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The Stinky Side of Travel: How to Beat Dirty Feet and Other Travel Hygiene Tips

Stinky Feet, Lollapalooza 2006

Traveling can make you dirty. In more ways than you think, but we’ll just stick to dirt of the grainy, brown variety.

It’s pretty much expected that while traveling you’re going to have to deal with a decent amount of dirt. But what can a nomad do? You can’t be dirty forever.

It doesn’t matter how big your pack is or how many pairs of underwear you’ve got. You’re going to end up wearing dirty clothes every now and then. It’s inevitable. Your shoes are going to be caked in mud at some point. You’re going to wake up with unnoticed scratches and bites. There’s no way to get around it: traveling is dirty.

Here are some of my tips on how to avoid being labeled as a stinky traveler/dirty hippie/grungy backpacker:

  1. Don’t wait until the last day to do laundry. At least one article of clothing per day should be clean. Err… at least relatively clean.
  2. I absolutely promise it’s okay: pack white clothing. Just don’t wear it when you’re planning on going out for hot dogs. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve worn the shirt, if it looks white you’re going to look clean. Even if it smells terrible. Optical illusion.
  3. Wear sneakers when going on walking tours or hikes. Flip-flops or sandals are going to get your feet dirty. Wear your shoes and you’ll be more comfortable and your feet will be more clean.
  4. Keep a small cloth towel handy on bus and train rides. At the very least a clean face will make you feel fresh & comfortable.
  5. Don’t forget to bring your soap/shampoo into the hostel shower. It happens. You grab your towel and your fresh underwear. You wait in line for the shower for 5 minutes. You finally get inside and realize you didn’t bring your soap. Oh well, guess it’s just going to be a rinse. Just try not to let this happen multiple days in a row.
  6. No shirt is cleaner than a dirty shirt. Just go topless!
  7. In hot climates, wear one shirt during the day and another in the evening. Then alternate for the next day.
  8. Floss! It’s amazing how clean you feel afterward. Even if you’re brushing your teeth with salt water.

“Grooming on the Go” Giveaway!

AXE Travel Pack

Not following any of my tips above? If you need more help staying clean, AXE is offering a “grooming on the go” travel kit for a lucky reader of this blog. The kit comes with AXE Twist travel-size products such as lotion, hand sanitizer, body spray & deodorant.

To enter this contest giveaway, just do the following:

  • Leave a comment below. Maybe you’ve got a travel hygiene tip of your own? At the very least make sure you input your e-mail address so I can find you.
  • Retweet! Retweet! Retweet!

I’ll randomly select a winner from the comments below on Saturday, 31 July 2010. So just be sure to comment before then.

New to Adam is a graphic designer who left behind a  job in Boston to travel around the world… in search of creative inspiration, new knowledge, tasty food, different cultures & interesting people. All while trying to remain as clean as possible. Please consider becoming a Facebook fan or subscribing to the RSS feed.

  1. Brandy Bell says:

    YAY! Perfect blog entry… as the proud owner of two dirty feet I dig the article. White shirt is DEFINITELY a no go for me, as I have already ruined two so far… but, if you're packing the white, make sure and squeeze a lemon into the wash water (likely in a sink) that way, when you hang it out to dry, the sunlight activates the magic lemon powers and leaves your shirt even whiter, and even fresher!
    great post!

  2. Adam says:

    Thanks Brandy! That lemon trick is a good one. The wither the shirt, the more likely you are to appear clean.

  3. Adam says:

    Haha… good point. My feet definitely are tan. At least that's what I'm claiming. And I absolutely cannot wear socks to bed. Especially in the Middle East summertime heat.

  4. Adam says:

    Don't we all.

  5. Ayngelina says:

    If it's not too hot I try to clean my feet, moisturize them and put socks on before I go to bed. Although I think now that's just wishful thinking as it's been so hot I can't tell if my feet are really dirty or really tanned.

  6. From the hostel where I worked.. Don´t throw all your laundry in to be cleaned the day that you are leaving when they shut early!

  7. Jeremy says:

    Contest what? Sign me up. I hate being stinky on the road.

  8. I always have babywipes when I travel. And a little spray of aroma old+Alcohol. It's not big, and really handy to clean and don't leave a smell (?) behind. ;)

  9. NickLaborde says:

    I've bookmarked this post, these are great tips that I can use when I hit the road.

    Right now I have no excuse for being dirty …

  10. NickLaborde says:

    Didn't know about the lemon trick, thanks.

  11. monica530 says:

    I'm a wet nap hoarder. Every time I go to restaurants or board a flight that distributes wet naps, I stash them in my bag and save them for places that don't have restrooms readily available.

    I also carry alcohol wipes too. They come in handy at sketchy restaurants and hostels.

  12. Adam says:

    Haha – I definitely snuck my laundry in right before they were supposed to be closing up. But I had to do it!

  13. Adam says:

    Babywipes are so incredibly useful! But I never have them with me.

  14. Adam says:

    Probably not but it's still okay every once in a while.

  15. Adam says:

    haha thanks Monica!

    I just stole 2 wet naps from a restaurant YESTERDAY. Keep 'em in my day pack.

  16. Megan says:

    Love this post – staying clean is something I struggle with daily! Luckily I've been travelling during the Middle Eastern summer, which means my clothes dry really quickly, so it's not hard to wash them every couple of days in the bathroom sink (I refuse to get laundry done anymore – they always shrink/destroy my clothes!)

    Am also a huge fan of babywipes – and it's not unknown for me to have a babywipe shower when I don't have time for a proper one.

    A small bottle of listerine also helps when you don't have time to brush your teeth – you'll feel and smell super clean!

  17. […] Travel Links « The Stinky Side of Travel: How to Beat Dirty Feet and Other Travel Hygiene Tips […]

  18. Adam says:

    The middle eastern summer can be brutal! I'm going through 2 shirts a day because of all the sweat!

    And mouth wash is a lifesaver as well. Always makes my mouth feel clean.

  19. kirstynoplacetobe says:

    Great Tips!

    I only have one tip for staying clean and I swear by it – Travel with a girl! Kirsty won't think twice about telling me I stink and pushing me in the nearest river/lake. Problem solved!


  20. Janet says:

    i wish i could just go topless!!
    some places are dirtier than others. In India, for example, you're just going to have to surrender to the dirt. It was annoying to constantly have dirty feet even after a shower but after awhile, I just embraced it! Now I love taking pictures of my dirty feet. It's fun(ny). :D

  21. Adam says:

    hahahaha Poi! I love that tip.

  22. Adam says:

    Thanks Janet! You're right – some places are dirtier than others. I'm totally willing to submit to being dirty when the time comes.

    Oh, and I take tons of pictures of my feet – dirty, clean, with shoes, etc. It is fun!

  23. Bigmouth Strikes says:

    When I'm banging whores or an easy slut I picked up in some shitty Mexican bar, I always wear a condom to protect myself against nasty venereal diseases, crabs, and gonorrhea. Cuz them bitches is DIRTY!!! That's my tip. Did I win?

  24. Erin says:

    The problem with white clothes is it's easy for them to get dirty. We find it hard to get them properly clean by hand washing and on a number of occasions they have come back from the lavanderia with pink blotches. And you have to do a separate load of washing from your dark clothes. Not worth the effort in my opinion.

  25. Adam says:

    I don't usually separate my whites from my darks. Too lazy for that. I will agree that white clothing is more difficult to hand-wash, but even still, I like wearing white.

  26. Adam says:

    Oh man, I stash all sorts of things: napkins, toilet paper, soap (if I'm ever in a hotel room), pens (how do I lose them so often?!). And anytime I have free access to food. I'll eat anything these days!

  27. Bhannahjane says:

    Did you say 'tip'? My tip: Don't pick at bug bites or other mysterious marks on your body. No matter how much those foreign buggers itch, oozing skin is NOT pretty. (And NOT clean.)

  28. Bhannahjane says:

    Yes! I was thinking of writing a blog on this as I'm a wet wipe hoarder as well. What other things do travelers stash like psychos? Anyone?

  29. Adam says:

    Good tip!

  30. Yeah its true that during the travel it is very difficult to take care of your body parts…especially the feets….But the post here gives many good tips to beat the stinky part of your travel….

  31. dean says:

    why not just carry around some daktarin spray, that’ll be good for an odout beater.

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