How My Travel Bag Has Changed

Once upon a time, before I knew I had chemical allergies, I had a strict packing plan when I went on trips. Clothes, shoes, hair stuff, face stuff, body stuff, medications, tooth stuff…all into the bag.

I’ve been through a few different variations since then, but nowadays my travel bag is barely recognizable, and it’s gotten a whole lot easier to get through airport security. Gone are the multiple hair products and face products. Goodbye toothpaste, deodorant, brushes, and half the clothes. Some of the things can be easily purchased at the other end if they’re not practical to bring. Instead of a bag full of name brands, I carry only a few generic products one wouldn’t usually find in a traveler’s bag, plus a lot more fabric. So what’s in my bag these days?

Then Now Why/What Does it Do?
Shampoo Rum Reduces scalp oils
Conditioner  – Cold water works well enough to seam my cuticle, and the changes to washing make it unnecessary
Hair Mask  – Unnecessary
Body Wash Piece of African black soap Better for body and environment
Face Wash  – Unnecessary
Body Lotion Carrier Oil Moisturizes, applied immediately after washing
Face Cream  – Unnecessary
Toothbrush Cotton facecloth Scrubs teeth
Toothpaste  – Unnecessary
Glide Dental Floss Silk dental floss Toxicity and flavouring concerns
Cortisone Cream Steroid ointment without propylene glycol So that the medication doesn’t also cause the allergy
Immune suppressant ointment For facial use
Steroid Sinus Spray No longer needed
Aerosol Sinus Rinse Neti bottle and salts Rinses allergens out of sinuses
Makeup  – Unnecessary
Makeup Remover  – Unnecessary
Cotton Swabs Cotton Swabs
Hair Brush Unfinished wooden comb Redistributes and removes oils, and has no synthetic parts
Hair Elastics Hair elastics Keeps hair from contacting face
Hair Spray  – Not needed with change to hair care routine
Deodorant Spray bottle of vodka Kills bacteria until you can wash
Clothing Natural fibre clothing
Bath Puff Facecloth Cotton rather than synthetic, and allows for washing with almost no water if necessary
Towels For keeping head protected from seat backs and drying off after washing
Sheets, blankets, pillows Because it’s hard to trust the safety of others’ laundry routine
Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) powder For quickly neutralizing chlorine in water
Portable bidet bottle and cloths for wiping Instead of toilet paper
Handkerchiefs For blowing nose – dries quickly
Shoes, Coat, and Purse Shoes and natural fibre coat and purse
Plastic 4-cup measuring cup Aids in washing hair
Distilled water Helps prevent hard waste buildup on hair; also used for sinus rinse, can be purchased at destination

A lot of the above changes are described in greater detail elsewhere in this blog. These changes don’t make packing easier. They don’t make packing lighter. My “liquids” bag is significantly lighter, but that alone doesn’t make the changes worth it. I would love to be able to leave all the towels and linens at home, because that would make my bag smaller and lighter. Despite all this, it is incredibly freeing to not need to pull 30 items out of a bag to get ready in the morning or for bed. It’s also freeing to have healthy, radiant skin and hair without all the chemicals. That’s what makes all of this worthwhile.

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