Why Can’t a Woman Travel More Like a Man?

Lean in. I’m no Sheryl Sandberg and can’t offer any suggestions for working like a man to achieve your career goals. However, here’s one way you can travel like a man and inject some sanity into your vacation preparations.

Let’s take an informal poll. What is the thing you dread most about traveling? I have a hunch that packing is near the top of most lists. I troll for ways to streamline the process, convinced there exists a system to diminish the Home Alone chaos that begins each of our family vacations.

One of the many suggestions I’ve read, considered and promptly ignored through the years is “maintain a pre-packed toiletry bag.” As we got closer to departing on a family cruise and visions of forgotten children danced through my head, I decided this was the year to pack my kit bag in advance.

Choosing a proper vessel was challenge number one. I’ve always envied a man’s ability to travel light, so I first checked out traditional dopp kits, like this one by Filson.


Since I’m an optimist by nature, I figured I’d throw in my toothbrush, deodorant, comb, a crisp $20 bill and be on my way, whistling and smiling like a WWI doughboy.

Not a chance. Even though I’m low maintenance when it comes to toiletry requirements, the kit bag swelled and refused to zip once I added my makeup bag and a couple of travel-sized bottles of lotions and potions.

Next up, REI’s Muy Grande Shower Kit.

When open, this bag features mesh nets for containers, a small, clear zippered bag for 3-oz. bottles for easy TSA retrieval, and a separate rollup with zippered compartments. I slipped my razor inside one and realized I would no longer reach into a bag and slice up my hand. I’ve evolved!

To decide what to pack, I went through my normal daily ablutions. Shampoo, comb-through conditioner, shave. I transferred my regular products into tiny bottles, purchased a small comb and a duplicate of my favorite razor. I threw in a bar of wrapped, hotel-sized soap, in case I found myself somewhere (it’s never happened, but you never know) where soap was not available.

Next, deodorant (full-size), baby powder (travel-sized). I dismissed the body lotion, realizing I’d need to replace the little bottle after every trip. Let’s live dangerously, I thought. I also opted to discard my anti-aging solutions. Two weeks without aggressive intervention isn’t going to make me look any older than I already do.

Contact lens case and solution. My eyeglass case.

On to makeup. On a regular Tuesday, it’s a bit of concealer, a dusting of loose face powder, a sweep of bronzer, a dab of creme eyeshadow, mascara. I took those products from my vanity, moved them to a sweet, petite Muji bag and put my tweezers and eyelash curler in compartments with the razor. Then I headed to Sephora and bought all new. There’ll be enough of the leftovers to get me through many trips. I know there’s a prohibition about using over six-month-old makeup, but getting sick from eyeshadow can’t be as bad as getting sick from expired chicken, so to hell with it.


Two anti-frizz serums, a packaged toothbrush, toothpaste and voilà. I felt comfortable that I had a sufficient quantity of unguents that I could publicly present myself and not scare off the locals. Before attempting the zip test, I made sure to label the identical goo-filled bottles with my favorite purchase of 2013: A Brother P-Touch. If you come into my house, don’t stand still too long – I’ll label you. Consider yourself warned.

My toiletry bag was the first thing I plunked into my suitcase, days before our trip. On departure morning, I felt positively masculine. I showered and walked out the door instead of racing around with a handful of Ziploc bags, stuffing my bits into them. If you’re looking for an easy to accomplish resolution, I suggest you pack your travel kit bag. Smile guaranteed.


11 thoughts on “Why Can’t a Woman Travel More Like a Man?

  1. tip #2: refill and replace upon getting home. Playing with scented stuff so much more fun than laundry or sorting through piles of mail. And then you will be all ready to go again, whenever the fancy strikes.

  2. Love the little Muji bag! Love the idea of rotating make-up and buying new stuff. Got a suggestion — throw in a couple of Alka Selzer packets — It’s a neglected miracle cure — post boomers have missed the genius of “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz” and “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”. I gave my nephew some at Xmas (because I never leave home without it!) — he thinks it’s a miracle drug from the distant past..

  3. If I were a woman (or as our best friend Eaon used to say “If I were a man…”) I’d be bringing back the hard-sided naugahyde wrapped “Train Case” with inside mounted mirror for touch ups. Too fabulous. Reinforced handle with outside mounted hardware. Powder blue, please.

    • J’adore! Folks knew how to travel back in the day, when there were porters to assist with mountains of luggage. Lord Grantham – man – needed a valise to hold his shoes for his Atlantic crossing on Sunday night. I shudder to think about the trunk Lady Mary would require!

  4. It took me forever to do this but once I did…amazing! I actually made the change when my now-husband and I were dating but still had separate apartments. I created a duplicate to kit to keep at his place and then realized what a time saver it was for traveling too.

  5. Pingback: Boys Don’t Make Passes… | The Open Suitcase

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