Just because you are away from the comforts of home does not mean that you have to go without an enjoyable shave. Despite the minor inconveniences of airport security or lack of space in your suitcase, there are many popular traditional shaving products that are either designed for travel or have sturdy and compact packaging that make them smart choices. This article offers some tips and suggestions on traveling with your favorite wet shaving gear.
Your Toiletry Bag
The size of your toiletry bag or wetpack will determine a lot about your shaving kit. If you have a small toiletry bag, you may be limited to sample-size products and shaving gear that disassembles. If you have a large wetpack, you may be able to easily carry a regular shaving brush and a full tub of shaving cream. Ideally, your kit should be small enough to carry with you comfortably, but big enough to hold your shaving accessories, toothbrush, medication, etc. There are endless options for styles, including military wetpacks that are organizer-style toiletry bags with compartments that keep all your accessories separated. You can use a Ziploc bag, a vinyl kit, or a hand-tooled leather pack depending on your budget, but it is best to avoid cloth bags since you will want a waterproof material in case of spills or leaks.
Traveling with a Safety Razor
If you travel frequently or are limited to a very small wetpack, one option is to purchase a travel-style safety razor that disassembles and can be stored conveniently in a small leather pouch. Merkur produces a quality travel razor in both open comb and regular comb variations. Another option is to browse shaving retailers that offer handy leather zipper pouches that will hold a full-sized double-edge razor, and some also include storage for your brush as well. I have used the Merkur/Dovo Leather Safety Razor Case for many years because it is versatile enough to hold any sized razor, from my 34C to my PILS, along with a pack of blades. The lined case works well to keep the razor protected in my wetpack.
If you do not want to invest in a travel case for your safety razor, you could easily roll it up in a hand towel or wash cloth so that it doesn't roll around in your toiletry bag. If you are traveling by air, be aware that TSA guidelines will allow you to carry on your safety razor; however, you cannot have a blade loaded in the razor or in your carry-on baggage. Keep your razor blades tucked away in your checked baggage or purchase a pack of blades when you arrive at your destination.
Traveling with a Straight Razor
Obviously your straight razor must be stowed in your checked baggage during a flight. Some straight razors are sold with a coffin, which comes in handy when traveling. If your razor does not have a coffin or protective case, you can purchase a leather straight razor case from several retailers. Unlike other accessories, having a proper case to secure your straight razor is very important. If you try to simply roll it up in a towel, there is always the possibility that the razor may slip out and open during travel. The fine edge of a straight is very delicate and will easily chip or crack if it knocks into another item in your travel bag. Plus, an open straight razor in your wetpack would be a safety hazard as well.
Keep your hanging strop in your suitcase, since it probably will not fit in your wetpack without damaging it, or use a paddle strop that is smaller and easier to pack in your luggage. Strops come in a variety of sizes and several manufacturers produce some shorter models that will fit easily in to most suitcases without having to be rolled up or risk getting creased accidentally. If you do not want to use a strop while traveling, you could use a Shavette or other barber razor that mimics the straight razor, but uses disposable blades.
Traveling with a Shaving Brush
Several manufacturers produce models of shaving brushes that are made specifically for traveling. Some come with travel tubes with screw on caps, while others feature turn-back handles like the Vulfix Turnback that allow the brush head to unscrew and slide down in the barrel of the handle, where it can be safely stored when not in use. These designs prevent delicate bristles from being damaged in a shaving kit as well as allow for some air exchange to prevent mold growth if the brush is not fully dry when put away.
Most of the shaving brushes designed for travel are small, so if you prefer the feel of a larger brush and have room in your wetpack, you can always carry a full-size shaving brush with you. Prescription bottles distributed by most pharmacies make excellent shaving brush travel cases. If you visit your local drug store, you can usually purchase an empty bottle at the pharmacy counter for only a few dollars and many pharmacies will even give them to customers for free. With the many sizes of bottles available, you will probably find one that fits your favorite brush perfectly. Drill a small hole in the cap to allow moisture to escape or ensure that your shaving brush is thoroughly dry before storing it away.
Soaps and Creams on the Go
Traveling with a wooden soap bowl is hard to do because they are large and bulky, and the designer lids do not close securely. If you simply cannot leave home without your favorite triple-milled shaving soap, you can always secure a rubber band around the bowl to keep it closed during transport. Several glycerine-based shaving soaps are available in travel-friendly containers, such as Colonel Conk that has a plastic flip-top packaging.
Similarly, most traditional shaving creams come in screw-top bowls that would take up too much room in a toiletry bag. Several manufacturers, such as Geo. F. Trumper and D.R. Harris offer their shaving creams in smaller metal tubes that are perfect for traveling; however this can be an expensive and wasteful option if you do not use all of the shaving cream while on your trip. I have found the Hinged-Lid Jars from The Container Store to be the best option for traveling with shaving cream. These are available in various sizes, their snap-on lids are attached so they will not get lost, they stay closed while in transit so you do not have to worry about leaks, they are relatively inexpensive, and they take up little to no room in your wetpack.
For a quick trip, you can use the sample-sized shampoo bottles to transport your aftershave, but do not keep an alcohol-based product in a plastic container long-term. You can also simply wrap your regular glass aftershave bottle in a hand towel to keep it from moving around your bag, or consider switching to an aftershave balm during your trip. The Hinged-Lid Jars work very well for transporting aftershave balms as well. You could also consider an alum block, such as the RazoRock Alum Aftershave, which is small with durable packaging perfect for travel. Lastly, keep a Pacific Nick Stick in your toiletry bag. Because the water properties during your trip may be different than at home, you may nick yourself during your shave. Having a small and effective Nick Stick on hand will stop any bleeding immediately just in case you need it.
If you travel often, it is smart to invest in a setup that includes dedicated travel products that are durable and will last you long-term. You may want to select a leather wetpack and razor case that will protect your shaving accessories year after year. If you are an infrequent traveler, then you can roll up your razor in a towel to keep it protected during your trip. Either way, it helps to plan ahead by purchasing the Hinged-Lid Jars and picking up an extra prescription pill bottle prior to your trip. These products will help you easily pack everything you need and help you stay organized during your travels. Having the right accessories on hand make it possible for you to enjoy your morning shave even when you are away from home.