Travelling and traditional shaving for the modern wet shaver can be a daunting challenge or, is it ? I remember when I first started shaving we did not have the artisan community pumping out soaps, creams, and aftershave at lighting speeds, but that was back in the early 1990’s. Today’s wet shaver is living in a time only rivaled by the early 1900’s when we were literally liberated; from having to see a barber to have a shave 1-3 times a week, now we can do it ourselves. What happens though when we travel ? Be it for work or pleasure the world has become smaller with invention of travel like flying, railways, and even just long car rides. What absolutely changed was our options as wet shavers….. I in the last year alone 2014 have lost count of the amount of razors being made for distributors as private labels, soaps that are private or, artisan made, finally we still have the “big” houses of razors, soaps, and blades. How do we travel with all this and how do we keep the TSA from charging us more in baggage claims because we brought a few extra soaps, after shaves, and a few razors. Well the solution is way simpler than you may think, trust me I travel for work on a regular basis, and have to an extent gotten into my groove, so this may just work for you too !
The first thing I would invest in if you do not have one is a bag known as the “Dopp bag”. Simply put it is either a single or dual zippered bag about the size of a lunch box and this is home base for you shave gear. I have a few Dopp bags I use depending on how long I’ll be away. Lets assume for this article it’s for a week. Now I need you the reader to kind of trust me on this one, but only you can answer this question. What is most important to you in your shave ? is it the razor ? soaps ? changing up different blades ? After you answer this simple question your on your way to packing you Dopp bag more efficiently. For me it’s usually soaps, I am a 3017’er, and have more soap than I will ever use, but when I travel soap sticks are king. If you have a favorite soap chances are they make a shave stick version. If you do not travel often not all is lost, if you don’t want to use soap sticks invest in a few small containers that you can place some creams or, soap in so you don’t have to clog your Dopp bag up with 5 full tubs of soap. I still would recommend multiple shave sticks, but the mini container method is still VERY viable, and will save tons of space. You also have the option if you want to bring only 1 maybe 2 full size tubs…. keep in mind though this is taking up space, exactly what we want more of.
Next up is the brush, this is an important choice. A brush on average takes 3-4 days to dry completely depending where you are both temperature wise, humidity, and elevation. I love my badger, boar, and now even horse brushes but when traveling…..Synthetic all the way. The newer synthetic brushes dry within an hour and 1 single brush can be used for your entire trip. I usually bring 2 as I believe in redundancy just in case something goes wrong with the first brush. Today also synthetic brushes are near as good as any natural fiber, and usually cost less and some prefer the synthetic feel. My personal favorites are the Plisson, Vanguard by Dreadnaught (Blue Beard in the EU), and the Omega Syntex. If for any reason you want to or, have to use natural hair brushes, never dry them with a blow dryer let them naturally dry, and I would only bring 1-2 as the last thing you want is mold to start growing in your favorite Silvertip. Remember the outer bristle may feel dry, but it can still be wet towards the knot.
How to travel with your razors and brush you may ask ? I would NEVER just throw a razor and brush into any bag and jump on a plane or, in my car. I personally use or reuse actually the boxes that my Simpsons brushes and WSP brushes came in they are the perfect size to hold you razor or brush and fit perfectly in any Dopp bag I have ever seen with tons of room for your other gear, other use Altoids tin filled with foam, toothbrush holders for straight razors and over sized pill bottles for your brush ! just be sure to store the brush as dry as possible, and drill holes for ventilation. for your soap, they make travel tubes that work wonderfully !
Next up is your aftershave……this all depends how you travel. If by plane it’s going in your luggage and into a cargo hold…..all I can say here is I wish you the best of luck ! if you are traveling any other way if you followed the above advice and brought shave sticks and boxed your razor(s) and brush(es) you can actually fit a few FULL sized bottles of aftershave. If you want to like I do save more space, you can decant jus enough aftershave into travel tubes they are about an ounce for the larger ones, I have seen them as small as a 1/4 ounce. This is also true for your balms.
By this point if you are looking into your Dopp bag and saying WOW ! I still have a ton of room in a tiny bag….. well throw your deodorant, facial soap in a container, styptic pencil, alum, 3 oz. shampoo, and whatever ever else makes you feel a bit closer to home in there. This method yes involves a bit of compromise and even maybe a bit of sacrifice in your daily routine. I will say though always keep in mind travel is temporary, and even when we as wet shavers make compromise or, travel “light” we are still leaps and bounds beyond our friends that are traveling with canned goo and the newest 20 blade cartridge razor as we will still have more options than they will EVER have in a single tiny Dopp bag. Oh and blades….. a 5 pack is enough usually for 2 weeks of travel, so go nuts ! I would recommend a mini Altoids tin to keep your blades in, and organized just remember to clean the sugar out before you throw your blades in there.
I hope this helped a little for all of us road warriors that travel regularly, from here on out you never have to be that far away from the comforts of home, and still get the best shave possible. – Aaron