Travel Pouch Vs. Toiletry Bag: What's the Difference and Which One Should You Get?

travel pouch toiletry bag side by side

A travel pouch is a small, multipurpose bag with a drawstring or zipper that can keep a variety of small items you may need while traveling. Travel pouches may look something like this:

travel pouch on marble

Or this:

travel pouch white and blue stripes

Or even this:

travel pouch round black with zipper

They can hold jewelry, makeup, and small electronics such as in-ear headphones or adapters that you can keep in your sling bag, purse, or pocket.

But a travel pouch can also hold 3 oz bottles for your toiletries, including shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Which begs the question: if you put toiletries in a travel pouch, does that make it a toiletry bag?

The answer led us down a rabbit hole of toiletry bag terminology, where the Gravel Team discovered there's no one-size-fits-all answer.

Toiletry Bag Terminology for the Win

It's no secret that a toiletry bag has been called a travel pouch (and vice versa) many times before. Travelers sometimes use both terms interchangeably. But they might also call a toiletry bag by its plethora of names. And at Gravel, we've heard them all!

There's Dopp kit (named after Charles Doppelt, who designed the first toiletry kits in the 1920s), plus a few of the more common terms like toiletry organizer, toiletry case, toiletry kit, and travel toiletry bag.

Then there are the more creative terms we've come across. These include a washkit, wash bag, wet pack, shaving kit, bathroom bag, sponge bag, toilet bag, toilet article kit, body hygiene kit, and even personal item pouch (aka PIP).

So what's the secret to deciphering all these different terms?

It depends on who you ask. Some people see any toiletry bag as a travel pouch, while others won't consider travel pouches as true toiletry bags unless they're large enough to hold all their essential toiletries.

Why is it important to make the distinction?

Well, some travelers might find it helpful to differentiate between travel pouches (which are meant to be carried on your body) and toiletry bags (which are larger and designed to be packed in a suitcase or travel backpack).

Besides, we at Gravel live and breathe all things travel, and that includes toiletry bags that make packing a breeze. So we figured it was our duty to help set the record straight on toiletry bag terminology. (Thank you for indulging us!)

Do You Need a Toiletry Bag, a Travel Pouch, or Both?

Now that we've cleared up the terminology, let's start by answering one of the above questions: do you need a toiletry bag?

The answer: it depends on your needs and preferences, though some travelers find that toiletry bags offer some key advantages, including easier organization and accessibility, especially when it comes to the TSA's 3-1-1 rule for liquids.

Other travelers, however, will simply pack their toiletries in a Ziplock bag and call it day. But when lack of counter space, shampoo explosions, and overpacking toiletries become an issue, they might upgrade to a toiletry bag.

For instance, a toiletry bag that hangs can come in handy when you're trying to corral all your toiletries in a tight hotel bathroom with limited counter space. Hanging the bag at eye level also makes it easier to grab what you need. Plus, a hanging toiletry bag with mesh pockets can accommodate different shapes and sizes of toiletries while helping to prevent spillage.

A travel pouch, on the other hand, can be great for carrying smaller travel accessories on your person when traveling on a plane, train, or automobile. These include a stain remover pen, wrinkle-release spray, and other nifty travel items for quick fixes.

So what's the verdict? Neither one can hurt, but both can definitely help.

Gravel's Lightweight, Sustainable, and High-Quality Toiletry Bags For Every Traveler

Ready to upgrade your toiletry game? Shop our Explorer SLIM, Explorer PLUS, and Explorer MAX toiletry bags made from super durable materials. All three are TSA-approved, water-resistant, and feature a stowaway adjustable strap with an aluminum G-hook, which is fancy talk for "hang me anywhere."

Need help finding the right toiletries for your trip? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Travel Toiletries. From product recommendations to packing strategies, we've got you covered.

Happy travels!


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