Manicure 101 Extra Credit: How I Travel With Nail Polish

Travel, Packing, Nail Polish
First, let me start this post by reminding everyone that I am not a low maintenance girl. There’s a reason I’ve had the slogan above since first starting my blog 4 years ago…. If you need even more evidence, you might want to check out some of my previous travel packing posts. Obviously, I’m a girl that has problems paring things down and I need to have a lot of options at all times. I simply can’t travel with just 1 option, I need to have 3 or 4 at all times!

So, now I’m going to reveal how completely and utterly insane I am. This is how I bring nail polish with me when I travel. I’m not sharing how I do it for a simple weekend trip, this is the full blown, I’m heading out of town for a week and want to have lots of options because I will need to change my mani and likely my pedi while I’m out of town.

So, read on to see what I bring with me!

So, the little bag at the very top of the post is what I pack if I am bringing quite a bit of polish with me. My mom gave it to me for Valentine’s Day about 10 years ago, maybe more. I really can’t remember. It was from Old Navy, and I haven’t seen anything quite like it since then, though I’m sure there are some options out there. If I run across any I’ll add a few links at the bottom of this post, so let me know if you’ve found anything.

My Old Navy bag is great. It’s covered in plastic, making it super spill resistant, on both the inside and outside. It’s about 6 inches by 3 inches and about 2-3 wide if full, though it collapses easily. The main pouch is one big space where I put polishes, the outside zips open as shown here.

In the outside area I keep this cuticle trimmer, and you can’t see it and I can’t find it on-line, but there’s another tool in the same pocket as the cuticle trimmer and is also from Revlon. It’s a pointed and slightly curved metal tip which is perfect for going underneath the nail to dig out any junk you have stuck under there. I like it to be clean under my nails and I especially am driven crazy by this issue when I’m out of town. So, I don’t know what to call it and now I’ve revealed that I’m a bit OCD, but there you go.

Anyways, I also have a nail clipper in there and a nail file. This one is fine/medium since I’ll only be touching up when I’m out of town, not starting from scratch with shaping the nail and such. I used to have a really pretty glass nail file here, but it was broken the last time I went to Hawaii, so now I just have a foam one from Sally’s Beauty that I’ve cut in half to make it fit. You’ll also see a few nail polish remover wipes here. These are some generic ones I got at Target, but I actually prefer the Cutex ones if I can find them. They’re thick red felt squares, about 2×3 inches, saturated with nail polish remover.

This is what I’ve usually stashed in the main part of the bag. I prefer to use mini bottles if I have them available, so I tend to pick them up when I find them. While OPI and Essie put out minis of many of their collections (look for them at places like Trade Secret and ULTA), they usually come in a 3 or 4 pack rather than separately.

Many of the OPI packs include treatment products such as their Nail Envy, Chip Skip or Quick Dry Top Coat. I prefer to use my normal products if I can, so I recently hunted down mini bottles of CND Stickey and Seche Vite and I’ll just be refilling these for travel in the future.

All of the minis that I bring on a trip hang out in the main pouch of the little bag. I usually take 2 or 3 colors max, though if I’m planning to change a pedi (usually I only do this if I’m in a warm location and wearing sandals a lot) I might bring 4 colors. So, 4 or 5 mini bottles leaves quite a bit of empty space! I’ll stick some hair ties and barrettes in to take it up, maybe a little bubble wrap if I’m really worried about things bumping around. I put it in my checked bag and I’m done!

What do you take with you when you travel? Am I a crazy person for being so organized about my polish when I travel?

Everything in this post was bought by me or for me by family members.



  1. May 25, 2011 / 10:12 pm

    You're so prepared! I love it. I think I'll go organize my nail products right now!

  2. May 25, 2011 / 10:22 pm

    That is a great nail polish bag Christine!!! I am the worlds worst packer…and I always tend to just take everything with me. As far as polish, I usually just take the color on my tips and toes for touch ups, a base coat, sticky coat, top coat, travel pouches of remover, my glass file-that I cant live without, clippers, and thats about it for nails. Sometimes I bring a couple extra polishes for a polish change too. Too bad that little Old Navy pouch isnt available anymore! It keeps your things very organized indeed!

  3. Deb
    May 26, 2011 / 3:43 pm

    Christine, I think we are twins separated at birth ๐Ÿ™‚ I was reading your previous travel posts and we both have the same struggle…so much stuff to bring. I travel constantly for my job and have been slowly getting it together. Here are some tips for 3-1-1 rules: Lush makes solid body butter bars, with and without exfoliating bits. These are fab for carryon. Do not need to go in 3-1-1 as they are solid. Ditto for shampoo and conditioner. They also weigh less than liquids. I had some trial and error with Lush because of the fragrances but the ones I settled on are the least fragranced they have and are not obnoxious. The container store sells a 3 pack of very slim spray bottles. Great for a few days of facial mist, perfume, really anything you can think of. I purchased 2 sets and decanted everything I could. They take up so little room. GoToob makes different size bottles and tub type containers. I've used them to death and no leaks whatsoever. I've spent a lot of time and effort figuring out how to beat TSA at the 3-1-1 game and these tips works great for me. Using solids in place of liquids wherever possible has allowed me to bring more stuff when I'm doing carryon since the solids don't have to go in the 3-1-1 bag. I also cut my solid bars in half, further reducing weight and bulk. There is a site called La Fresh that makes every kind of wipe you can think of. Wipes don't have to go in the 3-1-1 bag.
    Sorry for the overly long post, just wanted to share some tips.

  4. May 26, 2011 / 4:28 pm

    Ooooh… those are amazing tips! Deb, email me, I want to feature you with your tips if that's ok. We don't have to reveal anything else about who you are, but I want to know which scents you like and such. I'm at cemikese at ๐Ÿ˜€

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