We have an unarguable rule in the South, and that is Mama knows best. I envision myself a travel connoisseur. As soon as I had my license and my first set of wheels, I was playing “let’s see where this road leads” or, as my mother used to call it, “out keeping the road hot.” Okay, so maybe I didn’t completely get my sense of adventure from my mother, but from a young age, she did teach me to take care of my skin and not to take a break from skin care and to look presentable even while on vacation.
So, as you embark on your next adventure, take care of your skin and your nourishment, and always remember, whether you want to admit it or not, that it’s important to listen to Mama. As I write this, I can hear her voice in my head and what she’s saying is important. So sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride, because my Mama, who refuses to get on a plane, really knows her stuff.
1. Pack Wisely and Ahead of Time
The times that I have waited until the last minute to pack have proven to be some less than stellar moments in clothing choices, and I have the pictures to prove it. Make sure the basics are packed, and you're all set for your style game at the airport. This is a lesson that I should have learned from a young age. It should have been ironclad, but it hasn’t, and then I learn the lesson all over again. Around the time my mother allowed my sister and myself to begin packing our own bags for trips, packing became an adventure unto itself. There was the time that my sister packed everything under the sun for our week-long trip to my grandparents’ lake house. Everything except underwear. You know, the basic of all basics. That was a semi-disaster. Let’s just say that rural South Carolina in the mid-1980s didn’t exactly have the best choices to shop for preteen undies.
One would think this would serve as an eternal reminder. Well, it did, but it didn’t entirely. Granted underwear preparedness is always in check. However, a few trips have included me forgetting to pack comfortable walking shoes or other comfortable items – one time, in particular, stands out, during a four day Disney trip with my kids. If you’ve ever been to Walt Disney World, you know this was a horrible mistake. Yes, I was the one rocking either wedges or flip-flops through the park and smiling in every picture. The smile assuredly was for the camera, my children, and a happy memory from the happiest place on Earth, but my feet were far from happy!
The best practice is to start with a core clothing list. There are essentially ten core pieces in my wardrobe for a mini break or even a week-long trip. Two shirts, two skirts (or shorts), one pair of jeans, one pair of dress pants, one extra shirt or tank, one casual dress, and yes, two pairs of comfortable shoes (flats, sandals, or athletic shoes). One small piece of advice that may end up being huge: but be sure to pack solids or items that you can rearrange and coordinate to change up looks during your travels.
2. Stay Hydrated
It doesn’t matter if you are flying; driving in a car, truck, or van; or taking a train or boat, have water with you at all times. Bottled water is easily accessible these days, and it is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. Water helps refresh your skin from the inside out. There have been times that I slipped and opted for a skinny caramel macchiato, a Coke, or even a cocktail or two, and that’s fine, but stay on top of your water. A good tip I picked up long ago: for every cup of caffeine or alcohol that you have, drink two to three cups of water to flush it through your system. You don’t want to return from your trip with blotchy, dry, or blemished skin.
Luxury travel Instagrammer Christina Vidal, or Jetset Christina as you may know her on Instagram, shares her experience saying that “Flying, and travel, in general, is super dehydrating! When it comes to looking fresh while traveling, I swear by drinking water! I always have a refillable water bottle on me, and I am constantly hydrating while I'm traveling. Whether it's during a flight or to fight jet lag once I land, I think there's nothing like a big bottle of water to bring your body and face back to life.”
Sure, there are filters for Instagram and Facebook, but in real life, you nor your skin will be allowed a vacation to get over your recent vacation.
3. Create a Skin Essentials Bag
We can all agree that taking care of your skin from the inside will help the outside, but there is also no harm in reinforcing that self-care with a little external help. I have amassed a collection of my favorite items for my face and skin through the years, and I keep them in an essentials bag. I stick to a strict cleaning regimen for my face even when I travel, so having the goods is important.
Travel expert Janice S. Lintz suggests to “Pack a travel toothbrush and toothpaste, face wipes, and makeup while traveling. Brush your teeth and clean your face with the face wipes when you get on the plane and right before arrival. Apply makeup before touchdown.”
This is no time to get slack because bacteria, oils, and toxins in the air do not take a break.
A quick pick-me-up for your face is to keep your eyes looking refreshed and remove the puffiness. One of my favorite tricks is to use eye gels to reduce inevitable puffy eyes while flying. If you are traveling via car, just pop these on under some Jackie O-style sunglasses, and you will arrive at your destination feeling and looking refreshed.
Oh, about the bag – I was able to pick up a cute Bebe toiletries bag complete with mini bottles at Marshalls for less than ten dollars. Having the bag and bottles means, even if I can’t find my favorite skin care regimen in travel-size bottles, I know I have the perfect-sized travel companions. I am never without my favorite lotion, toner, and moisturizer. Plus, packing these ahead of time will keep you from having to interrupt your trip to find a local pharmacy or shop to pick up yet another full-size bottle of aloe, lotion, shampoo, or conditioner. Yes, I know hotels supply such items but keep reading to know why these aren’t your best options when traveling.
4. Hair Care is Non-negotiable
I have often watched shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race and bristled at the thought of the strain and torture that people put themselves through, and it’s not just the eating bugs, sleep deprivation, and the mind games they play on each other. The source of my bristling is being stuck in the jungle or traveling to parts unknown without my hair essentials. It may sound a bit shallow, but let me explain. My hair just doesn’t happen. It is a process that includes some key ingredients, hair products, the proper water, and styling tools. In the South, hair is considered a crowning achievement. To give your greasy hair a fresh look during a long flight, Patti Reddi travel expert and writer of The Savvy Globetrotter says, “Use dry shampoo. I have very oily hair so I use dry shampoo when I am traveling on a long flight and am unable to wash my hair. Dry shampoo makes my hair less greasy and gives my hair more volume.”
Please note that I am not talking about big hair. In fact, I have been battling my whole life against having big hair. I am a curly-headed girl, and allow me to just stop you before you say how jealous you are because you would love to my have my curls and how horrible it is to have stick-straight hair. My pretreated resting hair is a hybrid between Einstein’s signature style and a poodle. Beautiful image, I know!
Curly-headed girls like me live in fear of not having the right products for our hair or, worse, washing our hair in treated water full of chemicals that our hair is not used to and will surely rebel against. For example, I love the ocean, but I also know any trip to a seaside resort or tropical climate means I better make sure my nonnegotiable hair care is packed. The adorable bottles displayed in your hotel or resort bathroom are not meant for hair like mine, nor is the included hair dryer. To avoid dry hair and bad puffy-haired pictures, pack what you know for your hair type.
Also, if you are staying with a friend, make sure you pack your own hairdryer. My hair drying needs were just too much to handle when I went on a trip and stayed with a friend from college. She has beautiful straight blonde hair and my diva hair-drying techniques shorted out her hair dryer from maximum usage. I’m pretty sure that hair dryer went into the great beyond and received its tourmaline, Moroccan oil-infused wings that day!
5. Think Minimalist When It Comes to Makeup
You are on vacation. You need a breather from your regular life. Your face needs the same downtime. My friend’s mom, Bev, gave me the best piece of advice when she said (to paraphrase), “no matter how you are feeling, as long as you have your lips on you can take on the world.” Since hearing that, I have never stepped out without my lips on. Keep in mind, I do pack more than just my lipstick, we aren’t animals after all, but I do keep my travel makeup to the bare essentials. Start with a tinted BB Cream. I pack NYX Professional BB cream in natural. It does great to cover any imperfections and gives you a natural glow. My everyday skin regimen comes with an SPF in the moisturizer. However, if you need to add that ingredient, choose Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream as it includes SPF 35. I have used both and love them equally. Now that the basics are covered, opt for a liner, mascara, bronzer, brow pencil, and of course the aforementioned lips. The list is very simple, but these products are made to not only make you stand out but also to give you more bang for your buck. You can even pick up sample sizes of these products, but they are so good, so go ahead a splurge for the full size.
According to Zanna Roberts Rassi, partnered with Hilton Hotels & Resorts as part of their New Business Traveler Initiative, “To Give Yourself an In-Flight Makeover, create your own first-class kit with samples from beauty counters. Use an overnight moisturizer to help keep airport dust and germs out of pores. To get rid of puffiness, order a cup of ice and give yourself an “ice facial” to wake up the skin. As a finishing touch, apply a cream-based foundation that will hydrate your skin, giving you a great post-flight glow!”
For the Benefit of your eyes (see what I did there?): Goof Proof Eyebrow Pencil, Lengthening Mascara, Gel Eyeliner Pen
Lips: Merle Norman Lip Pencil Plus in Spice Sachet
Bronzer: Smashbox The Cali Contour Palette
Traveler and author Kelly also shares her little travel secret, “I carry and wear minimal makeup. Simple and cheap tip: I typically use my lipstick to dab a bit of eye color and cheek color to give my face a unified, polished look. Buying a new lipstick at my new destination and using it to change up my "face look" can make me feel fresher while on the road.”
6. Sleep Before, During, and After
Make sure you are not overscheduling yourself before you depart for your trip. Sure, we all have projects to complete before we head to the airport or hit the open road, but you do not want to get drained to the point that you are lethargic. After all, getting there is a big part of the fun. My mom’s voice is back, “Get a good night’s sleep before the day you leave.” Thanks, mom! Here comes another mom-ism, “Be sure to build in some rest time on your stay.” You can relax by catching up on a good book, doing some meditation by a body of water, and even snuggling up next to your significant other.
According to Frances Geoghegan, Managing Director at Healing Holidays, “Yoga is a great way of relaxing your body in preparation for a long-haul flight or during your time exploring a different country. It also helps in increasing blood circulation. This is ideal for skin renewal, leaving skin dewy, rosy and glowing. A healthy diet will also enable you to sustain a fresh look while traveling. The right nutrients will boost your skin’s appearance and eradicate the need for extra makeup or skincare while traveling.”
These things will go far in building more quality into your trip. Oh yeah, don’t schedule yourself coming back from a trip at 10 p.m. when you have to be at work the next morning by 8. We have all taken flights that have been pushed back, had a car issue, or run into road construction and massive delays on our way home. The unpredictability of the world doesn’t cease because you are on vacation. Plan for the unplanned.
7. Pack a Camera
This does not mean the camera that is built into your phone. Yes, this may sound like I have transported you back to a time of film, photo labs, and f-stops, but what is wrong with stopping to take a look at what you are photographing? You can still find an honest-to-goodness camera in the store. It may be a stretch to find a film camera, but if you look hard enough, you can find one with an eyepiece. It is what we used to look through, before the age of selfies and bad pics. Looking through that eyepiece will make you slow down and take in what you are trying to capture as a memory of a lifetime.
When it comes to good photography, composition is the key. Learn how to use your camera and be the brains behind the camera instead of the other way around. As a professional photographer, I silently scream when someone tells me they purchased this iPhone or that Android because of the camera. I then calculate in my head how much a really good quality lens would cost instead of the said phone. We will get into specifics in another article on another day.
So, now you are ready to take on the world. Look good while doing it, and have some awesome travel photos to share when you return. On a personal level, I am taking my own advice. While working to complete this article, I made mental notes of all of the items I need to gather up for my weekend getaway.
Now if only I could find my comfortable shoes…