For just about my entire life, I’ve thrown my toiletries into a basic zip-able toiletry bag. Nothing fancy required. This included shampoo, makeup, and whatever else, but also any medications I happened to be traveling with. It’s just handy to have it all in one spot.
And this is where I tell a story that I’m kind of ashamed of, but I’m sharing it so that others know how quickly things can go wrong, or how quickly consequences can escalate if you’re not careful when you’re traveling with a toddler. The result of this story is that I immediately retired my old single-zipper bag and got a toiletry bag with two zippers on it. I now slip a small suitcase lock through those zippers and no one is getting into those toiletries unless they know the combination.
I’m looking at you, toddler. I’m looking right at you.
In summer 2019, we went on a little weekend getaway to Long Beach, Washington. Even on local trips, I keep all bathroom things and medications in a toiletry bag. An organized life is a beautiful life. Or, at least I do my best to stay organized. Having a toddler in my life has thrown me off my game a little.
Our trip was routine and fun and relaxing. When we got home, we had a couple hectic hours before our daughter’s bedtime. Our bags were dumped in the hallway. We were focused on getting unpacked and making dinner and getting ready for going to work the next day, rushing around. We didn’t notice our two-year-old rooting around in our stuff. We didn’t notice her take off with the toiletry bag. And we didn’t notice her get it open, find a bottle of Tylenol in there, and dump the remaining pills out onto the couch.
We didn’t notice because the whole process of her getting into our bags, getting the bottle of Tylenol, opening it, and dumping it out took maybe 30 seconds. Never underestimate the speed at which a toddler can move if they’re doing something they shouldn’t be.
That’s right. Childproof lids can potentially be removed by a two-year-old in a mere few seconds. I learned later that even though the term “childproof” is the colloquial term for these lids, they are actually called “child resistant” and it’s not uncommon for toddlers to get them off of medication bottles even if they’re screwed on all the way. Some bottles are just easier to open than others and ours was, unfortunately, not resistant to her attempt.
The bottle of Tylenol was used so we had no idea if she’d taken any. We strongly doubted she had. This is a kid who is not interested in most candy and who doesn’t like trying new foods, so why would she eat a bitter, plain white, boring looking little pill? Still, this isn’t the kind of thing to take lightly. During the hours we should have been doing bath and bedtime, we were instead dialing Poison Control and figuring out what our next steps should be. And when our daughter should have been sound asleep in bed, we were sitting in the ER waiting for a blood test to see if she’d taken any pills and needed treatment. That was no fun. And expensive. And we didn’t get home until 2 a.m.
She didn’t eat any and all was well, but it was a rough night with a tough lesson learned.
While we have carefully childproofed our house and locked up medications and cleaners and other poisons, we’d forgotten about our travel stuff and how easily accessed the toiletry bag could be. After staring long and hard at my old toiletry bag, I decided a new one was the only way. No more tucking Tylenol into a side pocket or into my purse so that’s easy to access on planes. No more easy-to-open toiletry bag.
I looked around at many lockable options. Turns out, there are plenty of bags with locks built right in, but I didn’t care for the styles. The best option for my taste was to search on “two zipper toiletry bag” and look around until I saw one with two zippers that had holes in the pulls so I could lock them with the suitcase lock I’ve had for years. If you’re interested, this is the one I purchased and I love it, but it’s hardly the only option out there. There are literally tons. My only real point here is that if you have a toddler, consider leaving the medication at home or securing it because they can get into dangerous mischief in far less time than you might think.