Tips and Tricks: Travel, Skincare, and Packing

Because I’m pretty much a homebody during the school year, summer is when I really get out and travel. I travel abroad (or domestically) with a carry-on because my trips are usually around a week or two. However, I find myself in the current position of packing for a 20-day European trip and am still taking along just a carry-on suitcase.


I know. But it’s too expensive to check it, and more importantly, I’m going to be taking a lot of public transit and want to make my journey(s) as easy as possible. Beside, packing light in terms of clothes is easy.

It’s the skincare I’m worried about.

Now, if you’re someone with a short routine, you probably don’t think twice about throwing 2-3 items in your liquids bag and moving on. But since this is what a common nighttime routine looks like for me, I have to do a lot more strategizing.


So, I thought I would share my tips and tricks for getting the most out of your TSA 3-1-1 liquids bag!

Find alternatives that aren’t liquid.

I know, this is pretty obvious. But really, I’ve started looking for powder or balm versions of things, and you’d be surprised what you find!

  • Face wipes are not considered a liquid, so I’m going to be using them instead of cleansing water and cotton pads in the morning.
  • Enzyme powder cleansers or the cleansing sticks are my go-to second cleansers for travel.
  • Sheet masks also have never counted for me as a liquid at any domestic or international airport I’ve gone through, so I pack a bunch to help my face stay hydrated. (Note: I have read that some people have gotten their sheet masks pulled, so I can only speak for my experience.)
  • Sticks: I discovered this Neogen White Truffle Oil Stick on Gothamista’s Instagram, and it would make an amazing for winter travel. (Not sure I need it for summer.)

Get a good bag.

This is a very well-traveled bag.

No doubt that even if you find a bunch of alternatives for liquids, you’re still going to have some you want to bring along. I have found that using a quart-sized Ziploc bag doesn’t allow me to get as much in it as this amazing clear bag that I snagged on Amazon for $10. Because it’s structured, I can fit fit more it in and it zips up nicely. You can see the difference below. I’ve been using this same bag for several years, and I love it.

Figure out what you can purchase when you arrive.

Ok, this might seem like a cop-out, but really, this is probably the best piece of advice. Because I like to have a lot of hydrating layers, and I’m going to be away for almost 3 weeks, I am making skincare my priority for the liquids bag because I won’t be able to buy what I use while I’m there. (Unless I was headed to South Korea. Then, I would pack a day’s worth of skincare and buy the rest there. hahaha)

I do bring toothpaste, and samples of a shampoo, conditioner, and lotion to get me through the first day in case I can’t get to a store immediately. I’m not a monster.

Shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, hair spray, etc., will get bought when I arrive. Besides, most travel-sized shampoo and conditioners aren’t going to last me 3 weeks anyway.  (Note: Obviously, this only works if you’re traveling to somewhere with stores. If you’re going hiking in the rainforest or something…well, best of luck to you, my friend.)

Bring products that are heavy hitters.

Just a few of the things I’ll be taking along. So glad Asian sunscreen bottles are the perfect travel size!

Aside from the very basics of my routine (oil cleanser, a water-based cleanser, a moisturizer, and sunscreen), all of my other products that come with are because they are very good at their job or they pull double-duty. For example, I’m bringing an FTE (first treatment essence) because it hydrates AND brightens. I’m also bringing along Holy Snails Shark Sauce because it will strengthen my skin via niacinamide while also battling any PIH from acne that are bound to pop up while traveling. I will also bring Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence because it hydrates and soothes. Stratia’s Liquid Gold will also be coming along because it saves my skin.

Think strategically.

Samples are your friend.


I know some people get annoyed with the samples Asian shops send free with orders because they don’t know what to do with them. I save them for travel! I also love deluxe samples and have purchased them because they last longer than the foils but still fit into a quart bag. Foils are excellent because they’re small and take up very little room. Plus, you’ll just keep decreasing the amount of stuff in your bag each day. A friend told me that she traveled with her foils out of her liquids bag. I carry a lot of them, though, so I don’t want to take any chances.

Notice I have a lot of Sulwhasoo samples–my skin generally loves the brand’s products and they’re much more affordable in foil sample form.

Don’t have any foils? You can often buy small packs of them on Kbeauty websites like RoseRoseShop or Sweet Corea.

Use decant bottles.

Can’t be without my snail essence!

If you can’t find products you use in foil form and don’t want to take the risk with a new product, decants are a must. I use these in conjunction with samples. I purchased squeeze bottles in two sizes (30ml and 60ml) from Amazon, and they are perfect for travel. No leaking and easy fit into a quart bag.

I also save, clean, and reuse small jars from products if I only need a bit of something, like, say, a physical exfoliating mask. I also have small containers I purchased that I’ll put the Liquid Gold and some of my Curology prescription into.

Some people say to use contact lens cases, but those don’t hold enough of anything for me.

Packing Tips

When packing, put all the big items into your quart bag, and then start slipping the foils in the tiny spaces in between. You’ll fit SO much more in that way.

That big empty bottle on the left is a stand-in for the oil cleanser I’m bringing. See how much space is left at the top?
See how much room is left in here?
Then just start filling in those gaps with foil samples!

Filled with about 2/3 of my foils. Still some room on the sides and notice the space at the top of the bag. Need to fill that in!


Filled in the sides and the top!

Here’s what it looks like for me…

Here’s where my skincare packing is at right now. All of this fits easily into my liquids bag! And if I needed to, I’m pretty sure I could fit my mascara and lipsticks in the bag as well, although those have always been fine outside my liquids bag.

I have enough skincare for 23 days, as well as basic toiletries to get me through the first couple of days.
All zipped up. The zipper isn’t straining, either.
Exact same amount of stuff in a quart bag. I couldn’t close it.


I would LOVE to hear your best travel skincare packing tips. Let me know what they are in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Tips and Tricks: Travel, Skincare, and Packing

  1. Omg, this is a brilliant idea! I always get annoyed of samples cause I feel like I have(!) to use them (I would never throw them away) and then I am “behind” using my original skincare routine. And on the other hand, the 10 step korean method takes a lot of space for luggage, if you are only travelling with handluggage. Thank you for this great idea. I just found your blog today, you got a new reader!


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