A nail polish addicts guide to packing for a long trip

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how to pack nail polishAs you may already guessed this guide is about how to pack nail polish! This is a crucial guide for nail polish addicts who would rather leave a pair of shoes behind than part with some of our favorite polishes.

This guide will be particularly handy if you’re going on a long trip like our SoNailicious Tour. Withdrawals from a favorite polish could become so painful that the joy would be sucked out of the cultural experiences, cocktails and new places. It’s not always easy to buy new nail polishes in a new country, especially if you don’t speak the language.

So instead of grieving over the precious bottles of glitter left behind, let’s see how we can bring as many polishes and nail art supplies as we like. Safe, compact and convenient – here’s our tried & loved method used during our recent trip:

how to pack nail polish for travelling

Note, when you’re at your Step 1 it’s better to place polishes lid to lid and as tight to each other as possible to avoid them hitting against each other.

* This is exactly how we packed all our polishes for SoNailicious Tour. In total, 25 polishes and 5 nail care products traveled with us (and, we brought back over 100 polishes). They undertook 10 international flights, 8 trains and 6 boat rides – they all survived, came back home in one piece and lived happily ever after.

Extra Tip #1: Leave polish remover at home. It’ll save some space and weight in your bag. Nail polish removers tend to leak through the lid because of the changing cabin pressure in a plane. Plus, it’s something that you can easily buy in any country (in pharmacies).

Extra Tip #2: Go for mini versions (like this or this) of your favorite shades and/or products. Also, look at getting 2-in-1 products, for instance Orly Top 2 Bottom is a great one.It will make your nail polish bag significantly lighter and save some space.

What about you, nailicious friends? How many polishes do you usually take travelling with you? Do you have any tips on how to pack nail polish? Share with us, we’d love to know!

– Maria, xx

PS. If you’re not going on a long trip any time soon, make sure you bookmark, pin or save the above guide for the future!

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  • The only dilemma I have is, which polishes do I take with me?? So many to choose from, yet I don’t want to weigh my luggage down. Haha
    x Court

    • I guess you have to decide on whether to match your polishes to your outfits, or just take your favorites, or maybe think about what nail art you’re going to with them. As for the weight, the little purple bag I’m showing in the post has 30 polishes inside and the required nail art tools (studs, brushes, etc), it was about 2kg. As for the luggage bag, if you still can lift and hold it up for a few seconds I’d say it’s around 20kg or less. Seriously, the 30kg bag is impossible to lift for a girl (unless you’re a weightlifter in the making). x

  • It’s very helpful! Thank you! I’m planning a trip soon)

    • Thank you and I’m glad you liked it, Elena! As for your trip, I look forward to hearing more about it! x

  • phoebi

    I just wondered where home is for you? And if you had any trouble bringing the polishes you bought on your trip back through customs?
    I live in Australia and seem to struggle with sending polish anywhere!! I can’t imagine what customs would be like if I returned home with bags full (as much as that sounds like heaven haha).


    • Right now Australia is my home. Nail polish is fine to bring in your luggage. But they don’t allow any fruit, wood or seeds or other things/substances that potentially may damage sensitive Australian flora and fauna.. It’s different when posting nail polish overseas, though – it’s not allowed because polishes often break/explode and cause damage to other parcels.

      So don’t worry about customs when travelling with the polishes – it’s absolutely fine! Moreover, it would be silly not to bring some polishes back because they are so cheap overseas and you can save a lot!

      Hope this helps!

      Maria x

  • Kitty

    Were these travelling in a hardcase suitcase as checked-in or carry-on/hand luggage?

    I commented on your pre-travel post that polish is flamable liquids that often is prohibited by airlines, so I always worry that I am doing something illegal by checking these in.

    • All nail polishes were packed as described and then put in soft bags to travel as check-in. I don’t use hardcase suitcases, they’re too heavy. It’s fine to check-in nail polishes though, but you can only bring 1 or 2 bottles in your carry-on/hand bag because it’s liquid. Rules varies from airline to airline but in general, it’s fine to have up to 100ml of liquids (in total) in your carry-on bag.

  • Oh this is def a great one, Maria! :)
    Great tips – I always find it so hard to chose only a few of my babies, though hehehe

    • Thank you Mina! The good thing is you ‘ll be back to them. Just take a few favs, pack them well and enjoy the trip! xx

  • I actually ordered myself the new Caboodles Nail Valet for my upcoming vacation! I always bring way too many polish but I do my little 7 year old niece’s nails and she likes colors I don’t! This post is too funny! But oh so true!

    • I like the idea of Caboodles Nail Valet too! Make sure you show it us when it arrives! xx

  • This is very helpful! I’ll keep this in mind when traveling. This site is awesome and so helpful! Greetings from Venezuela and keep up the great work! :)

    • Thank you Anais for your kind words! We’re doing our best :) XX

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  • Very recently, two of my newly bought, not tried even once Models Own nail polishes were broken in a domestic flight :(( I was so sad. It was going to be my first experience with the brand. I wish I had read this post before. But, I’ll definitely keep it in mind for my next travel ^^ Thanks Maria <3

  • Alexa

    Thanks so much for this! I bought so many polishes and have to fly home internationally and had a panic attack that i might have to leave them behind! And i dont! Yay!

    • Yay! I’m so glad to hear that. As long as we pack them well, we can buy as much polish as we can carry :)

  • Silvie

    Nice article Maria. I too am from Australia and recently came back from a trip to HK, China and Cambodia. I carried about 40 or so bottles of polish and stamping polish with me (in my checked luggage of course) from Oz all the way to Beijing, China. Everything was fine until we reached Shanghai airport to go to Cambodia via Guangzhou airport (so a domestic flight within China). My checked luggage got screened at Shanghai and I was taken to the back room where they told me I could only bring 5 nail polish bottles with me. So I took out all but 5, hoping I could carry the rest in my carry on, distributed in my parent’s carry on too, who were travelling with me. Alas, as we neared the security screening, I saw that nail polish was a prohibited carry-on item. I had to throw out all the rest of my polishes. Some of them were newly bought in Hong Kong too. I’m now too weary about bringing and buying more polishes in any future overseas visits :( However, I do plan to go to the US soon. Do you think there will be any trouble with bringing back say around 20-30 bottles? It’s so cheap in the US and I really want to bring some back with me but don’t want to chuck it all out again like I had to in China!

    • Hi Silvie, I’m SO sorry to hear you had to throw out almost all of your polishes! I’ve travelled a lot, almost 20 countries. I always travel with lots of polish. On my last trip, I brought back about 100 bottles! haha But only once I’ve travelled via Shanghai airport. And, seriously, never again! The customer service there is close to non-existent. They didn’t take away my polish (thanks God!) but there were other not so pleasant experiences.. back to nail polish subject, I’ve also had nail polish and nail care in my carry-on + polishes I bought in Duty-free when we had a stop over at Shanghai airport last year. They didn’t take it. And they took yours! So my guess that Shanghai airport is better to be avoided. Not just because of the issues you or me had, but because of their poor customer service in general and weird rules. Many of my well-travelled friends also had some kind of issues tin that airport. Re: your US trip. I know a lot of beauty and nail polish addicts who brought back way more than 20 or 30 bottles. But just to be careful, don’t pack your polishes all together. Make a few small packages and spread them in your bag, i.e. put some in your shoes, others with toiletries, between clothes and/or with some sweets. We bring these polishes for personal use, so technically it shouldn’t be an issue. But it’s better to be safe than lose your precious bottles again. Hope this helps! xx

      • Thank you so much for your response, Maria. It does set my mind at ease to know you’ve been able to bring back a lot of polishes from the US. I’ll be sure to pack them as you’ve suggested ^__^ Anyway, I tried to look on the bright side of that ordeal in China and used the opportunity to replace those lost polishes with some Indies that I’d been meaning to try out. xx

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