How to avoid smelling like a dead animal while backpacking

by Amanda/Backpacking Tips Asia
(Oslo, Norway)

For us long-term travelers, balancing between lightweight backpacking and at the same time not smelling like a dead mouse, might get forgotten on the road.

Because you're simply trying to get from A to B, and you're busy exploring and finding new awesome things to experience, your looks and hygiene might get neglected in the process. And the hot and humid weather doesn't exactly make it any better. You're sweating and sometimes feel like crap - so why bother?

You don't need to carry extra kilos to maintain hygiene and to feel better.

First, why avoid smell like a dead animal:

  • You're not the only one on the road. You make everyone's lives around you better, including yours.

  • If you look like shit and smell like shit in front of border officials or other government officials (ex. visa application), they'll suspect you for something you probably are not (a bum, a drug lord/user, an overstayer etc). Look clean and neat, that's all I can say.

  • When you look and smell better, you'll feel better, meaning you're emotionally more prepared for upcoming travels.

    It's much more simple than you originally thought.

    Here are some tips:

    1. Wear deodorant and this will make your life and others lives around you better. When sweating excessively, it becomes more important to apply not only once, but maybe 2-3 times a day.

      Invest in a good deodorant. It should be a good deodorant that lasts for hours, not one of those cheap ones that last for less than an hour.

    2. Don't have any clean clothes or underwear? Wear them inside out or pick up a t-shirt at the local market. Have a bar soap available and wash your underwear the day before you get on a bus. They don't need to be completely dry when you put them on - the heat will take care of that.

      Hanging clothes in Thailand

    3. Let's imagine that you're sitting on the train, you feel that the sweat is trickling down. You're fantasizing about a cold, cold shower because you feel so frigging dirty.

      Well, in the mean time, use wet wipes. They are useful in so many ways, like wiping off sweat and dirt from your face, neck, hands and body. You won't regret it.

      I use wet wipes all the time when I'm on a long bus journey in Thailand or taking the train in India. I wipe off dirt from the face, neck and my upper back. I feel so much better after this.

      Note that I'm talking about regular wet wipes for body, and not anti-bacterial wet wipes. I have another pack of anti-bacterial available in my traveling bag.

    4. Before boarding a bus or train, take a shower. Use a scented soap, or even better a mint bar soap. You'll feel fresh because of the mint effect and it smells good!

      Local bus in India

      Have in mind though that water is scarce in many Asian countries. So be smart about taking those showers; take a short shower instead of standing there for 30 minutes. Yeah, there's enough freshwater on the planet, but it's distributed unevenly and too much of the water is wasted.

    5. Ladies, having your period? Bring tampons for the trip and use them instead of pads.

      Sign in Asia

      If you run out, they sell tampons at pharmacies and supermarkets in most countries in Asia (mostly big cities and tourist areas). Use body/feminine wipes too.

    So, a summary of how to avoid smelling like a dead animal:
    - Wise use of deodorant
    - Wise use of showers (short showers)
    - Bar soap, preferably mint (can be used for wash of clothes and body)
    - Wet wipes for body (a MUST!)
    - (tampons and feminine wipes)


    Posted: Jan 31, 2013

  • Comments for How to avoid smelling like a dead animal while backpacking

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    May 19, 2013
    Additional tips
    by: Anonymous

    Wear lightweight merino wool like Icebreaker or clothes made from bamboo, this will reduce or eliminate any smell. I like the icebreaker because it also has a UV rating and I recently bought some Coolibar zno bamboo clothes with upf 50, but didn't field test it for smell yet.
    I use a deoderant called "safety 5 days" and it's fantastic! It eliminates smell for up to 5 days (usually 3-4 for me), you can wash, shower and swim like normal without reducing the effect and it does not clog pores. Miracle stuff!

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