Toiletry Bag Makeover

Let me tell you a little story about how TWO Professional Organizers made fun of me.  And boy did they have fun doing it too 🙂  I attended Blissdom Canada last fall along with Tanna and Margarita.  Both of them took it upon themselves to GASP, in a not so quiet manner I might add, at the apparently massive toiletry bag I was traveling with.  Sheesh! 🙂

Truth was it was huge, I just didn’t realize it at the time.  I had gotten so use to traveling with this toiletry suitcase bag that when it came time to pack for a trip I just grabbed it and went.  I don’t even think it was because I had a whole pile of stuff in there, it was just one of those really awkwardly sized jumbo things.  Well let me tell you, nothing makes you sit up and take notice though like hearing the words “what the heck is that?” in reference to my massive bag.  Oops!

Now this is usually where I’d show you a picture of said bag but I was so completely traumatized worked up about getting rid of this thing as fast as I could that off it went to the thrift store as soon as I got home.  I was a changed woman!  Except of course for the fact that I had no bag to replace it with.  Who knew a great toiletry bag was so hard to come by!

I searched and then searched some more and finally found one at Rexall drugstore.  I wanted small, I wanted some compartments to keep my stuff sorted, a handle and of course I needed it to stand on it’s own two feet.  I hate a wobbly bag, don’t you?

So anyway after my long “I’m going to show those girls” search, I did finally come up with something suitable that will hopefully keep the “still can’t get them out of my head” GASPS down to a bare minimum.

So here you have it…my new and improved, not so big, toiletry bag that measures 8″ x 4″ x 6″:

Top zippered section holds my UNII Palette and brush:

The inside section (below) has a smaller zippered section to contain the little stuff (mending kit, hair elastics, bandaids, etc):

I keep my toiletry bag packed and ready to go underneath my bathroom sink.

And to Tanna and Margarita, don’t worry about me.  I’m sure after a couple of more therapy sessions I’ll be totally fine!! 🙂

How big is your toiletry bag?  Come on, tell me there are others hauling big bad bags around.  Are you in need of a toiletry bag intervention?

Filed under: Containerizing, Gallery, Silly Fun


55 Responses to Toiletry Bag Makeover

  1. 1
    Heather says

    I think they call what I use a “train case”

  2. 2
    Julie Bestry says

    Laura, I’m a professional organizer, but only someone with as much natural beauty as you could put your whole self-care regimen in such a tiny case. I’ll stick with my steamer trunk (OK, duffel bag) of hair, skin and body care items). But keep on setting that excellent example!

    • 2.1
      Laura says are sweet…but I should mention that I keep my hair products when traveling in a separate ziploc bag. I never go anywhere without my hairspray! 🙂

  3. 3
    Peggy says

    What a funny story! I carry the kitchen sink with me….so I am told. I do the same as Laura. Put stuff like hairspray and shampoo in a large plastic bag. Hey, hairspray is a must. I carry a travel size spray bottle of hairspray in my purse all the time!

    I used to have the UGLIEST toiletry case before deciding it was time to part with it. Pink and green flowered with a white shoulder strap. Gee, I used to love that thing. Before I was married, I would prance throught the airport with that thing like I was IT. Traded it in for a black hard sided case I found at Walmart. Much more grown up looking.

    I like your new case!!

  4. 5
    Tara says

    I recently went from a huge bag to a couple ziplock bags. They weigh almost nothing and you can see through them to make what you are grabbing easier. One for toiletries and one for makeup.

  5. 6
    Betty says

    Great bag! And what a great idea keeping it packed!

  6. 7
    Tanna says

    Oh Laura, I love you! I totally agree with Julie. You are so naturally beautiful I was just surprised at the size of the care package that is all! Now the suitcase on the other hand! JUST KIDDING!

    Well you know how I pack. During this trip to Haiti I am going to try to pack MY stuff in a backpack and use suitcases to fill with stuff for the kids. I don’t know if I can do it though but we shall see. 4 days in a backpack. Hmmm.

    • 7.1
      Tanna says

      Love the new bag by the way! 🙂

      • Laura says

        Yes I am still amazed at how well you pack. I think I need another lesson for the rest of my luggage LOL.

  7. 8
    Erink says

    This totally made me laugh. I don’t wear make-up (to lazy) and am bare bones kind of girl… BUT my bag is HUGE. My husband always jokes I take more stuff with me then I use at home. My problem is that I am always afraid I will need something. lol

  8. 9
    Ivy Bingham says

    Very cute post! I also used to have a big cosmetic bag and mine has shrunk as well due to the fact of my four kids. Less time= the need for less stuff!! I’ve been mommy-fied!!:)

  9. 10
    Tina says

    I don’t use a separate toiletry bag-I use the large zipper pocket on the front of my suitcase. I separate out the liquids into ziplocs & my hair appliances, makeup & everything fits in there perfectly. I just unpack them into the bathroom & I’m all set.

  10. 11
    Mari says

    I use the big duffel too. Of course, most often it holds the toiletries of FOUR family members but even when I’m on my own I carry the duffel. Inside is a 2-gallon zipper bag of scrubbies and soap/body wash, a 1-gallon bag for shampoos and conditioners, a quart bag of toothbrushes and toothpaste, a sandwich bag of first aid supplies and OTC meds (upset stomach seems to be a default condition for some family members when traveling), a sandwich sized bag of sewing/mending supplies, a gallon bag of contact supplies, a quart bag of makeup (alas UNII palettes don’t work for Bare Escentuals makeup) and a quart bag of jewelry. Loose in the duffel are hairbrushes, a blow dryer, deodorant, etc.

  11. 12
    Sarah says

    I guess I have kind of an enviable problem: I don’t carry a lot of toiletries when I travel, and many of them are “travel-sized,” so my toiletry bag is too big! The trouble is, I just love it. I got it free from the Hallmark store where I worked 20 years ago (because the printing on it is smudged), and it says STUFF I DON’T WANT TOUCHING MY UNDERWEAR.

    • 12.1
      megan says

      Sarah, i have one of those, too! Only i bought it for my husband, and he hated it, so i kept it for myself. It’s waterproof, and has a handy little handle so i can hang it from a hook. It’s actually what they used to call (don’t know that they still do) a man’s shaving kit. I can tuck it in my arm like a small football.

      I don’t wear make-up, and i have travel-size bottles i simply refill. I put some in a small zippy bag if i’m fearful they’ll leak, and it’s usually packed. (Occasionally, i’ve had to top off supplies before heading out, which is why i say “usually packed.”)

  12. 13
    Jane says

    I use one like that for everyday use and travel; makeup, etc., etc. in it, so when we go somewhere for the weekend, I just crab it and go, saving having two bags- one for everyday and one for travel. Also, saves room under the sink and in (limited) drawers. Plus, also forces me to have only what I need. Love this bag.

  13. 14
    Living the Balanced Life says

    This post was SO funny Laura! And I can just picture your roomies giving you a hard time over your toiletry SUITCASE! When I traveled for work I had 2 medium sized bags, but now I have pared it down to one, about the same size as yours! Makes it much easier to pack!
    Thanks for the entertainment this morning!
    Choosing the important stuff

  14. 15
    Mom's Menu Planner says

    Wow Laura! You think of everything! I would never have thought to organize a toiletry bag to have ready all the time…great idea!!

  15. 16
    Colleen P. says

    LOL-sorry, I was a military wife, and you learn to travel LIGHT when you do so much of it! I can put a weeks worth of clothing, shoes and toiletries in a carry-on. Every US hotel (and I rarely travel overseas any more, so this is my standard now) has some sort of hair dryer (though I have wash-and-wear hair so I don’t use one at home either), and provides shampoo, soap, etc. If they don’t, there isn’t a hamlet in the US that does not have a drugstore, and if THAT is closed, generally speaking if I’m visiting someone they’re pretty generous about sharing a dollop of shampoo.

    I usually only go somewhere for a long weekend at best, so lugging around my “normal” products just doesn’t make sense for me. I don’t have allergy or sensitivity issues though, so in that case it’s best to bring products you know don’t bother you, as finding a doctor in a new town to prescribe cortisone could prove tricky! LOL!

  16. 17
    Margarita Ibbott (@downshiftingPOS) says

    Oh my… did we really laugh and GASP?

    I love the way you write. It is always so genuine.

    I am glad that you made changes if not to save the extra weight you have to haul around. Hope to see you sometime soon. It was so great to see you at Blissdom. I am going to BlogHer in San Diego. Will I see you there?


    • 17.1
      Laura says

      Hey girl, no not attending BlogHer…too big for me I think.

      • Margarita Ibbott (@downshiftingPOS) says

        You are a blogging SUPERSTAR for those that follow you… you always underestimate your power! Consider coming it will be fun. I am bringing hubby this time. Should be fun!

  17. 18
    Brooke says

    LOL! Don’t worry, I have a massive toiletry bag too. I need it to be big because I keep everything in it at all times. It keeps my makeup and face creams and stuff organized so they aren’t rolling around in a drawer, and it’s great because I’m always ready to go on a trip!

  18. 19
    Stephanie says

    I don’t get away much, not with a llama farm to run :-), but on the rare occasions I do, I use a very old, and old fashioned, toiletry bag. I’ve had it forever! It’s not very practical but I love it. And anything I can’t fit in in, goes in a ziplock next to it. I could do with a trip … !

  19. 20
    Stacy says

    i am planningto do an overhaul of mine very soon

  20. 21
    Cheap Thrills says

    So busted! But it takes a “friend” to slap us back to reality sometimes, and at least a few times I’ve fallen off my various wagons, too. Loving the new bag! I’m still using a small one I got as a gift in college. Shows you how much I (don’t) travel.

  21. 22
    Barbara says

    My toiletries bag is about that size, just an inch wider. I do take shampoo, conditioner and hair product in a separate ziploc bag though (in case of leakage). The UNII Palette looks handy, but I don’t see any dimensions anywhere. Can you help out? I’m wondering if what I use would fit in it.

  22. 23
    Gabe says

    Mine is big, a duffle bag. I’ve been looking at it the last few months thinking I need to do something about it. Mostly it just needs to be de-cluttered. I keep it packed, but then I end up adding stuff to it (but don’t really take anything out), so I think there is a bunch of extra junk in there.
    I do need a large bag though. We almost always travel together as a family. I have six kids (#7 on the way), and need to be sure to bring some basic medications etc that come up regularly, as well as hair bows for the girls!

  23. 24
    Alison says

    I also keep a ready-to-go bag under the sink, but it’s a soft one that can be packed flat at the top of my suitcase – the toothbrush is usually the first thing I want when I arrive, so I like to have easy access.

    Like Erinck, I don’t wear make-up at home, but I always take some with me when I travel (which is usually for business). I think women who have a routine at home find it easier to know what they’ll need, whereas I tend to carry around a dozen samples of foundation because I’m not sure what they’ll look like when I try them on! I’m one of those short-sighted people who’ll buy almost anything if it comes with a free travel-sized sample… of almost anything!

    @Sarah: Your STUFF I DON’T WANT TOUCHING MY UNDERWEAR bag sounds fabulous, I would love one of those!

  24. 25
    Lisa says

    Nice. Back in the day, when I was a frequent business traveler [and before if was a capital offense to carry dental floss] I carried The Freedom Bag. Still have it, and for family trips, still love it [we don’t fly].

  25. 26
    Forgetfulone says

    I would have liked to see your old bag to compare! I think my bag is the same size as yours, and it stays packed and under the sink, too., but your bag is way cuter!

  26. 27
    Handy Man, Crafty Woman says

    That’s too funny . You know, I think I need a toiletry bag intervention, too. Mine is *ok*, but it came with one of ours suitcases and it’s getting quite worn out and ratty looking. I really could use one with a better shape and more pouches, but I don’t travel overnight all that much. Plus, it fits perfectly into the front small pouch on my small suitcase, lol! When I get something new, it has to also fit into that small pouch! 😉

  27. 28
    Becky L says

    My sister gave me a toiletry bag for my birthday one time. It is one with 3 comparments, one being with plastic instead of mesh to use for lotions/shampoo/lens care. I like it cuz it hangs on a door knob. It is a bit big to fit in anything but a suitcase to keep from having to carry it. But it’s handy and I can organize it. When I’m at home,which is most of the time, I hang it on a door and it holds some jewelry in bags and still has items I keep in pockets that are used for travel. Travel bags are a must. I love this one and it works! Loved your post! :0)

  28. 29
    Molly says

    Where’s the “before” picture so we get to compare? 🙂

  29. 30
    Cook Clean Craft says

    My Mum always used a “vanity case” when she travelled, so I got one too. That soon vanished when I was doing fly-in fly-out work. Now I have a bag about the same size as yours, also packed and ready to go. I love my collection of travel-sized products!

    I must pull my old vanity case out though – I think it would be great for craft storage!

  30. 31
    JuratBernard says

    i’ve gone thru tons of different types of bags/cases/trunks! right now i have 2 – one for short weekend trips like the one you now have and one for overseas trips – it’s a big ole samsonite toiletry hardcase. this one has been with me for almost 15 years and it’s in great shape – gotta love samsonite!!!!
    i keep them stocked and restock them when i get back from a trip, so they are ready when i need them and don’t have to “remember” if something is missing in the rush of packing to catch the plane.
    inside, everything is separated by smaller ziplock bags – toothbrush, dental floss and toothpaste in one bag – contact cleaner, contact holder, eyeglasses in another – shampoo, conditioner, body soap, facial soap, razor, shaving cream in another – etc. this way, i just grap the smaller bag as needed and i don’t have to search all over the bigger bag for everything. i have found that this makes the mornings getting ready a lot less chaotic.
    loving your posts and organization skills!!

  31. 32
    Beth says

    I have a summer job that sends me around the world for weeks at a time–sometimes without stops back home, and often staying in rather basic (think “rustic”) conditions. The bag that keeps my world from falling apart is, the medium sized edition. Even though it says 2-3 days, it holds full-sized bottles, so I can make it work for a good month or so.

    Also, being very visually oriented, I love these in order to be able to see my stuff, but keep it corralled, including potential leaks.

  32. 33
    Anne Taylor says

    Just found your website through Pinterest. Love it! For travel, I am never withoutI my Mary Kay Roll-Up bag. They have got the thing down to a science. The roll-up has 4 clear plastic zippered compartments that velcro onto the main body of the Roll-Up, that you can then…you guessed it…roll up into a compact rectangle with a carrying handle on the top! Each bag holds exactly what the 1 quart ziploc bags (that the airline security people want you to use) hold. I use the top compartment for my skin care stuff and toothbrush, toothpaste, floss.etc.-the things I use at the bathroom sink-, the second compartment for my shower stuff (shower gel, lotion, shampoo, razor, deoderent, a netted pouf, etc.), the third compartment for my cosmetics and hair styling things, and the forth for odds and ends: a travel sewing kit, mini air freshener, a travel lint brush, packets of Ibuprophen, wet wipes, stain stick, etc. The neat thing is that you can unroll the bag and hang it (it has a cool swiveling hanging hook) on the bathroom door where you are staying. If the shower is in a separate room, you can just remove the bag with the stuff for the shower area. if the bathroom gets steamy, you can take the hair/makeup section to the bedroom if there is a mirror there and get ready without all the bathroom humidity. It works great! If I carry-on, I just combine all the liquids in one section and pack it on the top of the suitcase or in my tote so I can take it out and put it through the scanner separatly, as required by security. I assume it is big enough for most people, because I take my whole beauty routine everywhere I go. I just make sure everything is in travel size, so I don’t have to forfeit hundreds of dollars of product at the airport. I love it and would recommend it to anyone. I would be happy to send you one gratis, or trade for a book, if you want to try it.

  33. 34
    Funky Furniture Rental says

    I am always so amazed to see how many products I have come to rely upon when I go to pack for a trip. I used to think of myself as low maintenance, but based upon the size of my toiletry bag I have had to admit I am not. Oh well!

  34. 35
    Kimmy says

    I have 2. 1 is my make up bag, and its about the size of small square tissue box. I have a second one we use for traveling as a family. THAT ones big enough to hold shampoo, medications and a first aid kit for the whole family. not so small.

  35. 36
    Raj says

    Great job Laura! This weekend at BlogWest was the first time that I travelled with a small toiletry bag and only a carry-on suitcase (eek!) I thought it would be impossible for me to manage, but it was such a relief to have just enough “things”, but not too many to choose from.

    PS: So nice to meet you!


    • 36.1
      Laura says

      So awesome to meet you as well! My toiletry bag may be organized but now I need to work on reducing the amount of luggage I take with me, it’s so ridiculous lol


  36. 37
    Heather says

    I’m glad you didn’t see my bag at blogwest….scary! You’ve inspired me to fix it!

  37. 38
    Taja says

    I don’t have a toiletries case. There, I said it. My medications have their own bag. Eyeliner and lipgloss go in a plastic bag with my moisturizer in my suitcase. Hairties get wrapped around the handle of my hairbrush which goes in my purse. I use the shampoo and soap the hotel provides and if my stay extends beyond a day, I pick up a bottle of conditioner at a local store. Same thing with band aids, first aid cream, etc.

  38. 39
    Jennifer Johnson says

    I just did a post about this on my website recently and I’d love to hear what you think… I find that when traveling, I don’t want a bag on the counter, I want something to hang up, so that is what I have (and blogged about)!

    What a great website! I will enjoy looking around a lot more and will follow… Very inspiring!

  39. 40
    Aria says

    LOL Yes, I definitely need a toiletry bag intervention! Mine is HUGE..! I should do something about it.
    By the way nice site too.

  40. 42
    Tricia says

    I keep a “To Go” bag packed for each family member. We live more than 45 miles from the kids school and more than 60 miles from the nearest store. Sometimes the kids spend the night with Grandma when school activities last too long. I used to always hear ” I left my toothbrush, deodorant, etc ” or some variation thereof. Now they just grab the packed bags from under the sink and when we come home, I refill the travel sizes of whatever is needed. The bags we use are “shaving kits” for the boys and vinyl clear bags that held Christmas gift sets. I bought them when they were marked down to 75%, getting the bags and contents very frugally.

  41. 43
    Kelley Hagemeister says

    Um…what’s a toiletry bag? lol! I throw what needs to be protected in case of spills in a ziploc, and then throw that together with everything else into the zipper compartment of my suitcase. lol!


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