One of the hardest things to find in the US as I packed to travel in 2012 was a tube of toothpaste. In recent years, flip tops have become the rage, and they do not close well. Whether on the lightweight, minimal space-using tube or on the horrid plastic-wasting heavy thick-sided toothpaste containers, those flip lids are far too likely to open as you travel.
Any suitcase or travel bag can quickly become very messy when a tube of toothpaste opens and oozes out, even if it only oozes into your bathroom supplies. (It isn’t fun in hair clips, it will easily ruin your makeup, and if you lack water to wash it out of a hairbrush or your bath cloth. And it really isn’t fun when it gets all over your clothing, shoes, electronics, etc.
The best toothpaste cap for any travel is the good old screw top that you fully remove in order to get to your toothpaste. But finding this is not always easy.
Toothpaste in Central America
I was thrilled to find that the tube of Freska Gel (99g/75ml/3.49oz) that I gambled on in Honduras sported that good old-fashioned traveler’s dream screw top. Freska is made in Guatemala. This size tube fit perfectly into my toiletries container and lasted me about 2 months.
Another option is Dentalux for Kids. However, this 100ml plastic tube’s cap is wider and takes up more room in your toiletry bag. Plus, it comes in flavors such as Fruity Orange. It appears to be available throughout European markets.
In San Salvador, I found Oral-B Complete “menta fresh” which also comes in a 75ml size. It was $1.20 in Walmart. (August 2012)
After a terribly disappointing toothpaste purchase, I made a point of looking for Oral-B Complete. This time I was in Panamá City. Happily, it was easy to find again. I am staying in a high-priced part of town, so I looked for it while in Casco Viejo, the old part of town. I found it in a department store/supermarket there for $1.35 for the same 75ml size. (January 2013)
For travel in Central America, the toothpaste that I strongly warn you against wasting your money on is Alegria. I found it in Todas Un Dolar – the chain dollar store that is in David, Panamá City, and likely all over Panamá. I liked it for its size. The small size is just 50grams so it fits easily into any packing situation and it has the requisite screw top. But the toothpaste seems to do nothing at all, regardless of how much I used. (December 2012)
Toothpaste in the USA
In California, and I believe the rest of the United States, screw-top caps are no longer common. You’ll find them on the tiny travel-sized tubes which are not practical for any long-term travel.
I have found the screw-top cap on:
- Colgate Original flavor — maybe — but only the smallest size, which in 2016 became even smaller. Colgate also just changed their tube size to be more impractical for a traveler so they may be disqualified now. The great thing about Colgate’s Original flavor is that it doesn’t contain silica. Silica makes your mouth dry. (And tarter control toothpaste makes it even drier.) If you feel you have dry mouth, switch to this toothpaste and let me know if your problem goes away.
- Pepsodent 5.5 oz (156g) — which happens to fit in my hard plastic toiletries kit. Thank you Pepsodent!
- Aquafresh makes a 3oz tube with a screw top. Perfect for those of us packing carry-on only. (Current info as of Sept 2017 and March 2018) My 3 oz tube lasted for almost four months.
I wish it was possible to know the cap style before you buy a toothpaste! Instead, if your brand is a flip-top, start asking your friends about their brand and size. (This is a case when size matters; one size may be screw-top and their other size may be a flip-top.)
[Updated March 31, 2017 and March 15, 2018.]