At long last, we come to the final details of our packing — what’s in our toiletry and medicine bags.
I’ve already shown you what we pack for babies & toddlers and for children. But even though our kids carry all their own clothing, shoes, toys, school books, etc. Ryan and I are the ones who carry all the other miscellaneous items for the rest of the family
Of course, we’ve already got to carry all our own clothing, shoes and personal items, plus a few extra items for baby. Which means our toiletry and medicine bags need to stay as light as possible, while still taking into account they’re for seven people.
In this post I’ll show you what’s in the following four bags:
- Our medicine kit
- Our toiletry bag
- My personal makeup bag
- My purse (which goes on all outings, planes, etc. with us)
I’ve laid out every single item in each of these bags, with numbers that correspond to a list of what it is and what we use it for.
One little caveat before I show you what’s inside:
I’m definitely on the crunchy side and have very strong preferences about the personal care products we use, as well as how we treat sickness and injuries. As a result, I probably carry more than I might otherwise, because it’s harder for me to get the particular items I want, especially for our medicine kit.
I’m a “just in case” person who always wants to be prepared for every scenario (this makes it HARD to become a light packer, but it goes to show if I can do it, anyone can). We’ve also got very young children with us, and so I pack with more of a better-safe-than-sorry mentality when it comes to them.
To get around this, I basically re-package everything and try to make it as compact as possible. I store different kinds of pills and capsules together (I write a key for myself on the bottle or lid in black sharpie), I put powders and capsules in ziploc baggies, and use teeny tiny essential oil vials. I find every possible way to save space. This lets me get away with a really varied medicine kit in a relatively small bag.
What we pack in our travel medicine kit:
- Herbal tinctures – We use this set of three herbal tinctures for malaria prevention, and if needed, to begin treatment until we can get medical help. There is one for prevention, initial treatment, and then follow-up treatment. We used these on our first big trip when we were in Africa and still have enough left for this trip. We’ve already begun taking one bottle of the prevention formula before we leave, since we’ll be heading almost immediately to the jungle.
- Activated charcoal – for stomach upsets, diarrhea, food poisoning, spider or other bug bites, etc.
- AfterSun Balm (Badger)
- Essential Oils – Plant Therapy KidSafe Tummy All Better, Terra Shield (bug repellent blend), and small travel size vials of frankincense, peppermint, a homemade citrus blend, eucalyptus, headache blend, On Guard, melaleauca (tea tree), and geranium bourbon (for ticks and other bugs).
- Powdered vitamin C – immune boost, or to do a parasite flush (as directed by my naturopath)
- Bentonite clay – cuts and scrapes, bug bites, stomach troubles, diarrhea, skin rashes or irritations, and a facial masque for mommy if she’s lucky.
- Zinc lozenges – for colds or sore throats
- Betaine HCL capsules – part of a protocol I’ve been doing with my naturopath to heal some gut issues – I take them before eating something that may be hard for me to digest
- Various bandaids
- One large non-stick gauze pad
- Emergen-C electrolyte drink packages – one of the main things I wished I’d had on our big trip was these electrolyte packages. I could make my own rehydration drink with ingredients from the store (salt, lemon, honey, mixed with water) but this is much more convenient, especially when someone gets sick on a travel day.
- Silver gel – we use this instead of antibiotic ointment (like polysporin). It works amazingly well, as silver is a natural antibiotic.
- After-Bug Balm Itch Relief stick (Badger)
- Thermometer and tweezers
- Temperature-stable probiotics (Bio Kult) – to help feel normal again and repopulate good gut bacteria after tummy upsets
- Children’s Advil – we’re of the mind that it’s better to let fevers run their course naturally, but we’ve also been in situations (while traveling) where a child had a really high fever and was getting dehydrated and I wished I’d had something like this as an emergency fallback. So now it makes the cut.
The blue bag is an Eagle Creek Pack-it-Sac in medium.
I’ll also note that you can buy many of the ingredients you need for natural remedies almost anywhere — onions, garlic, raw honey, ginger, lemons, etc, not to mention far more than this if you luck out and come across a health food or vitamin store.
What’s in my purse:
This is the everyday purse I carry to go shopping, when we go sight seeing, etc. It’s a travel safe bag, meant to be protective against theft.
- Spray sanitizer (for hands, surfaces, etc.) – I bought this one at Whole Foods but it’s sort of like this
- Lip balm
- Visine dry eye drops (traveling on planes really dries out my contact lenses)
- Emergency snacks for a grumpy baby. 🙂
- Travel hair brush (this opens up and the brush part flips out – I’ve never used one before but I love it!)
- Ginger capsules for motion sickness, but this also contains some pain relievers and activated charcoal – I put them all in the same small container to save space.
- My mini first aid kit – herbal salve, mini essential oil rollers (one has a headache remedy, the other is a pain reliever), mini vial of lavender oil, motion sickness essential oil blend (put a drop behind each ear – it doesn’t take it away but it does help prevent/take the edge off), Emergen-C packets, cough drops, bandaids.
What’s in our family toiletry kit:
- Clear Care contact solution – I’ve been using this brand for years and it’s what my very sensitive eyes prefer, so I lug full-size bottles of it when we travel.
- Deodorant (mine)
- Deodorant (Ryan)
- Face lotion (mine)
- Toothbrushes (all but mine)
- Razors and extra blades
- Badger Anti-Bug Sunscreen (Badger makes my favorite all-natural sunscreen – this is our first time trying the anti-bug version)
- Liquid castile soap – we use this instead of bringing a bar of soap. It’s also lathers up well to use as shaving cream, and can be used as dish soap or do house cleaning in a pinch.
- Facial cleanser (mine)
- Contact case (mine)
- Nail clippers and Q-tips
- Bug spray (Badger)
The black bag we use is no longer available, but it’s a pretty standard toiletry bag with a hook for hanging it up in small bathroom spaces.
Though we may one day when the kids are bigger, we don’t currently travel carry-on only. We usually check at least Ryan’s big bag (it’s over the size limit, for sure) and sometimes mine, and then bring our day packs on the plane.
Since we check his bag, we can travel with larger amounts of liquids, so long as he’s the one who keeps our toiletry bag. I keep the medicine bag instead, since it has much less liquid and could pass through security if needed.
What’s in my makeup bag:
- Makeup – 4 eye shadow, 2 lip balm (one shiny), colored lip gloss, liquid foundation, 1 eye shadow brush
- Earrings – Just a few pairs that go with most outfits, but I’ll pick up more as souvenirs. They’re one of my favorite things to buy when we travel because they’re memorable and cheap, but so compact.
- Various hair elastics, clips, bobby pins
- Extra contact lenses (3 month supply)
- Non-toxic nail polish – I always keep my nails painted in sandal-wearing weather and it can be tricky to find non-toxic polish in other places.
- Another fold-up hair brush (this way I’ve got one in my makeup bag for mornings, but also one in my daypack for transit days)
- Diva Cup – I’m a recent adopter (mostly in preparation for this trip) but man oh man, why did I not try sooner? I’m a total convert. Having previously experienced the joys of getting my cycle on the road (and in developing countries no less), I cannot even tell you what a game changer this is. I also picked up some small alcohol wipe packets and stashed them in my purse and daypack (they’re super cheap at any pharmacy), so I have a way to disinfect the cup if I’m stuck in an area where I can’t access clean running water.
- My toothbrush (I like to keep it away from the minions, er, children – Ryan does the same) and tweezers
- My personal supplements – Deep Immune (a mix of herbs, mostly adaptogens, that my naturopath recommended to boost my immune function which has been low due to gut issues and stress), plus grass-fed organ complex capsules (basically a superfood complex – read more here).
Phew! You have now seen ALL the ins and outs of what we’re bringing to Central America for three months this spring.
And this is essentially what we’d pack for nearly any length of trip, because it’s just about right for what we can comfortably carry without feeling overloaded with stuff.
The good news is that even those with strong preferences can still usually find what you need on the road. I found it to be true over and over again on our year-long trip that I could get anything I really needed, so long as I stayed flexible, maintained a sense of humor and used a little ingenuity.