Travel your way: the DIY airline amenity kit

By David Flynn, May 12 2016
Travel your way: the DIY airline amenity kit

Airline amenity kits are one of the many treats awaiting any flyer on admittance to the pointy end of the plane.

But as you clock up those miles above the clouds, in business class and even in first class, your own bespoke amenity kit begins to take its own shape, and will over time become the preferred option to the bags that airlines hand out.

After all, few travellers' needs are fully served by even the best 'washbag', to use the genteel British term.

And the best inflight amenity kit? That'd be the one you assemble yourself.

Pulling together your own amenity kit also saves time ahead of flights – this part of your packing is reduced to a grab-and-go exercise.

Having gone through several iterations of a DIY amenity kit, the current state of mine may spark a few of your own ideas.

A bag for your swag

First up, you need a decent bag: one that can hold your assortment of items, ideally with a few pockets or compartments to avoid clutter.

Plenty of brands and online stores will take your money for a swanky or even relatively basic amenity bag, but with airlines themselves offering so many great bags – especially in first class – I've never seen the need to buy one.

I'm using a Payot amenity kit, issued by Qantas first class until the airline switched to SK-II in early 2013.

The Payot bag has a tri-fold design so you can lay it flat and flip open both sides to see everything at a glance, rather than need to dig around within hidden confines, and is made from a durable woven material.

Keep your kit a cut above

Shaving gear is the starting place for most gents. Don't rely on the disposable razors supplied in most airline kits – especially business class – or in hotel bathrooms, for that mater. They tend to be cheap, unreliable and even painful to use.

What you want first thing in the morning, as you set about taking a razor to your skin, is familiarity. Your hand needs to be able to run on auto-pilot as your brain wakes up. And for that, you need a razor that's no stranger to your skin.

The cartridge razor you use at home every morning? Buy another one and pop that in your amenity bag, along with a set of refill cartridges, and you'll be set for months.

As for shaving cream, I'm a fan of shave gels or oils rather than foam, which can be messy and difficult to rinse away in the basin. Throw in a gentle aftershave balm and you're set for the day.

Stay hydrated

You also need a good moisturiser, to use both during the flight and once you land. Those long hours in a relatively dry cabin take their toll on your skin.

At the end of the flight, give your face a quick cleanse and then slather moisturiser (Biotherm Homme Aquapower is my go-to) onto your face and neck.

The eyes have it

My inflight kit also contains a small bottle of 'rehydrating' eye drops to combat dry-eye, another side-effect of long overseas flights. (Because you'll only use a few drops at a time, make sure the bottle has a long expiry date).

And while we're talking about rehydrating, throw in some Berocca or similar for a handy way of resetting your body clock with a quick wake-up hit of Vitamin B.

Doing the 'do

If you use hair styling product such as a gel or a clay, you'll only be allowed to carry small travel-sized packs aboard. Your hairdresser may have some free samples; otherwise, check the 'travel size' section at Priceline and US drugstores such as Walgreens, CVS and Duane Reade, as well as Amazon.

Perfume is another area where free samples come up trumps. These compact vials are much more convenient than carrying a regular-sized perfume bottle, and also let you try out new fragrances or use different ones depending on the occasion or even the weather. Next time you're shopping for a fragrance, ask the sales staff for a few samples.

Giving it back

If you're a frequent flyer who accumulates a surplus of goodies from your flights and hotel stays, consider donating them to Every Little Bit Helps.

This registered Australian not-for-profit charity accepts unused toiletries from hotels, airline amenity kits and other sample-sized cosmetic and sanitary products to distribute to people in need in homeless shelters, women's shelters and youth shelters as well as 'rough sleepers'.

What do you pack in your personal in-flight amenity kit? Share your tips with other AusBT readers in the comments section below.

This article first appeared on Executive Style.

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 13

I'm also a fan of having a couple of Panadol Rapid (their smallest size / slim container fits snugly in my wash-bag) - worst thing to have happen is to wake with a cracking headache and have to call down for some pain relief or even worse trying to schelp around a new city trying to find a drug / convenience store.

Plus I know Panadol works well - and fast for me.

My current (and long time wash bag) is the Victorinox Lifestyle Accessories 3.0 overnight essentials kit - also really easy to get items out of for international security checks

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Oct 2013

Total posts 113

i too have my own now - fine tuned over the years - i too include nurofen and panadol for any headaches (hangovers) etc as well as some immodium in case! - i do confess to having some of those mini plastic bottles with moisturiser in and eye drops too - and a packet of tissues

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1379

Perfume/Aftershave - buy a mini atomizer and fill it with your favourite scent

Betadine Throat Gargle - tiny bottle and an awesome at stopping a cold

Definitely your own razor

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 361

I also add a few strips of bandaid as well. Many times I have scraped my knuckles when trying to lift up my overweight suitcases from the carousel. The bandaid comes really handy in that situation!

13 May 2016

Total posts 13

Le Labo do excellent liquid balm fragrances that are compact and easily portable and last a long time.

In general I would really recommend against shaving on or soon after a flght unless you have been fortunate enough to have a shower. 

Taylor of Old Bond Street do their superlative shaving cream in handy 50ml tubes and I always make sure I have post-shave balm/lotion. even more important if you are having to use one of those cheap razors. I also recommend a styptic pencil as they are again compact and excellent in case of any unfortunate shaving knicks.

I have a habit of forgetting that my moustache scissors are in my carry on washbag as a default and have already lost a couple to airport security... what's more worrying is that I've managed to board a plane from the UK twice with these scissors on my person....

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2553

Thanks for the recommendation of Taylor's 50ml cream, I might pick one up!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 May 2016

Total posts 14

David, doesn't your Payot 1st Class bag cause you problems at security?  When I travel with only cabin baggage I take a clear plastic zippered bag to comply with regulations surrounding liquids/gels/aerosols.  I also own the old Qantas 1st class bag and would love to use it instead.  Thanks.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2553

Syd-dan: surprisingly, there have been many times I have not unpacked the contents whe doing carry-on only, and it goes through without a hitch. It's incredibly inconsistent, I know! But more often than note I take a ziplock bag, dump the LAGs into this when packing, and then at the lounge I'll pop those back into the Payot bag to keep everything together.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 May 2016

Total posts 14

Cool - thanks David.

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