When it comes to traveling long term, it’s easy to start feeling (and looking) like a slob, but indulging in the occasional beauty treatment can change your attitude.
Some destinations are known for their spa treatments, like Bath, England; Bali, Indonesia; and Sedona, Arizona in the United States. Otherwise you may just find yourself in the right place at the right time and in desperate need of a pedicure.
So here are our tips for getting beauty treatments abroad to make sure you leave feeling fresh.
Some travelers are terrified by the idea of getting their hair cut while traveling and for good reason. It can be difficult to convey the look you’re going for, especially if there’s a language barrier. But my hair is short and grows very fast, so I’ve had to get it cut while traveling twice.
During my year in Sydney, I started by going to get $20 trims from the cheap place at the mall, but when it came time to get a real cut and color, I asked my co-workers where I should go. I ended up at Blow Dry Bar in the MLC Center, getting treated to champagne while they highlighted and cut my hair.
More recently, I was in need of a cut before my friend’s wedding in Koh Samui, Thailand. I had been putting it off for weeks, but finally mustered the courage after finding a place that was open. The woman spoke excellent English and understood what I was looking for. Best of all, it only cost me $10 with tip!
Tip: If you’re nervous about getting your haircut abroad, be sure to bring pictures of what you want.
Spa, Facials and Massage
Traveling can be exhausting, so you may want to treat yourself to a massage before hopping on a 15 hour flight! It can be a fantastic way to relax while experiencing an aspect of the local culture, especially if you’re in Thailand or Sweden, countries known for their spa treatments.
I’d had a massage before, but nothing quite like a Turkish bath. I went back and forth about it, but was certainly glad I did in Fethiye, as it left me feeling more relaxed than ever with a fresh layer of skin and clean hair. In this situation, I knew the ones in Istanbul were more expensive and focused towards tourists, so I waited until later in my trip.
Tip: A little research can save you money in this regard.
While in Thailand, I didn’t go for the full massage, but did get a foot massage from the famous masseuses of Wat Po Massage School. We were rubbed down with aromatic lotion and they relieved the tension in my calves from days walking around Bangkok.
Some of the best places to get massages and treatments are at luxury hotels, so that’s a good place to start. But if you’re not ready to splurge, again ask hotel staff, or locals, for recommendations.
Tip: In Thailand, massages can be hit or miss, so make sure you’ve read up on your location. Also be sure to let them know if you have any problems with your neck or back or certain areas you want worked harder.
Getting my nails done is something I only do sparingly, but it can be nice to have my feet scrubbed and my fingernails trimmed from time to time. I went a few times in Sydney and have thought about visiting nail salons in England and elsewhere in Europe. It’s not a popular splurge in many parts of the world, so it can be nice to take advantage when you can.
Tip: My biggest tip is to confirm the price in advance.
On a layover in Los Angeles, I saw a sign for a $20 manicure and pedicure, but they ended up charging me $40 plus tip. I’d somehow agreed to a neck massage (that felt horrible!) and a scrub, thinking they were just being nice, and was fuming by the time I left.
Tips for Finding the Right Place
So if you’ve decided you want to get a beauty treatment done, where should you start? It can be overwhelming to just wander around and hope for the best when you walk into an establishment. I recommend asking your hotel concierge or an employee of your accommodation, as they will be able to tell you where they go and how much it should cost.
Tip: If you’re traveling in the United States, the StyleSeat app for iPhone and Android allows you to search by location, price range and treatment, which includes hair, nail, makeup, massages, facials and even treatments for men. It has clients in over 15,000 cities, including New York, Chicago and Miami, and allows you to see pictures of the stylist’s work and book and pay on the app.