Long-Term Travel Skincare: How to Take Your Routine on the Road

When Brent and I first started talking about traveling for a year, I’m a little embarrassed to reveal one of the first potential problems that occurred to me: It wasn’t how we would find jobs when we came home afterwards, or how our friends and families would react to our plans; it was how I was going to pack my complicated skincare routine with me and turn it into my travel skincare routine.

It’s easy to dismiss a skincare routine as superficial – the kind of shallow habit you’re supposed to leave behind and forget about when you start traveling; but the truth is that it took me a long time to figure out what makes my temperamental skin happy and I didn’t want skin problems burdening me for our entire trip. Here are some tips for maintaining your skincare routine on the road.

Prioritize Your Packing

Packing my skincare products in my black backpack - My Travel Skincare Routine - How to Take Your Skincare Routine on the Road

I admitted to myself early in the planning stages of our trip that I was never going to be that enviably minimalist traveler who packs everything in a carry-on bag. My 70L backpack is perpetually bursting, but considering that pretty much my whole life is stuffed in there, I feel ok about that.

Before I left Canada, I stocked up on 2 or 3 extra bottles of all of my favourites skin products, from cleansers to moisturizers. Did it take up a huge amount of space and weight in my backpack? Totally. But packing for a long-term trip is all about deciding which items are most important to you. For me, I preferred to sacrifice an extra pair of shoes and a few additional outfits in order to make room for these products and my travel skincare routine.

Do Some Research

Skincare Products on the bathroom counter - How to Create a Travel Skincare Routine for Long Term Travel

It might seem obvious, but depending on where you’re traveling, it’s often possible to find your usual products in other countries. For example, when I lived in Canada, I was obsessed with a few brands available at Sephora, a chain that just happens to have stores in 28 other countries. I also found out that although the UK pharmacy chain Boots doesn’t exist in Canada (at least as far as I know), they have stores all over Thailand and actually carry a lot of the products I used to buy at Canadian pharmacies.

That said, a few of my jobs and volunteer arrangements have taken me to more rural areas, where I would never be able to find any high-quality skincare products. My strategy over the last few years has been to buy some extra bottles of products I know I love whenever I’m visiting major cities, so that I don’t run out of something essential to my travel skincare routine when I’m in the middle of a tiny Spanish village.

Experiment with New Products

Trying New Skincare Product - How to Create a Travel Skincare Routine for Long Term Travel

At home, I always had dozens of half-used cleansers and creams cluttering my bathroom counter because I would buy products that looked interesting and then abandon the ones I didn’t like. And I realized that there was no reason this had to stop just because I started traveling. Even better (depending on your perspective), I move around enough that I have to just get rid of the products I don’t ultimately like/use because I don’t want them taking up precious space in my backpack. That means I don’t end up with the aforementioned half-used bottles lingering around my bathroom for months.

In the same way that traveling to different countries means trying out new foods, it can also mean a chance to try out different skincare products that aren’t available in your home country. I have as much fun exploring foreign pharmacies and beauty retailers as I do visiting exotic markets and neighbourhoods. It adds a whole extra dimension to my experiences in various countries and, to me, reinforces that there’s truly no one right way to travel.


What do you do to create a travel skincare routine for long term travel?


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Long Term Travel Skincare

15 thoughts on “Long-Term Travel Skincare: How to Take Your Routine on the Road”

  1. Would love to hear more about your skincare routine. I’m also a skincare fanatic (I have super sensitive, extremely dry skin, shaving is awful for me) and have found it hard to figure out what to take. I definitely want to do more long-term travel in the future but know that I may have to sacrifice some things that make me comfortable.

  2. I come from a cosmetics background and at home have way, way too much skincare, makeup and perfume. Packing for long-term travel was a killer, choosing what to bring was so hard! I ended up bringing more stuff than I even use, as I find while traveling I never want to wear makeup and my skincare routine is simplified etc. Though I’m sure I am about the only backpacker out there who carries a mud mask with me?! I am about to run out of my beloved Clinique day cream AND eye cream and am going to have to convince my partner to break our budget so I can top up! haha

  3. As someone who has suffered from acne and combination skin for years, I started doing the whole caveman regime. It’s where I put absolutely nothing on my face, except water when I’m in the shower. I’ve had no problems with it. I’ll use coconut oil on my body, that’s it.

  4. I totally understand how you feel. We’ve been travelling now for 18 months and I’m carrying 8 nail polishes with me. I know it’s excessive, but it’s my little luxury and pleasure that I keep from my backpack. Keeping my nails looking nice is just something that’s important to me – even when I travel!

  5. Love this – I’m not much of a skincare person myself, my skin is usually clear but I do have a gentle cleanser I use….I’m guessing I’ll throw that in my bag just in case, even though I don’t always use it.

    It’s always interesting to read about the little things people “space splurge” on in their packs.

  6. My boyfriend always laughs at me for taking so many cosmetic products away with me. I’m glad I’m not alone in recognizing the importance of these! If only men truly understood (*cue big sign*). Thanks for the read!

  7. I’m a light packer so I usually forego my cleansing ritual when I’m on the road. Instead of carrying liquid face wash, I swear by cleansing towelettes. They save a ton of space and are great for freshening up on a long-haul flight or if you’re somewhere really humid.

    If I do decide to bring my facial cleansers/moisturizers, I put them in empty travel bottles so I don’t have to pack the whole thing.

  8. Great tips! Long-term travel can have a detrimental effect on your skin, as there is no set food or sleep pattern. But as long as you take it easy and don’t take much stress, things can get better quickly. Apply sunblock! Try to have lots of water and catch up on 8 hours of sleep. I ignored my skin a lot while I was traveling for a month, but now I have learnt a crucial lesson, and I will be more careful on my next long-term trip.

  9. One thing I didn’t anticipate was how much different climates would affect my skin. I have really sensitive skin as well, even just travelling to different regions in NZ (warmer/colder) can make me dry out (or grease up). BUt in the past few years I’ve moved to basically doing nothing with my skin (no cleansing liquids, just water, and moisturiser if I need it). I cannot imagine travelling with the old elaborate routines I used to have .. eek!

    Laundry was probably one of the big (overblown) fears I had. But it was really easy on the road.

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