If I have an extra few hours before bed and the vortex of memes and YouTube videos hasn’t swallowed me whole, I love to do a little spa ritual before hitting the hay. Sometimes that involves drawing a bath, applying a cream mask, and turning on my aromatherapy diffuser. Other times, I’ll do a little facial and a full-body scrub.

These little moments of self-care are really hard to recreate while traveling. Even if I have access to a bathtub and alone time (which isn’t always the case), I wouldn’t want to pack all the items necessary.

Luckily, I’ve found hacks and products that allow me to enjoy some of the benefits of these indulgences without the bulk.


In my post How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep Anywhere, I mention using aromatherapy for a better sleep. You can get tiny vials of essential oils or custom aromatherapy mixes for sleep, focus, stress-relief, energy or just to smell good.

There are a couple of ways to use them:

  • Run a face cloth under hot water, rub a few drops into the towel and place over your face and inhale deeply. Saje has some great kits designed to help travelers with stress, jetlag, and germs.
  • Rub a few drops in your hands to warm up the oil and cup your hands over your mouth and nose and inhale a few times.
  • Rub a couple of drops on your temples, neck, and massage into your scalp.
  • Throw a few olfactive inhalers in your purse for an instant pick me up. Way of Will, a Toronto-based company has three types that are chic and smell amazing.



When I travel, I really pare down my toiletries. At home, I have a few different face washes, serums, and lotions depending on how my face is acting. With limited room for liquids, I wouldn’t dream of wasting space on a full-size tube of face mask, especially since I’d use it at most twice a week.

That’s why I’ve swapped cream masks for sheet masks while traveling. If my skin is feeling dry, if I’m breaking out, or feel puffy, I can address that in concentrated one-off masks to replace whatever products I left at home. I love The Face Shop Solution line for that, since each type targets a problem. These lie super flat in your luggage and don’t count as liquids or gels.

Dry Brushing

Dry brushing, for the uninitated, is whole body exfoliation using a bristle brush on dry skin. You start at your extremeties and brush in long strokes from the ends of your limbs towards your heart. I usually follow up with a shower to get rid of the loose skin particles and apply lotion afterwards. It’s supposed to be great for your circulation, skin, and cellulite, but I like it just because you feel energized and tingly afterwards.

Some people attribute the origins to the Ayurvedic practice called Garshana, which is meant to encourage lymphatic draining.  If you’ve been to a Finnish-style sauna, dry brushing is also similar to ‘vasta’ or ‘vihta’ (the name depends on the region), which is bundle of fresh birch twigs you use to rub your skin between the steaming, hot baths, and cold baths. It helps circulation and improves your skin.


Dry brushing requires either a handheld brush or one with a handle to reach your back, but that takes up so much room. For travel, I recommend taking a cue from the Garshana purists and using the raw silk gloves. They fold into nothing and you can keep up your habit without sacrificing precious suitcase space.



If you’re in the habit of treating yourself to a massage but don’t have the time or resources to scope out a good place while traveling, you can get the benefits of reflexology with a small lacrosse ball. My athletic friends have known this secret for ages, but all you need to work out knots and tight muscles is a small plastic ball and a bit of technique. Because some trips have you walking all day long or carrying a heavy backpack around, a little foot and shoulder massage at the end of the day can do a world of good.


I’m not that familiar with professional-grade facials, but I know a good steam is part of it, and this isn’t too tricky to do while traveling. If you have access to a sink and hot water, Lush Cosmetics has these solid toner tabs that you can drop into hot water to create a cleansing steam. Put your face over the steamy concoction to open up pores, cleanse, and soften skin. They have two types: one for troubled skin and one for sensitive skin. It’s no surprise, my favourite part is that it’s a solid and not a liquid or gel!

Happy Travels xox