Looking awesome while traveling in a carry on bag is tough.
The TSA has a vendetta against hair gel, it’s impossible to pack more than one pair of boat shoes in a carry on, and silk shirts wrinkle when you roll them. But carry on travel is about more than ease, comfort, and efficiency. It’s also about looking like a freaking boss, and nothing says, “I’m a travel king that knows what the hell I’m doing,” like a sharp dressed man breezing through security checkpoints like a dapper pinstripe ghost with a well-put together dopp kit.
I’ve seen a ton of great travel tips for stylish ladies – which is awesome – but what about us fellas? If I see another scruffy guy in zipper pants/shorts and hiking boots at the Eiffel Tower I’m gonna lose it. It doesn’t have to be that way, guys. You can look great on the road – even with a carry on!
Up your travel game with this dapper dude packing list full of essential grooming, wardrobe, and style tips to ensure that you’re the best dressed guy at your hostel.
Dopp Kit Essentials Packing List
Here’s the short version, read on to “unpack” it.
- Bosca Dopp Kit Bag
- Harry’s Shaving Kit
- Travel Bottles (3-pack)
- Gold-infused toothbrush (seriously)
- Marvis Classic Mint Toothpaste
- Malin+Goetz Deodorant
- Gold Bond Medicated Powder
- Hurraw SPF Lip Balm
- Sun Bum Sunscreen Face Stick
- Baxter Pocket Comb
- Aspirin 2-pack
- Nighttime Sleep Aids
- Ear plugs
- Electrical Tape
- Swiss Army Nail Clippers
- Refillable Atomizer (swag for days)
Dopp Kit Bags
The clothes may “make the man,” but the toiletry bag “makes the man smell good on a layover.” As much as we like to focus on chic travel clothes, a truly dapper traveler puts their focus into their bathroom bag—or dopp kit—first and foremost. And if you don’t know what a dopp kit is, read on, friend. It’s time to embrace the finer things in life. Here are four of the best travel toiletry bags on the market.
Ultralight Dopp Kit
This little pyramid shaped bag—the flat bottom design is great for smaller shelves—has all the style and sophistication of an expensive designer bag in the portability of a ziploc bag.
Water-resistant with a wrist loop strap and sturdy zipper, this bag is great for weekenders, and at just 3.5 oz, you’ll hardly even notice it in your bag.
Rugged Dopp Kits
Made by The North Face, so you know it can take a beating. The bag is waterproof (1000D Phthalate-free TPE fabric laminate), and features an internal hook—for hanging your bag—a removable mirror with a velcro attachment, and mesh pockets to keep your stuff organized. You can hang this bag from a tree, look at yourself in the mirror, and make sure you look awesome before you snap that sweet #glamplife selfie in the woods.
Known the world over for their stylish, functional design, Herschel has created a stylish functional dopp kit (surprise!). The reinforced handle, sturdy polyester fabric, and mesh pocket are great features, but the waterproof main compartment is key. If your skin exfoliating cream bottle leaks, the rest of your gear (chiffon button down, velvet blazer, and Usher tickets) will stay dry.
Deluxe Dopp Kits
This is swag bag. Stylish as hell, functional, and just plain great looking. The waxed cotton canvas repels water, while the burnished leather trim and brass hardware attract compliments. The two zippered compartments keep your items organized and separate, but it limits the overall size of the items you can bring. Something to think about.
Bottom line: If you want people to see you getting ready in the morning, that’s your thing, I’m not here to judge. This is the dopp kit for you, weirdo. You can even get it monogrammed for an extra $10.
Any toiletry bag over $100 has to be quality. Filson totally is. Made from water-repellent material with bridle leather accents (like the zipper pulls), a rustproof zipper (awesome), and four stow pockets (two internal, two external), and a spacious main compartment—the Filson dopp kit is a quality bag at a premium price.
If you have the means, this bag is the dopp kit all-star for you. Seriously.
Bosca has been making this premium leather travel kit since WWII. And when I say “premium,” I mean it. The wide mouth zipper design means this bag can store tons of gear and opens up the full length of the bag. It’s really more of a pouch. The lining zips out for easy washing. The zipper is top quality nickel. And the leather. Don’t get me started on the leather.
This bag is made from 100% certified Italian vegetable hand-stained leather with a classic glossy finish. If they made sleeping bags, I would zip myself up in one and die a happy man.
Best Travel Shaving Kits
Your shaving kit is an essential part of your travel toiletry bag. Regardless of your preference—electric or manual—fill it with a quality razor that gets the job done on the road.
TSA Carry On Rules for Razors:
- Straight Razor: NO
- Safety Razor (the old school ones with removable blade heads): NO
- Disposable Razor w/ Extra Blade Heads: YES
- Electric Razor: YES
Best Budget / Ultralight Option: Harry’s Truman Shave Kit ($15)
I’m not a fan of subscription razor services like Dollar Shave Club (I don’t need that many blades), so I was a little dubious after seeing Harry’s razor plan. Luckily, this shave kit isn’t a subscription service.
For just $15 you get a solid rubber grip handle (love that stability), and three five-blade razors, plus your choice of either creamy shave gel or smooth shaving foam. The shave cream comes in a convenient TSA-approved 3.4 oz tube (the foaming gel is 4 ounces and could possibly pop on flights), but it’s your call.
The razor comes with a travel blade guard, and you can leave the extra blades at home to make the kit even more travel-friendly. Free shipping, easy refills, quality blades—what’s not to like?
Best Electric Travel Razor: Braun M90 Mobile Shaver ($23)
I don’t use an electric razor when I travel, mostly because they’re heavier than a traditional razor, and it’s one less thing to worry about charging. However, this travel razor from Braun has me rethinking my old-timey shave options.
This compact razor (it only weighs 3.2 ounces!) is packed with relevant features. The blade guard locks the razor into “off” mode ensuring that it can’t turn on at the touch of a button. Once the guard flips down, it turns into an extension of the razor for a better grip. There’s also a convenient sideburn trimmer that flips out from the side.
It runs on 2 AA batteries which initially seemed a little out of date until you realize that it’s universally easy to charge anywhere that sells batteries, and is one less thing to charge or cart cables around for. Affordable, compact, and packed with travel-friendly features—the Braun M90 is a solid travel razor for guys that just need to keep it clean on the go.
Go Old School
Get an average razor, then rock a sweet travel shave kit from the experts at The Art of Shaving – complete with “pure badger” brush, 1 oz. pre-shave oil, foam, and aftershave, razor, waterproof leather case. Sure it’s pricey ($175), but you get to brag about your “badger brush.” Worth it.
Looking good starts with basic grooming and hygiene, but that doesn’t mean you need to check a bag loaded with liquid goop or spend 45 minutes in the bathroom. You’re on vacation – so look as relaxed (and as good) as you feel in just minutes with a few alternative products.
Pomade is Way Better than “Gel”
Take care of your coif. If you don’t know what a “coif” is, it might be time to get rid of the spiked blonde tips. The best part about modern men’s haircare is that looking fresh has never been easier. You really only need one thing: A tin of pomade.
Hands down, my favorite pomade is Mr. Natty’s ($26). The wax base means it holds like a champ without tons of shine. That gives me the casual look I like without even using a comb. This pomade is the equivalent of your hair shrugging…but sexy.
Perfect for fades or pompadours, this utility hitter even doubles as beard wax if you’re a hirsute gentleman. It’s only thing my barber lets me buy. He yells a lot.
Pro Tip: Get a haircut right before your trip. Ask the barber what you should buy. They will get a little too excited.
I love this stuff. Just rub a bit behind your ears or on your neck and get ready to smell like the woods during a thunderstorm. Alfred Lane ($17) features three options (I rock the Vanguard), and the 0.5 oz tin – with the suave slide top lid – travels like a champ. I’ve had mine for 6 months and it’s still kicking.
Pro Tip: It’s pocket sized so you can reapply during a three-day rave.
I’m a huge fan of solid cologne, solid sunscreen, and bars of soap, but I know that some guys out there need lotions, creams, and shampoo. For those that haven’t embraced the solid packing life, these easy to use travel bottles are great for mixing and matching whatever you need.
Wide-mouth opening, customizable labels, and snap closures ensure your goo stays put. Available in 1.25, 2, and 3 ounce sizes.
Sample Size Body Wash Bars
Apple Valley Natural Soaps makes a nice body wash bar that comes in like a bajillion delicious scents – from “Italian Garden” to “Cowboy.” Travel with as many as you like – take that TSA – and use up the weight as you go.
Pro Tip: For shorter trips, order the sample size for free with this coupon code: “SAMPLELOVE.” You still have to pay shipping though.
Organic Beard Soap Bar
If you are going for the grizzly look, do it right and keep that beard soft, shiny, and clean with an organic beard shampoo bar. From the guys over at Whiskey, Ink, & Lace (best company name ever), this $8 conditioning shampoo beard bar will keep your viking chin carpet soft and smelling like the a barber’s leather chair.
Travel toothbrushes with their tiny handles and worthless bristles are garbage. The miniscule amount of space you save isn’t worth it. Invest in a travel toothbrush that actually keeps your teeth and gums clean.
Each bristle of this toothbrush is literally infused with gold and charcoal nanoparticles.
The gold particles are anti-bacterial, meaning your funky-smelling travel toothbrush is a thing of the past, and the charcoal particles are there as an extra filtering and cleaning agent to keep your pearly white blindingly bright. The smaller head is great for getting those back molars (not to mention packing), and it even comes with a deluxe travel case. This is a great travel toothbrush.
Plus it has freaking gold in it. C’mon man. Gold.
Old-timey beard wax is all the rage, but why stop there? Brush your teeth like your grandpa did (without all the gingivitis and dentures), with Marvis’ classic mint toothpaste. It also comes in ginger, cinnamon, whitening, aqua mint, jasmine, and licorice flavors, and that’s kind of awesome.
Or…get this wacky credit card shaped travel dental floss kit and keep it in your wallet. Nothing says “kissable” like floss in your wallet.
Budget Option: Deli toothpicks. Floss is already pretty dang cheap, but next time you’re at the deli (or Costco, you bargain hunter) snag a handful of toothpicks from the sample table. They’re free, work great at getting that kale out of your teeth, and have those cool little plastic flag things on the end. So that’s fun.
This might just be the most important item in your dopp kit, so splurge on a quality stick. I’ve used Malin+Goetz hair gel for years, and I look fresh as hell; it’s a great company with a long history of quality product. Smell is a big deal when you travel—both with your SO or solo—don’t skimp on dollar store deodorant that stinks after a few hours.
Yes, this is for your testicles. No one wants to talk about it, but nothing ruins your dapper confidence quicker than a rough, sweaty overnight flight in coach. Don’t let cramped conditions get you down. Stay dry and chafe free.
Before you scoff, this lip balm is amazing; it’s the ultimate travel item. Hurraw keeps my lips protected and moisturized, fits in my pocket, lasts forever, and even includes SPF protection. Certified all natural ingredients, vegan, and free trade—at $6, it’s worth every penny.
I like my sunscreen like my Dave Matthews Band covers—solid.
This TSA-approved travel sunscreen stick protects against UVA and UVB rays, is water-resistant for 80 minutes (that’s a long time), and is oil free, PABA free, and hypoallergenic. It also weighs less than half an ounce. Beat that.
I don’t personally use a comb, but that’s because my hair is 92% cowlick and I’ve embraced the chaos. You don’t have to live my life. Get a Baxter of California comb and keep it for life. The travel-sized pocket comb is so damned stylish, you’ll actually use it.
What’s that? You drink alcohol sometimes? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
I’m (probably) not legally allowed to recommend any medication, so this is not an endorsement of any sleeping aid, but sometimes you just need to pass out on a red eye flight. Throw a few over the counter sleeping pills in your dopp kit for emergencies. Or Southwest flights.
Earplugs weigh nothing, cost nothing, and can mean everything. If you can’t spring for this kit, toss a cheap pair of plastic wrapped, disposable foam ear plugs in your bathroom bag. You’re welcome, future-you-staying-in-a-crowded-hostel-that-was-the-only-last-minute-option.
Electrical Tape ($2)
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—electrical tape fixes everything. Tape makes a great band-aid, it repairs frayed charging cables and cords (obviously), and you can use it to patch your bag, mark your stuff, or… tape things down. Electrical tape is insanely versatile. Pack it. You’ll use it.
Obviously you can leave these at home for short weekend trips, but nothing sucks more than having to waste time wandering around a Singapore night market looking for nail clippers because you forgot yours and you’re starting to look like Wolverine.
Don’t be tethered to one heavy glass bottle of cologne. Spritz yourself with whatever the hell you want. Heck, if you’re really dapper, fill this atomizer with your absinthe and coat your next whiskey for a DIY travel sazerac. Nothing more dapper than that. Literally, nothing. Prove me wrong.
Holds .7mL (approximately 120 sprays).
You look awesome, so you’re probably gonna need these. C’mon man. Be safe out there.
Weekender “Ultralight” Dopp Kit Essentials
Does all of that seem too much for you, or you’re headed out for a quick weekend trip? Pare it down to the absolute essentials with this mini-list:
- Electrical Tape
- Lip Balm
Your dopp kit is your castle—at least while you’re on the road. Bring some of the comforts from home along with you in this travel-sized carry on toiletries kit and tame the wilds with your dapper style no matter where life takes you.
Remember: Dapper is as dapper does.
- Pomade good. Gel bad
- Good deodorant is worth it
- A “waterproof” bag is a big deal
- Sunscreen face sticks rule
- Lip balm is for guys too
- Electrical tape fixes everything
I know there are a million more dapper ideas not listed here, so please share yours with me in the comments below or on twitter. Keep it classy.
Image: Ben Rosett (Stocksnap)