We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.


25 May 2022

8 ways to save money on travel toiletries this summer

You don't need to fork out on miniature products every time you take a trip
Travel toiletries

Travel-sized toiletries used for holidays can end up costing more per 100ml than full-sized versions of the same products, our snapshot analysis has found.

The miniatures are handy if you're flying abroad with only cabin luggage, as you can't take products larger than 100ml through airport security. 

While this means you can avoid paying extra for hold luggage, buying a full set of travel products can still be pricey. 

With the cost of living taking its toll and households feeling the pinch, we've rounded up eight ways you can save money on your travel toiletries this summer.

Be more money savvy

Get a firmer grip on your finances with the expert tips in our Money newsletter – it's free weekly.

Email address (required)

This newsletter delivers free money-related content, along with other information about Which? Group products and services. Unsubscribe whenever you want. Your data will be processed in accordance with our Privacy policy

What toiletries can you take on a plane?

The current rules for liquids, gels and aerosols in hand luggage state that containers must hold no more than 100ml, and be able to fit in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag that is around 20cm x 20cm.

You can only take one plastic bag per person, and liquids in containers larger than 100ml generally cannot go through security even if the container is only partially full. 

There are some exemptions, such as if the liquid is for medical purposes or special dietary requirements, and baby food and milk.

Are travel miniatures worth the money?

Many brands offer miniature versions of their products, which are under 100ml so they can be taken through security. 

We looked at the prices of some of the most popular toiletry brands, comparing the price of the miniature with the full-sized version in the same shop.   

We've compared prices across Asda, Boots, Sainsbury's, Superdrug and Tesco. The table shows the cheapest miniature in each store. 

ItemShopPrice of miniature versionPrice of full-sized versionPrice difference per 100ml
Colgate Max White One Optic Whitening Toothpaste Superdrug£1.50 for 20ml
(£7.50 per 100ml)
£2.49 for 75ml
(£3.32 per 100ml)
Listerine Total Care Mouthwash  Boots £1.50 for 95ml
(£1.58 per 100ml)
£2.25 for 500ml
(45p for 100ml)
Head and Shoulders Anti-Dandruff Classic Clean ShampooTesco£1.50 for 90ml
(£1.67 per 100ml)
£4.75 for 500ml
(95p per 100ml)
Tresemmé Moisture Rich Conditioner Asda£1.50 for 100ml
(£1.50 per 100ml)
£2.95 for 900ml
(32p per 100ml)
Batiste Dry Shampoo Blush Asda£1.50 for 50ml
(£3 per 100ml)
£2 per 200ml
(£1 per 100ml)
Gillette Series Sensitive Skin Shave Gel Asda and Sainsbury's £1.50 for 75ml
(£2 per 100ml)
£1.50 for 200ml
(75p per 100ml)
Nivea Protect and Moisture Sun Cream Lotion SPF50+Sainsbury's and Tesco£4 for 100ml
(£4 per 100ml)
£5 for 200ml
(£2.50 per 100ml)

Prices correct as of 24 May 2022.

In every case, you would end up paying more per 100ml for the miniature. In fact, in one case it's cheaper to buy a full sized Dove body wash, at £1.15, than the travel-sized version, which would set you back £1.50. 

In the case of the Tresemmé Moisture Rich Conditioner, it costs £1.50 for the miniature 100ml size, nearly five times the cost per 100ml for the full-sized product (32p).

That said, in many cases shoppers won't pay the full price for the miniatures they buy; several shops have multibuy offers such as 3 for 2, as we've seen in the likes of Asda, Superdrug and Tesco. We didn't use multibuy offers for our table. 

Which? Money Magazine

Find the best deals, avoid scams and grow your savings and investments with our expert advice. £4.99 a month, cancel anytime.

Sign up now

Eight tips for saving money on travel toiletries

We've listed our top hacks for getting around the airport liquid allowance to save money on your holiday products. 

1) Decant regular toiletries into small bottles  

One easy way to avoid paying out for mini toiletries every time you go away is to make your own. Simply decant your regular-sized toiletries into smaller bottles, which you can then take through security.

You can pick up packs of empty bottles that tend to come in their own airport-friendly transparent cases, or just pick up the separate containers you need. 

As these bottles are reusable, you can take them away with you time and time again.

2) Get your toiletries delivered to the airport

If you're going to need more than 100ml on your holiday, you could use a click and collect service to get your toiletries delivered to an airport branch of Boots. You can pick these up after you've passed through the security gate, and you won't have to pay premium airport prices. 

You can order and pay for your toiletries online – just use the store locator to see if there is a Boots branch at your chosen airport. They can be found around the UK, including at Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Manchester airports.

Note that your order will need to be placed at least three days before you fly, and you should choose the date of your flight as the pick-up date. The click and collect service costs £1.50 if you spend less than £15 – otherwise it's free. 

Remember, the carry-on restrictions will be in place when you fly home, so you’ll have to use up any products you buy while you're on holiday, or pour them into smaller bottles.

3)  Buy abroad and share

If you’re not fussed about using a specific brand, you could buy your toiletries when you arrive at your chosen destination. 

If there's a group of you going on the trip, it can be worth coordinating and sharing full-sized items. For instance, one person buys the sun cream, while someone else grabs the toothpaste. 

You'll also have the issue of not being able to bring full-sized products home, but if there's a few of you sharing, there's more chance that you'll use the products up before you leave.

4)  Use shampoo bars and solid toothpaste

Lots of brands now offer shampoo and conditioner bars, which are easy to travel with as they don't count as a liquid, gel or aerosol, so you won't have to place them in the see-through bag and can take them through security. 

It's also possible to buy things such as solid toothpaste and deodorant sticks, which won't count towards your liquids allowance either.

These kinds of products are growing in popularity – not least because they often use less packaging and may be more sustainable. 

5) Earn or spend loyalty points

Supermarkets and beauty stores that offer holiday toiletries often have loyalty schemes, so you can earn points on what you spend.  

If you tend to spend a lot of money at the same shop throughout the year, you could even spend the points and get your toiletries for free.

Which? Money Podcast

Join us on our weekly audio show for the latest money news and personal finance hacks to help make you better off.

Listen now

6) Check if your hotel provides toiletries

Some hotels and Airbnb rentals will provide shampoo, conditioner and shower gel for your stay. See if you can find out whether they offer these products before you go. 

It can be worth keeping these bottle to reuse for your own liquids in future, as they will often be travel-sized and many hotels will just throw them away when you leave.

7) Use cashback sites and reward cards

Cashback offers a way to make a percentage of money back on your purchases – whether that's using a cashback debit or credit card, or shopping via online cashback sites such as Quidco and TopCashback. 

If you make purchases with a cashback credit card, just remember to pay back your full balance each month to avoid cashback gains being wiped out by interest charges. 

8) Get rewarded for recycling your toiletries

After you return from holiday, check if your empty bottles can be recycled before throwing them away, as some retailers offer voucher rewards for returning empty beauty products. 

John Lewis, for example, has a BeautyCycle scheme, where you can get £5 off your next purchase when you bring five or more empty beauty products to one of its branches and show your My John Lewis card. 

Lush's Bring It Back scheme offers 50p off your next purchase for returning qualifying, empty, full-sized Lush products. 

The Boots Recycle scheme offers up to 250 Advantage card points, worth £2.50, if you take in five empty products to its in-store recycling bins. However, you also need to make a purchase of at least £10 to qualify for the extra points.