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11 Quick Ways to Feel Feminine on the Road

girls on the road

Girls on the road.

You've just finished trekking in Nepal for a week or riding trains across Russia for two.

Your wardrobe has consisted of heavy Keen hikers, cargo pants and the same fleece pullover the entire trip — now the attire in every photo taken thus far.

In the short-term, this setup puts little strain on the female psyche, but after a while, a girl can start to feel a little drab and unfeminine.

When times like those arise, it only takes one small action to get perked up and feel like a cute girl again, which can do wonders for an otherwise stale mood.

1. Apply Nail Polish

nail polish

Apply nail polish

A bottle of nail polish takes up virtually no space in a backpack, yet can seriously help you feel all sparkly and pretty in a matter of minutes.

I like to use toe nail polish in locations where I'm wearing sandals and doing lots of walking, as it helps to cover up any dirt that might get trapped before the next shower.

Plus, the act of taking off and applying a fresh coat can be a relaxing, meditative experience in itself.

An alternative: Some women may prefer to pack a simple nail kit as taking the time to clean and file nails is also therapeutic.

2. Tie on a Scarf

A scarf is my number one quick and easy feminine accessory.

The right scarf can take a normal outfit and add pizazz, turning a simple black t-shirt and pants into an outfit ready for a night out. A scarf around the neck also puts the focus on the face, bringing out feminine features.

An alternative: A scarf can act as a substitute for several items, such as a belt, a towel or a headband, in a pinch.

3. Dab on Perfume

A quick splash of sweet-smelling perfume is great for feeling feminine. Smelling good makes us feel fresh and confident immediately.

An alternative: Baby powder can serve many purposes while traveling. Direct a couple of squirts in walking shoes or socks and do a quick rub-down for an overall fresh smell.

4. Put on Jewelry


Add a few bold pieces of jewelry to your travel wardrobe

Although I don't recommend carrying around handfuls of gold jewelry in your backpacks (or having it on your person), I do think that a few key pieces of fun jewelry are necessary to keep you looking and feeling cute on the road.

Just like a scarf, putting on a flashy pair of earrings or a bold necklace makes your “blah” outfits fit for a lunch on the marina.

An alternative: Accessorize in other ways. If you just bought a cute bag at the markets, make that your flashy accessory, for example.

5. Apply a Tinted Lip Gloss

I find that the smallest additions can have the biggest effect on feeling feminine. One of my favorite additions is a simple tinted lip gloss, even one with a fruity flavor.

An alternative: You might prefer the simple make-up act of applying mascara or curling your eyelashes. Find out the easiest task that makes you feel/look good and plan for that on the road.

6. Change Up Your Hair

If your hair has been laying flat, or been tied back day after day, a new ‘do' can make a difference in the way you look, the way you look at yourself and the way you feel.

Pack a couple of hair pins and add some twists for fun — it's a great way to make the most of greasy hair.

An alternative: A headband also helps to take the focus off of greasy hair.

7. Use Dry Shampoo

dry shampoo

Spray on some dry shampoo to take away the greasy look.

On those days when you can't get to a shower, dry shampoo can help take away the greasy look of your hair.

Hair generally tends to be greasier on the top of the scalp, while the rest of the hair can seem clean. Applying dry shampoo in key spots of the hair can be treat when washing the hair isn't an option.

An alternative: An alternative for lighter-haired girls is to dab on a little bit of talcum powder to the greasy sections of the hair and brush through.

8. Use a Face Wipe for a Quick “Bath” and Freshener

When I've been on a plane for a day or can't get to a shower quick enough, my go-to substitution is to use one of those wet wipe facial cloths as a “bath in a bag”.

I pop into a restroom and do a quick wipe-down, and magically feel like a human being again.

An alternative: A rub-down of talcum powder can quickly remove the sticky feeling from your body while making you smell nice.

9. Toss on a Skirt

A skirt screams feminine, so if you have one packed, toss it on! Dressing feminine doesn't only have to happen when you're going out on the town.

Feeling good about the way you look lifts spirits on gloomy days or days when you're feeling homesick or down.

An alternative: Kick off your heavy walking shoes and toss on your sandals or a pair of cute ballet flats.

10. Try on Stylish Clothes at Famous Shops

changing room outfit

Try on stylish clothes for the afternoon

For those that don't have room to pack super-feminine clothes, take the time to head to famous shopping malls and stores for some fitting sessions.

Trying on nice clothes doesn't mean that you have to buy them, and when you see yourself in a mirror looking flashy in trendy clothing, then you'll quickly feel like a woman again.

Be sure to also take photos while in the changing room to remember the fun!

An alternative: Participate in a clothes swap at your hostel. Mix and match your pieces with other traveling females for a fun and new look.

11. Ask a Guy Out

Fancy a bloke in your hostel? Spot a hot local guy at the bar or club? Asking a guy out on a date will make you excited and possibly get you doing most of the other feminine-feeling tasks on this list. Be adventurous!

An alternative: If you're traveling with your significant other, plan a date night for which you need to get dressed up.

This list is full of ways that you can start to feel feminine again while traveling in just a few short minutes.

If you want to go all out, then some other options for getting back in touch with your woman side can include:

  • Going to a spa
  • Getting a relaxing massage
  • Getting your hair cut, or a body wax

If you have access to an actual bath tub, a long soak can have rejuvenating results.

As a backpacker, these sorts of tasks will probably not need to be done very often, but there are those days — and I think other female travelers can agree — where you get tired, flustered and feel super gross from wearing your dirty shirt for a third time and just need to take a moment to feel pretty and clean.


Photo credit: 1 – philliecasablanca; 2 – quinnanya; 3 – teducation; 4 – quinnanya; 5 – idhren.

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Tuesday 17th of January 2012

Love it, that is always my challenge. It's amazing how a little pedicure, the addition of scarves and adding some jewellery really go a long way to making me feel cute again. I'm always happy with my tan and how rested I look and feel, so I find it doesn't take much to feel feminine when I'm travelling. The tips you mentioned are perfect! And a great way to look good for my man:)


Wednesday 11th of January 2012

Tinted lipgloss is an absolute must - especially if it has a good SPF factor in it...a sun screen AND lipstick oh yeah!!

Brooke Schoenman

Thursday 12th of January 2012

Definitely with the SPF chapstick for sunny destinations :)

Katie Boué

Tuesday 10th of January 2012

Great collection of tips for lady travelers! I carry wipes with me religiously, both for nightly/morning face 'cleaning' and refreshers in between showers. Scarves, simple jewelry, and a quick mascara application also help me look alive during long periods of vagabonding.

A great tip for make-up is wearing white eyeliner instead of black. I line my bottom lid with white liner on the inside, and I constantly get compliments for how 'fresh' I look - even when I've been on the road for days nonstop.

Brooke Schoenman

Thursday 12th of January 2012

Awesome tip on the white eyeliner!

Caroline @ traveling 9 to 5

Tuesday 10th of January 2012

I never leave the house with 1 or 2 dresses to wear in my backpack - I need to feel feminine, despite the lack of showers or clean clothes I may be traveling with! *Great article!

Brooke Schoenman

Tuesday 10th of January 2012

Thanks for reading and sharing your own insight :)


Tuesday 10th of January 2012

Nice article. Your are not the "regular" backpacker girl I met so far. I mean you are more a true backpacker. The girls backpacking I met so far are backpacking with 2 big lagguages full of girly stuff....How can they be backpacking like that? When I ask them they always tell: Of Course I am backpacking LOL

Brooke Schoenman

Tuesday 10th of January 2012

You know, I always wonder the same thing! I HATE carrying stuff, so I go for the less-is-more approach :)

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