My friends love having me around for summer dinners, especially when the windows are open. Why? Because I’m what is known as a mosquito magnet. If all the mosquitos are busy sucking my blood, then everyone else is left to peacefully enjoy their evening.
Yes, mosquitos love me.
When I’m traveling, there have definitely been times where mosquitos have put a damper on the situation. Like when I had to fast-track it through the gorgeous Penang Tropical Spice Gardens because the little vampires were intent on driving their little spear mouths into my legs, and not the legs of the other people with me. Or, the time Brooklyn mosquitos ate at my legs while I was dining al fresco, and the bites proceeded to swell until my ankles disappeared.
People like me have to be extra diligent with bug repellent when traveling, and hey, anyone traveling through malaria/dengue/zika-ridden areas do, too. That’s why we asked people for their favorite insect repellent gear so you can be better prepared for combatting the flying parasites.
Insect Repellent Gear
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OFF! & Cutter Skinsations Insect Repellent
My friends often don’t understand the big deal about my need for my bug spray. Fortunately for them they don’t have to go through the paranoia of not having it. They will never understand that one bite could cause swelling knots that can sting and itch for what seems like an eternity.
My personal favorite has been a Spectrum Brand called Cutter Skinsations which has a more pleasant fresh aloe scent to it that doesn’t last long. However, living in Mexico, it’s not sold here so I rely on OFF!. Surprisingly enough OFF! has come a long way since back in the day when it had a hideous looming aroma. It can be found in lotion and spray form.
–Tanya Greer, originally part of our One Little Thing interviews
Craghoppers, Rohan, & ExOfficio Clothing
Here in the UK the best clothing brands I have found are Craghoppers with their Nosilife range and also Rohan have started doing some of their fab travel clothes with repellent. The best US brand I have found to be the best is ExOfficio.
Avon Skin So Soft
Avon Skin So Soft has worked for me. In the original scent. It’s awesome because I can put it on after a shower for soft skin, and then it doubles as insect repellent. It also comes with a spray to change out the cap, making application way easier and less messy.
Avon Skin So Soft Original Shower Gel
I recently went travelling around New Zealand, and before I left, I bought some ‘Avon skin so soft original shower gel‘. I had read somewhere that it would help keep the bugs away. Well, over Easter weekend whilst visiting family in Kaiapoi (there was a house full of 10 of us!), there were lots of mosquitos about, everyone (apart from me), got bitten! I would definitely recommend this product (or the moisturiser!), as it worked, and it saved me taking a separate shower gel and insect repellent!
Tea tree oil
It keeps away lice, ticks and mosquitos!
We used the mozzie patch. Just paste it on clothes. I tend to attract mozzies fast so one patch on my back and one on my thigh.
-Ranae St Lee-Nasir
Deet on Everything
Chitwan National Park in Nepal. Deet based insect repellent under your clothes. .. then another good spritz all over the outside. .. ah including in your hair!
Use it all!
I have used everything because I am always in places with lots of insects and they really really like me. On a recent trip, I used a combination of bug repellent clothing, DEET wipes before getting dressed and sulphur lotion too. The lodge where I stayed offered sulphur powder to put all over the shoes before going out in the jungle. I didn’t have any ticks, and only a couple of mosquito bites. My advice is use it all!
Insect repellent with 20% icaridin or picaridin (same chemical). It’s much gentler than DEET, scientifically proven to be as effective but doesn’t melt plastic or irritate sensitive skin! I’ve also used Mosi-Guard tropical (natural citronella based but scientifically tested) which works well but is a little oily and smelly (still preferable to DEET). But then that can be nice if you’re sweaty- you just smell lemony! Both were used in swampy rainforest in Borneo, Malaysia and Philippines. I’ve never really used DEET as it melts plastic and is not for sensitive skin – you’re meant to wash it all off before going to bed and never inhale it. I’ve used Craghoppers Nosilife clothing* too but that is never enough as you need repellent on all exposed skin, too. Obviously you should take antimalarials too if it’s a malaria area.
-Hazel C Avellana
*Craghoppers Nosilife clothing has permanent bug repellent protection woven into the fabric.
Deet-Free Spray + Permethrin
I work in the dense mosquito and fly infested jungle of West Africa (Liberia). The best combination of products I have found to repel Mosquitos and other bugs is from Bye-Bye Black Fly. They offer a repellant combo that works great and their products are deet free. I also permethrin spray my clothes every 6 weeks.
-Olivia Mae, @oliviamaesunshine
Options from the Comments Above
- Cutter Skinsations Insect Repellent
- OFF! Bug Repellent
- Avon Skin So Soft
- Avon Skin So Soft Shower Gel
- Mosquito Patches
- Tea Tree Oil
- 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent
- Sulfur Lotion
- DEET Wipes
- Craghoppers Nosilife Clothing Range
What’s your favorite bug repellent gear? Share it below!
Jessica Lippe says
Over the years I’ve picked up a few home-based-company repellents that were made from watered-down essential oils. They really work, and they smell WAY better than normal bug spray! I especially prefer DEET-free repellents.
I do have a question: I’m spending mid-summer to early fall in the European countries that line the Mediterranean Sea. How necessary is bug repellent there?
I’m not sure, Jessica. If you’re spending time outdoors, it is probably worthwhile to bring some, at least a little to get you by until you can find some local solution.
Abby Woody says
I second skin-so-soft, nothing works as well for me personally! The only drawback is that it’s a liquid, so it needs to either be checked or <3 oz. for travel.
Several years ago I picked up some peppermint soap from a vendor at my farmers market- she said it works well to keep mosquitoes away. I’ve used it in tropical places around the world ever since- it works great! I use it for regular washing at night, but then before I go out in the morning I’ll get the bar and my skin a little wet and rub it on (don’t wash it off). I have really sensitive skin and this has been a great find.
Mandy D says
Can anyone elaborate a little on the Avon Skin So Soft?
I am completely unfamiliar with Avon so I looked on their website. There are a ton of products in that line – do they ALL work for mosquitoes?
I can visit a nearby store and ask for “original shower gel.” What about lotion? And if you use it in the morning, is it still effective by evening?
I have just come back from 7 weeks in Southeast Asia. I bought a lavender spray mosquito repellant in Hanoi which worked an absolute treat and with the bonus of not having a stinky chemical smell.
My friend introduced me to an all natural balm a few years ago and now it is the only thing i use when traveling. Badger Anti-Bug Balm
I love that I dont need to worry about aerosoles or travel size issues when I’m not checking a bag. It has sort of a citronella candle scent but I prefer that over the chemical bug spray scent!
I had a pediatrician tell me, better to use deet on my kids than have them die from malaria! There are now some strains of Malaria in Zambia that are resistant to all cures.
When I spent time in Nola I used a bug bee gone natural solid balm – it worked really well. But I will be soon moving to SEA. I plan to spray/ soak a few sets of clothing with permethrin and bring enough concetrate for a years supply. I Havnt decided on the repellent. I’m back and forth on picardin and Liposomal dEEt 30%…..,, I really do not want Dengue Fever and I know that Mosquitos that carry the disease breed in the vincinity.
I use Victoria Secret’s Bombshell body splash as a mosquito repellent and it works great.
Not the first time I’ve heard this – very interesting! So you can smell good and keep bugs away! 🙂