When I was in college, I took a group of high school students on a backpacking trip through the Grand Tetons. It was over a week of climbing mountains, getting stuck in hailstorms, and forgetting to wear sunscreen every single day. There was nothing in the world better than waking up at Jenny Lake and seeing wildlife grazing against the backdrop of the sunrise and mountains. Since we had no mirrors, you can imagine by the end of the trip I was looking rough. Even though I had the trip of a lifetime (and the blisters to prove it), my skin was completely burned, dry, and peeling.
A few years later, I backpacked through Europe with two friends. Since I knew I was carrying that backpack all throughout England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, and other countries, I barely packed any skin care items. Eyeliner, foundation, mascara, a bar of soap… that was pretty much it. And of course, we had a blast – attending Venetian Mask poolside parties in Venice, eating lobster in Cinque Terre, ziplining through the Swiss Alps. But again, I arrived back in the U.S. exhausted, happy, and – you guessed it – with terrible skin. All the planes, cabs, hostels, and trains really took their toll, along with my inadequate preparation.
Now, many trips, you have a bit more freedom. You get to take a suitcase or two, and don’t have to lug it around on your back for weeks. But still, it’s easy to neglect our skin when we’re on the go. There are just so many other things to worry about – itineraries, rentals, lodging, whether or not your luggage will even make it to your destination… your skin might be the last thing on your mind. With a few minor preparations, you can make sure your skin is clean and clear on your next vacation.
Top Ten Skin Care Tips for Traveling
- Raid your Birchbox collection: If you’re like me and you’ve had a subscription to a beauty box, you have lots of skin and beauty samples around the house. The first place I check when I’m going out of town is my Birchbox collection – or my hotel samples I’ve accumulated. I’ll usually grab an exfoliant, lotion, soap, makeup remover, and even mini sizes of hair products like detangler.
- Order travel containers: If you don’t have that type of sample at home, you can order some travel containers on a site like Amazon. I order some larger ones for shampoo, conditioner, and lotion, along with some smaller ones for things like cream, foundation, and toner.
- Bring eye masks: I highly recommend eye masks of all varieties. I love cucumber pads, because they’re disposable and feel great when you’re stuck on a plane for hours and your eyes are hurting. I also love sleeping face masks, because we’re probably all wanting to catch some zzz’s at some point on that road trip or flight. Sleep and rest are two important factors in your skin routine, because it allows your body create new collagen and blood flow to your face. It also prevents those tired-looking eyes and dark circles.
- Don’t forget sunscreen: This is an important step, especially if you’re going somewhere warm, but even if you’re hitting the slopes or visiting a notoriously cloudy city. It’s likely that you’ll be outside much more than you might be at home, so even if you don’t think you need it, layer on that sunscreen! I like the Honest Company, because their sunscreen is free of “PABA, parabens, nano-particles, fragrances, gluten, dyes, and most common allergens.”
- Include some of your favorites: I know we’re talking about condensing our routine for travel, but there might be a product or two that you NEED and you don’t have a way to eliminate it or squeeze it into a little jar. That’s fine! Pick one or two “must-haves” that are full-sized splurge items for you. For me, this is an aloe face spray, along with this Salt Lavender Spray. It’s not skin care, per say, but I keep it in the same bag, because I LOVE covering up that hotel and hostel smell right when I arrive somewhere new. Some full-sized items are worth it.
- When in doubt, bring coconut oil: Coconut oil is my go-to skincare product, because it’s so versatile. You can use it to moisturize, remove makeup, and soothe dry or burned skin. You can put it on as chapstick, shaving gel, or even a homemade deodorant (mixed with baking soda and essential oils).
- Don’t forget to remove your makeup: When you’re traveling, you might be out too late or just plain forget to remove your makeup. It happens. It’s a totally different place and a routine that you’re not used to. As soon as you’re in for the night, make it a habit to take that makeup off and give your skin a chance to breathe. Most makeup remover brands make travel-sized wipes, so grab some before leaving on your trip.
- Consider your trip time and location: As you saw in the first few paragraphs, your skin routine will change a lot based on where you’re heading. For example, if you’re carrying your backpack the entire trip, buy the tiniest travel containers you can, and really condense your products. If you’re going on a girls’ weekend to Vegas, then you might prioritize different skin care items. Notice how much of each product you use in one day, and make sure to budget enough product to last you through your trip.
- Stay hydrated: Vacation can be extremely dehydrating. You’re breathing recycled air on planes and trekking all over town (sometimes without a water bottle). You might be hiking and sweating and not replacing fluids as much as you should. Make sure you’re drinking enough water, but also, hydrating your skin on the outside. Whether that’s lotion, coconut oil, or a tea tree misting spray – figure out how you’re going to keep your skin refreshed and your body full of H20 on your trip.
- Put it in a cute bag: Having a cute skin care travel bag can really help you stay organized and get excited about your packing. This way, you’ll keep everything together and know where your products are at all times, rather than having to dig through swimsuits and towels and Birkenstocks.
What are your best skin care tips for traveling? Do you have a favorite product you MUST take with you? Let me know in the comments!
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