Woman in mirror

La Toilette du Travel

Back in the day, noble mademoiselles and messieurs elegantly draped a cloth – or toile – around their shoulders while having their hair done.  American salons now call that a “styling cape”, or as I like to call them Large Plastic Lobster Bibs.

Toilette, still a delicately French word, came to mean all the stuff on your dressing table – makeup, brushes, mirror.  In modern times we add to that deodorant, toothbrush, mouthwash et al.  It also means the time it takes to use the items in your toilette, as in “Diane’s Mom spent the first hour of her day en toilette.”

With such s a fancy French ancestry, La Toilette deserves some extra special attention. Especially when La Toilette goes on the road.

I use my bag everyday – every morning, whether at home or on an exotic journey, my morning routine remains exactly the same.  Because I live as if I am traveling, at least when it comes to my toiletry bag.

My toiletry bag at home:

La Toilette Fully Open

My toiletry bag on vacation:

La Toilette Fully Open

No difference.  (say this with a French accent)

Large Removable Wall Hook

When I travel, I take with me a large removable wall hook.  These stick to the wall, but are made to be removable so no holes or damage to the paint.  And I stick them to a convenient spot left of the sink in the bathroom of my vacation space and hang my toiletry bag on it.

No matter where I am, everything is always in the same spot. When I run out of something, I replace it and put it back in the same spot.

Some sing “Anywhere I Hang My Hat is Home”, but for me anywhere I hang my La Toilette is home.

My toiletry kit is understandably packed for a woman.  If you, dear reader, are a man, then please substitute man stuff.  

I dearly love my Lewis N Clark toiletry kit.  I did a long search last Christmas, because my whole family travels a lot and I thought a perfect gift would be a pre-packed kit bag that not only a) hung on a wall, b) held everything you actually needed plus some personal preference items and c) folded a variety of ways to accommodate the spaces of different luggage.  I did an exhaustive search for the PERFECT bag, and I found this one which fulfills all of the criteria and some I hadn’t even thought about.  A perfect toiletry bag can make or break a good vacation – sound too dramatic?  Well, every minute spent digging through the old stuff stack you carry your toiletries in is a minute you are not on the Riveria. Or the Nile. Or the Great Wall.  And every minute you waste finding things before you go to bed is minutes of energy you are sucking out of your vacation.

Level 1:

Toiletry Kit - Level 1I use this level for medicine, first aid, safety pins and a pencil sharpener.  The white boxes are little first aid kits purchased anywhere they offer travel size items – grocery stores usually have an aisle, drug stores, big box chains whose names shall go unmentioned.  The contents of two of these first aid kits fits inside one of the boxes, so I consolidate them.

ONE first aid box holds help for things that happen to the OUTside of the body (mosquito bites, minor cuts and abrasions, blisters).

ONE first aid box holds help for things that happen to the INside of the body (colds, nausea, bowel maladies, headache). Any of those unexpected physical annoyances that slows me down.

Level 2:

Toiletry Kit - Level 2The second level is plastic, so it holds everything wet.  Liquid makeup, shower gel, shaving cream. I don’t keep shampoo and conditioner in mine, because I just use the hotel version or mooch off my friends I’m staying with. If I did carry it, I’d take out the blue four-sided nail buffer and use that space.

The white box that says “Skin Trip” is a soap box, but it doesn’t have soap in it. It holds moisturizer, facial cleanser, base and eye cream, each housed in one of the little sample jars I talk about in The Art of Small Containers.

There’s a even little extra area you could slide nail polish and remover pads into.

Level 3:

Toiletry Bag - Level 3
This level has the elastic straps that hold things in, but because there is no “ledge” under the straps anything slippery, like a can, or too small, like a toothbrush, falls through.

I use this level for Q-Tips in a plastic travel container, two little bags I found in a drawer with 1) eye drops and contact lenses, 2) clippers, tweezers, travel size makeup brushes.  Read: things that get lost if you just toss them in a regular makeup bag.

In this photo, I have an eyeshadow kit I got as a “gift with purchase”, but normally I would put my deodorant in that loop.  Unfortunately, I left my deo at the last stop and have to replace it today. So just pretend that’s what it is.

Level 4:

Toiletry Kit - Level 4   Toiletry Kit - Level 4 - zipped

Level four is another zippered pocket. I keep the small makeup bag I throw in my purse when I’m out and about there.  I use what’s in that bag in the morning, but also for touch-ups during the day.  The small bag also contains a small plastic pillbox with 1 each of the headache/nausea/etc remedies and a band-aid. What a daypack is to a suitcase, this small bag is to my toiletry kit. When I come home for the night, I toss it back in the zippered pocket so I can use it again in the morning before heading off.

Folding La Toilette

The last criteria I had for a toiletry bag was that it be able to fold in a variety of ways to accommodate a variety of luggage spaces. This bag folds as follows:

La Toilette Fully Open   Toiletry Bag - Open     Toiletry Kit - Half ClosedSAMSUNG 

Because layer 4 folds up and zips on top of layer 3,   it packs folded, 1/2 open, 3/4 open, or fully flat.

One final trick: I didn’t do this in the photo of Level 2, (the quality of the photo was impaired) but if you stuff your 3-1-1 baggy into the plastic pocket of Level 2 and put the wet stuff in it, it accommodates a fully carry-on trip as you can simply slide the baggy out for security and slip it back in on the other side.

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

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