Whether you travel once a month or once a year, packing toiletries is probably your least favorite part of preparing for a big trip. My current travel-toiletry situation is sad: a massive zip-lock bag stuffed with tiny, half-empty bottles of crappy conditioner, some old moisturizer, and if I’m lucky, a new razor. Inevitably, I forget something and have to use the hotel soap or find a pharmacy once I land.
For people who travel a lot for work, this experience is all too common, which is what makes Le Traveleur, a curated selection of travel-sized, high-quality products, so tantalizing. It was created by Margaret Sowa, a business anthropologist who spent years in the fashion and beauty industry working for brands like J.Crew and Bare Escentuals.
“Throughout my career we had clients coming in asking if we had samples,” Sowa says. “They would say, ‘We don’t wanna travel with our big sizes.’” She read that travelers were saving products from their Birchbox subscriptions for upcoming trips, and thought there must be a better way. But she couldn’t find one. “I was Googling endlessly. I was like somebody has to have this idea, and my friends were like maybe it was meant to be your idea.”
Le Traveleur brings you a perfect suitcase-friendly to-go kit of high-end products sized perfectly for travel. (Photo: Le Traveleur)
So she pitched it to a handful of companies and immediately got some bites. Thus, Le Traveleur was born. The inaugural kit, the Weekender Travel, is made to last three days on the road and costs $35. It packs 12 products from eight companies, essentials like shampoo and conditioner, face wash and moisturizer, body soap and lotion. Then it includes some charming extras like perfume and blush paper. It even comes with eucalyptus toothpaste from Acca Kappa, an Italian brand. “I was like, why can’t we get nice toothpaste?” Sowa says. “Why do you have to get Colgate? Some people like the luxury when they travel.”
The question is whether the convenience of not having to pack a toiletries bag, plus the added value of high-quality products, actually justifies the $35 price tag. Sowa points to similar services that simplify the travel experience, like Dufl, a company that packs and ships your suitcase for $100 each trip. “Who would have thought people would pay $100 to avoid taking a suitcase?” she asks. “But they do! Convenience is really valued nowadays.”
For now, Le Traveleur only has one kit, and it’s aimed at women. But Sowa plans to launch a selection for men and a handful of themed options like an organic kit or one featuring only French-made products. Eventually she’ll offer a subscription service so customers could order a pack for an upcoming trip and receive it in the mail before they depart.
Here, a few other fun, curated gift box services for globetrotters:
Bag and Wander’s September “Cozy Comfort” travel kit includes items like a travel cup, TeaDrops, an aromatherapy rollerball, and a cross-body bag. (Photo: Bag and Wander)
Instead of just toiletries, Bag and Wander delivers five to seven goodies that encourage adventure and coincide with a monthly seasonal theme (for example, a travel water bottle for the heat of June; or a bamboo spork and reusable sandwich bag for August picnics). All products are eco-friendly and each package comes with a free reusable bag.
Price: $29.95 a month
A look at last quarter’s Fathom box, which came with Dubs earplugs, a 4-in-1 travel adapter, Ursa Major VT Skincare, and more. (Photo: Quarterly.co)
Curated by Pavia Rosati and Jeralyn Gerba, the founders of travel website Fathom, this box delivers “a greatest hits of travel” to make trips more seamless. The first box contained travel accessories like Dubs earplugs for in-flight music listening, a four-in-one travel adaptor, and custom postcards.
Price: $100 per package, one package every three months
The inaugural Oregon box from State x State. (Photo: State X State)
This is a great goodie box for discovering a city’s local artisans. It’s not a subscription service, each box has to be ordered individually, but they’re packed with highly curated goods that give a snapshot of a city’s maker industry. And it’s not just toiletries; many of the items can be used over and over or incorporated into your home. The inaugural box came from Portland with two custom-made and hand-thrown mugs, a denim folding wallet, and some local chocolate.
Price: $125 per box, ordered individually
Escape Monthly brings great destination-inspired products to you. (Photo: Escape Monthly/Facebook)
Want to scratch the travel itch but can’t find the time (or money) for an escape? This box delivers destination-inspired luxury products aimed at helping you pamper yourself. Deliveries include locally-made food or drinks, body products, and location-based travel guides.
Price: $49.95 monthly
Try out luxe items from locally-sourced small businesses, like these great finds from the Seattle box. (Photo: Hammock Pack)
No samples here. The Hammock Pack sends full-sized items sourced from a region’s small businesses. The box is aimed toward women and comes with hard-to-find objects, usually hand-made. The Denver pack, for example, featured journals designed by a local artist, hand-crafted soap, and natural lip balm.
Price: $32 monthly
Take your tastebuds on a vacation with a box of yummy goods from a different international city. (Photo: Try The World/Facebook)
This is perhaps one of the best boxes for its price, and it’s all about food. Every two months you’ll receive a package from a different city, stuffed with local goods curated by expert chefs and topped off with a guide to the region’s gourmet goods. The Venice box came with pasta, coffee, lemon candies, chocolate, and pesto sauce.
Price: $39 per box, every two months
A Box From brings you items individually picked out by locals, and who knows better than them? (Photo: A Box From)
This package is filled with goods locals have suggested. It’s super personal and unique, as if your pen pal on the other side of the world has sent you a personal care package. Each item comes with a little story about its importance and instructions on how to use it. The Tehran box featured a handmade basket, tea and tea glasses (“the secret is to hold the glasses in the very top with your fingertips and take small, slow sips”), and a gram of saffron (“this saffron was sold in the bazaar underneath dangling light bulb”).
Price: 70 euro or about $80, ordered individually