The Low-Key Traveler’s Beauty Kit

Whether or not you’re a girlie-girl, it’s possible to make yourself feel feminine without filling your backpack with beauty products. A little bit can go a long way when it comes to makeup.

For the lips

A tinted lip balm can keep your lips moist while adding a bit of color. Pick one with sunscreen for added protection.

I recommend:

  • Savannah Bee Company Beeswax Lip Tint in Tupelo Honey Shimmer, 3-pack for $13.00 is made with real beeswax.
  • BalmShelter Tinted Gloss SPF 17 in Girly Girl for $15.28 on Amazon offers sunscreen for those who prefer a glossy look. Get some from Amazon >>

For the face

As with tinted lip balm, a tinted lotion with SPF puts three products in one. It saves precious space when it comes down to a few items. Concealer can cover up zits and if you dab it on your eyelids it makes you look more awake. It helps get rid of that zombie-like look that comes from jet lag. And don’t forget to pack face wash to keep those pores clean.

I recommend:
dream mousse

  • CoverGirl Smoothers SPF 15 Tinted Moisturiser, Fair to Light, $6.24 on Amazon has built-in sunscreen. Get it on Amazon >>
  • Maybelline Dreame Mousse Concealer Corrector, $3.82 on Amazon is in mousse form, which is one less thing to spill in your bag. Get it on Amazon >>
  • Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towlettes, 25 Count, $4.97 for one pack on Amazon offers disposable towlettes so you don’t have to drag around a wet washcloth or towel. Get them on Amazon >>

For the eyes

A tube of mascara is plenty for me as far as eye makeup goes, especially since it takes up hardly any room. A bit of saline solution dropped in your mascara can keep it from clumping. Whether or not you pack eyeliner and eyeshadow is a judgment call.

I recommend:
bare minerals

  • Maybelline The Colossal Volume Express Washable Mascara, $5.27 on Amazon doesn’t stay stuck on after you wash your face. Get it on Amazon >>
  • Maybelline Studio Lasting Eyeliner, $7.99 on Amazon, keeps you from having to bring an eye pencil sharpener. Get it on Amazon >>
  • Bare Escentuals bareMinerals Ready Eyeshadow in The Afterparty, $28.99 on Amazon, is made with natural ingredients and this palette combines an everyday look with the smoky eyes for going out. Get it on Amazon >>

For the hair

Two plastic hair ties, the ones without clasps, should be enough for your trip, even if you lose one. For travel days when you don’t have time to shower, you can use dry shampoo or baby powder to soak up the grease.

I recommend:

  • Scünci No-Damage Ponytail Holders, 18 count, $2.49 on Amazon, doesn’t get tangled like the metal clasp hair ties. Get them on Amazon >>
  • Oscar Biandi 1 oz. Pronto Dry Shampoo is $11 on Amazon and has been rated by Allure as their top beauty product. I prefer it to the aerosol type because it doesn’t contain CFCs. Get it on Amazon >>
  • Pack your preferred brand of shampoo and conditioner in TSA-friendly travel sized bottles. Get them on Amazon >>

What do you pack in your beauty kit?

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Gear We Use


Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.

Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.

Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking! – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Isabel says

    I always struggle to decide how much make up I should take with me when traveling and that list is pretty exhaustive without being too long so thank you for sharing!

    I think skin care is as important as make-up, especially when I am on the road (first taking the plane, then the change of climate… my skin doesn’t appreciate it much!). That’s why I recommend the Karin Herzog travel kit, I just love that oxygen skincare and cannot leave without it!

  2. Fee says

    When your socks wear out, cut the top elastic off of them and use as hair ties – they work well in any weather, hold well (I have waist length hair) and can be washed when you shower 🙂

    I’ve got 6 hair ties that I take everywhere, usually on my wrists/in pockets and they’ve never failed yet.

  3. Marjorie says

    I make sure my lip gloss/lip stick works doubled up as a blush and eye color. I’ve also put my broken eyeshadows into old contact cases, added rubbing alcohol, and created small solid eyeshadows. I love my makeup, but I love traveling light even more!

  4. Vanessa says

    I can’t wait to try some of these products – I can’t wait to try the mascara, as I am on a never ending search for a decent mascara that doesn’t clump, smudge, flake, or make me look like Twiggy.

    Olay make an amazing all-in-one DRY cleansing wipe that is perfect for travel. I keep half my sheets whole and use them for ultra fast showers in hostels. I cut the rest into quarters and use them just for washing my face. A tiny part of the wipe can really go a long way.

    I also love a dry powdered strawberry-rhubarb dermafoliant that acts as a face or even body exfoliant. Made my Eminence (a spa/facial product company), this is a ricebran powdered based exfoliant that you can mix with a tiny amount of water, lotion, or cleanser to form a face scrub. I’ve also used it all over my body as a body scrub. Try taking a tiny bit in one of those micro-sized camping salt shaker.

    I’ve made a list of 10 non-liquid, TSA friendly toiletries if you need more info.

  5. Kelly says

    I was living in New Zealand when I was introduced to Thin Lizzy 6-1 powder. Essentially you layer the powder in different ways to produce natural foundation, blush, lip wear and eye shadow. I tired it once and regrettably did not purchase it while I was there (I remember it not being too expensive but at the time I wouldn’t spend a dime on anything that didn’t furthur my traveling) and am not sure where to get it now although I’m sure a quick google search would help. Then all you need is mascara and a brush!! 🙂 Another note, is to try and see what the costs of make up will be if you plan on purchasing it in a new country! I never would have expected that it would cost so much more than in Canada and I ended up having my friends send me tubes of cover-up. We’re talking 23NZD for what I was used to paying about 8CDN for! :S I would have thrown in a few tubes knowing I would be there over a year and def lost some with all the moving.

  6. Claire says

    Instead of buying makeup remover wipes for upwards of $5.00 for a 25 pack (which it’s pretty steep when travelling on a budget, especially longer periods of time), try baby wipes (the ones you get in the travel bag, not the box) which run between $3-5 for a pack of 70-80. I’ve personally been using baby wipes to remove my makeup for years and I LOVE IT! It doesn’t dry out your face and takes off even the most stubborn waterproof mascara and the best part is that you really get the most bang for your buck.

  7. KC says

    Many companies now make a multi-use crayon, from Cover Girl to Nars to Ulta’s house brand. I think it’s the best makeup product I own. Lips, cheeks, & eyes are covered with a light tawny shade. Also I carry a red lip stain. It’s a tiny tube and you only need a drop, and it doubles as a cheek stain. Now if I could just find a concealer that stays on during travel and high humidity! Thanks for all the great tips; I love your website.

  8. Mindy says

    Being that I am a low maintenance mamma, I rarely do make up.
    But I have found that Baby Wipes are a blessing !
    Besides cleaning make up off, it is a good way to take a quick “bath”
    For lip gloss / protection, I Love Nivea! They have products that have the sunscreen with no color, or you can get a cute color too!
    This is what I use, but purchased at my local drug store.

  9. b0hemian says

    • Perfect Pigment by Christina Cosmetic in mirrored compact
    • Retractable Natural Bristle brush for makeup
    • Blistex lip ointment
    • SPF doubling as moisturizer (organic no nano-zinc from Etsy seller)
    The compact has 4 sections of color and I use them all for all over face color, eye shadow and blush
    On days when I absolutely don’t want to wear any makeup I wear the SPF only

  10. Ellie says

    I don’t wear make up normally but lip balm goes with me everywhere, for my dry lips.

    Nice to see the hair ties were mentioned 🙂 I always have 3-4 hair ties on my wrist so wherever I am or whatever I’m doing I can get my hair out of my face, or put it up if it’s looking greasy. I keep 2 thin ones and a thick one (or two if the first is wearing thin)

    They also make useful ties in an emergency or for organising items.

  11. Eluzabeth says

    Game changer ladies! Try the makeup eraser! Its a goofy little microfiber washcloth that weighs nothing. Follow the directions- launder once before using, then get the thing soaking wet- don’t ring it out. With just water and this rag ALL of your makeup comes off! Yes! Mascara too! Think about being able to ditch face soap, makeup remover, wipes and cotton balls! Soooooo much better for the environment, and your skin! This thing works! No more hunting down face soap in foreign lands that won’t burn your face, or running out of makeup remover! Yes, we can travel easier wearing mascara!


  1. […] You can get hold of basic toiletries everywhere in South America, although if you want well-known brands you’ll have to pay more. Be prepared with sun lotion which you’ll need not only on the beach but also in high altitude climates where you can burn more easily. For those who wear contact lenses, I’ve found the quality in South America varies a lot and they’re pretty expensive (the cleaning solution also), so try to bring enough pairs to cover your trip and mix and match with glasses to make your supply last longer. Regarding makeup, I find eye liner, mascara, mini eye shadow compact and tinted lip balm is enough. (See our low-key traveler’s beauty kit.) […]

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