I’m Ugly When I Travel: No Makeup, No Problem

i'm ugly when i travel

I’ll admit, I’ve never been the best at spending money on clothing and spending hours in a salon trying to get my look just right. If anything, spending that money has always been hard for me because I can very easily see it going to a plane ticket or to some books. However, I know that is not the case for many travel bloggers. In fact, I’ve noticed that the travel bloggers that tend to attract the most attention are the ones who manage to travel—and look fabulous doing it.

I began to look into what it was that they had that I, frankly, knew I did not have but wanted to know more about. First, they usually had a professional photographer follow them around. One of my favorite bloggers, Glo from The Blog Abroad, has had some gorgeous shots taken—but she had some help from a pro. Though I have a great camera and have been working on my pictures, there is no way on earth you could call me a professional, and I refuse to have a ton of photos taken of myself, I was surprised to learn this was such a trend.

These influencers look flawless, and I’ve been wondering what I’ve been doing wrong considering I usually look disgusting when I travel. I almost never wear makeup, and I discovered having short hair is the best thing I ever did when I adopted a more nomadic lifestyle. Much different than the influencers I’ve seen with their flowing hair and perfectly tan legs.

I’ve had a travel blog for three years now, and this one for a year. When I started The Wayfaring Voyager, I had to think about the image I wanted this blog to portray. I had seen the recommended SalonTouch tanning salon software must haves, and thought to apply it to my situation. Did I want to be the girl who touted a lifestyle that looked pretty much unattainable, or did I want to be honest and to share the challenges (and the triumphs) I’ve faced while traveling?

In the end, I decided what was more important was the journey than rather how I looked on my Instagram page. I started the site as a way to offer information to Generation-Y travelers and to serve as a way to continue traveling.

I don’t look good when I travel. But I have fun, and I’m not so worried about appealing to others who care about inauthentic travel. I’m definitely not an Instagram model or the most beautiful travel blogger, but I am passionate about the places I go. (And it saves time on the road—more time seeing the beautiful destinations and experiencing cultures!)

Keep wandering,

Alex Signature Wander


    1. Post
  1. Staci

    Great perspective. I try to put on a little moisturizer and mascara, but mostly I prefer to spend my time out and about instead of parked in front of a mirror 🙂

    1. Post
    1. Post
    2. Post
    1. Post
    1. Post
  2. Leigh | Campfires & Concierges

    Same! A lot of my trips are adventure vacations, like backcountry trips, but even other vacations, I rarely pack makeup. There are like 2 pictures of me in Asia because I was so sweaty and disgusting the whole time, lol! I’m taking a career break to travel later this year and haven’t decided if I’ll bring any makeup along or not!

    1. Post
  3. Future Expat

    Yes!! My routine consists of bb cream with spf 20, some blush and eyeliner on a good day. That’s the best thing about traveling with boys they get ready just as quick! I love the genuine nature of your blog, so relatable. And your photos are definitely enough to inspire some wanderlust 🙂

    1. Post
    1. Post
  4. Ellie Cleary

    Good for you! It feels great, doesn’t it? I think the more real we can be the better. I did the same when travelling over a year ago and stopped wearing makeup (except mascara occasionally for an evening out) – and the best thing? My skin felt so much better for it! These days, I haven’t worn any makeup for the last year or so, even in London my home town, and I love it! 🙂

  5. waitingforrain28

    I agree with you strategy here! Focusing on having a good time while traveling, rather than wearing make-up is definitely a good thing. But I really believe that being happy makes you beautiful, not make up anyway. 😀

  6. Anna

    Same here. But I still need pics of myself for insts so i put on essentiale (eyebrow pencil + mascara). But one thing is sure: when your tanned you dont need makeup, nothing! XD

    1. Post
  7. abigail

    Such a relatable post! I actually find I can get annoyed when people are taking a gazzilion selfies and are stuck in front of a mirror when a new beautiful city is around them!! So way to go, travel, and be happy! Great writing style will be sure to keep following x

    1. Post
    1. Post
  8. kad8585

    Totally relate!!! I wear no make up and onlyelastic waistbands when I travel. I like to be comfortable and pack as little as possible. And I’m okay with that because that’s who I am. Great post!!

    1. Post
  9. Nate

    Great article! I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, because I want to grow my travel blog followers. When you observe others with 30k followers, you very often you see beautiful women, perfectly dressed on top of mountains, where I would rather wear hiking clothes, or they lay half naked on beaches… It’s sad, that only these things attract followers…
    However, it’s nice to see, that not everybody is like those and don’t care about make-up and nice dresses like me 🙂

    1. Post
      Alex Schnee

      It’s true. We have a hard time as travel bloggers because we are expected to have some sort of “look” about us. I’m glad we both realize that travel is about more than that. Thanks for your comment!

  10. Cristina P

    Hehe! Right there with ya! I don’t even wear make up at home.
    I do get my hair done though (at home) cause I pretty much hate my natural color haha
    Hubby does help me with the photos (he’s an awesome photographer) but it doesn’t really help that I am never “put together” :)))

    1. Post
  11. Alaine

    I wake up a bit earlier to make sure I do look cute. If I look cute on the road, it makes me feel happier and people are more willing to help me out or say ‘hi’ rather than looking like a slob. 😂 I usually don’t care what I wear around my family or when meeting friends casually (unless we’re going out to a bar)

  12. Carola

    Hi Alex,
    I usually try to only leave positive comments but I saw your link on the FTB group and I was disappointed.
    I think I understand the intention you had when you wrote this, and for me, it didn’t come across in the post.
    Why are you putting yourself (and pretty much every solo nomad out there) down like that?
    I *do* look good when I travel.
    And don’t wear make up and my clothes are usually practical not cute.
    I travel full-time. I live the lifestyle I love. And some people would argue I’m even more beautiful out there, sweaty, in baggy clothes than nicely made up in an office, behind a desk.
    Why would you call yourself ugly when you don’t adhere to the standards of others? I think that’s a low bar to go by! 😥😥😥
    Motherly rant over.
    Happy travels!

    1. darksoulsneverdie

      Carola, I couldn’t agree with you more. Who’s to say that someone is ugly just because the one is not wearing makeup? In my life I have bought only mascara and eyeliner, and I wear those sometimes only because I look 16 without that and I am 32. I am also traveling the world for 8 months now. But beauty is the combination of how you feel and represent yourself. If a person would wear dirty clothes and would stop showering, I would not call that person pretty. Even some combinations of apparel and accessories I can find tasteless, but makeup doesn’t define weather a person is pretty or not. And it doesn’t matter what do you do in life, work in an office or traveling the world.

  13. sandykul

    Haha this is such a great point!! I’m hardly ever wearing make-up when I’m travelling (especially in places like SEAsia) but for some reason I feel uncomfortable not wearing make-up when I’m home and it’s annoying because I don’t actually like putting it on! So strange how that happens hey

    1. darksoulsneverdie

      I found myself in the same situation, somehow in the city you immediately adopt the need to do unnecessary. I traveled SEAsia for 7 months, came back to Europe and can’t believe what it does to me!:))

  14. mapexplorer

    Love this post, it’s so me. Who has time to put on a face of make up when travelling. I never pack the make up bag just a good face cream to iron out a few wrinkles. Travelling is about escaping and exploring and I do it all in the natural (maybe not prettiest) way. Good on you

  15. jmeyersforeman

    love the post. I am getting use to the idea that not only do I not wear makeup, I am 30+ years older than the average age. I have wondered how I can complete without the perfect instagram photographer husband! Then again, I know that this isn’t my readership, so I will just carry one with a clean untanned face shining in the sunlight.

  16. Heather

    Who cares what you look like! Money and time are better spent travelling!! Love your post, it made me think… Looking back at my own travel photos, I am never wearing make up, but I am having an absolute blast. The fun is more beautiful than make up anyways.

  17. Raisa_Footloose

    Alex, you inspire me, I have been reading you for some time, never quite got around to leave a comment (that says Thank you!)… I am doing it now.. and I have reposted this article in my blog as well.
    Thanks for Inspiring me and all the other shy ladies out there.

    1. Post
  18. Pingback: Inspiring Alex – Wayfarer

  19. Jess

    Totally with you here, fresh faced is best! I’ve always avoided make up especially when on long journeys/flying. If I’m feeling a little pasty a tinted moisturiser goes a long way 🙂

  20. mountainmarked

    Girl, yes!!!! Full disclosure I’ve bought a tube of mascara for nights out, but makeup just isn’t something I need to prioritize out here. What’s the point? I’m out here to see and do some cool shit, not to get complements.

  21. Lindsey Nicole

    I know what you mean! I see all of these beautiful travelers always dressed perfectly from head to toe and I can’t help but wonder how they can manage all of it. I admire many fashion traveler but I couldn’t imagine going to the airport in a sun dress and high heels. I’m all about my leggings and hair in a bun. I think it’s more important to focus on the adventures and sharing quality advice to fellow travelers.

  22. Stefanie What

    It does baffle me how folks are able to travel so lightly, and yet look so good in their photos! I imagine it takes countless shots and a really good camera/lighting/etc to get the desired end product, but still! I like your idea of portraying yourself as honestly as possible. Hey, confidence looks good, after all! 😉

  23. thescribblygum

    Couldn’t agree more! Just returned from a trip with a friend who doesn’t travel often, I would read magazines and relax while I waited for her to put her face on, half an hour in the morning and half an hour at night! She looked gorgeous and I looked like a half baked potato, but who wants to put in the energy, or lug those cosmetics around?
    Great post!

  24. World Traveler

    I also don’t take many photos of myself while traveling, and when I do…you’ll get the real me. Too busy looking at the gorgeous scenery around me and taking photos of that for my travel blog than making sure I look just right for a photo. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Pingback: I Cut All My Hair Off for Travel: And I Have No Regrets – The Wayfaring Voyager

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *