Keeping Up Appearances
There are an abundance of travel articles for women that provide specific tips on looking your lady-like best while traveling: makeup tips while on the go, hair tips while on the go– “Travelettes, backpacking in heels” website encourages women to “put on their lipstick and backpacks and just do it.” Maybe articles such as these are trying to reach a different audience of women, those who would not normally consider leaving their comfort zone, and to assure these women that they can adapt traveling to their comfort needs. I respect the ability to adapt modern conveniences and luxuries to even a life of travel but here is my one moment of reflective input on the topic: don’t do it.
Your personal style might be an integral part of who you are, and it isn’t necessary to discard it entirely– but don’t let the wave of your hair, shade of your perfectly unsmudged lipstick, or vintage collection of dresses get in the way of you having a truly remarkable adventure.
There are ample reasons why I think that appearances and yes– sometimes even hygiene– should be put on a temporary shelf while traveling. I think that our obsession with mirrors– the need to notice every blemish, puffiness beneath the eyes, blotchy skin, large pores– distracts significantly from the lessons and curiosities that traveling the world has to offer. When I am traveling, I avoid looking in the mirror at all costs. Especially while hiking/backpacking in rural areas, I know that showering will be a rare luxury, and as a woman with long hair, this can become very unsightly. My hair becomes tangled, oily, matted, and sometimes even carries along pieces of dried leaves or dirt, like an animal’s nest. Quick fix: I put my hair in a bun or ponytail, and cover the top portion with a rolled up bandana. This looks colorful, cute and casual, while still hiding the worst of the damage.
I never wear makeup while on a serious trip. Of course that decision isn’t for everyone, but I love the feeling of lightness on my face. It is refreshing to let the sun touch my skin without a barrier, and to let the world see my face without a mask. I sometimes look tired, blotchy, red cheeked or zitty, sure! Who doesn’t? But it eliminates one more daily trip to the mirror. The less I obsess over my appearance while I am traveling, the more time I have for noticing the landscapes, people, and cultures around me. I pack comfortable, practical clothing, basic skin-care products (lotion, face wash, etc) and let the sun and wind highlight the natural beauty of my happiness.
Let go of your insecurities! Try going natural.