Travel toiletries rip-off revealed: The ‘minis’ with a MAJOR price tag

Small shower gels, toothpastes etc up to SEVEN TIMES more

It's no secret the prices at airports are sky-high, but are you being ripped off before you even get there when buying toiletries to take with you on holiday?

I’ve been doing some digging and discovered travel-size toiletries – mini bottles of shampoo, sun cream etc – can work out as much as seven times more expensive (per ml) than a standard full-size version of the same product.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to beat it… just don’t buy minis. If you’re worried about hand luggage rules (100ml of each liquid), decant from the bigger, cheaper bottle into a small one – see cheap reusable bottles below.

Of course, this won’t work with everything, eg, aerosols, and does take a bit of effort. Though if you’ve already paid for a baggage allowance, you might as well pack the cheaper full-size products in your suitcase and save the faff of decanting - just be sure to tape them shut as 300ml of shampoo makes more mess than 100ml.

What have I found?

I've tried to pick brands available at most supermarkets, Boots, Superdrug etc, but also a practical list of items most of us would take on holiday. I looked for the cheapest travel mini and compared with the full-size equivalent in the same shop to highlight how easily you can switch size and save. A few items on the list – including toothpaste and roll-on deodorant - were actually 100ml or under in their full-size versions:

Product/brand Cheapest mini version Full-size equivalent at the same shop How much more expensive is the mini per 100ml?
Shower gel - Original Source lemon & tea tree £1.50 at Boots for 50ml - £3 per 100ml £1 at Boots for 250ml - 40p per 100ml 7 times more
Toothpaste - Colgate Total original £1 at Sainsbury's for 20ml - £5 per 100ml £2.50 at Sainsbury's for 75ml - £3.33 per 100ml 50% more
Shampoo - Aussie 'Miracle Moist' £1.50 at Sainsbury's for 90ml - £1.67 per 100ml £4 at Sainsbury's for 300ml - £1.33 per 100ml 26% more
Conditioner - Aussie 'Miracle Moist' £1.50 at Sainsbury's for 90ml - £1.67 per 100ml £4 at Sainsbury's for 250ml - £1.60 per 100ml 4% more
Deodorant - Nivea Pearl roll-on £1 for 25ml at Saisbury's  - £4 per 100ml £1 for 50ml at Sainsbury's - £2 per 100ml Double the price
Mouthwash - Listerine Total Care mouthwash  £1 at Sainsbury's for 95ml (£1.05 per 100ml) £2.25 at Sainsbury's for 500ml (45p per 100ml) Double the price
Sun cream - Ambre Solaire sensitive £3 at Boots for 50ml (£6 per 100ml) £7 at Boots for 200ml (£3.50 per 100ml) 71% more
Dry shampoo - Batiste original £1.50 at Superdrug for 50ml (£3 per 100ml) £1.99 at Superdrug for 200ml (£1 per 100ml) 3 times more

So you could be paying far less for your holiday toiletries if you can ditch the convenience of miniatures.

What are the rules on liquids in hand luggage?

With tonnes of toiletries dumped at UK airports each year, it's obvious many of us are still confused. If you're bringing liquids in your carry-on luggage, you can't take any one item over 100ml – even if it's partially empty – and you'll need to fit all your items inside one clear plastic 20cm x 20cm bag per person, zipped shut. As some airports charge £1 for the plastic bags, it's worth bringing one from home or reusing an old one.

If you're still not sure about what you can bring, check full Government guidance for more information. 

Cheapest refillable and reusable bottles

If you're looking for cheap refillable and reusable travel bottles, and don't have any from previous travel-sized items you can reuse, I found the following when I looked on Tue 30 Jul:

  • 100ml travel bottle, 50p at Wilko*
  • 50ml travel bottle, £1.10 at Boots*
  • 60ml travel bottle, £1.69 at Superdrug (these are the ones I've personally been using for 10ish years - your experience may differ!)
  • 3x 50ml travel bottles, £1.80 (60p each) at Sainsbury's*

Obviously, if you've already bought minis then the most MoneySaving and eco-friendly thing to do is to use them up and refill 'em. You'd be surprised what you can refill with a little effort – even mini toothpaste tubes. Just make sure when you're refilling you're doing it over a sink, and remember to recycle any larger bottles you empty.

What are your top MoneySaving travel tips? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter.