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
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
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
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?