Updated: May 21, 2020
Don't be that bitch fumbling around in her bag in the security line, holding everything up because your travel game is weak and disorganized. There are so many different "travel" accessories out there, the majority of which are useless, often solving issues that don't really exist and taking up extra space. For example, I wouldn't be caught dead spending 17 minutes transferring my preferred shampoo into a 2oz travel container like it's some kind of 50mg Adderall juice. Space in those liquids bags is precious and I'm not one to waste it.
My efficiency compulsion isn't something I necessarily have a lot of control over though.
After excessive experimentation, and even more excessive travel, these are the products I have come to love and use constantly, often day-to-day but especially on the road.
1) Spray hand sanitizer
There are a number of reasons that I much prefer spray sanitizers over gels etc. outlined in my overcoming germophobia post but the main reason is sprays cover more surface area in less time, making them easier to use especially on things like shoes, phones, & bags. This Dr. Bronner's one has been an indispensable staple in my carry-on for dozens of trips. It's the perfect size, shape & ingredients list. I used to just use them for travel but now I keep them everywhere and/or carry them in my purse.
2) I do not take sugar in tea, coffee or cocktails ever. Instead, I bring these little stevia tablet dispensers absolutely everywhere and use them at home as well. I don't think I need to reiterate how disgustingly unhealthy refined white sugar is. This carb-free, calorie-free, compact alternative really simplifies things. Strangely, these are quite easy to find in Europe but I've never seen one in America that I didn't bring myself. (I buy many to give to friends. My love language is encouraging & enabling healthy life changes.....baffles me that I'm often perceived as unromantic.)
3) Transparent makeup bags. Though removing liquids from your luggage isn't usually necessary in the States anymore, internationally, airports still require it. Kind of stupid and quite irritating but whatever. Also, it makes it much easier to find what you're looking for. Instead of digging through all of my luggage to retrieve all liquids every time I travel (and missing one can result in longer security screening time) I keep most of my liquids in a separate bag at all times. I carry all of my everyday makeup in a small, clear cosmetic bag so that my liquids are always pre-separated which saves time, effort & hassle every trip.
4) Speaking of makeup, this is something I have carried everywhere for a very long time and is the only eyeshadow/contour that I use. It's clean, natural, allegedly anti-aging/healthy, not tested on animals, etc. etc. I use it on eyes, eyebrows, face, and it's the only palette I use daily. I have a collection of "fun" palettes that I also use sometimes for touchups but try not to use too much due to less quality ingredients such as this Chanel eyebrow palette, this Chanel travel palette, this Tom Ford eye palette, Dior brow and so on ok so I have a palette obsession, clearly, but multi-purpose things, compact things and makeup are my life, so it's inevitable.
5) Most of us have experimented with various types of water receptacles. None of them have really become a routine part of my hydration-centric lifestyle until now. Once day, in Amsterdam, I stumbled onto a brilliant concept that has since become one of my favorite causes. It's called Jointhepipe. I bough my beautiful, black, reusable, BPA-free, dishwasher safe water bottle and I bring it everywhere now. Not only is it a brilliant idea that is great on so many levels from encouraging hydration to increasing access to clean water around the world. but the bottle itself is the perfect size, shape and weight (extremely light) for travel making it fun and easy to promote. (This isn't a paid promotion, I just get really stoked about stuff like this....that's both good for humanity & the planet, but also pretty & available in black.)
6) Brief summary on travel attire. Most of my clothes, to some extent, coordinate (black, white, grey, blue). I wear a few different pairs of heeled ankle boots that are as comfortable as runners to travel, and versatile enough to be worn for most of the trip. Shoes and jumpers generally take up the most suitcase space, so limit those whenever possible. I only wear things that are comfortable but I almost never wear sweats to travel because I often have to go directly to a location from the airport. I've learned not to count on time to change/freshen up. Just arrive ready to roll. I usually wear my heaviest jacket (freeing up suitcase space), comfortable pants without much metal (metal detectors/radiation), and a light, comfortable shirt that I can wear with or without the jumper depending on temperature conditions. Particularly for Euro travel, it's not all that uncommon to experience extreme heat and extreme cold in the same day, or even the same flight. It's just so great.
7) Dry, dry shampoo. The non-aerosol version of dry shampoo is a thing. Even small dry shampoos take up most of a liquids bag, so offloading that leaves a lot more space for important liquids--hand sanitizer, mini whiskey, the works.
8) In Sephora, which can be quite scarce, barren and even nonexistent in many parts of Europe, there are many little sets of samples or travel-size products. These are the best for travel as well as experimenting to determine what products you like. It's much easier to just travel with a small size of something than trying to transfer everything into smaller containers. Unless I am certain of my undying love and devotion for something, I buy the smaller version of it. Efficiency, meet trust issues.
I have tried hundreds of travel-sized this or thats. If I can in any way justify it as a "travel necessity" (which I'm suspiciously skilled at by now), I've likely tried it. I travel at such an absurd frequency that it's considerably easier to justify blatantly frivolous purchases by that logic. At this point, I seldom leave the house without the aforementioned items. They save time and effort and which brings me joy because efficiency is my one joy . How I was able to function before these discoveries is an utter mystery, as is where all of the money went in the trial and error of determining what works and what doesn't. I'm not saying this list is for everyone. Some people prefer to do everything the hard way.