The TSA’s Byzantine security measures are making it increasingly difficult to travel “carry-on only” these days. It seems we travelers are now required to remove everything but Clif Bars from our screened baggage.
One little-known trick is to replace all (or as many as possible) liquid toiletries with solid alternatives. Stick-based products are not required to be packed in a one-quart, liquids-only Ziploc bag, meaning they don’t need to be removed from your carry-on luggage for separate screening. Here are our favorite solid travel products to get you started.
Travel is brutal on your skin, and it’s toughest on your face. Particularly on long-haul flights, a pack of facial wipes can help get you feel clean, refreshed, and hydrated. The Volcanic Clay Facial Wipes from Every Man Jack rely on naturally occurring clay and activated charcoal to rid your face of dirt and oil. Witch hazel keeps the shine off your skin, and vitamin E and aloe help moisture and provide ongoing protection from the bone-dry air travelers encounter in airports and airplanes. Best of all, they’re ultra-affordable.
If a shampoo “bar” sounds like a strange way to lather your locks, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. J.R. Liggett’s Original Formula Shampoo uses a traditional recipe that includes argan and coconut oils — two ingredients virtually guaranteed to keep your hair looking its best. Using it is simpler than it sounds: work up a lather in your hands, then apply to wet hair and shampoo as usual. If you’re feeling fancy, you can follow up with a bit of cider vinegar as a natural conditioner. Just store it in a dry container out of the shower, and it’ll last almost indefinitely.
For those multi-day flights when a full shower isn’t in the cards, sometimes just brushing your teeth is all you need to feel human again. If you’re looking to seriously pare down and even ditch your travel-sized toothpaste, solid mouthwash tabs are the perfect alternative. Pop two Creme de Menthe Mouthwash Tabs from Lush in your mouth, chew, and swish with water to activate the fizz. The best part? The explosive peppermint flavor tastes better than any “dessert” you’re going to find on the plane.
Like most personal care products, lotion is mostly water. With the liquid removed, what remains is a highly concentrated “solid” lotion. Bee Bar Lotion from Honey House Naturals is rich in beeswax, vitamin E, and shea butter — all things that help put the moisture back in your travel-damaged skin. The brand’s tiny 0.6-ounce tin is perfectly sized for travel and, because it’s concentrated, will last for even the longest of journeys away from home. With daily use, it’s designed to last almost two months.
Laundering your clothes while on the road is one of the best ways to streamline your packing list. Sea to Summit offers a great line of solid travel and outdoor products. However, their Pocket Wilderness Wash is hands-down the most versatile. A single, Tic Tac container-sized box holds 50 “leaves” of dry detergent. Just add water, and the leaves dissolve almost immediately, providing an effective solution for washing your clothing. Because it’s 100% free of parabens, phosphates, and fragrances, it works in a pinch for washing yourself as well.
We love Duke Cannon’s entire line of travel-friendly goods. They’re best known for their no-nonsense Big Ass Brick of Soap, available in scents like Victory, Naval Supremacy, and Accomplishment. But we also dig their solid cologne which allows you to skip the Axe and other sickeningly perfumed body sprays. These concentrated balms melt with the heat of your fingers and allow for more precise application where you need it. The nature-inspired scents are crisp and earthy with names like Air, Land, and Sea.
In some areas of the world — we’re looking at you, Caribbean — sunscreen is often exorbitantly overpriced. If you plan on traveling some place tropical for even a week, a travel-size bottle of spray or liquid sunblock likely won’t be enough. Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Face + Body Stick is a deodorant-like stick sunblock that’s water-resistant, lightweight, fast-absorbing, and offers SPF 70 protection.
If you’re heading anywhere remote or fun (think: Costa Rica, equatorial Africa, or Alaska in summer), you can probably count on there being plenty of bugs. While the best bug repellent comes in spray form, Repel’s Insect Repellent Sportsmen Stick works almost as well. The compact, one-ounce sticks offer long-lasting protection (Repel promises up to eight hours) against the usual pests, including gnats, ticks, chiggers, and fleas. Most importantly, it protects against mosquitoes that can transmit Zika, Dengue, West Nile, and Chikungunya viruses.
If the idea of solid toothpaste sounds strange, you’re not alone. But, The Dirt’s Trace Mineral Tooth Brushing Powder is well-reviewed and guaranteed to take better care of your teeth than traditional paste. The proprietary blend of nutmeg, sweet orange, cardamom, and cinnamon tastes and smells great. It’s also naturally whitening and free of xylitol, corn, soy, or gluten. Plus, the company makes a pocket-sized, 6-week jar that’s perfect for carry-on travelers.
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