Traveling is great. Packing is not. Especially bothersome, though, is the dopp kit. Unless you’re Ryan Bingham, there’s a good chance you don’t prescribe to a military-grade packing regimen for your toiletries. For most, the routine involves pulling a dopp kit out from under the sink, rifling through its contents and filling in where needed — all the while, keeping some vague notion of where you’ll be traveling to and what you’ll need. Visiting in-laws in Baltimore? Shaver and a toothbrush. Weekend in Ibiza? Floss and condoms. Grand Tetons? Deo and shampoo.
But the right dopp kit calls for equal parts preparation and restraint. Pack too much and you’re Zsa Zsa Gabor. Pack too little and you’re the asshole asking for toothpaste. Like the California Drawer, the perfect Dopp Kit depends entirely on the individual. I have allergies and the eyesight of a shrew, so I require a spare set of contacts and saline. That’s space. Have trouble sleeping in new places or sweat like Nixon? Make even more space for pills and antiperspirant. It adds up. Next thing you know you’re ramming an electric razor into that excellent new dopp kit you just bought. Good luck zippering.
Fear not. Confronting the issue is easier than you think, and along with our buying guide on dopp kits we’ve put together a basic blueprint. Exchange items accordingly — e.g., eye drops for sunscreen, sleeping pills for a bourbon nip, hair gel for pomade.
The idea here is that it should all fit nicely — everything above fits perfectly into the dopp kit shown (Filson, $95) with breathing room to spare. If you prefer lighter travel, then use the hotel’s offerings and skip the tubes (GoToob, $6, each) filled with products from home. You’ll want to make it your own. Either way, it’s time to grow up your dopp kit game.
Overnighters? We haven’t forgotten you. Scroll down for a “Turbo Dopp”, a slightly irreverent but realistic visual memo — I’ve called upon its services a few times — on a minimalist kit.
The “Perfect” Dopp Kit Punchlist
Filson Canvas Travel Bag ($95)
Sleeping Pills ($5+)
OTC sleep aids from Target or your own. Separately, consider a nip ($3). Either way, use as directed.
…and a contact case.
Lip Balm ($2)
Always have lip balm. Chapped lips appeal to no one.
Indigestion Medicine ($5)
Handy for destinations with perilous gastronomic implications.
Minimal Sewing Kit
Full disclosure: this one’s pinched from a hotel.
Your preference, but either way, put it in an atomizer.
Do not insert in ear.
If you like bringing your own stuff from home, GoToobs are hard to beat.
Meet the “Turbo Dopp” Kit
When your total travel time is less than 36 hours, a big clunky dopp kit is the last thing you need. Look no further than something we like to call the “Turbo Dopp”. The checklist is cake. Grab a small bag — ziploc, canvas, nylon, used biz class amenity, or grocery plastic, if you’re a barbarian — and throw in a small packable deo, some lip balm (always lip balm), generous amounts of deli toothpicks, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and any requisite Rx, like contacts or Tylenol for the inevitable hangover. Toss it anywhere, give TSA the bird and call it a day.