After many years of travelling the globe it’s become clear to me that the biggest miseries of travel – more than a thousand delayed flights, bouts of food poisoning, gun toting 12 year old Central Asian border guards and Barcelona pickpockets – are the little things that grate on you just a little every day. The big problems and pains of travel make for great stories, but the little things are no more than death by a thousand cuts.
Specifically, I’m talking today about the travel toiletry bag, that old travel staple that you bought with a moment’s thought a few days before heading off around the world. Your thought process as you bought it (while shopping for something you considered to be more important) probably went a little something like this:
‘Oh crap, I don’t have anywhere to keep my toiletries… Ah, there’s a toiletry bag. Hmmm, cheap. OK, that’ll do the job.’
Skip ahead three weeks. You’re in the cramped bathroom of a crumbling hostel somewhere in deepest South East Asia. You balance your toiletry bag on the only dry surface in the bathroom, and before you know it the bag has fallen into the strange, dank puddle around the base of the toilet (you really hope it’s just water). Everything is soaked.
‘Why oh why did I buy this piece of crap bag?’
Your travel toiletry bag is important. It may seem like a little thing, but it’s the little things that can make or break a holiday. A comfortable shower in the morning sets you up for the day. A mad scramble through dirty water to retrieve your toiletries? Well, that sort of thing just sends me into a mood.
So what should you look for in a travel toiletry bag?
1. A hook
It makes a world of difference to be able to hang your toiletry bag far from the disgusting floor of your average hostel bathroom. A hook also allows you easy access to your toiletries, so you won’t end up banging your head against the fixtures of every unfamiliar bathroom you use.
2. Wet/dry pockets
Your toiletry bag should have separate compartments that are not only waterproofed against the exterior but also against each other. If one bottle of shampoo explodes in your bag it should only affect one pocket, not everything in the bag.
3. A sturdy build
Your toiletry bag will have to survive a lot of punishment as you travel around the world. It needs to remain intact – and protect your toiletries – 24/7.
4. A good size
This is a judgement call based on the kind of toiletries you carry. Not too small and not too large is key.
I know this sounds a little silly, but your choice of travel toiletry bag can have quite an impact on day to day life when you’re travelling for any length of time. Choose wisely, my friends.