#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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Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of The Art of Simple, a community blog about the art and science of living simpler. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.