Going on holiday? Don’t forget your toothbrush! But which one should you take? If you use an electric toothbrush, you might find yourself wondering if it’s worth taking it with you, or whether you’d be better off with a manual toothbrush and a thorough clean when you get home.
Travelling with an electric toothbrush
Even bottom of the range electric toothbrushes should be able to keep your teeth clean for a week away on a single charge. This makes travelling with them pretty straightforward – although you do need to make sure they haven’t gone entirely flat as airline security may ask to see them in operation.
If you are going away for longer, or if the whole family use the same base unit, then you will need to take the charger. As most toothbrushes run from a shaver socket, it’s very easy to take them to Europe where the 2-pin plug fits into shaver sockets too. Although an electric toothbrush plug looks similar to local 2-pin plugs, it’s slightly narrower, and you will still need an adapter if you need to plug it into a standard wall socket. If you’re not sure you’ll have access to a shaver socket, then you’ll need to get an adapter (you may be able to purchase one locally, but Amazon, Superdrug or Boots are good places to buy if you want to be organised before you travel). The same logic applies to other countries that use a 230V/50Hz supply.
If you’re travelling to the US, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and some South American countries, you will need to check that your toothbrush will be safe to run. If it says something like ‘INPUT: 100-240V, 50/60 Hz’ then it will work even in countries where the voltage is lower than our 230V and/or the frequency 60Hz instead of the UK’s 50Hz. In that case, all you will need is a plug adapter to ensure you can actually plug the charger unit in. Many hotels, however, will offer a standard shaver socket.
The latest alternative is toothbrushes that can be charged from a USB cable, just like your mobile phone. Some, such as Phillip’s DiamondClean and the Oral B iO9™ Electric Toothbrush even come with a travel case that doubles up as a USB charger, so you never need to be without the cleaning power of your electric brush. Sonic Chic offer a travel electric toothbrush that charges from USB and is barely any larger than a manual brush. However, it is closer in design to a battery operated toothbrush than a full-size electric toothbrush. Our full guide to electric toothbrushes compares battery and electric toothbrushes.
Some travellers prefer to opt for a battery operated toothbrush over a manual or electric plug-in toothbrush. These can be the perfect choice for travelling. Some powered brushes can even include sonic technology and rotating bristles but all battery-powered toothbrushes are backed up by the near-universal availability of AA or AAA batteries, so easy to use wherever you are – be it under canvas or in a budget hostel. We briefly mentioned the Sonic Chic battery operated sonic travel toothbrush above, and it is also available as a replaceable battery model should you prefer. More information on battery operated toothbrushes is available in our guide here.
Many battery-operated toothbrushes are barely any larger than a manual toothbrush. This means that even if they are not supplied with a case they will easily fit into a washbag and the head can be capped with a standard bristle protector. Again, be aware as you pass through airline security that they may ask to see the brush working so make sure it has fresh batteries. Read our reviews of Battery Operated toothbrushes here.
For the simplest and easiest way of brushing your teeth on holiday, a manual toothbrush really can’t be beaten. All you need is a little drinking water, and you can brush your teeth anywhere.
Many people just toss their normal toothbrush into their washbag, possibly putting it into a protective case or fitting a head protector to ensure the bristles can’t get soapy or squashed. (Don’t forget your toothpaste needs to go in a clear plastic bag if you’re flying!) Plus you can choose the perfect brush for your needs from our guide and continue the same oral hygiene routine while away.
If space is at a real premium, there is a wide range of dedicated travel toothbrushes available on the high street, with online retailers such as Amazon and Boots offering the widest choice. There are three main types of brush labelled as “travel toothbrushes” – folding, two-part and compact.
A folding brush has a hollow handle that allows the brush head to be stored away, keeping the bristles safe from damage and reducing the size considerably.
Two-part brushes have a similar idea but require the brush head to be removed from the handle, which then becomes a case for the head section. Ultra-light two-part brushes are available for backpackers and hikers where every gram of weight matters. These often have a space to store paste in the handle as well.
Compact toothbrushes are simply smaller versions of standard manual brushes, and while they may take up less space in your hand luggage, they may also be difficult to use due to their small size. They could be a good backup option though.
Where space is at a real premium, or you may not be able to get access to drinking water, then there are a number of minimalist options that take up very little space and still allow you to keep on top of your oral hygiene routine.
Chewable brushes are small prickly balls that come impregnated with toothpaste. You simply chew one for a few minutes like you would chewing gum, then dispose of it when you’ve had a chance to move the ball around your whole mouth.
Finger brushes are extremely light and portable but require you to take your own toothpaste. You slide one onto your finger and rub it across your teeth to clean them.
Disposable toothbrushes are also available. These come ready loaded with toothpaste and are designed to be used then thrown away. Not the most eco-friendly toothbrush choice for the environmentally conscious traveller, but may be useful for an emergency.
Be sure to research your options thoroughly before setting out and don’t forget our in-depth guides can give you more information about which toothbrush to choose if you are considering a particular type. If you would like to find out more, here are some reviews of travel toothbrushes we have tried. Happy Adventuring!