11 Travel Beauty Secrets from a Travel Queen

Who says you can’t be pretty while traveling?


No more sweaty group photos.

No more hiding your hair in a hat.

No more exploding shampoo in your laptop bag.

As a female digital nomad who travels the world 365 days a year, I’ve absolutely mastered the travel beauty game, and now I’m here to share some of my best travel beauty secrets with you.

Planes, trains, and buses – I never sacrifice beauty, and you don’t have to either.

So listen up to my best beauty tips and travel hacks that will keep you looking Instagram-worthy, no matter how long and hot your travel day may be…

1. Save your samples

You know those little samples you get from Sephora when you make a purchase? Save em’ for travel.

Have a little travel bag where you stash those mini moisturizers, shampoo packets, and tiny eye shadows. They offer the perfect amount of product for vacation, save you space, and are guaranteed to be carry-on approved.

Sneaky Tip: Sephora and Nordstrom’s give away free perfume samples, all you have to do is ask!

2. Carry Baby Powder

My secret weapon for greasy hair AND chaffing thighs is baby powder!

Dry shampoo can be expensive and aerosol canisters are not allowed as carry ons. But that’s okay because dry shampoo does wonders for soaking up greasy hair. Apply baby powder to your scalp before you go to sleep, and you’ll wake up with voluminous locks and no baby powder scent.

Also, if you’re like 95% of women who don’t have that “thigh gap” then you’ll likely experience the sweaty thigh chaffing nightmare that happens while wearing dresses on vacation. Pat some baby powder on your thighs and violá – no more chaffing.

3. Say NO to Foundation; YES to CC Cream with Built-In SPF

Buildable coverage and sun protection! Traveling with a multi-purpose CC Cream saves you space, allows you to customize your coverage for the climate, and protects your delicate skin during long adventure days.

For the past 2 years, I’ve been traveling with IT Cosmetics ‘Your Skin But Better’ CC Cream. The tube is around $44, which may sound a bit pricey, but it literally lasts an entire year (that’s just 12 ¢ per day).

Pro Tip: Apply with a wet beauty blender for buildable coverage.

You can also purchase a travel size IT Cosmetics CC Cream …but it doesn’t come with that product-saving pump, which means that you’ll be wasting tons of product in the long-run. Bite the bullet and go for the regular-size tube, which is already the perfect travel size, in my royal opinion.

4. Master the ‘Sock Bun’

The perfect sock bun

Literally the easiest 3-minute hair-fix, a Sock Bun should be part of every travel girl’s hair routine. It’s cute, comfortable, and keeps the hair out of your face during sweaty adventure days.

Before you travel, cut your tube-sock and practice rolling your hair into a Sock Bun using an easy-to-follow YouTube tutorial. All you’ll need is a hair elastic and a couple bobby pins to complete this iconic travel look. 

5. Use Aluminum Liquid Bottles, not Plastic

Is there anything worse than a travel shampoo bottle exploding in your carry-on bag?

Protect your purse and your products with a no-leak liquid travel bottle!

I swear by these Mini Metal Travel Bottles that have literally traveled across the globe with me. I can shove them in my carry-on and don’t have to secure them in a plastic zip lock bag first…cause they’re not going to crack mid-flight!

They’ve got a mist spray top, which I only utilize for my hair products. I fill the other bottles with my shampoos and face washes – and just unscrew the top to use them.

7. Bring a multi-purpose facial mist

Have you ever taken a 5+ hour flight and noticed how tight your skin is afterwards? It’s that gross recycled air! Keep your face fresh, moisturized and protected from absorbing all the icky gunk in the air by regularly misting during your flight with Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe Herbs and Rosewater.

Then, when you’re on the ground, start every morning with a mist to keep your skin hydrated in new climates!

Better yet, this facial mist also acts as an amazing long-wear makeup primer. Carry it in your purse to freshen up before photos!

6. Always carry exfoliating face wipes

You wouldn’t believe the amount of black residue that collects all over your face, neck and chest while traveling!

Whether it’s dirt roads in Mexico or riding through traffic in an open-air Tuk Tuk in Thailand, women’s skin breaks out easily. Bring exfoliating wipes with you on all your travels.

Swipe your face with a white cleansing cloth after a long adventure…and you’ll be horrified (and maybe a little fascinated) by the dark layer of sludge you collect.

I travel with Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes with Exfoliating Peach and Willow Bark! I shove one pack in every bag that I carry. They keep your complexion clear and are a refreshing mid-day treat for your skin.

8. skip the eyeshadow

Instead of carrying an entire eye shadow palette with me on weekend getaways, I bring my Paint Pots by Mac Cosmetics!

I’ve literally been purchasing and re-purchasing Mac’s Paint Pots since I started earning babysitting money at the age of 13.

The shade “Painterly” acts as a concealer, brightening up my lid so beautifully that I can wear it alone. “Bare Study” adds that bit of shimmer that makes you look super tan! “Rubenesque” is more of my go-to glam night that I’d wear to a barefoot beach bar. Again, all of these can be worn totally naked!

If you do want to bring some eye shadows, the Paint Pots are the BEST primers I’ve ever used. No matter if I’m swimming or sweating, my shimmers stay put all day and my crease doesn’t smear.

Each pot runs around $22 and lasts for a year. Do it.

9. use travel perfume bottles

I used to carry my full-size Marc Jacobs Daisy perfume with me on my travels…and then I left the entire bottle in a dorm bathroom which was an expensive mistake. Now, I decant my perfume into a mini travel spray bottle for easy carry and low-risk!

These Perfume Atomizer Bottles are made of aluminum and are refillable – which means years of use. They even come with a little funnel to make the process quick and easy.

10. use an epilator before you travel

If you can handle a bit of pain and don’t have terribly sensitive skin, try this DIY hair removal method. Imagine a row of tweezers working together to remove hair quickly. Now image 5 rows on a rotating system that tackle big areas in a little amount of time. That’s an epilator.

Use it on your armpits, legs, toes, face…I just wouldn’t recommend using it on your bikini area. But hey, who am I to stop you?

An epilator will save you money spent on waxing and save you a bit of space & effort now that you don’t need to carry a razor with you on your travels.

11. hydrate

Water, water, water!

It’s so easy to get caught up in margaritas and cervezas that you forget your good ol’ friend, Aqua!

It shouldn’t be a secret (but it seems that it is) that water is the key to glowing, radiating skin! Decrease the dark circles and bags under your eyes, keep your skin from drying out, hold your tan longer, and maintain a supple texture just by drinking 2 liters of water per day…especially in the sun!

Water is also to thank for less-frizzy hair and fighting chapped lips.

Bring a Nomader Collapsible Water Bottle on your travels to reduce plastic waste and help you keep track of your water intake; just three refills per day will do the trick.

Extra Travel Beauty Tips

1. Don’t Bring your Entire Makeup Bag

Unless you’re vacationing in France with your Fiancé, you don’t need that bright red lipstick, highlighter palette, or liquid eyeliner. Pick a travel makeup bag that is half the size of your day-to-day makeup bag and limit yourself.

2. Leave your Hair Dryer and Hair Tools at Home

Blow Dryers take up too much space in your luggage and are not compatible with foreign voltage. Plus, many hotels and Airbnbs will have a blow dryer for you! And if I’m being totally real with you…your hair will likely end up in a ponytail or bun during your travels anyways!

3. Use Hotel Conditioner as Shaving Cream

Instead of carrying a heavy shaving cream bottle that you’ll only use once or twice during your travels, collect those free hotel bottles to create a shaving cream of your own.

For more tips, check out my travels on Instagram @SoloGirlsTravelGuide

Coming to Asia? Get a copy of The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide to help you plan the most badass (and safest) trip of your life.

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