What's In A Bag? Medicine & Toiletries Packing

Peeking into my medicine and toiletry bags. 
There have been a few questions regarding the medicine cabinet and toiletries bag that I bring along. From my last blog post, you’ll notice that baby powder is one of my essential items. What else is there? I’m an anti-hypochondriac, which means I don’t pack nearly as many drug items as I would pack shoes or clothes … or electronics.

For meds, you can likely get what you need in the country you’re visiting and, for Americans, much more easily and cheaply. Conversely, the US has one of the best and cheapest electronic markets in the world. Trust me, you do not want to be buying a new digital camera in Chile or Argentina. This I know from experience.

Pretty, Shiny Toiletries Bag

Medicine Bag:
- Antibiotic Gel/Neosporin - Little cuts/medium cuts happen at home, they definitely happen abroad. Legal Nomads recommends a powder version of this if you spend a lot of time in very humid climates.
- Waterproof Bandages - Uglier, more useful.
- Sterile Gauze & Tape - Even if it’s just to clean up a bigger cut, it’s a good idea to have some gauze.
- Imodium - Holy stomach lifesaver. It keeps all the bad stuff inside and immobile for a while, so that’s not great for your body. But if you’re not near toilets for a while, this is a magic little pill.
- Bismuth Subsalicylate/Pepto-Bismol - I have them in chewy pill form. Great stomach settlers and easy to pack.
- Not Vitamins - I don’t carry vitamins because… I eat more variety when abroad. Experimenting with food is one of my favorite things to do. I also eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. They taste like they are treated with fewer chemicals.
- Motion Sickness Pills/Dramamine - These actually make me more sensitive to motion after the fact but can be a good option if the route your bus driver is taking happens to be really curvy (yes) or your crew is braving stormy seas on a dinghy.
- Thermometer - Useful when it's unclear if you have a fever or if it’s just the 35 degree outdoors that your body is sensing. Additionally useful if you’re feeling extra adventurous, like if you’re straddling the 39 or 40 degree temperature hurdle that could be the deciding factor as to whether you stop biking through a small remote town and make a quick visit to the hospital. Or not.
- Eye Drops - The red-eye drops, but when I can, the antibacterial pink eye drops too. Traveling is a dirty business.
- Malaria Pills - Rarely do I use them, even as preventative medicine. I just have them. 
- Painkillers/Fever Reducers - All 3*

*Painkillers/fever reducers

So I typically brought only Ibuprofen, because it works best on me with regards to limiting outright pain, but when I found myself annoyed with a couple of other maladies, I realized that all three were important. Note, I am NEITHER a doctor nor chemist nor biologist. I cannot substitute for one, and I am not advising you on what to bring. Please do your own extra research and/or with a doctor for your particular concerns. IE., don’t sue me because you just read my blog:

- Ibuprofen - My best overall painkiller. Works by lowering inflammation in targeted areas of the body thereby reducing pain.
- Aspirin - I have concerns about my blood/heart every now and again. Aspirin works by thinning your blood overall to reduce pain in addition to anti-inflammatory properties.
- Acetaminophen - Fever reducer but not anti-inflammatory.

In cases where you’re traveling through parts of the world where you might get a mosquito-born, blood disease (malaria, dengue), acetaminophen is recommended as the first go-to for fever reducer should you have any kind of fever. This is because both of these diseases already thin your blood/reduce your white blood cell count. You’re hurrying that along if you use ibuprofen/aspirin. You shouldn't do that if you like living. So carry acetaminophen just in case.


- Face Wash - Usually travel size/100g.
- Shampoo + Conditioner (Not 2-in-1)
- Body Wash - A bar of soap is more space conscious, but it’s also very messy and gross. Having a case for it defeats the purpose of space consciousness.
- Face & Body Lotion - It gets dry on planes. Plus, NYC is quite humid and many other places are much drier. Face is usually + SPF.
- Razor + Extra Blades
- Lady Items - While not difficult, you will likely not find the exact "style" you want. BYOTs.
- Sunscreen
- Lip Balm - One that comes with SPF. 
- Pumice Stone - Hell. Yes. I know -- I’m not a true backpacker. Well, I spent a lot of time on the beach and I like to maintain some sense of dignity. And it’s small. Yes, I brought this to Morocco.
- Loofah/Face Towelette - See pumice stone above.
- Nail File/Clippers/Polish/One more thing that I won't admit
- Nail Polish Remover Sheets - Cutex makes individually wrapped ones but I like the moisturizing version (warning: quite greasy) from Boots. Sorry US readers, the Boots ones are harder to find here.
- Anti-Bacterial Gel - Airplane trays are one of the filthiest things you will come across.
- Cotton Swabs + Cotton Balls or Pads
- Tweezers - Aside from grooming your brows, these little suckers are useful for splinters. Unless your friend misses the piece of wood and jams it further into your skin. Ow.
- Eye Mask + Ear Plugs - These should also be a favorite travel items. Baby crying during take-off or landing? Psh.
- Hair Elastics/Sock Bun Thingy
- Hair Oil 
- Wooden Hair Brush - Static, no. 
- Toothbrush - I don’t bring a foldable. They get moldy very quickly if you pack it before it dries. I bring my normal toothbrush and then I bring a little case that just sits around the brush itself and sterilizes it. BAM!
- Toothpaste - WHY is it so hard to find 100g toothpaste in the US? The stuff at drugstores is either way too small and expensive or way too big and won’t fly cabin. Anyway, I just bring a little sample with me and then buy 100g abroad. They get the joke abroad. You can buy a big-enough-to-use-a-while but small-enough-to-carry-on.
- Floss - I bring the whole dental cabinet with me.
- Gum Pick - ^ ^ ^ See.
- Masks - I carry one or two masks just in case I want to refresh after a flight. This is easier if you are only traveling to one country or if you’re traveling through Asia. Asian countries absolutely love mask treatments so it’s not difficult to pick one up at any convenience store. Who is feeling the ridiculousness of my packing right about now??
- Contacts Solution
- Deodorant/Antiperspirant - Travel sized!   
- Mosquito Repellent - As high DEET concentration I can get if I was in dengue or malaria prone areas. I can deal with *potential* long term consequences of DEET. Dengue? Or malaria? Not so much.

I'm sure there are things that I have forgotten and things that I would recommend but I don't personally use anymore.

One example is aloe. Maybe I'll burn again in my life, but I haven't burned in quite some time. I wonder if I could put that on my resume and talk to recruiters about it as a skill that I've developed over the last year...

Happy Travels!


  1. what a cute toiletries bag! and i didn't know about 100g toothpaste!

    cute & little

    1. I just spotted toothpaste that is 75g in my drug store, close!

      The toiletries bag is Clinique (!). I absolutely love it and I overuse/abuse it.