As an itinerant journalist who writes about grooming and travel, I have learned an awful lot about gear and getting products past the TSA—allow me to share what I’ve learned. I’m not talking about drugstore fun-sized toothpastes and contact solutions. Instead, these are the creams and salves that get the most miles and provide the greatest comfort while away from home, and that are still up to standard with your normal regimen (whether it’s simple or advanced). These products should either multitask in keeping you fresh or offer a unique power to take the strain out of long-haul flights and subpar Airbnb vanities.
For each of the products below, assume you can pack them directly in your carry-on dopp kit unless otherwise noted. (Anything over 3.4 oz., or 100 ml is not TSA friendly.) Not everything is already available in that format, but fret not: we have a plan in those cases. And in the instances a product is not travel-ready from the get-go, I promise I have good reason for picking it.
I have left some things that simply come down to personal preference—hair products, face masks—as well as some too-obvious things like a toothbrush and floss. But these 11 products will go a long way to have you feeling fresh in whatever time zone you find yourself.
1. TSA-Approved bottles
These refillable silicone bottles will change the way you travel. They’re the best way to transport your favorite conditioner, cleanser, moisturizer—anything!—as opposed to hunting down a tiny thing of sub-par product when you’re already late to get to the airport. They’re soft and squeezable, which allows to wring out every last drop at the end of a long trip, but they have never leaked on me.
Word to the wise: many products look exactly the same once they’re squeezed out. So make sure to label these bottles with a Sharpie once you fill them up, lest you cover your entire body in conditioner thinking it’s body balm.
2. A durable dopp kit
You need a bag to put everything in, and there are three big things to consider. It has to be spill-proof, in case anything leaks or you have to set it onto a wet countertop—that eliminates anything. It has to be durable enough to protect your products (so that they don’t spill or break), but flexible enough to smash into your duffel after you race through airport security. And it has to look good. Obviously.
Thule hits the sweet spot—its nylon bag is durable, cleanable, and easy to organize, with zip pockets and interior pouches. And it is straightforward in appearance, in a good way. (I have always wondered who needs a heavy, stiff engraved leather dopp kit.)
3. A multi-tasking, all-over cleanser
It’s not often that I suggest combining your soap, face wash, and shampoo all into one, because those 3-in-1 products are usually big red flags. But travel is a special case, and Dr. Bronner’s is a big exception. Their pure-castile liquid soap covers every base. (It even makes for a great on-the-go laundry detergent.) Its peppermint soap is one of my favorite at-home facial cleansers, since it tingles on contact and leaves skin refreshed but not dried out. Ditto for hair; I’d use this non-drying soap as a shampoo over most options any day. Plus, considering that you shouldn’t shampoo your hair more than a couple times per week, it’s not really necessary to pack a standalone shampoo for your trip. Here’s one of the exceptions to the TSA-friendly rule; I suggest buying the 32-oz. Bottle of soap, which you’ll use happily at home, and to fill up a 3.4-oz container (or two!) with this liquid magic.
4. A high-quality conditioner
While shampoo is something you can cut back on while traveling, conditioner is still essential. Never use a 2-in-1 shampoo-conditioner, because it nullifies the conditioner, which should always be the last step in your hair care regimen, as it restores moisture lost from other steps. On the days you don’t shampoo, conditioner helps rinse products and grime from your hair and scalp (it’s called co-washing), while also nourishing strands and preserving their luster. For this reason, invest a bit in your conditioner. If you want to maximize that money well spent, however, you should also buy a large size of a good product, like R+Co’s “Television” conditioner. Sure, you can buy the 1.7-oz size for $16. But seeing as you will use it daily (and want to keep using it at home), just stick with the full-size 8.5-oz—it’s a much better value.
5. Cleansing wipes, for face, body, armpits, and more…
I always travel with a few individually-wrapped wipes, targeted primarily at the face. More often than not, I’m using them for a pick-me-up on the airplane, or as an cleansing “emergency” on sunny, sweltering days. However, if you’re careful about the wipes you pick and the ingredients they contain, then they can also cover other emergencies, like underarm deodorizers or even as a TP substitute.
Ursa Major’s wipes are every bit as essential as they claim to be: Not only do they cleanse the face and tone oil levels, but they also dissolve dead skin and leave you feeling hydrated and refreshed. They’re designed for sensitive skin, with soothing aloe juice and clean, healthy ingredients. In true emergencies, you can use them in other parts of the body, though that’s not their designated intention.
6. An antiperspirant stick
Because I’m always in a hurry when I travel, or perhaps a little extra anxious, I take no risks when it comes to deodorant. I opt for antiperspirant, and a long-lasting one at that. Dove Men+Care’s gives 48-hour defense; opt for the stick since TSA is cracking down on aerosol sprays.
7. A trimmer that does it all
With all due respect to the fresh-faced shavers out there, I suggest you polish your face the morning before your flight, and then stick with a 5-o’clock shadow for the remainder of the trip. You’ll want to pack a trimmer that can keep you down to a barely-there stubble, but can also trim to various uniform lengths. Bonus points go to the devices that carry a long charge (so you can leave the plug at home), and that have detailing heads, in the event you want keep your mustache or neckline especially tidy.
Considering all this, the Hatteker kit is a winner. It carries an hourlong charge (with LED countdown display) and has interchangeable heads (for beard, nose, body, hair line, you name it), so that you can pack the exact trimmers you need.
8. A de-puffing eye cream
This one’s a little frilly, but considering how easy it is to feel tired out—and to look like it—when you’re changing time zones, an eye cream starts to feel pretty essential. Plus, most are small enough to fit in your dopp kit unnoticed, since they require a pea-size application at best. Get one that depuffs your bags, and brightens dark, tired circles. Jack Black’s is packed with peptides, proteins, antioxidants, and more, and it reduces signs of tiredness and aging.
9. An SPF-packed moisturizer
Since you should wear SPF on the daily—especially on your face, since it shows signs of sun exposure so readily, and so permanently—then there’s no reason you should own a non-SPF moisturizer. There’s no harm to having SPF when you don’t need it, but there’s plenty of harm to lacking it when you do. So, moisturize morning and night (with an SPF of 30 or greater, for those morning applications). Lab Series’ SPF 35 daily moisturizer is a lightweight, reliable pick. You can leave your night cream at home if you’re only traveling for a few days; this will suffice perfectly fine in the interim. A small amount goes a long way from this TSA-friendly bottle.
10. A nourishing hand, lip, and body balm
You’re going to need a hydrating balm after long-haul flights that parch your lips and hands and in cities with hard water on tap that leaves your skin dried out and thirsty. Your task is to pack a hydrating agent for your hands, body, lips, and more—one balm to rule them all. (The only exception is your face, which should have its own targeted moisturizer.) Doctor Rogers’s restorative balm is a great pick here. It’s 0.5-oz. tube is TSA-friendly, and it even works on cracked cuticles, as a flyaway hair tamer, or even as a protective layer over cuts and burns.
11. A quick mouth rinse
Obviously you need to pack oral-care essentials like a toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste—we’ll let you pick those. But also be sure to include some mouthwash. It kills germs. It freshens breath. It tingles on your tongue. You know all of this already, and yet most people overlook it when they pack their bags. It’s the fastest, easiest, and most potent way to reset your mouth in an airplane lavatory or or truck-stop bathroom. And while it’s no substitute for brushing or flossing, it’s way less obnoxious than smacking gum—and it lasts a hell of a lot longer if you pack a potent concentrate
Take this one, from Marvis. At 4.1 ounces, this little bottle is, unfortunately, just big enough that you’ll have to fill an alternate vessel. (If you feel like rolling the dice with the TSA and playing dumb if you get busted, that’s your business.) It's 1 part concentrate to 4 parts water, meaning you only need a capful or two, plus clean water, to guarantee fresh breath for the duration of your trip.
Originally Appeared on GQ