Travelling Light In France – Toiletries And Cosmetics Edition

Effortless packing Travelling Light In France With Toiletries And Cosmetics

I’ve really been looking forward to writing this blog post. Why? Because I love it when the Distant Francophile community reach out with a specific question for me to play with. And I had a super question come up recently in the comments of My Top French Travel Tip post.

Denise is a long time friend of DF. Like Scotty and I, Denise and her hubby regularly make the trek from Australia to Europe. And they make the most of their time once they arrive, catching planes, trains and automobiles between countries. 

Denise’s question centred around my preference for travelling light in France for weeks at a time with only carry-on sized luggage. And Denise was specifically keen to understand how I limit toiletries and cosmetics, which makes sense as they can be bulky and heavy. Bulky and heavy are the last two things you want to be packing if you are looking to travel light. So here are my top tips for travelling light in France with toiletries and cosmetics.

Travelling Light In France – Toiletries And Cosmetics Edition

Tip One. Travel With More Than One Toiletry Bag 

Or at least choose a large one that is relatively flat. As I mentioned above, bulk is a problem when you’re travelling, especially if you want to travel as lightly as possible for as long as possible. I switched to using two flatter, leak-proof pouch style toiletry bags a few years back. This allows me to divide and conquer my personal items and gives me more flexibility when I’m packing. It’s a bit like playing Tetris – lots of smaller pieces fit together better than large, chunky items. It really is worth investing in clever luggage – the packing systems do allow you to fit a whole lot in.

Tip Two. Check Your Carry-On Sized Case

This is a trick that works well for me, and means that I can travel for weeks and navigate my way on and off the train network and up and down stairs.  It really does deliver the best of both worlds – it’s probably my top tip for travelling light in France with toiletries and cosmetics.. As Denise mentioned in her comment, the airline restrictions on liquids mean that you can’t take many toiletries or cosmetics into the cabin or the plane. But these rules don’t apply for checked luggage. So you can have some items in your cabin bag and everything else stowed below. 

Tip Three. Hunt Down Travel And Mid-Sized Versions Of Products You Love 

Although I’ve tried it many times over the years, I’m not a fan of decanting products into smaller containers. If I’m ever going to have an explosion or spillage, it seems to occur with products I’ve decanted. Instead I prefer to buy the smaller version of my favourite products for travelling. Or I’ll go with small packages of items I’ve wanted to try for a while. Yes, the cost of these items is relatively higher when you buy this way, but I promise you won’t be at all worried about that as you stand at the bottom of yet another set of stairs, gazing up at wherever it is you need to get your case. I often find I can get in-between sized products if I buy a set or when there is a ‘gift with purchase’ offer available. And mini lipsticks are great when you’re travelling and they’re awesome when you’re at home, and only want to carry a clutch bag. 

Tip Four. Pack Multi-Tasking Products

Tinted sunscreen. Combo mascara/eyebrow duos. Lip and cheek products that can do double duty. All of these items are in work and leisure travel toiletry kits.  And I aim to travel with as many tubes and pencils as possible – longer, skinny items are more space efficient, and can be tucked away more easily.

Tip Five. Don’t Take All Of Your Skincare With You

Remember that a relaxing vacation is marvellous for your skin – definitely better than any lotion or potion you might choose. It’s a mantra that I tell myself regularly, especially when I’m packing. I take the bare essentials when I head to France. Cleanser, double duty serum, and sunscreen just about sees me out. I pack my most luscious favourites (in travel or smaller sizes if I can) and leave the rest at home. When I’m on the road, I find that I want to be out and about, not in my accommodation mucking about with my skincare. Same goes for makeup. I tend to stick to a pared back routine, so I can spend more time taking in the sights. 

I’d love to know – what are your hints and tips for travelling light in France with toiletries and cosmetics? Feel free to share in the comments section below. And a great big thank you to Denise for inspiring this post xx

Until next time – au revoir.

Photo Credit: Carla Coulson

About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.

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10 thoughts on “Travelling Light In France – Toiletries And Cosmetics Edition

  • Taste of France

    Hi Janelle,
    Good points! For environmental reasons, we’ve switched to solid soap and shampoo, and they’re great for travel–no worries at airport security, and no danger of leakage. And you can always go to a supermarket or pharmacy to pick up what you run out of.

    • Janelle Post author

      Hi Catherine. When we were last in France, I tried the solid shampoo – I’m fairly sure that was on your recommendation. It worked really well. Unfortunately, we don’t have quite the range of that sort of product out here, but it’s definitely something travellers should consider. It was super convenient and no chance of leakage xx

  • Françoise Dureau

    Hello Janelle,
    Another excellent reason to travel light when it Comes to toiletries etc… is that whenever you happen to buy something in a perfume store you are given a bunch of samples and Travel size products. Often you Can even choose them !
    Take care

    • Janelle Post author

      Hello lovely Francoise. Thank you for that excellent reminder. The French are very generous with samples and they can definitely supplement your beauty products if you’ve deliberately chosen to pack minimally xx

  • Sloane

    Hi Janelle,
    So excited to start seeing more frequent posts on DF! Dreaming of returning to Europe soon. I agree with all your tips and have found a system that works well for me. Take the smallest amount of the true necessities and enjoy replacing them in France. As you know the options are amazing and I’ve never had much trouble finding new favorites in small sizes.
    Would love to see a post with photos of how you use various packing cubes etc., to maximize your packing space. I am definitely team carry on only.

    • Janelle Post author

      Thanks so much Sloane. Like you I can’t wait to get back to Europe. I don’t have much travel planned at the moment, but when I do head anywhere for more than a night or two, I’ll definitely share some pictures/a post. And yes, I tend to come home with way more skincare and cosmetics than I leave with – but that’s part of the fun.

  • Denise Linkson

    Thank you so much Janelle! I read your tips with much interest , you are so right about hauling large bags up many flights of stairs which my long suffering husband does time & time again for me & will be out looking for a flat pack cosmetic case plus trying terribly hard not to pack to many lotions, potions & makeup which I know is a big problem for me. I also love the gift with purchase tip as thats something I do regularly anyhow but now I just need to learn how to not buy as much stuff when traveling! I remember buying a rather large plate in a little beachside village in Portugal that the lovely lady wrapped up so it wouldnt break & as I tottered down the street back to our apartment met my husband coming in the opposite direction (he’d been swimming) saw me & threw his hands in the air saying ” what the #@&* have you bought now? & how are you going to get that home?” ” But it was only 25euro!!” was my answer. He just shook his head in despair. I did get it home & its proudly displayed in my kitchen but good god it made my suitcase heavy goodness knows how I got through the airport without extra charges. A smaller suitcase would definitely curb my purchases!!

    • Janelle Post author

      You’re very welcome Denise xx. And I’m not sure a smaller suitcase does stop the shopping bug. I still seem to pick things up – we came home with a set of saucepans I bought in Lyon once. Hilarious. When I’m on longer trips, I do try to be disciplined. I have rules about what I’m allowed to buy and when. But I also forgive myself for the spontaneous purchase too – those treasures we find are part of the adventure xx

  • Virginia Koffke

    Here in Australia there is a great company called ‘Zoomlite’ who make excellent travel packs of different sizes. Having done one trip with a large suitcase we switched to a smaller one and it makes a huge difference with accessibility on and off trains and some of those tiny lifts they have in Europe. Multi use cosmetics are wonderful and I have found several at Mecca and Sephora. Manicare have small excellent travel pots with a double lid to stop spillage, they come in a pack of two from memory, one small and one a little larger. Before a trip I put skin care in these containers and use them to see how many days I use I can get out of them. Our dentist does small toothpaste tubes as a giveaway and several small ones are easy to pack. Now what I need are clothes that are wearable, look smart, travel well and do not make me sweat.

    • Janelle Post author

      Thanks so much for the Zooomlite tip Virginia. I’ve not heard of them but will definitely check them out. And you have reminded me that my favourite place to pick up travel sized products are near the check out at both Sephora and Mecca. You can find a big range of quality products in small rather than mini sizes. As for clothing, finding the balance can be tricky. Mela Purdie do a good range you might want to look at.