acne / Backpacking / packinglist / skincare / travel

15 tips for those travelling with acne or breakout-prone skin

So you are currently planning your dream trip, the big adventure you have been banging on about for years, you have mapped out your destination route, purchased your backpack and booked your flight.. yet you are haunted by one added fear, your skin. Guys and girls, believe me I have been there, and I feel for ya, acne and breakouts are the worst. I am almost 25 years old and waking up and checking my skins condition that day is still the first thing I do. IT’S JUST NOT FAIR I hear you scream and oh how I wish I could be one of those people that embraces their skin, who doesn’t let it affect them.. I have always tried my hardest to be healthy and look after my skin so surely it will repay me one day?! And so despite the excitement I had for my first big trip, I couldn’t help but be worried about a few things related to my skin, and I am sure these things have crossed your mind too if you are worried about backpacking with acne or breaking out whilst on your trip.

1. the whole wearing no make-up and going au naturale for the most part of my trip..which means people will actually see my skin and the scars I have left behind!

2. how the hell am I going to carry my entire beauty regime that I so heavily depend on around in my backpack?..shall I even take it or not? Should I take all my make-up aswell!? 

3. what if my skin gets a hell of a lot worse out there due to all the sweat/dirt/suncream that will undoubtedly consume my face throughout the will I manage this on the road? Maybe I’ll just stay at home..

4. how bad will my skin look on all of my travel photos? I don’t want to look back at them and the only thing I notice is my skin. Now to some people this may sound vain, but if you have issues with your skin then I am sure you will understand this fear…


((please take into consideration the length of your trip and your destination may differ to mine… links to mentioned products can be found below! ))

  • Do take your skincare range 

    If you have found the products that work for you then keep it up. yes it will add that extra bit of weight to your backpack, but if it gives you the confidence and makes you feel happier in your own skin then it’s a no brainer. Depending on the length of your trip and your travel destinations it may be worth looking for travel sized minis, or transferring the product into reusable bottles (don’t forget to label them if you do!). Or if your routine quite large then try to whittle it down to the all important ones, or see if that range does joint treatments such as a combined cleanser and exfoliator, or if you really are packing light try coconut oil, it has been  available pretty much everywhere I have been and as we all know has a crazy amount of beauty benefits. I am currentlyusing a mixture of the Antiodes natural range, and the Pixi range which uses skin acids, I find the balance of these ranges work really well for my skin.

  • Have a good moisturizer

    your skin will be challenged a lot during your trip, from constantly being in the sea, trekking humid sweaty jungles, wandering polluted cities and of course the increased number of flights you may be taking, and we all know dehydrated skin is something to avoid if you have acne or breakout prone skin, so make sure your moisturizer is one you love, trust and has lots of benefits for your specific skin type and issue. My current favorite is the Antipodes Vanilla Pod daycream, my skin feels so healthy and glows after applying it twice a day.

  • Be prepared for facial emergencies

    If you do happen to get a really bad breakout whilst away, you may want to try taking a mini bottle of something like benzyl peroxide or tea tree oil or even good old sudocrem to help speed up the healing process. I know on my next trip I will be taking small tubes of my favorite face-masks (Pixi overnight sleepmask and Antipodes manuka honey mask), just so I can treat my skin occasionally and try to keep it happy and the spots at bay!

  • Find a good face specific sunblock/cream

    One that is non-comedogenic and wont clog your pores. All acne scar sufferers know SPF is vital to prevent further darkening of your scars so it is worth investing and wearing daily if it looks sunny outside or not, and your future skin will thank you for this acne or no acne! There are some brilliant tinted spfs out there now as well, which if you can’t face going out without any kind of coverage may be worth looking into.

  • Wash your face morning and night 

    Even if you are not wearing makeup each day  you may not think that your skin is dirty, but acne prone skin still needs cleansing. I am not a fan of face wipes as I don’t feel they clean my skin, so will always wash my face properly and try to keep to my home routine as much as possible.

  • Cut down or eliminate dairy

    I have recently started doing this and it has really helped my skin a lot. I believe it is due to the hormones found in dairy, which alter your own natural hormone levels. Be wary..especially in SEasia they use the sweet powdered milk in hot drinks, which contains the same hormones that cows milk does, which may keep breaking you out. A lot of the curries use coconut milk, and I never really found there to be much cheese around in Asia (byebye 7/11 ham and cheese toastie), so just be mindful of what you are eating and drinking, but also accept that you wont always be able to avoid it.

  • Avoid touching your face

    I know that you know this already, and I know how hard it is to resist…but your hands will be dirty, from the buses, from the money, from pretty much everything, so basically you are just transferring pure bacteria onto your skin which is not going to help anything! If you do get breakouts then I know you know not to pick them, and trust me I know how hard this is..but we don’t want to cause any more damage or scarring by picking and fiddling with our skin.

  • Do the au natural thing 

    When I first arrived in Thailand, each morning I would powder on my bare minerals concealer, not so I could look ‘nice’ or to glam up my look any, but so I could look and feel..well..normal and more confident. An hour or 2 into my day out in the heat and humidity and I would be a patchy mess, paranoid now not only about my skin but about the patchy makeup sweating down my face. In the end I just had to make myself go out there, sure at night it was easier to wear a bit of makeup, and in Australia where I was living for a while it was more of a day to day routine so I enjoyed the make-up side of things again..but there is no escaping it. You will be waking up in hostels full of people, have your day trips become night time parties and days upon days at the beach. You will feel paranoid at first, and I’m sure like me you will be wishing your skin wasn’t such an issue, but please just get out there. I promise your confidence will slowly increase, and you will eventually feel happier in your own skin without the coverage you may be used to at home.

  • Do I pack my make-up?

    If like me you love to use primer, foundation, concealer, highlighter etc…then I would say yes, but pack carefully. Try experimenting before you go with tinted moisturizers, or 2 in 1 items such as a primer with added skin highlighter, and consider you may become a lot more tanned throughout your trip (this wasn’t an issue for me ha!). I would say find your perfect waterproof mascara, the humidity will leave you with panda eyes. If eyebrows are your thing then maybe get them tinted before you leave, so you aren’t penciling them in just to have them sweat down your face..yeah that happened, and then a good old chap-stick with spf in, and your favorite lipstick/gloss for those nights you want to glam up.

  • Do not compare yourself to others

    You are gonna meet people from all over the world, and if you are anything like me you always notice peoples’ flawless skin. I hated the fact I felt I had to wear makeup just to have an even skin-tone, and there were so many people who would just wake up and head out with clear glowing skin..but just focus on yourself, on keeping your skin healthy and holding your head up high. If anyone does happen to say anything negative towards you regarding your skin, it says a lot more about them than it does your skin, rise above it.

  • Drink lots of water

    You are going to be eating a lot of new foods, possibly drinking more alcohol than usual, sweating on a more regular basis..water will help to keep your skin that much clearer and hydrated…guzzle it down! It fixes everything. I tend to carry a refillable bottle around with me to stay hydrated whether at home or travelling.

  • One for the ladies

    Before leaving see if you can start or change your contraceptive pill onto one that will help out with your skin. My own skin issues are due to hormones and has cleared up somewhat since experimenting with different pills. Hormonal spots usually occur around your lower cheeks and jawline, so that may be n indicator of unbalanced hormones.

  • Keep your face fresh

    As much as I do dislike facewipes they were sometimes useful for freshening up on those looooong long bus journeys, to help remove the built up daily mask of sweat, fumes and dirt or for those times I was unable to properly wash my face due to lack of sinks. I would say keep these as natural as possible and do not rely on them for every day use, but just the odd freshen up, try ones such as the Simple range! but don’t overdo it as you don’t want to dry out your skin, and lead it to creating more oil!

  • If you have a travel pillow/sheet, keep it clean

    This is self explanatory, you can’t always trust the cleanliness of hostel pillows, so if you have your own travel pillow or sheet then get it washed and clean wherever possible to ensure it is as bacteria free as possible, and get your head down on a fresh, clean and lovely smelling pillow.


    Yes you have acne, yes you may be paranoid about your skin, but you are on the adventure of a lifetime, you wont have this exact experience again, and it may be a once in a lifetime trip, please don’t let it ruin your trip or stop you from speaking to someone, or participating in a particular activity or ruining any part of your trip!

One more bit of advice I can offer you…make use of the high end products you can ‘test’ in the duty free area of airports, those flights sure can dry out your skin so treat yourself to a free mini facial using luxury lotions and potions.

I’ve saved you some time and added Amazon links to my recommended items from above.



You may or may not be able to see these photos up close, the left I am in a mud spa bath in Vietnam, I went bare faced here and hoped the mud would help my skin. I do have some of the mud on my face, I’m sad to say I did not want my photo taken without  it on my face to give me that little bit of coverage, but you can see my jawline, cheeks and head are all broken out. The photo on the right is one of the few I included my face in on the boat around Ha Long Bay. My skin was pretty bad in Vietnam, it was sore, lumpy and very red. Again, I succumbed and have some coverage on my face on the right, as I felt so upset about the state of my skin, but you may be able to see some of the lumpiness despite that. It had been in good condition prior to this trip, after lots of treatments, facials, LED light therapy and being even more conscious than I always have been about what touches my face. I know my skin is not as bad as some acne suffers, and I know I am lucky to only have a few deeper  picked scars, and that it is mostly red scarring, but those rare good skin days are something I will never take for granted, and I can’t wait for the day I am finally happy with my skin. I have a whole folder of photos on my laptop of my skin over the years, maybe one day I will have the balls to post them..


Here you can see the white ring of my face where I have sweated my makeup off! Not a good look…this was my first week in Thailand, where my skin was actually in good condition..yet I still applied a bit of makeup to cover the scars…

This post turned out a lot bigger than expected…and I realise I have a lot more to say and offer in terms of this particular area, so I hope this and future posts can help anyone with skincare troubles, whether it is a week long holiday with your friends or a 2 year trip around the world, having acne and breakouts does have a massive effect on your self-esteem and confidence, and only those have experienced it know the I hope this has helped and watch out for future posts on this topic. Peace out!


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