel size (or hotel size) shampoos and toss when empty.

Posted by
5648 posts

I have had several of the two ounce GoToobs for about 5 years now and really like them. They are easy to refill and because they are silicone it is really easy to get the very last bit of shampoo or face cream out of them. I find them quite easy to clean, but then I repeatedly put the same type of product in each one. I bought them when I was traveling frequently for business, so they saved me money over repeatedly buying travel size. For an occasional trip, they would not make as much sense unless you had a particular product that wasn't available in travel size.

You can't put everything in them. There is a list of items on their website that are not recommended. For example, you shouldn't use them for alcohol-based products.

Posted by
11613 posts

I buy one travel size bottle of shampoo and use the hotel stuff once I get to Europe.

Posted by
1580 posts

I prefer to decant into an appropriate sized container. I use little pots for face cream. I recently discovered IKEA sells 100ml containers that are square (great for packing, better than round) and plan to get some for the next trip.

Posted by
15649 posts

I bought some 3 oz (100 ml?) bottles at REI. They have very wide necks, so they are easy to fill with my faves, and they are soft/flexible, so easy to squeeze out what I need, especially near the end of a trip. The top is a screw-on/flip top, so I never lose the little top and they never leak. One type even has a suction cup so you can stick it on the shower wall.

I also raid the travel aisle like you, for the rest - roll-ons, aerosols, sunscreen, tooth paste . . .

Posted by
67 posts

I was gifted a set of 3-oz. GoToobs but found that they were too big - in size and volume - for my travel needs. I have decanted my favorite hand lotion into one though to carry in my purse at home. I do like contact lens cases for creams; and they're about a third of the price of GoTubbs. I too have saved shampoo/conditioner/lotion bottles from hotels and refill them with my favorite products.

Posted by
2092 posts

I'm very particular about what toiletries I use and prefer to not have any of them leak. I use several of the various sizes of Go Toobs and have always been pleased. The length of the trip determines what sizes I need.

Posted by
2468 posts

As a prior poster mentioned, in the past the GoToobs were too big for my needs, though I see now they make smaller sizes. I use a variety of containers from travel sized bottles to Nalgene containers like these. Other than being less than three ounces, my main criteria is that they don't leak - many of the travel sized bottles are a complete fail in this regard. Once I find something that works, I re-purpose it for other things. I also use flat contact lens cases for smaller amounts of things like neosporin or cortisone creme (just ask your eye doctor for them, don't buy!). Personally I have not had an issue with bottles that don't have an ounce size marked on them - but I don't have anything that is close to three ounces in size.

Posted by
2349 posts

I dislike blank bottles because the Sharpie wears off and I'm not always sure what's in them. So I buy travel shampoo, etc. bottles, and refill them. I also look for small sample items attached as a promotion to regular items. That's how I got my wee half ounce facial lotion container. It's perfect in size, although to refill I have to put lotion in my hand and squeeze it into the little tube.

Good idea about using contact lens holders for creams. They'll also hold meds nicely if you don't want to take all the prescription bottles on an overnight.

Posted by
139 posts

I use GoToobs for shampoo and unscented Lubriderm. I like the suction cup for hanging the shampoo on the tile if there's no handy ledge in the shower. Like the capacity for the lotion, since I need a lot of that (have skin allergies, so must bring my own products.). The 2 Toobs take up a lot of space in the 3-1-1 bag, but decided it's worth it. I ask for empty sample jars when I go to the Origens counter--they're a great size for face cream, etc. I use their "Checks and Balances" foaming wash for travel (and every day) because you need only a tiny amount. the GoToobs are an awkward shape (and yes they ooze the scent of some products) but they fit well in a Tom Bihn 3D clear organizer cube.

Posted by
9787 posts

I buy the empty bottles mostly at Container Store and/or Muji - and in fact, I have basically two different sizes of everything I use: one that suffices for a weekend trip (smaller sizes) and one that contains more for longer trips. I either cover up what I've written with Sharpie with a piece of tape, or I print out a small label with a Dymo.

It's one of my nerdy favorite things to do, when I get home from a trip, refilling my little bottles with their potions so they're ready for the next time . . .

Posted by
7403 posts

I wear Clinique liquid foundation which comes in a squeeze bottle. One time, the clerk gave me a sample jar to try something. It's the perfect size to squeeze a few weeks of foundation and takes up a miniscule amount of room. I also refill my travel-size empty tubes of toothpaste - easy to do by removing the air in the travel one before squeezing the regular tube (of the toothpaste I prefer).

I bring two past hotel shampoos from work trips & fill a couple of past hotel bottles with my thicker hair conditioner which will last for a couple of weeks with my shorter hair. If I don't need those shampoos, I use them to wash clothes in the sink along with my Woolite Travel Packets for clothes.

Everything liquid goes into a double pack of Ziplock bags. I have had one slight leak, but the 2nd layer kept everything in my suitcase dry.

Posted by
796 posts

I purchased GoToobs, but referred to their website which listed a number of products that should not be used in them, like the sunscreen I had planned to place in them! So....I do not use them. I buy from the travel sized aisle at drug stores and groceries, in addition to keeping the small bottles of shampoo, body wash, etc from hotels. I prefer the tiny bottles, 1 oz to 45 ml, which are refillable, so I refill at home. On my last trip, I downsized my carry on only liquids due to the weight. I took a small bar of soap in a container, which I did not use much, as I had a rental for 6 nights, then hotels. I took enough shampoo/conditioner for a couple of nights and my favourite face wash and moisturizer. On arrival, I went to a large department store, Monoprix in Nice, which I had researched the location and products from home, and found travel sized shampoo, conditioner and some other supplies. They lasted a long time, as I was away for a month and came home with some of the products.

That is what works for me.

Posted by
427 posts

I found that GoToobs were too wide-mouthed for relatively liquid products like moisturizer and also for more solid products that come with a narrow nozzle - both of which I use only a little at a time, so that left only face creams that I spread on with fingers. Altogether too much wastage and mess both filling them and using up all the contents.

Posted by
137 posts

I save small jar containers from my eye cream, 0.5 oz or less and label them with tape. Then I transfer my products into them. I don't like to experiment and need products which work for me without problems. I don't use makeup except for mascara and lipstick but use a lot of creams for dry skin: serum, eye cream, day cream, sunscreen, neck cream, night cream, eye drops, hand cream, cream for sore feet. All fits in 3-1-1 bag and plus travel size toothpaste, mascara and lip gloss.
For shampoo I use solid shampoo from Lash cosmetics, and small travel size soap bar works well for sink laundry. I usually use Garniere or Ponds wipes to wash face from cosmetics, they come as travel pack of 25 and can be used for other needs. Small solid deodorant. Small solid roll on body Glide for feet will prevent any blisters.
The only thing I have to buy on arrival is body cream. Would love to know if there is any product in a "solid" or dry form which then can become a cream...

Posted by
985 posts

I use needle nose 30 ml bottles for all liquids - even my thicker hair glue! The cap screws down on the bottle and keeps it from leaking. We did not ever open our shampoo on our last trip - just used hotel for hair and washing clothes.

Posted by
167 posts

When I travel to Europe, I take very little of the lotions, creams etc that need to go into the 3 x 5 plastic bag. The quality of the creams, cosmetics, shampoo etc. is better, less chemicals,etc, in Europe than in the states, so buying those things and using them there is a treat for me.

However, a useful trick for putting LOTS of quantity of liquids, gels, etc. is to use a ziplock bag, empty the lotion, cream,etc, into the bag and then put the bag(s) INSIDE the ziplock bag that is taken out for TSA.
Thus the only space used is the substance itself.

Done this successfully for years.

Posted by
9787 posts

Ann - are you literally saying you put shampoo, shower gel, whatever, just pour it into a ziploc bag and the bag stays closed and the liquid doesn't leak out of it??

Posted by
2764 posts

Since the Thousands Standing Around can't tell how much liquid you have in the Baggie (using the Baggie trick above) you run the risk of an agent confiscating your little baggies. Rules are the container has to be labeled as 100 ml or less

Posted by
167 posts

Kim... Yes I am literally saying I put the creams, liquids, etc. into the zip lock bags, then put them into the "official" Ziplock that I take out for TSA.
The ONLY thing I carry in a small plastic bottle is some almond oil which might leak into a zip lock.
And as you might know, lipsticks, any solid makeup, eye drops, do not have to be in the 3 x 5 bag.
just make sure the seal is good on the zip lock and do not overfill. I have even carried a quart bag on a return because I had bought some lotion that I did not want to leave behind.
I stopped carrying shampoo and conditioner years ago, did not make sense to me, when I can get a better quality shampoo/conditioner in Europe than I can in the US, for example I love the Klorane brand that I buy in Europe.

Posted by
167 posts

Just to add, I have been using the bags within bags trick since 2007....between 3 and 4 international trips per year, so plan to continue. That is lot of TSA inspections.
No problems not even a second look by TSA.

Posted by
2764 posts

Not a second look is pretty normal. The theatre generally doesn't care. But then you get the agent who got up on the wrong side of the bed.... Like the one who threatened me with "arrest" over a legal corkscrew. (My response was "I am not discussing this with you, please call your supervisor over". His response, threw the corkscrew back in my suitcase and yelled JUST GO. I did go and find the supervisor LOL)

Posted by
2619 posts

I need a ridiculous amount of special conditioner and hair dressing to control my curly hair, travel sizes just don't cut it. I bought a brand of travel bottles called Go Bags from Amazon and they've worked great on 2 trips now, no leaking. I do take the extra precaution of putting them in a Ziploc when putting in my suitcase. Otherwise travel sizes of most things is enough for my usual 2 week trips.

Posted by
692 posts

Christa, I too have curly hair. I'm trying to find the Go Bags bottles on amazon and am having no luck. Can you possibly post a link? Thanks!!

Posted by
43 posts

Kim - can you please let me know which muji bottles you use? I cannot figure out which ones to buy from their online store. Thanks.
K

Posted by
1625 posts

I used the GoToobs (3 oz) and loved the size for my 18 day trip, I never ran out of products. Shampoo, Conditioner, face wash and face moisturizer go in my quart size bag. My Liquid face make-up (2.5 oz) stays in my make up bag and goes through just fine. We purchased 2 containers of "Head and Shoulders" in the travel size at Target for my husband and they ran out in 3 days (Hubby uses on face and bald head for a skin condition)...so off we went in search of in Paris, as it MUST be Head and Shoulders. Wish I had used a GoToobs for his H&S! We always travel with the same products so if some is left over in the container, we just store the container with the product in it for the next trip. Travel size toothpaste.

Posted by
9787 posts

K - Sorry, I hadn't checked this post in a while. If you go to this page

http://www.muji.us/store/health-and-beauty/small-bottles-containers.html

you'll see several choices. I like the soft PE tubes and cylinder bottles, 30 g, and 50 ounces depending on whether it's a weekend or a few days trip.

the PE tubes I like for my face scrub (Aveeno) because the spout is "downward" and you just flip the cap and squeeze it just like the big bottle at home. In their description, they suggest it for moisturizer. They have 30g and 50 g sizes.
http://www.muji.us/store/health-and-beauty/small-bottles-containers/pe-tube-30g.html

I also like the really skinny PE cylinder bottle for my liquid eye makeup remover.
http://www.muji.us/store/health-and-beauty/small-bottles-containers/pe-cylinder-bottle-with-snap-cap-18ml.html

Here's a 100-mL bottle that could hold shower gel or shampoo.
http://www.muji.us/store/health-and-beauty/small-bottles-containers/pe-cylinder-bottle-with-snap-cap-100ml.html

I tend to buy the soft-sided tubes and bottles, which appear to be labeled "PE" rather than the hard-sided ones, which appear to be "PET." But your preferences may vary!

Most important is some type of flip-top and squeeze lid rather than one you have to screw on or off when you're fumbling in the shower!

Posted by
1252 posts

My wife and I have resigned ourselves to having at least one check-in luggage. There are two of us and we are going to be on the trip for at least a week, and usually more. We can easily use most of a full-size bottle of any liquid between the two of us. Contact lens solution can be particularly tricky because we need to use a particular brand and do not want to be shopping or experimenting with this essential liquid.

Posted by
67 posts

I too only use travel bottles for products I can't find in travel size. I have some GoToobs in various sizes and found that 3 oz. was way too big for most of my needs but like another poster I use one in my purse at home for hand lotion. I prefer the 1.25 oz size for travel. I also found that if I put them head-to-toe (like shoes in a shoebox) they fit the 3-1-1 bag better. Contact lens cases - free or cheap - are great for creams. They are tiny and leakproof. Over the years my 3-1-1 bag carries less and less (like my carryon bag). I experimented at home with the amount of product I thought I would need for the length of my trip and discovered that I used far less of some products than anticipated and adjusted my plan accordingly.

Posted by
67 posts

I too only use travel bottles for products I can't find in travel size. I have some GoToobs in various sizes and found that 3 oz. was way too big for most of my needs but like another poster I use one in my purse at home for hand lotion. I prefer the 1.25 oz size for travel. I also found that if I put them head-to-toe (like shoes in a shoebox) they fit the 3-1-1 bag better. Contact lens cases - free or cheap - are great for creams. They are tiny and leakproof. Over the years my 3-1-1 bag carries less and less (like my carryon bag). I experimented at home with the amount of product I thought I would need for the length of my trip and discovered that I used far less of some products than anticipated and adjusted my plan accordingly.

Posted by
15574 posts

For those of you who aren't aware of it, there is a company that specialies in carrying travel sized items. Their selection is much better than anything you'll find in a retail store:

Minimus.biz

Posted by
43 posts

Thank you Kim!!!

Has anyone used these bottles with a face or body oil or serum? I ordered some and when I got them in the mail, they had stickers on them that said not to use them with oils or high alcohol content liquids.

Last thing I want is leaking oils in my carry on.
Anyone have any insight? Thanks
K

Posted by
27362 posts

I've often taken leftover hotel bottles of lotion home and then used them on another trip. I also washed out a little shampoo bottle and used it to carry a high-alcohol facial cleanser. I've never had a leak, and I don't know what's different about the bottles with restrictive instructions (which I also observed when shopping for some larger containers). I'd probably just go with the suggestion to put those bottles in smaller ZIP Lock bags inside the larger one.

However, branches of the Container Store, which sells the no-oil bottles and GoToobs, also carry Nalgene bottles of various sizes, including a small jar that would be useful for ointments. Nalgene doesn't suggest any restrictions on the use of its containers, and they're said to be leak-proof. But they are very sturdy, and thus heavier than other plastic containers. I wouldn't want to carry all my toiletries in Nalgene bottles because of their weight, but for one or two products that seem especially iffy (particularly if you're carrying something requiring a prescription), it might be worth it to buy the best. If there's no nearby Container Store, a camping goods store might have Nalgene containers.

Posted by
630 posts

Yes, put any bottle you think could leak in a clear sandwich baggie
and THEN put it in the quart sized clear bag to be placed in your
luggage.

Another idea to prevent leaking is to place a small piece of plastic wrap underneath the bottle.

Posted by
2393 posts

I buy the trial/travel size of hand sanitizer and when the gel is gone they wash out beautifully for travel use. The lids screw on tight with no leaking and the flip tops are convenient. I use them for all squeezable liquids even baby oil. I bought some little jars that work great for thick creams. I finally found spray deoderant in 3oz cans - they are a little big but better than hauling a full size can and I just can't do solids.

Posted by
9787 posts

Frank, ok, I worry I could REALLY fall down the rabbit hole with that website!!!

Posted by
5006 posts

With regard to using zip lock bags to contain leakage, here are a couple of thoughts. (1) Use a quart freezer zip lock inside the regular quart zip lock 311 bag. Just double protection -- no one has ever questioned doing this, but things change all the time so who knows. (2) Go to a local pharmacy or craft store. You can get various sized small zip lock type bags into which you can put individual bottles. No one has ever questioned doing either, but there's always a first time. Just food for thought.