Let's Connect!


Saturday, April 27, 2024

My New 30 Travel Things

It's been a long time since I've updated my list of 30 things that I love when it comes to travel. Things that I'm into and I love on trips. As you travel and it shapes your world, you learn new things about yourself and become a better traveler, packer, and, hopefully, person. 

I've updated my list of 30 things that I love when it comes to travel. Things that I'm into and I love on trips.

I listen to a podcast called Wonderful where a married couple talk about "things that are good, things that we like, things that we're into" and I like to check in every once in a while and do the same, but when it comes to travel.

1. Interactive museums - I love a normal museum, but I think the creativity of museums that are interactive and more than just looking at art on a wall or things in a case are next level. I've been doing more lately, but some of my favorites have been Hopscotch Portland, Arte Museum and Omega Mart in Las Vegas. 
2. Brunch - I'm never one to turn down brunch. It's a great way to get breakfast and lunch all in one, but without spending the money of both. Vancouver, BC was an excellent destination for brunch any day of the week, and Palm Springs comes in a close second. Outside of the U.S. Paris and Edinburgh are wonderful brunch cities. There's nothing like being able to save money overall, but also be able to get waffles or a burger at the same time. Brunch has something for everyone.
3. A really good cup of coffee - There's nothing that can cheer me up or really start my morning out right more than sitting down at a coffee shop with a specialty latte or a cappuccino and watch people while I sip away. Even taking a delectable brew while I'm wandering a city is a way to brighten up my day.
4. A VPN - Traveling out of the country is great, but so is being able to enjoy some of my own shows while I'm away and having some downtime. It's just a good way for me to get a little bit of home wherever I am, or even just to be able to access certain websites and pay bills and keep up with news. It also enables me to keep my connection private on the free wifi connections. I use Bitdefender for both internet security and a VPN.
5. Meeting up with online friends IRL - I've been doing this much more often lately. I ask friends what their favorite places to eat are and then invite them to come join me. It's been an awesome way to connect with people all over and I can't wait to do more of it. 
6. Taking a walk along the waterfront - I forget how much I love a waterfront until I find myself walking along one and enjoying the river views, especially at home. Many times you see a bunch of doggos walking with their people and boats and occasionally a marine animal like a sea lion. People congregate near the water and it's where real life happens, which might also be why there is often art along the trail. New Orleans is the best example of this. You'll find so many sculptures lining the Mississippi.
7. Convertible bags - I'm really digging having a bag that works in multiple ways, so it looks great and is convenient for any outfit/activity. Whether that means it is a shoulder bag that converts to a backpack or a crossbody that can also be worn as a sling or a belt bag. 
8. Enjoying a city alone - I love traveling with Eric and I love traveling with my mom, but there's really nothing at all like traveling solo and learning about yourself along the way and seeing the city in a whole new way, because your sole focus is around you. 
9. Street art - As much as I enjoy going to a museum (interactive or traditional), seeing street art has its own specialness about it and I don't care if it's huge or tiny, it always says something about the city its in and makes an impact on me and everyone else who sees it. 
10. Farmers' markets - I will never turn down an opportunity to visit a farmers' market, even if I don't plan to buy anything. I always come away with some delicious snack and having had a great conversation with at least one vendor. In San Francisco, I spoke to a rancher who lived outside the city and told me about how he raised his animals. In Edinburgh, I spoke to a woman who sold pigeon sandwiches about the differences in meat selections of our countries. It's conversations like that that make me feel closer to a destination and help me understand the people who live there better. 10/10 highly recommend this for everyone.

11. Swapping city secrets with locals - This sort of ties in with #10, but also #5. I want to know where locals go and what they love about their city and I am just as happy to share places I love from Portland and the surrounding area. While I'll ask friends for recommendations, I'll also ask people I meet while out and about, like my Uber driver, or staff at my hotel when I meet them in the elevator (cleaning staff mostly, because they are the regular people who have to budget and don't get anything for sharing those special spots.
12. When there isn't anyone in the middle seat - Airplanes are giving you less and less room and more often than not flights are full because there are fewer of them, but still the same amount of travelers. When I get seated and it turns out I have a whole row to myself or even just a seat in between me and another person, it's kind of fun and exciting. I don't have to give my armrest to anyone or watch my elbows when I'm reading or taking a drink.  
13. A lightweight rain jacket - It's been a long time since I've carried an umbrella, because I don't always need it and it's always unwieldy and I don't like taking up space in my bag for unnecessary things. For this reason, I always have a rain jacket that packs down to almost nothing.  
14. In-room Chromecast - Having a VPN to watch streaming is nice and all, but more places are upgrading their entertainment selection by allowing guests to stream content they already pay for. In Vegas, I had a night in, and while I was eating snacks and repacking things to go home, I had on one of my favorite YouTube channels that I was able to cast from my phone to the TV. 
15. Food trucks - I travel for food and I want to eat all the things when I go somewhere new. Food trucks are a perfect way for everyone to get something they want, since there's usually more than one in an area, and get local food for less than sitting in a regular restaurant. It makes it easier to save on dining and allows you to enjoy being outside, too.
16. Botanical gardens - I may be allergic to a lot of things, but that doesn't stop me from loving cool plants and flowers. I am fascinated by the fact that some gardeners just know how to grow almost anything. Seeing local plants all in one area can be a fun way to learn things about your destination.
17. Historical buildings - Architecture can be amazing, but I think that America has a habit of knocking down old things and replacing them, so when I see historical buildings, I want to know all about them and admire the love and care it took to build and then preserve them.
18. Packing cubes - I'm a small packer. I want to be organized, too. Packing cubes enable me to do both of these things. I'm especially partial to compression cubes, because it makes my small cube of clothes even more compact.
19. Smaller carry-ons - Yes, I know carry-ons are already small for many of you, but as a recovering overpacker, I feel accomplished when I can keep my travel belongings to the absolute minimum. I choose the bag and then make my packing list. I often go with a backpack when I travel alone, because it's easy to navigate through the plane and airport and the amount of stuff I have to keep track of is more manageable. 
20. Discounts for booking online - It's wonderful to do things on vacation and it's even better when you've already paid for it ahead of time, and even better when you got a deal because you booked before your actual trip and you can just show your ticket on your phone when you arrive.  

21. 360-degree views of the city I'm in - If a city has an overlook or a tall building with a viewing platform, I'm there. I can't tell you why I think it's so fun. I just do.
22. Taking pictures for people - If I see people struggling to take selfies or pictures of their group, I always offer to take pictures for them. I'll offer suggestions and ask what they want in the background and then take no less than 5 pictures of them, because it sucks when people take one picture and give your phone back and it sucks and you can't be like "you did a terrible job". 
23. Good public transportation - I am a big walker on trips, but sometimes you can't walk to wherever you're going. When you don't have a rental car a great transportation system is important. I enjoy the Metro, RER, the Underground, the Las Vegas Monorail, and Baltimore's light rail. 
24. When I learn to get around a neighborhood - There are places I've been to multiple times that I know how to get around, like Las Vegas, but when you really get a feel for how to navigate a new city, you get a certain sense of accomplishment that you can't get otherwise. 
25. Trying brand new foods - When I travel, I will always look for regional foods that I've never had. Maybe I'll hate it, but it's more likely I will like it, or even find a new favorite. I want to try everything, because more often than not, new foods are delicious.
26. One fancy dining experience - I'll always look for places I want to eat on trips before I go and then plan my days around the general areas. I try to keep my selections to budget and moderate dining establishments, but I will always pick one or two places that are splurge-worthy and must-eats for either of us and then figure out how to save somewhere else to offset that cost.
27. Sunglasses - You never see me without a pair of sunglasses and I travel with two pair, in case I lose/break a pair or want them to match my outfits better.
28. Walking a ton of miles without realizing it - Why is it you can walk ten miles on a trip and not realize you've walked that much at all...at least until you get back to your room for the evening? Some people love hiking in the woods. I love hiking in a city. Up staircases, down cobblestone streets, around castles, and through museums. I walked 60 miles on a 10-day trip, and an entire marathon on a 3-day trip to Disney.
29. A versatile travel dress with functional pockets - I'm firmly a jeans person, but I think most of that is because they have pockets and go with everything. You can't wear jeans everywhere and finding a great travel dress is hard enough, but finding one that looks good and has pockets that are useable is a diamond in the rough. I have a Prana dress that I loved so much I bought another in a different color. (The Prana Railay dress is out of stock, but Halara has a dupe right now.)
30. Aisle row seats - I used to be a window seat only person, but I've lately found the ease and joy of having an aisle seat, especially when traveling alone and not wanting to bother two other people if I have to get up.

Clearly, food is very important to me. I'd love to know what some of your 30 things are. Share some in the comments!

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Immerse Yourself in Arte

Yes, I spelled it Arte, because we're going to Arte Museum, one of the newest immersive attractions in Las Vegas. It's art that moves and involves you. It's very similar to Hopscotch here in Portland (and Austin), where each room has a new theme and you move through each exhibit at your own pace. 

Arte Museum, in Las Vegas, is very nature focused. There are tons of photo ops, or you can just choose to soak in the vibe and feel at peace.

At Hopscotch, the exhibits are very light focused and at Arte Museum, it is very nature focused. There are tons of photo ops, or you can just choose to soak in the vibe and feel at peace. 

You start with a banger by walking into a room full of waterfalls. Almost everything is projected and they use mirrors to make rooms look bigger or neverending, which is really cool. The varying panels make it seem like it has more depth than it does. 

You'll find an entire room that has the aurora borealis over lapping waves. It's beautiful and really peaceful and it makes you feel like you're actually on the beach. 

The waves "lap" over the floor via projection and there's a lovely soundtrack that sounds like you're at the beach, standing on the edge of the ocean. If you enjoy water, there's a smaller room that has water pounding against a "glass" wall. It gave me some anxiety and was the only room I didn't love, but it was still amazing and felt very real.

Walk through a fantastical garden of sparkling trees in one room, and then experience a forest with magical animals throughout the changing seasons.

As the seasons change, you see this deer, a dragon, a tiger and a phoenix. Each embodies their season for several minutes before the season changes and a new animal emerges.

There's a smallish room called The Star, where you walk among these everchanging lights and it feels truly magical. 

My favorite room had this interactive activity. It was called Live Sketchbook. You chose an animal to color in - I chose this zebra - and then you scan it into the system and "add" it to the jungle. 

Once your creation is added, it pops into existence and makes a trip across the jungle and back, along with everyone else's creations. It is continuously changing as more people add their animals, creating new art with every animal scanned in. Everyone was having a great time coloring and the joy you saw when they saw their creations brought to life was delightful. 

The largest room, and what I would call an art finale puts you in the middle of museum works, a tribute to Las Vegas, and changing prints on the walls and floor. It's a lot like the Van Gogh immersive experience that we did several years ago.

The room is quite large and allows for a lot of people to sit on benches, explore the whole space, or even see as much as possible by standing on the viewing platform.

Monet, Renoir, Picasso, and more well-known artists rotate through the space as you watch. 

At one point, you feel like you're inside an actual museum and then several minutes later, you feel like you're inside the art itself. I learned of artists I hadn't know of before, and maybe you will, too.

You'll want to spend the most time in this room, because there are so many things going on. There are three distinct parts: Garden Masterpieces, Garden Light of Las Vegas, and Garden Paintings of Joseon.

I really just wanted to live inside this room. It can be loud though, so keep that in mind and wear ear coverings if this is something that is difficult for you. Even with the bright lights and, at times, cacophonous sounds, I found this room mesmerizing in a way that I find hard to really describe. 

At the end of my visit, I stopped at Tea Bar, an interactive art exhibit to its own self. It was included with my ticket. You choose one of three teas and then go sit at a dark table. Your drink will be brought to you and placed in exactly the right way, where your table becomes alight with moving art. Flowers bloom and change around your cup as long as it is full and on the table. Once it's empty, your experience is truly over.

Take another few moments to wind down and take in everything you've seen, heard, and felt inside Arte Museum by browsing the gift shop. It's actually one of the best gift shops I've shopped and I left with several lenticular postcards to remind me of my favorite rooms here.

While Arte Museum is not cheap, I really felt like I got my money's worth. I didn't feel lonely, even though I strolled through and experienced everything on my own. I also never felt uneasy, though I'm scared of the dark and a lot of the transition hallways are black. 

Admission rates are $50pp during the week and $60pp Friday-Sunday. If you go 8:30pm or later, which I did, or between 10-11:30am, you get a $10 discount. If you want to include the Tea Bar, it's an extra $5pp. Groups of 5 or more get a discount, and children 4-12 are cheaper than adults, while 3 and under are free. 

By far, Arte Museum has been one of my favorite experiences on the Las Vegas Strip. I made it a solo date night for myself, by also doing a fancy and delicious dinner at Park MGM's NOMAD Library beforehand.

What untraditional museum do you love or want to visit on your travels?

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Review: Serenity Tray Organizer

By now, we all know that the airplane tray table is the dirtiest part of the plane, followed pretty close by the seatback pocket, where everyone puts their garbage. The pocket is never big enough for things you want to put in there either, or you're in danger of forgetting whatever you've put in there because it's out of sight. The solution: bring your own pockets.

Serenity Organizers has this awesome tray organizer that slips over the airplane tray that has 4 pockets, is antimicrobial, and machine washable.

Serenity Organizers has this awesome tray organizer that slips over the airplane tray, so you don't have to touch it. It has 3 small pockets and a large pocket, for all the things you want to have on the plane with you without having to rummage through your bag throughout the whole flight. Besides, it's too hard to pretzel yourself in order to even get to your bag with how little leg room you probably have.

The Serenity Tray Organizer keeps you from holding things when you aren't using them, keeps your lap clear, and helps you stay organized, too. I, generally, have a plan of things I want to do and eat when I fly, so being able to have all those things with me, but contained, is really important. I'm able to have my backup battery and cord for charging my phone in between reading and playing games, a magazine when I'm over screen time, headphones for listening to podcasts or the in-flight entertainment, snacks are very important, as is my water bottle, and my sunglasses for once I get to my destination. All of these things fit in the tray organizer, and have their own place in it. 

The organizer fits snugly over the tray table and is antimicrobial. This means the germy tray never touches the stuff on it. 

It also means if you want to eat directly off of it, that's fine too, because you have a barrier. once you get home from your trip, you can empty it and throw it into the washing machine, so it's clean and ready for your next trip. 

Once you reach your destination, you can slip off your organizer, flip it inside out, and cinch it closed. I, especially, love that part, because getting off the plane is chaotic enough, and no one wants to spend 10 minutes cramming everything back in their bag while being jostled by everyone else trying to get to their things to get off the plane.

You can either just tote it with you, or toss it in your bag and go. On my way home from Vegas, I only had a backpack and a tote with some things that I wanted to try out while in the air, so it was easy for me to take my tray organizer off and just toss it in when I arrived at my home airport. 

(My video from the plane wasn't great - I still need to practice doing things while also holding my phone - so I used a chair with a smaller back to recreate how I would add all my items to the Serenity organizer and then slip it off when I am done with it.) As you can see, it holds quite a bit and it's perfect for those that like to stay organized or when you are traveling with little ones. Kids can have their own stash of books and snacks and games and toys with this organizer, so they are entertained their whole flight. 

The only downside I encountered with it is that when your tray is down, if you have bigger items in the pockets, it all ends up in your lap (though it doesn't fall out), so if you already find the tray table comes down too far and is uncomfortable, this won't help, but Serenity also has a seat organizer that lips over the airplane seat and then has the pockets on the bottom, which would be behind your legs when you're seated. This might be better for taller people. 

On the plus side, all your belongings fit snugly in the tray organizer, so anyone who needs to get past you to get to the bathroom won't end up cracking their knee on your water bottle or dump half your stuff onto the floor by knocking into it. 

Other reasons the Serenity Tray Organizer is awesome:
  • It's quick-drying, so if you spill on it, or need to wash it, the lightweight fabric dries fast.
  • It weighs less than 3 ounces, taking up almost no space in your bag when not in use.
  • The drawstring is long enough to wear over your shoulder.
  • It was created by two amazing ladies, so it's supporting a great woman-owned business.
  • You can get one in 6 different fun colors: charcoal, cool grey, blue indigo, fire orange, rose pink, and powder blue.
Get yourself an organizer, or one for a gift, now, and always be organized and on your travels. Purchase on Amazon or on Serenity's website (use code Friends25 for a discount).

How much better would your flights be with one of these?

Show Serenity Organizers some love. Follow them online on their socials or check out their website

Disclaimer: I was given the Serenity Tray Organizer for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own. ***  Support Shereen Travels Cheap by using the links in my posts to shop. I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) so I can continue to create helpful free content. I earn from qualifying purchases made to the featured retailers. Thank you. I appreciate your support!

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Review: Cheat Sheets Laundry Sheets

As you know, I am a big advocate of packing light and doing laundry on trips, in order to maximize the small space you have. A small capsule wardrobe can really become a larger travel wardrobe when you mix and match and a lot of times that means you'll have to do a bit of laundry. Of course, you may just need to do laundry in an emergency situation, as we did when we found our washing machine didn't work in Edinburgh.

Cheat Sheets laundry sheets are great for travel, because they take up no space and you don't have to hope the laundromat has affordable detergent.

I always travel with some laundry sheets and a pop-up hamper. Laundry sheets are great for travel, because they take up almost no space and you don't have to hope the store or laundromat has affordable detergent, or detergent at all. And if you only need to do a few things in the sink, they usually aren't great for that, but Cheat Sheets are different. 

Cheat Sheets are fast dissolving and don't do big suds, so you can easily do a hand wash in the sink and your items don't take forever to rinse. Depending on how much you need to wash, you can use a half or whole sheet. I used a half sheet for these few items that I've taken on trips before and they were fresh and clean at the end. 

Here's a time-lapse video of me washing my few pieces in our small sink. As you can see, there are no visible suds, but you could see that the clothes were getting clean, as the water was dirty, and I rinsed until it ran clear, then squeezed out as much water as possible. 

I found these sheets way preferable to sink washing with other products I've used before, since it didn't take me forever to rinse them out and I could tell they were clean before I started rinsing them, due to the low sudsing.

Because I don't normally hand wash my clothes, I tried All Purpose Cheat Sheets out in my washing machine, too. The great thing about laundry sheets is that you can use them in regular or high-efficiency machines without changing anything or using a special kind for one over the other. You are meant to start your water and toss in a sheet, then add your clothes once it has dissolved, but since these are so quick to dissolve, I threw my sheet in on top of my full machine. 

Not only did it dissolve without leaving any trace behind on my clothes, it washed the whole load of laundry as well as any of my normal detergents have. 

Other reasons you should invest in Cheat Sheets for your travels (and at home):

  • No messy liquids, which also means you aren't restricted to 3.4oz limit.
  • Everything is pre-measured, so you always know how many loads you can do with what you have.
  • They're eco-friendly and biodegradable! No microplastics go into the ground water and sheets come in an easily-recyclable cardboard container.
  • They're hypoallergenic, for those of us that are allergic to everything and have to be careful of the detergent we buy because of sensitive skin.
  • Free of harsh chemicals you want to avoid: phosphates, fluorescer, dyes, sulfates, phthalates, 1,4-dioxane, parabens, and more unnecessary additives. 
  • They work equally well in hot or cold water.
  • They don't add any weight to your luggage!
Cheat Sheets come in 3 formulas. (The Sea Spray fragrance is very light and clean, so if you're sensitive to smells, this shouldn't bother you at all.): 
  1. Gentle: for all your unmentionables. This comes in Sea Spray and Fragrance Free
  2. Swim: for all the damaging chlorine you picked up at the pool. This comes in Sea Spray
  3. All Purpose: for all your normal clothing that doesn't need gentle care. This comes in Sea Spray
Get your own either on Amazon or the Cheat Sheets website. Your purchase will support a woman-owned business.

Have you been looking an easier way to do laundry on vacation and at home?

Disclaimer: I was given the Cheat Sheets Travel Sheets for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own. ***  Support Shereen Travels Cheap by using the links in my posts to shop. I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) so I can continue to create helpful free content. I earn from qualifying purchases made to the featured retailers. Thank you. I appreciate your support!

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Planning Your Summer Travels

It's that time again. Time to start planning your summer travels, if you're going somewhere. Don’t wait until the last minute, because that’s when you’ll pay the most. Airfare alone can jump as much as 40% during the summer months, so here are some tips to help keep you in the black this year and have an amazing time:

It's that time again. Time to start planning your summer travels. Don't wait until last minute and end up shelling out buckets of cash.

Shop for airfare on Tuesday and Wednesday and look for flights that depart on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday for the lowest fares. New fares are posted every Tuesday and Wednesday are the perfect time to get the best deals, and when you fly on less popular days, you can pay less and have a better chance of not getting bumped off your flight due to overbooking. One thing that'll make you happy is that this summer, flights will be the cheapest they’ve been in seven years. Of course, that doesn't mean you should slack and leave booking until later. You still need to get on that ASAP.

Go early

 If your kids get out of school sooner the rest of the country, take advantage of your good fortune and vacation before the second week in June. Many schools have release dates in May, so if you can take time off before Memorial Day weekend, you can save a ton. The middle of June through the middle of August is going to be the most expensive time to travel almost anywhere, and the most crowded.

Go somewhere different 

Your kids are always going to want to go to theme parks or the beach during the summer, but by changing up your destination, you can actually save a little or a lot of money. If they insist on going to the beach, look for lakeside resorts near where you live. Most still have a beach and everything that goes along with it, unless surfing is on the agenda. Other ideas are to visit cold-weather destinations or South America. The Southern Hemisphere experiences winter during our summer, making it a less desirable place to vacation. Less desirable equals more affordable. South America is close, but there are so many different places to choose from that are amazing, tropical and super budget-friendly.


Airfare can become a costly burden if there are many of you traveling. If you can spare the extra travel time, take a good old fashioned road trip to get to your destination. Make sure to plan fun stops along the way, like to see the world’s biggest ball of yarn, ghost towns or museums. It makes the whole trip seem like an adventure if you don’t just drive straight through. 

A pic from our boat tour of Portland

Plan a staycation 

If everything just seems too far out of budget this time of year, opt to do things around your own town and take your vacation over holiday break. Prices will be lower, most destinations will be less crowded and you will be able to see and do more than in the summer. Need some ideas for your planning? See my staycation post and check out my staycation board on Pinterest.

Don’t forget your cash back! 

Help keep a little money in your pocket or stretch the dollars you have by using Rakuten to book your flights, hotel rooms and rental cars. You can even get cash back for buying essentials like sunscreen and shorts! It's totally free to join and it's super easy. In fact, they give you a gift just for making your first purchase. How can you beat that?

Plan ahead

Start planning for a cheap summer trip next year by picking up my Secrets to Summer Savings ebook. I give you all my travel saving tips to make summer travel cheaper and packed with more fun.

Don't forget that traveling light can save you a lot of money in the long run, too. At the very least, you'll save $70 by not checking a bag on your roundtrip flight. More if you're an overpacker. Here's how I packed for a whole week in a backpack and here's how I pack my toiletry bag.

Where will you be going for your Summer vacation?

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Packing Light: Tips for Your Toiletry Bag

After posting about how I packed a week's worth of clothes in a backpack, I promised you a post on how to pare down your toiletries. I have been working on bringing fewer or smaller things on my trips when I travel, which might be difficult for those who want to take their whole routine on vacation with them. Even when I do more than usual, I still don't use too many products.

After posting about how I packed a week's worth of clothes in a backpack, I promised you a post on how to pare down your toiletries.

I find that doing things more simply when I'm away from home both gives my skin a break when I'm also getting more exercise, so I am not dealing with extra breakouts, and I don't have to keep track of so many things that I'm scrambling to fit it all back in a bag when I have to pack up to go home. That bag won't be so big that I need a larger carry-on or suitcase to fit everything I need, so fewer, smaller things helps me pack lighter overall, which in turn saves me time and money.

I rounded up all the things I normally use at home. These are all full sizes and I chose the three eyeshadow palettes I use most often, sometimes I mix and match. Even one of those palettes would take a lot of space in my toiletry bag, so I tend to go with smaller ones when I travel, though they don't usually have as fun colors and I'm more than likely will use neutral colors most of the time I'm away. 

I've also included what I use for my hair and my eyecare. I didn't include my shampoo and conditioner, but I replace those with solid bars when I travel. I've got some favorites from Lush, and I will chop them in half or thirds, so they take up less room, but I will also keep them in a metal tin, and that doesn't have to fit in my toiletry bag, because it's spill- and waterproof. 

Deodorant is easy to downsize. Every brand has a smaller, travel option usually. I bounce between several brands, so I'm not super picky when I buy a new small one for my travel bag. If you are, then check out alltravelsizes or Minimus for your favorites if you can't find them at the store.

Contact solution goes a long way. I've been on the very last squeeze for three days, so I know the smaller one is going to last me a week or more, even with two of us sharing. I'm not opposed to buying this when I get to my destination, but I'm cheap and it's harder to find solution some places, like Europe. When we accidentally left a bag of bathroom stuff behind going to Paris from London, we had to go to an optometrist in Paris to buy contact solution. And if you're beholden to the 3-1-1 bag rule, you definitely can't bring a full size bottle on the plane.

I'll compromise on a lot of things, but I refuse to use bar soap...anywhere. I hate it. So, I find a fun body wash and use that on trips until it's empty and then I find a new one, or I put a favorite one in a GoToob, and then I can refill it over and over, and it doesn't leak. I have upgraded my travel bag to include a small pump soap dispenser that I fill with foaming hand soap and it has changed my whole travel experience. It's a small thing, but doesn't make me hate washing my hands in my room anymore.

Before I got TSA PreCheck, I was tired of having half a tube of mini toothpaste with me when I got home and not wanting to take two with me on the next trip, so I wasn't wasting that half tube, so I started using toothpaste tabs. I've tried multiple brands, but I really like Bite, because they work much better than others, taste better, and come in glass bottles that can be recycled or reused. I bite one in half, so I get two brushes out of one, because they are so efficient and foam up really well.

I have brought along a folding toothbrush for a long time, but I highly recommend these by Dr. Plotka's. They use silver to eliminate bacteria, viruses, and fungi, so you don't have to worry about replacing it after you used it for 2 weeks and then didn't travel again for 3 months and left it in your bag...or what might be on the hotel bathroom counter. It closes, too, so it's easy to not have your wet brush head touching other things in your bag.

My hair is really thick and frizzes in the slightest humidity, so I use a hair honey on it that is made for Black hair. It smells nice and it doesn't take much to get my hair to cooperate and look like I'm a person. This big jar lasts forever, so I always have about half a tablespoon in one of these small GoTubbs

I also find that a good setting spray for my makeup gets it to last all day long, with minimal touch-ups. You want to look good in pics. This is another product I keep trying new ones for at home, but the Urban Decay is tried and true, so that's the one that goes on trips with me. I don't want to find that all my makeup melted off halfway through a 12-hour bout of sightseeing where I'm taking public transport.

My skin is sensitive, but I'm also over 40, so I need some extra skincare when traveling. I use a tinted moisturizer with priming in it, but also a separate hydrating primer on certain areas, like under my eyes. My skin is combination, but the dry areas are super dry, and I find that hyaluronic acid is helpful under all my makeup. I don't need a lot of any of these things, but I still need them. I decant moisturizer into another small GoTubb and the other ones that I need even less of into a contact lens case. These are perfect for small amounts of liquids, because you know they aren't going to accidentally leak and they take up hardly any room.

I am much more particular about my foundation and when I find a good one, I stick with it forever. Luckily, this one comes in a travel size, but if it didn't, I'd probably use a GoTubb for that, too. I really like Ulta for travel sizes for my toiletry bag, because they have a lot of things in smaller sizes and often have sales. I'm less particular about my mascara, but I usually try to choose one for travel that lasts all day and is waterproof. You never know when you're going to get caught in a downpour. Waterproof ones are better for staying on all day long.

I have a ton of different blushes and eyeshadows, but I'm not taking all of them with me on a one-week trip, where I probably won't use 98% of them. I've upgraded to this face palette, which has a bronzer, highlighter, and two cheek colors, but I will mix and match to use them as eyeshadow, highlighter, and blush. This is the only way you can usually get a good brown and complimentary pinks, and those are the colors I like to blend on my eyes. Between a primer and a setting spray, these work pretty good wherever you want to use them. I always bring a kabuki style brush for blush, and I have two generic brushes for eyeshadow that barely take up any room. I shove them in the bottom of my toiletry bag with one or two eyeliners.

More often than not, I have a bag full of lip colors that I choose from each morning, but they don't last all day. I hate thinking about reapplying when I'm busy doing things, so now I just bring my favorite color of Covergirl Outlast All-Day Lip Color. It actually does last all day long and I only need to have whatever lip balm I'm into with me, because sometimes my lips get dry, but that doesn't seem to have anything to do with this lip color.

So, I went from all that stuff up on top to just these pieces now. A few are the same things, like the charcoal scrub, my compact (though sometimes I just take the one that's normally in my purse), and eye drops. 

In addition to these things, I bring along a travel hair straightener and I feel organized and like I can keep track of everything. Another plus: if I accidentally leave any of these things behind and they don't make it home with me, I haven't left a $20-40 item, because I never brought a full-size container in the first place. At most, I'm out a small portion of product, and that can easily be replaced.

I hope this helps you pack a little more thoughtfully and smaller when you travel, so you don't have to check a bag just to accommodate your toiletry bag.

What's your biggest struggle when trying to pare down on your toiletries?

Disclaimer: Support Shereen Travels Cheap by using the links in my posts to shop. I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) so I can continue to create helpful free content. I earn from qualifying purchases made to the featured retailers. Thank you. I appreciate your support!

Pin It button on image hover