Be it an overnight trip or a month long jaunt to Rio, packing and stocking a toiletry bag is essential. Thank goodness then for the wonders of the dopp kit. So named after its creator, German immigrant Charles Doppelt, this sponge bag hit the big time during the Second World War when each American GI was issued with one.
So great was its impact that even after the war men continued to seek out dopp kits as a convenient way to store and transport their bathroom essentials. Although largely abandoned as a trademark, the ‘dopp kit’ remains one of the staples of a gentleman’s luggage to this day.
What you’ll need
The first step in constructing a dopp kit is acquiring a suitable bag. This shouldn’t be too tough as small travel bags are widely available in most high street retailers.
Although a variety of materials can be used for construction, it’s worthwhile investing in a good quality leather. Unlike most fabrics, well-built leather bags can last a lifetime and can withstand the trials and tribulations most luggage encounters inside hotels, airports and taxicabs.
Large men’s department stores are a good place to start your search for leather toiletry bags, or alternatively check out an online retailer or auction site if you want to grab a bargain.
While there’s nothing stopping you from investing in ‘designer’ dopp bags, remember no-one outside of your bathroom with ever see the gaudy labels and logos; personally, I’d rather spend the extra cash on good quality materials and the tools within.
What to pack
Of course, what you need to pack largely depends on your personal needs; for example, it’s a waste of time suggesting you pack an extra set of contact lenses if you have 20/20 vision, or large bottles of liquid if you’re boarding an international flight.
Below is a general, barebones list. Feel free to adapt as you see fit, and replace generic brands and items with your own favorite varieties.
No matter how you feel about the issue in general, you’ll be glad you chose body wash over soap when it comes to packing; nobody wants deal with storing a soft, mushy block of suds right before a stressful flight.
Body wash is quick, easy and convenient. Choose a brand with a tightly sealed lid/dispenser mechanism and purchase a bottle ‘under 100ml’ if your trip involves an airplane.
Although you probably don’t need conditioner for a weekend trip, you’ll definitely need some sort of hair cleanser. It’s unwise to switch to an untested brand, so hunt out a specific travel size pack of your favorite shampoo before you go.
While some prefer a deodorant due to ‘health concerns’, an antiperspirant will probably give you more ‘bang for your buck’. Sticks and roll-ons are generally more portable than an aerosol, although you do lose the advantage of having an ‘all-over’ spray.
Razor & Shaving Cream
Quality over quantity is what’s called for in this department. If you’re a traditional wet-shaving enthusiast, try to restrict yourself to just one soap or cream.
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Oral care is a must at the best of times; remember when packing fancy electric brushes that local power supplies may not accommodate your particular charging unit, so always keep an international power adapter handy – the same goes for electric razors.
Don’t let those lips chap unnecessarily; when travelling you’re bombarded with a variety of hostile skin environments including the dry, recycled cabin air on the flight and the unkempt hotel air conditioning. Protect those lips with regular applications throughout the day.
Moisturizer with sunscreen
On a similar note, keep your skin hydrated with a good quality moisturizer. Kill two birds with one stone by selecting a brand with UVA and UVB sun-protection built right in; this’ll save you carrying extra bottles each trip.
Unless you’re immune to the customs of the ‘hang nail’ you’ll definitely need a set of nail clippers stowed inside your dopp kit. Good quality clippers can be found for next to nothing in most high street stores.
Keep that suit looking fresh and clean with a simple lint remover. While many like the sticky, disposable strips, I actually prefer the reusable brush pads; firstly, they’re cheaper long term and secondly, you’ll find them easier to store in your bags.
Also known as sticking plasters; keep an assortment of sizes at the ready just in case – you don’t want a huge wad of cotton wool and sticky tape adhered to your finger for a simple graze…
Be it headaches or back pain, traveling can quickly take its toll. Hotels often charge huge markups on aspirin and other analgesics, so make sure you restock your dopp kit often.
International travelers know all-too-well about being housed next to the worlds’ loudest tourists, complete with screaming baby at four o’ clock in the morning. Reusable, ‘moldable’ plugs are available for a good tight seal, but disposable versions feel far more hygienic.
Just because you’re on holiday, doesn’t mean the bacteria in your mouth are taking a break. Always keep a reel of floss handy, especially if that holiday romance begins to blossom. Speaking of which…
A gentleman always comes prepared. Don’t expect your newfound partner to do all the work. Keep an eye on the expiry dates, and replace as necessary. Also, be sure to store your rubbers well away from potentially sharp, pointy objects, such as…
Be it a broken zipper on your flies or a button disappearing from a cuff, you’re bound to come unstuck at some point. It’s therefore most advantageous to pack half a dozen safety pins just in case.
Never be caught short. In the event thieves raid your hotel room, a well-hidden $20 note tucked into your dopp kit can save you from all sorts of hassles whilst waiting for replacement credit cards to come through.
Nobody wants a stinky mouth when meeting international clients for the first time. Keep a tin of mints to hand to avoid such embarrassment.
If you thought that Ibuprofen was a must, you’ll certainly be glad for packing the Gastroenteritis medicine. Buy fast acting tablets to ensure you’re not still stuck in the bathroom ten minutes before the taxi arrives.