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#WorldwideOx Packing List: toiletries, first aid, & other such sundry

I recently talked (and podcasted) with one of my dearest friends, who also did a round-the-world trip with her family the previous year. Among other things, we agreed that one of the most enjoyable bits of this sort of travel is the minimalist lifestyle. Specifically, what we keep in our bags. As in, how little there is inside.

Friends, I gotta tell you—living with just what we need is pure enjoyment. I haven’t missed one iota the stuff management that unintentionally comprises more of my time than I prefer. There is delightful freedom in just a few bits of clothing to choose from each morning (and yep, I’ve already tweaked my wardrobe choices—more on that soon).

I’ve been meaning to share the “other” stuff in my bag—the stuff besides, the clothes, in other words. Well, here you go. This is everything:

Minimalist packing for a round-the-world trip with kids


I might not have exactly nailed my wardrobe on the first try, but I’m pretty happy to have seemingly hit toiletries out of the park. I already enjoyed a minimalist, natural approach to beauty and grooming, so it was fairly simple to just pack it up and take it on the road.

Minimalist packing for a round-the-world trip with kids

Our main bag, unzipped. (It’s a simple packing cube from Tom Bihn.)

Minimalist packing for a round-the-world trip with kids

1. Insect repellant: I initially brought this travel-sized spray deodorant from Weleda, mostly for the spray bottle (found it at the checkout aisle at Whole Foods before we left). Once it ran out, I rinsed it and started using it for our family’s insect repellant. It’s a simple concoction of 1 ounce water and 8 drops of TerraShield essential oil (more on that below). Works brilliantly and smells great.

2. Lanolin: This is my usual lip balm, even at home (yep, it’s what you use for breastfeeding)—I’ve used it since my firstborn, almost a decade ago, and I just bought my third tube before this trip. Lasts ages (obviously).

3. Disposable razor: Nothing fancy. I’ll get a new one when I need it.

4. Soap: We brought a small thing of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap, and thanks to a—shall we say, eager—child in the shower, it was used up quickly. We’re now on to our Dr. Bronner’s bar soap. Not sure how long it’ll last, but we’ll buy another natural one if we can find it. If not, we’ll shrug our shoulders and buy what we can.

5. Hair butter: When I’m in drier climates, like Bend, I use Hair Butter for its intended purpose—to smooth out frizzy hair. I haven’t needed it in humid climates so far, but this also makes an excellent lotion for all skin types—the whole family uses it when necessary (it’s my main lotion at home, too). A little goes a long way, so I’m hoping two 4-ounce tins will last us our entire trip. I love this stuff.

6. Facial oil cleanser: Most of you know I wash my face with oil and have for years. Thanks to these seriously amazing GoToob travel bottles that don’t leak a drip (seriously—we’ve tried), I’m able to pack my olive oil-castor oil-tea tree oil concoction with zero problem.

7. Shampoo: I don’t use anything in my hair to wash it (I formerly used a baking soda concoction, but now my hair goes completely nude). Really—a good scrub with the fingertips and it’s fine… but I’ll admit it does get a bit greasier in the tropics. As I suspected. We brought a travel-size container of my favorite shampoo from Trade as One (support them!), but seeing as this is for everyone, we’re already low (though one three-ounce container for a family of five, for six weeks = pretty awesome). Like the soap, we’ll try to find a natural option to buy, but if not, oh well. I only use it about every two weeks, and just a tiny bit on the scalp at that. (I promise, my hair has never been healthier since I went poo-free).

8. Deodorant: I was hoping to find a natural deodorant in Chiang Mai, and lo and behold, I found one for 52 baht (about $1.60 US) from Tesco Lotus. Score! Kyle and Tate use the same. These things are compact and take ages to use up, so we should be good the rest of the year.

9. Brush(es) and comb: I have one, and Tate’s isn’t pictured. The comb is for the boys, just after bathing.

Minimalist packing for a round-the-world trip with kids

1. Floss: Just your basic stuff—it can be bought anywhere (we got this here in Thailand).

2. Toothpaste: We brought three travel-sized Tom’s toothpastes and spread them throughout our backpacks. So far, we’re still on our first one.

3. Toothbrushes: This is the one item that may seem like overkill, but hear me out—about a year ago our sensory processing disorder (SPD) kiddo’s therapist recommend he use an electric toothbrush to strengthen his mouth muscles, so we all got one in our stockings (Santa goes big in our household). We all love these Spinbrushes, and they cost five bucks a pop; a simple battery and head replacement is all that’s needed. We brought several heads (seen below).

Minimalist packing for a round-the-world trip with kids

1. Bandaids: Brought just a few from home; we’ll replace anywhere when it’s needed.

2. Glasses and contacts: I wear my glasses 99% of the time, but I wanted my contacts for a few other things. In fact, I’m still looking in to the possibility of corrective surgery here in Thailand (it’s very common), so maybe I won’t need this at all soon. We’ll see.

3. Hair doo-dads: Just the basics for Tate and me to pull our hair away from our humidity-drenched skin.

4. Saline: For the contacts—I barely wear them, so when I run out of the stuff, I’ll just buy more. It’s readily available.

5. Healing Balm: My friend Nina whips up this fantastic stuff full of natural goodness, and it’s great on cleaned-out owies and rashes.

6. Advil: You know…. headaches and what-not.

7: Diva Cup: I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say I’ve used a Diva Cup for eight years, and I CANNOT imagine using anything else. Total and complete game-changer. Makes travel, big or small, a breeze. Real life, too.

8. Replacement heads: For our Spinbrushes.

…And then there’s the washcloth we picked up in Yangshuo, China. Oh, and nail clippers.

Essential oils

My Oregon friend (and AoS contributor!) Nina is my essential oil guru. I go to her for every single question I have; she’s incredibly knowledgeable (I may or may not have neglected to remember the time change on more than one occasion and texted her at 5 a.m. to ask what I should use on one condition).

Minimalist packing for a round-the-world trip with kids

This little bag of essential oils rounds out our first aid kit (this is the Family Physician Kit, plus a bit more)—they have been a lifesaver. They’ve helped us breathe better in polluted cities, calm heat rashes, dissipate headaches, soothe sore muscles, ward off potential germs and illness, settle upset stomachs from questionable and/or spicy food, fend off mosquitoes, curb cravings, relax stressed-out parents, help kids fall asleep, and a hundred other little things. They’ve even de-reeked our son’s horrible-smelling shoes.

These vials have been a game-changer as to how I care for my family’s health and how we travel.

Minimalist packing for a round-the-world trip with kids

These are the ones I almost never leave the house without (along with the insect repellant, pictured earlier in the post). Well actually, this isn’t not quite right—I meant to grab the DigestZen instead of lavender, but oh well… DigestZen for stomachs, OnGuard for germs, and melaleuca (tea tree oil) for skin.

Nina also whipped up a mix called Peaceful Child, specifically crafted for sensory kids like my middle guy. It miraculously calms him down—it’s almost amusing to count the seconds it takes for him to settle down after applying it to his feet and the back of his neck. It smells heavenly, too.

I’m still an essential oil newbie, so I’d suggest directing any questions you have to Nina—here she is on Twitter, and perhaps she can chime in in the comments.

My makeup is terribly uninteresting. I hardly wear it on this trip, but when I do, I use Mineral Fusion.

Kyle’s got an upcoming post showing our electronics, gadgets, and gizmos, but we’re open to hearing any other questions you may have about our packing game. Any thoughts or curiosities?

Other packing posts:

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Reading Time:

5 minutes





  1. Mandi

    Thank you for literally opening up your bags and sharing the contents! I am preparing to take many of the same items on our RTW trip, but you’ve given me some other good ideas and things to think about. Did you have any trouble flying with your liquids and creams? Did you just spread them across all your bags? The quart-size bag for liquids/creams rule is a bit vexing to me. I can fill up a quart-size bag with just oils! 🙂

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      We honestly had zero problems with any of that! The only momentary bit of confusion was in the Hong Kong airport, where they weren’t sure what my EOs were. My heart was pounding for a bit, but they passed just fine. 🙂

  2. Laura camacho

    Amen to the cup! I couldn’t imagine not using one, now. I have the Fleur cup (after many years of Diva).

  3. Dayna W

    I have to ask, will that small amount of face wash last you through the trip? Or how do you plan to replenish it? Feeling very inspired by your simplicity and travels!!!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      It will! I only use it about twice a week, or if I’m wearing makeup (which isn’t much on this trip)—otherwise it dries out my skin. But if/when I do need to replenish, I can find EVOO anywhere; it might admittedly be more of a challenge to find castor oil but it’s not impossible. And I have the melaleuca/tea tree oil. 🙂

  4. Devi

    Great post – very inspiring! What essential oil do you use for headaches? My hubby’s been struggling with them recently, and I am curious about the essential oil route. Thanks!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Peppermint! A tiny bit rubbed where the headache is coming from (for me, it’s usually the temples).

  5. caroline

    I have to say I was honestly SHOCKED that that’s all you have for your entire family. I guess when I started reading the post I thought it was just your stuff then later in the post you would share pictures of the kids & Kyle’s. I’m so IMPRESSED. I keep scrolling through the pictures in awe…

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Ha! Yeah… I guess this is pretty low-maintenance, eh? Honestly, we don’t use much more in real life either, so I guess I didn’t think this amount was too big a deal. Now, Kyle DID buy an electric hair trimmer here in Thailand (there was no reason to bring ours from the States, since the conversion wouldn’t work). And I forgot to include that.

  6. Megan

    This is a really impressive pare down! I can pack light, but this section is where I tend to be heavier. I have high maintenance (eczema, rash prone skin, allergic to everything) and usually have to travel with several potions and lotions for that (especially warmer climates.) Does this include all medications and first-aid that you brought? If so, would LOVE to see a follow-up with more about the uses of essential oils for travel, what you took for the trip and how you use them!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      It does! And yeah, I was thinking I’d write a follow-up post farther in to our trip, as an update with how this works for first aid, etc. The other thing to remember is that if we need anything, most of the countries we’ll visit has just about anything—and often cheaper.

  7. Marla Taviano

    Happy birthday to ME! This post is EXACTLY what I needed! I bought a Diva Cup for me (and one for my 13yo), and I’ve been wanting to hear from a real person I know that it works. I have 2 months to practice before we leave for Cambodia. AND I’m trying to learn about oils in my spare time (a friend is buying me a physician’s kit). Thank you!! AND I don’t want to buy a ton of bug spray. AND I’m on a road trip right now, and I always double-baggie my face oil because it leaks. THIS IS SO GREAT!!!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Yay! Glad to help, Marla. And happy birthday!

  8. Aimee

    I know you had podcasted a while back and mentioned you were going to attempt to stop using shampoo altogether. I want to hear about that! Was there a difficult transition? I have super thick, fairly course, long hair and i am wanting to try it. The baking soda concoction doesn’t work well in our hard water in CO. Looks like you all are doing well! I love your toiletries kit, and I love lanolin too! Enjoy your travels!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      You’re right; I never did a follow-up about that! Yeah, it was a bit of a transition, sorta like when you switch from conventional shampoo to baking soda. But I powered through and it was worth it, though as I say in the post, there are still some bouts of oiliness once in a blue moon. I’m not a purist about it, so that’s why a fingertip scrub with a tiny bit of natural shampoo every few weeks works for me, with a fingertip water scrub the rest of the time.

  9. Lisa

    Great post! We brought WAY too much in the toiletry department (but we’re in one location for 6 mos to start so we had room in the luggage), harder to find “natural” products here, but I’m learning what the locals use.. Edible Almond Oil- hair, skin (50 cents for 300mL). First aid wise- we packed a giant kit (including a large supply of essential oils) and again- too much. We’ve made great friends with the local pharmacist when my kids had bizarre blistering reactions to the gazillions of mosquito bites they got during monsoon. Cheap cheap, cheap!! Even a pregnancy test (that would’ve been a major curveball!!!) was only $1.50. We’ve bought gauze, tape, inhalers (nasty pollution here in KTM), ibuprofen etc etc. I’d love to have your friend’s recipe for “peaceful child”..we could use some of that some days!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Looks like Nina’s recipe is on her blog here!

  10. Steph

    I just started using the Diva cup last month and LOVE it! Can’t imagine going back.

  11. Erin Brown

    A little off topic, but if you can get LASEK in Thailand, do it! I had it done in June when we lived in Seoul, South Korea. Best thing I ever did for myself! The healing is a bit painful on Day 2 and you’re supposed to get your eye pressure checked once a month which may be difficult during travel, but it is still so worth it!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Yeah, it’s the follow-up that has me a bit concerned. I’m gonna call about it soon so I’ll see what they say.

  12. Melissa Jones

    So I’ve been doing the OCM too, using a Go Toob (same size) also, with about the same frequency as you, but it keeps growing black mold before I can use it up. I try to thoroughly clean it between fillings (which means I go months between batches because, really, who’s got time for the 2-sec it takes to fill that thing up?)….but it keeps getting grody. Do I need to up my Tea Tree? Do I need to stop storing it in the shower? Do you have any ideas? I love the way it makes my face feel (legs too since I wipe the excess onto my legs and feet post-shaving)….but the black mold oogs me out.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Yeah, I’d get black mold if I kept it in my shower, so maybe store it elsewhere and just bring it in when you’re in there? Not sure… Perhaps someone else has solutions?

  13. Penny Toth

    Super curious to hear about what oil mixture you are washing your face with! Do you have dry skin or is this for anybody? Do you rinse it off?

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Penny, if you click on the link in the post where I mention it, it’ll take you to my original post on AoS that goes in to much more detail, including the concoction I use. Hope that helps. 🙂

      • Penny Toth

        Duh! I just noticed the link and read it. can’t wait to try this! Thanks for the quick response. As an aside, I am reading your book and dragged myself out of my Jammie’s to go to our farmer’s market for fresh produce, honey and eggs. Just reading your words is dragging me out of my apathetic doldrums of daily busy life, so thanks for that!

  14. jennings

    how has your “Scrubba” worked out. I saw it on your packing list before you left and I was intrigued. We tend to take just 3 sets of clothes when we travel to SE Asia and do a most of our laundry in the hotel room. Is Scrubba something I should have on my Christmas list?

  15. Emily H

    Just wondering about airports…since you don’t check luggage, do you divvy up all the liquids (including essential oils) among everyone’s bags? My next life goal is to master traveling only out of a carry-on 🙂

  16. Misty Newsome

    Love this post, wish I had it when we packed for Uganda. We are in week 9 living here for our adoption. I’m with you, I use my oils for everything. I packed a TON of medicines, I’ll donate them here.

  17. Rachel Ambler

    I’m intrigued that there’s no suncream in your toiletries. How do you manage that one? Packing suncream for our summer holidays (and winter ones, if skiing) takes up a huge amount of space.
    And, like jennings, I’m also wondering about how the Scrubba is working out?

  18. Dori Landis

    Would also love to know about the Scrubba! Even though this is 1 year later!

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