Backpacking and adventure travel can be one of the most exhilarating and life-changing experiences a woman can have. Whether you’re doing it solo a la Elizabeth Gilbert or with a girlfriend, the excitement of travel can make the fashion and beauty sacrifices well worth it. After all, how much can you really pack on a surf trip to Panama? Or on a hiking trip in the Amazonian jungle? Or simply backpacking through Europe?
But that doesn’t mean you have to look like a troll. You can easily live out of a backpack for a week or months on end and experience the highs and lows of climbing Masada or scuba diving off the coast of Belize, without worrying about looking anything less than gorg. Trust me, I did it. With heels and a flat iron.
If you’re jetting off to a five-star hotel in Miami, you can easily pack whatever you want. But if adventure is paramount and space a premium, read on.
Manicure Kit and Clear Polish
Before you embark on a trip, remove all colored nail polish from your fingers and toes. It will start chipping even if you’re just lying around on the beach (the sand works like sandpaper on polish). If you’re going for less than a month, consider getting an OPI gel manicure which will last at least 3-4 weeks.
I made the mistake of not taking care of my nails before I left for a trip to a surf camp in Dominican Republic. I ended up spending $25 on a crappy manicure at the one existing dinky local nail salon and ended up wasting a perfectly gorgeous morning indoors.
Regardless of color, you’ll need a manicure kit. Tweezerman has a super cute kit that is small and easy to stash. You’ll use the tweezers to tame those brows, cuticle trimmers for unruly cuticles, and a file for when your nails run ragged. Buff your nails to a smooth finish and, if you’re so inclined, add some clear polish for a finished look. Try Out the Door for a polish that seriously dries in under a minute.
A travel size bottle of Oscar Blandi’s Pronto dry shampoo is the biggest lifesaver. When you’re going from hiking volcanoes to meeting up with your newfound friends for drinks, it’s sometimes hard to make time to run back to your hotel or hostel to freshen up. Which, if you’ve got long uncontrollable hair, can take hours to wash, dry, and style. Dry shampoo has gotten me out of many a sticky situation when I just wanted to go with the flow of the group, but not look like the Exxon Valdez just spilled on my head.
Double Duty Products
The classic Benetint never goes out of style. This can easily be used for both cheeks and lips for a soft natural glow. Not only do you not have to pack blush, you don’t have to pack the brush either. Blistex is perfect not only for soothing chapped lips but dry cuticles as well. And last but not least, a dab of hair conditioner can double as an anti-frizz treatment if you’re in a humid climate.
Waxing and Wax Strips
Before your trip, wax everything: the legs, the armpits, and bikini line. You’ll save a ton of time and you can easily partake in spontaneous skinny dips with that cute Englishman without worrying about being fuzzy. Unfortunately, I’ve been there and had to make up an excuse about needing to put my purse back in my room so I could secretly shave. Lesson learned.
If you’re traveling for longer than 3-4 weeks, take wax strips with you so you can take care of business on the road. Bliss makes one that works well and is less irritating.
This technically doesn’t qualify as a beauty product, but it will make your life a lot easier. It’s a small silicone cup that is worn internally collecting your flow, which you then empty and clean after eight hours. It’s totally discrete, you can swim in it, and it’s a lot less bulky than carrying around tampons. Try the Diva Cup or Moon Cup.