Our society is plagued by over consumption, we buy two TV’s instead of one, three cars instead of two, and often run through clothes as if they had an expiration date. Why not trim the fat where you can; starting with your essential toiletries. It’ll save you money in extra baggage claims and in the long run, it’s just nice to feel like you have full control over something in your life.
It can be argued that the toiletries bag is the second most important bag you’ll ever pack and it can save you in a pinch, even if your clothes never make it off the plane. This short list can help you on your next trip, or if you’re simply trying to watch what you spend.
The Seven Essentials:
1. Toothbrush/Toothpaste- I paired these two items together because, the toothbrush/toothpaste combo is probably the most important tool in your bag. Not only can a brush of your teeth make you feel fresh in seconds (30-60 seconds), it also prevents bad breath; which is key in a business meeting, or after hours with a date. If your going on a week-long retreat, a 4 oz tube of toothpaste will last you well beyond those seven days; the Oral Health Unit of The Department of Heath suggests using a pea size blob of fluoride toothpaste to properly remove plaque and other grime. Also, leave your electric toothbrush at home, a manual toothbrush is lighter, smaller and doesn’t vibrate going through customs.
2. Deodorant– “The Pit Stick” or DEO, is also a must have in any situation. It’ll help you smell more like a business man and less like a garbage man on your next layover, or give you a boost when your running late. It’s main use is to reduce odor caused by the bacterial breakdown of the bodies perspiration. However, try to avoid deodorant spray’s and antiperspirants (not because they reportedly cause cancer due to their high aluminum content, which is a myth) but rather because spray bottles are chunky and antiperspirants can cause yellow stains on clothing, which are embarrassing and make you look unclean. Acqua di-Parma’s ‘Colonia’ is a really strong deodorant that works great on sensitive skin. Adidas also makes a long lasting deodroant called ‘Ice Drive’ which was developed by athletes for athletes, so you know it works under any conditions.
3. Condoms- There is a reason every guy should carry around a half-dozen or so of these in his toiletries bag; it’s one of the most reliable and easy to use contraceptives on the market, and is way more fun than abstinence. If we all listened to Coach Carr (from Mean Girls), who said: “If you get an STD, You WILL Die,” we’d never leave the house without one. Now while you probably wont die as a result of not using a condom, ‘makin’ a baby’ sure does take a lot of the fun out of sex. The easiest way to avoid any of the above is to use a rubber; Lifestyle makes an ultra thin condom that should be as close as you should get to feeling ‘free’ when out for a night of fun.
4. Gel/Mousse- If you’re a hat guy, this may not apply, but for the rest of you; styling products are going to prevent your from looking like a shaggy dog, or early 1960’s John Lennon, and transform you into the clean, confident and cool you. Remember to work it into your hair as to avoid a There’s Something About Mary moment.
5. Razor/Soap- Although it can be argued a little stubble can be cool, a weeks worth just makes you lazy and unkept. The best advice is to bring along a disposable razor, and a bar of shaving soap. If you are a shaving cream guy, try at all costs to avoid the large cans of shaving cream. They take up a lot of room and can be very messy if not properly stored. Baxter makes a great close shave cream and Vulfix ‘Old Original’ is another high quality cream that comes in a small canister. But a shave soap is easy to use and easy to transport and can be bought at any drug store.
6. Nail Clippers- Nothing is worse than a hang nail in a foreign country, or even on a weekend trip to your buddies cottage. A small set of nail clippers is a luxury from home that can help fix an uncomfortable situation. You may be thinking, “No, I’m fine I’ll just cut my nails before I leave”. The odds are in favor of you still needing this tool, and chances are your buddies didn’t think to bring a set. If you’re doing any physical activity during your trip, from hand gliding, to throwing a football on the beach, or camping, you’re putting your cuticle’s at risk. Not to mention if you’re simply having drinks with a client, you’ll need to at least appear well put together. If all else fails, they may help you file your way out of a Mexican prison.
7. Sunblock/Moisturizer- If you’re heading off to a tropical destination, sunblock can cost upwards of five times what you’d pay here in North America, and nothing is more unattractive than second degree burns on your second day in ‘paradise’. If your going to be traveling to a winter wonderland, or staying around home with temperatures around freezing, a skin moisturizer will replace sunblock. If you exposed skin, the moisture from your body is basically sucked out, leaving you chapped and sore. The perfect moisturizer will fit three requirements: It smells great, feels best and goes on without feeling greasy. As well, a quality moisturizer should never irritate or burn your skin. Cetaphil, Nivea or Neutrogena moisturizers are highly recommend by dermatologists and are relatively inexpensive. As for sunblock: iS Clinical, Obagi and Solbar PF all give you SPF protection of 30 or higher.
The Three Nevers:
1. Shampoo/Conditioner- Most decent hotels offer complimentary shampoos and conditioners. Leaving big bottles of the stuff at home is also a great way to save room in your bag for other items you may pick up on your way back. If you feel it necessary to travel with your own shampoo and conditioner, try to buy a 2 in 1, it’ll utilize the minimal space that you do have left. The average man however, should use what is given to you and it’s free.
2. Mouthwash- When you’re cramped for space mouthwash doesn’t seem all that important. Remember a pack of gum can freshen your breath, while also slipping comfortably into your coat pocket. Try carrying a bottle of mouthwash through airport security and you’ll whined up arrested.
3. Shower puff- They are a great way to keep clean at home and feel great on your skin. However, they should never make it into your toiletries bag. The shower puff is something that can be substituted for a face cloth at any hotel or guest house.
Check lists for your holiday are already big enough; remembering what clothes to pack, what medication to bring, and who is going to take care of your respective pet(s). Sometimes the best list is a short list, so make do with what toiletries are necessary and you’ll travel lighter and happier.