I'm by no means a traveling expert, but this is my 6th month in a row on a plane, so I feel like I have picked up some helpful tips along the way.
Some time ago, I read an article about packing, and they suggested keeping a toiletry bag packed with travel size bottles of all your items. When I finally found a bag I loved (this highly rated one from L.L. Bean), I purchased travel size bottles for every item I use and then I packed the bag full. I leave it packed year-round and refill the bottles when I return home from a trip.
For reference, items I carry when I travel that all fit in this bag: shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, razor, wide-tooth comb, leave-in conditioner, hair mousse, hairspray, contact solution, contact case, makeup removing wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, glasses, mini perfume sample, lotion, tampons, and moisturizer.
One thing I left out, which I could probably still fit into this bag as well, is my makeup. In college, I never had a bathroom that had drawers, so I got used to keeping my daily makeup essentials in a cosmetic bag. (I plan on doing a "What's in my Makeup Bag" post soon!) I've been through several Clinique sample bags, but have been using a Coach one I received as a gift for several years now. I like it because it has a wide base and can stand up on it's own without tipping over and all the contents spilling out. When I'm headed on a trip, I just throw the bag in my suitcase and know I've got all the items I need!
Nothing I've shared is really groundbreaking, but I think the pre-packed toiletry bag is essential to quick packing. Plus, who wants to travel with full-size bottles of everything? That makes a suitcase way too heavy!
Now, share your tips with me! I'm sure I've still got plenty of things to learn!