I have a confession to make. I have had an ongoing issue with acne since I was 19 years old. At 29 it still flares up from time to time (I know, right?) Especially when I skip on my skin care routine, either by laziness, or running out of the products I use to treat it.
And indeed, sometimes getting hold of certain familiar products is really hard when backpacking around the world. Simply, it may not be available in the country you are visiting. Or it can be ridiculously expensive. Indeed, you may spend many precious hours or even days scouring different pharmacies looking for that one product, only to then find it priced outside of your budget!
And don’t forget that if you are attached to using a particular product, and decide to take months worth of it with you, you are firstly taking up valuable backpack space, which is not good at all when you want to travel light, and secondly, you may not be able to pass the outbound security check with so much liquid.
I have personally struggled with this problem recently. Two months ago I ran out of my supply of a much used and favoured facial cleanser that I used to cleanse my acne prone skin. Unfortunately, the facial cleanser could only be purchased online. However, as I was moving around all the time it was difficult to settle on an address that the order could be shipped to. But that wasn’t even the main problem. It just so happened that the facial cleanser company did not ship to the country I was currently traveling in! Talk about being unlucky!
However, recently I have started to sing about the benefits of using “natural” products for my skin care routine. And I suggest you investigate their benefits too. Instead of using specific products that I used to purchase back home in Australia – or order online, I now use natural products that are available pretty much all over the world. This is great for the long-term backpacker. It will save you having to order anything online, and offers you the guarantee that you will always get what you need – wherever you are!
For example, I now use raw honey now as my facial cleanser instead of a chemical-based cleanser. Honey is used and sold in pretty much every country in the world, which means that whenever you run out of the sweet nectar it will not be difficult to find some more. Moreover, depending on the country you are in, you will be paying local prices for what is – in effect – a localproduct (assuming you do not choose to purchase imported honey). Local prices will generally mean big savings for you.
I also now use coconut oil as a moisturizer instead of a cherished chemical based product I used to use back home, and in the first 6 months of my trip. This was a welcomed substitute as I had much trouble finding this specific moisturizer in South East Asia anyway. When I did find it was sometimes triple the cost of a local equivalent.
Some other natural alternatives that you can substitute for your chemical based products are:
- Aloe Vera for treating all kinds of insect bites
- Bicarbonate soda (although not strictly natural, has a natural derivative and can be found pretty much everywhere) for a weekly exfoliating facial mask
- Tea tree oil or Aloe Vera mixed with Bicarbonate soda for a shampoo; finished off with apple-cider vinegar for a conditioner
- Natural crystal roll-on deodorant
(You will also notice here that some natural products mentioned above have multiple uses – Aloe Vera and Bicarbonate soda. This is great for the backpacker in minimizing the weight and size of his or her backpack as multiple use items simply save you space.
True: you will need to do some initial experimentation to find a natural alternative that works for you. But once you find one, you are all set. For example, honey has worked as good, if not better, for me than the manufactured facial cleanser I have used for the last 6 years or so. It is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory and works great. And I am not the first person to have realised this.
This change towards natural alternatives has personally been a game changer for me. It has helped me on my travels tremendously. Hopefully it can be of some use in your own backpacking adventures.
I no longer dread the day I run out of suppliers, which also means I no longer have to spend time trying to find some more of it. Plus, I no longer anxiously submit my backpack for screening, thinking they will ask me to discard my precious skin care products.
So remember: next time you are planning an extended trip overseas, consider whether there are any natural alternatives to the products you feel you need to take with you. Finding such an alternative that works for you may just save you extra hassle, and money, down the line.
What natural alternatives have you found particularly useful when backpacking around the world? Have there been any unforeseen drawbacks with using natural alternatives that you have experienced? I am interested in getting a discussion going here. Let’s all help each other out!
That’s it for now. Happy Traveling.