“Doing nothing gets you nowhere”
I’ve always loved to travel and if you follow any of my posts on instagram, twitter or facebook you’ll know I travel a lot for work to lecture and serve on advisory boards. My love of travel goes way back to my childhood when as a little girl, my parents would pack up the three kids and take us away on family trips for work or fun as often as my dad could manage around his busy doctor schedule. The airport itself was as exciting as any destination we reached and we dressed up for the plane as if we were going to a party. Travel by car or train was just as exciting and the idea of an adventure always got my heart racing with excitment – the feeling has never worn off. It may have something to do with the fact that I still live in the same city and even in the same building where I was born and raised so I have the comfort and security of knowing where home is and that makes a new place, hotel and scene intriguing. Or maybe it’s just me.
As I sit here now, on a plane on my way home from a great dermatology meeting in Dubai, I can still feel the excitement of going to the airport, the thrill of the plane making its way down the runway, the exhilaration of takeoff, the soothing hum and rhythm of the cabin as it cradles it’s precious passengers and carries us miles above the earth giving us heavenly views of clouds and the land and sea below, taking me to or from a place I’ve heard so much about and have been looking forward to exploring. I love the work when I get there, I always learn as much as I teach, and I always leave myself time to walk and explore, and of course post pictures on my social media so I can share the experience and look back on the memories later myself too.
Adjusting to Time Zones
The one thing about travel that can be the most challenging is dealing with the havoc it wreaks on the skin. Totally not acceptable. Sounds superficial, I know, I’m used to it and I know better. I know it’s more than just skin deep and when I see tired travel-worn skin I know there’s way more going on below the surface and adjustments that need to be made to stay healthy in mind, body and skin in order to make the entire trip more productive and fun.
When I travel to different time zones, I do my best to transition to that time zone during the flight by planning my nap and awake times and adjusting the light to help me acclimate even before I arrive. I try to pick flights that optimize the process. It takes a little planning but makes all the difference in minimizing jet lag and getting the most out of the trip. This way I hit the ground running and can be the most productive when I work.
Hydration is key. This means more water, less salt and less alcohol. I said it was important, I didn’t say it was fun. I also said less, not none. The longer the trip the more important this is. I’ve seen people whose feet and ankles swell to 3 or more times their size, and that can take days to resolve. Wearing compression socks can help along with leg elevation when possible, walking during the flight or stopping to walk if you’re in a car, and also doing flex and point foot exercise when sitting. And of course, I repeat, more water, less alcohol, less salt.
Packing for Your Skin
Preparing your skin for travel starts even before you leave the house. If you’re a last minute packer, I recommend making a skin-travel kit that’s always ready to go. Most of us notice our skin gets dry when we travel and if you’re prone to eczema or psoriasis this can trigger a flare. It’s especially important to have a great moisturizer to keep your skin healthy and hydrated. Drinking water won’t make the outer layers less dry so you need to moisturize and hydrate the skin directly. If you have oily skin and break out, the stress of traveling can trigger a flare leaving you both oily and dehydrated at the same time. It’s not always easy to pack all your acne medications when you travel but it is important to maintain your routine to minimize any breakouts when you least want one.
The one thing you need to coordinate and organize ahead of time is a travel skin-care kit so you can avoid any skin catastrophes that might ruin your trip.
Carry-on (travel size):
- Hand cream: can also be used on the body as needed
- Pre-moistened cleansing cloths: test the brand ahead of time and look for one with cloths that are softer rather than abrasive on the skin
- Sunscreen: a good tinted sunscreen can double as a foundation for travel purposes
- Lip balm
- Nail file
- Hair tie- scrunchy: they may be out of vogue for public use, but are perfect to keep your hair off your face on a long flight or car ride without pulling or stressing your hair
- Airplane socks: a travel luxury, yet totally necessary. You can buy them at any drug store and enjoy warm, soft feet on the plane.
- Eye cover and ear plugs: nothing says beautiful skin better than a good nights’ sleep, or a nap on the plane in this case (the baby screaming behind me was barely audible once my earplugs were in). Tip: noise cancelling headphones are good but may not be as comfortable for sleeping.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Avene water spray
It’s very helpful to have an emergency travel kit. This should include:
- Cortisone cream: this will save you in a pinch if you get a pimple, bug bite or any irritation of the skin that leaves it red and itchy. When you travel, you come into contact with so many different materials your skin isn’t used to and this can be an issue for those with sensitive skin.
- Zeasorb powder- this is great for shoes and the body for those who sweat when they travel. It is absorbent and will keep you dry and comfortable and will help prevent your feet and shoes from getting stinky, which will make you much more popular with your fellow travelers.
- Benadryl: great to help you sleep and also good if you tend to have eczema or allergies that flare when you travel. Be careful not to take if you’re the driver. In other words, don’t “operate heavy machinery” after taking.
- Ibuprofen or Aspirin: depending on what your stomach tolerates.
- Cleanser, moisturizer, serum, prescriptions products from your dermatologist: it’s important to maintain your regular routine as much as possible.
Never count on the hotel soap or moisturizer to keep your skin healthy when away from home. Depending on the length of your trip you can pack a separate set of products for your trip or use the travel size from your carry on. I’m a master of packing so I take carry-on for almost every trip. When I do check in a bag, I go all out even adding my absolute favorite products and perfume – it almost makes it worth checking a bag. Almost.
We are almost into descent and time for me to sign off. I had a great trip, so happy I planned ahead and made the most of the time. A little, simple planning made all the difference. I’m ready to get back to the office and see my patients, which is my greatest joy and passion.