Toiletries can be the bane of many a female traveler. There are an awful lot of toiletries that we find ourselves using – I sometimes forget just how many, until I try to pack them all into a bag. And, for those female adventurers out there, packing one small toiletry bag so that you can fit everything into a backpack or carry on can be an extremely important task. Who wants to be worried about whether they’ve brought the right toothpaste, or if their hair oil bottle has exploded in their bag, when they’re trying to have an amazing travel experience? (Hint: literally no-one.)

With that in mind, I present to you some handy tips to use so that your toiletries don’t drive you completely nuts.

Use Your Actual Routine as a Guide

Lets face it: panic packing happens to the best of us. You’re going somewhere new, maybe your first big trip in a while (or ever!) and you want to be sure you’ve packed everything you need, just in case. Out come five different kinds of soap, every item of makeup you own, and a million cotton balls. The best and easiest way to beat this bug that attacks even the long-ago-initiated members of the Women’s Travel Club is to think about your usual routine. If you’re going on a two-week trip and know that you tend to wash your hair every third day, for example, you’re unlikely to need that full bottle of shampoo. Once you know your basics, then we can start our adaptations.

Consider Your Destination

There might be some toiletries that you need to bring in from outside your regular routine. These will be in response to your destination, and the kind of vacation you will be taking. If you were taking a trip to a hot, dry country, for example, you might bring a heavier-duty moisturizer and sunscreen than usual. Do some research into the location you’ll be visiting and maybe ask for advice from your travel agent.

Duel and Multi Purpose Items

These can be such a great space saver. You can find products that are specifically advertized as being two in one, like shampoo and conditioner combinations, or body wash and shampoo. Others might take some searching, such as finding an oil that works well as a moisturizer for your skin as well as a conditioner for your hair. Maybe you can find a great tinted sunscreen and leave the foundation at home.

Travel Bottles

The last thing you want to be thinking about on your women’s adventure trip is whether you’re going to get stopped before you even get started by a grumpy TSA agent. (I kid, TSA agents. Keep up the good work.) Seriously, the travel sizes for bottles (3.4 ounces) is serious business. You can buy special travel versions of certain items, but that isn’t very environmentally friendly. Try reusable bottles and containers to decant your lager bottles into. They’re fairly cheap and make for a nice minimalist vibe when you’re packing.

Alternative Products

Wipes for makeup removal, chewable toothpaste tabs, deodorant powder, solid shampoo bars, and many other alternative products are available these days. These products not only help you to pack in small compass, but they offer a useful break from worrying about liquid items.

Alternative Containers

Some toiletries are just plain difficult to pack in a scaled down way. For this problem, as for so many others, we have the internet to rescue us. There are a ton of ideas out there about how to creatively pack certain items. I have personally tried the bobby pins in a tictac box trick, which worked brilliantly, and a take-out dipping sauce container for my hand cream. Other suggestions I have come across have involved re-purposing contact lense containers for makeup and other liquids, or cutting up pieces of plastic straws, filling them with toothpaste or sunscreen, and closing the ends. Take a little time to search, and you might find just the trick you need.

Pick a Makeup Look

Makeup can take up a lot of space, especially if you’re bringing several options. It can be fun to have these options available, but it will be much easier to simplify your choices. You can either pick one look that works for several occasions, or a couple of looks that use exactly the same products in different ways. Take your time and think it through – you’ll be saving yourself a lot of fuss and mess down the road. Besides, if you make some new friends, such as on one of our women-only holidays and tours, perhaps you could do a little product swap-and-share.

Go Natural

I’m no makeup hater. I find it fun, and a nice way to bring a sense of care and attention to my daily look. But – I mean, come on. It’s face paint. Nice, fancy face paint, sure, but it’s just stuff you put on your face. You don’t need it. (Yes, you. You there with the lovely face, that is lovely because it’s yours, reading this.) If you do struggle to go out and about without your makeup on, or you can’t stand the look of your natural hair – this might be a good time to break free. Traveling should bring you freedom. Let it.

Pack Carefully

Lastly, have a little practice packing session with all of your toiletries before it comes time to actually leave. Make sure all the bottles fit into your toiletry bag and that none of them leak (consider taping the lids down for extra security.) You want them all to fit without having to squeeze them in. It is also good to familiarize yourself with the way they all look in the bag, so that you’ll more likely to notice if you’ve left something behind in the hotel shower when you’re repacking.

Then you will need to place them in a careful spot within your carry on, easily accessible and near an opening, so that you can take them out when you need to. Otherwise, you might leave your bag gaping open as you rummage through trying to find it, which can be unsafe.