Size does matter: Brits to pay three times more for travel size this summer

  • 15.5 million UK adults have purchased travel toiletries in the last 12 months
  • Biggest price hike for travel size dental products
  • Palmolive Natural Milk & Honey Shower Gel is five-and-a-half times more expensive per 100ml for the miniature size product
  • 980.8 tonnes of plastic waste produced by travel miniatures every year – equivalent to two-and-a-half Boeing 747s

New research1 from Direct Line Travel Insurance reveals travel-sized miniatures cost almost three-times more per 100ml than regular-sized items.

Almost a third of Brits2 (15.5 million adults) have purchased travel miniatures in the last 12 months, buying 103 million products. The most popular product for British holidaymakers buying miniatures is toothpaste (65 per cent) with 15 million purchased across the UK, followed by deodorant (57 per cent/ 12 million) and shampoo (52 per cent/ 11 million).

However, dental products aren’t just the most popular travel size items, they also carry the largest price tag for miniature sizes, with travellers shelling out almost five-times more (by volume) for the travel size alternative, for example; a 95ml bottle of Listerine Total Care mouthwash costs an average of £1.41 per 100ml at leading retailers3, more than double the cost per 100ml compared to a litre bottle (65p). Simple Kind to Skin Cleansing facial wipes are almost twice as expensive per wipe in the seven-wipe travel pack (19p) than the standard 25-wipe pack (10p). Palmolive Naturals Milk & Honey Shower Gel is nearly five-and-a-half times more expensive per 100ml in travel-size (£2.60) than the standard 25ml bottle (48p).

Table one: The cost difference between travel and standard size toiletries

Product type

Average travel cost (per 100ml)

Average standard cost (per 100ml)

Cost difference (times more expensive)









Sun protection








Body wash




Feminine hygiene








Source: Direct Line Travel Insurance, 2018

When looking at who is purchasing miniature sizes for holidays, women (53 per cent) are more likely to buy travel size items than men (43 per cent). Young people (aged between 18 & 34) (58 per cent) are significantly bigger advocates of a travel miniature than older adults (aged 55+) (39 per cent).

Of the 15.5 million people who buy travel size products each year, over two fifths (6.5 million adults) do not recycle the plastic waste, with 25 per cent neglecting to recycle their packaging and 18 per cent of vacationers saying they wanted to but couldn’t as the place they were staying didn’t have recycling facilities. This amounts to 980.8 tonnes of travel miniatures being dumped every year – the equivalent of two-and-a-half Boeing 747s4.

Given the damaging impact plastic waste has on the environment, Direct Line is calling on holidaymakers to think twice this summer; either bulk buying and using recyclable bottles when taking toiletries on holiday or take their travel size waste with them to recycle at home if there are no facilities available at the holiday resort.

Tom Bishop, head of travel at Direct Line, commented: “Taking hand-luggage only is not just a more cost-effective option, but can also be more convenient by removing the need to wait for baggage at the other end. This makes travel-size toiletries essential for many holidaymakers who need to not only comply with regulations but economise on space and weight. However, when you break it down by the price, the cost is astounding.

“Bulk buying toiletries and using recyclable bottles could help save money when taking toiletries on holiday and if travellers are checking a bag, they should remember they can pack full size items in their hold luggage.

“In other money saving tips – if holidaymakers are considering taking more than one trip a year, either at home or abroad, an annual travel insurance policy maybe more cost effective and ensures it’s something already ticked off the list when it comes to booking their next holiday.”

Natalie Fee, founder of environmental campaign group, City to Sea, said: “Holidays often give travellers a first-hand experience of the effects of plastic pollution, especially now that the Mediterranean is fast becoming one of the most polluted seas in the world. A lot of the countries we travel to don't have the recycling facilities we have in the UK, so we really do need to make sure we're bringing back our empties. Even better, by investing in some refillable, travel-sized bottles and containers you'll not only save money, but you'll be doing your bit to stop plastic pollution at source.”

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Notes to Editors

  • 1Analysis of 80 common toiletry items including shampoos, toothpaste, sun cream and moisturiser. A total of 318 items of different sizes from eight different online and in-store retailers were checked in April 2018. Unit costs are based on either price per 100ml or per item in a packet.
  • 2Research conducted by Opinium amongst 2,007 UK adults between 10 & 13 April 2018, of which 1,240 had been on holiday in the past 12 months and 600 had bought travel miniatures.
  • 3Toiletries from eight retailers, including Boots, Superdrug, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and WH Smith, were analysed.
  • 4Total waste calculated based on the number of people who buy travel miniatures (15.475 million) multiplied by the average number of miniatures bought (6.68) to get 103.937 million. 42 per cent (the number of people who do not recycle travel miniatures) of 103.379 million is 43.591 million items. The average weight of travel miniatures was calculated as 22.5g, which totals 980.810 million grams of waste – or 980 tonnes. The average weight of a Boeing 747 is 367 tones, which means 980 tones equates to 2.7 Boeing 747s.

For further information please contact:

Claire Jarrett 

PR Manager

Direct Line Group

Tel: 01651 832 411

Email: [email protected]


Antonia Green

Citigate Dewe Rogerson

[email protected]

0207 282 2967

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting