RTW Vanity

Almost five months in seems like an ideal time for a frivolous topic…vanity. If you’ve been following our blog & thought I was a down to earth gal unconcerned with appearance, I will now disappoint you.

How does one keep beautified from the road? Not very well. Here’s the straight truth for my gal friends who appreciate a little maintenance.

Rockin' Bugs Away Gear in Tokyo

Rockin’ Bugs Away Gear in Tokyo


My much beloved flat iron sits back at home. Less than a quarter of the places we stay have a blow dryer. My stylist back home, who kept my locks blonde, does not do rtw housecalls.  In going brunette again, I was confronted with an army of gray hairs. Safe to say, a good hair day is a rare sight.

In Lao, I desperately needed a cut.  There was a rumor in Luang Prabang that all hairdressers cut with razors — that only one stylist has an actual pair of scissors & that’s the one the falangs go to. I had also heard that the stylist was a “lady boy.” I spent my appointment trying to ascern whether my hair dresser was really a man or a woman but more importantly learned that one inch doesn’t translate and I became the owner of a very short & very uneven Prince Valiant bob. Alas, hair grows.

Lao barber shop

Lao barber shop


Those who travel to SE Asia insist that you must get regular massages. They are ridiculously cheap…$7 or so for an hour!

In Luang Prabang, I asked my Aussie neighbor where to go.   This is almost verbatim what she said, “I go right around the corner. There are three blind men. It’s only $6 & its very basic but they’re quite good. There’s a simple mattress you lie on…I think its actually their bed…& they just go at it.” Now, this is a well put together professional young woman so I knew I wasn’t getting the full picture. But I thought to myself “Can I lie naked on a blind man’s bed?” Decidedly no.

Red Cross massage room...a very good cause

Red Cross massage room…a very good cause

When I did finally get a massage, I learned that one doesn’t strip down as we are accustomed to in the U.S.  Instead one wears somewhat loose pajamas.  And after investigation, the blind masseurs turned out to be a very reputable Red Cross organization.


Tevas — did I mention how much I hate my tevas? You can be svelt & tall with long flowing locks & an adorable outdoor outfit from Lulumon but you put on those tevas…and you’re just another granola hippie. Now I can say this because I grew up surrounded by granola hippies…my parents were granola hippies…I KNOW the look & I don’t want to replicate it so why on earth did I buy Tevas?? Yech. Hate them. First thing in the trash when this trip ends. DYING for my FitFlops. Yeah, say what you want, it’s the truth.

Tevas...hate. Keens...love.

Tevas…hate. Keens…love.


I’m a corporate girl. I have a corporate face. MAC helps me put it together each morning. I hadn’t planned on bringing make up on this trip. In the end I did bring down a pared down bag. What’s been interesting along the way is when I’ve felt the need to put it on. At home, it was EVERY day. On the road, I admit I’ve been influenced by where we’ve been. Cambodia? Nope, not a lick. Tokyo? Every day!

It’s been a great lesson for me how, even at 44 years old, I let myself be influenced. Being in a modern city like Tokyo or Munich, where the women around me have coiffured hair, make up & beautiful clothes…I can feel inadequate. The only thing I can do some days — short of a shopping spree, which is NOT what this trip is about — is put on a little blush & mascara & pretend my tevas are stilettos.

Bad hair? Check. No make-up? Check. More relaxed & happy than ever? Check!

Bad hair? Check. No make-up? Check. More relaxed & happy than ever? Check!


Oh lord. There is NO variation in my wardrobe. I have to say, I do love my Ex-Officio Bugs Away pants. Good thing, I wear them almost EVERY day.

Smart wool socks. They are the bomb. Nuff said.

Shirts. I alternate two t-shirts from Everlane — they are identical v-neck shirts but one is black & one is navy. They were produced in the US, inexpensive & I love them.  They are not quick drying but I can put on a necklace & sort of fool myself that I’m dressed up.

A cooling towel as a fashion accessory.

A cooling towel as a fashion accessory.


In the U.S., we are snackers. Oh, it’s between meals? I must eat a snack to tide me over. In Japan & SE Asia, this was decidedly not the case & between the lack of snacking, amount of walking & small meal sizes, I lost weight. Sweet!

Of course, within two weeks of our landing in Germany, this was reversed. I HAVE NEVER SEEN SUCH BIG PORTION SIZES IN MY LIFE.  And yes, thank you, I’m aware I don’t have to eat it just because it’s in front of me.

Light snack in Germany

Light snack in Germany


Kyle and I do a 7-minute work out app on the ipad daily. Is it effective? Uh, it’s a 7-minute work out.

So there you go…vanity on the road. It still exists & surges in cosmopolitan cities but there’s little recourse whether in a small Lao village or in downtown Buenos Aires, I can only rock my Ex-Officios…and I’m ok with that.

How much do I really need?

How much do I really need?

8 thoughts on “RTW Vanity

  1. I love anything Keen related. get a pair of their sandals for the rest of the route! get rid of the icky tevas

    • Paulette, we’re currently in snow boots country & surrounded by stores showcasing Uggs. Where did I but boots for the kids and me? The German equivalent of the dollar store!

      • it will be summer in argentina. have maggie bring a pair! congrats on getting her out of the country btw. i told her to get a passport last year. it took having her grandkids in South America to get out of the USA

  2. I am very proud of you for wearing the tevas – I can`t say I could do it although I did wear crocs in the last month of my pregnancy. Even more exciting is that tomorrow I will be wearing my black v-neck Everlane t-shirt!

    • Dinah, I have to see photographic evidence that you wore Crocs…I don’t believe it! Of course you would have an Everlane v-neck! Best place to get a high quality, good looking, locally made t for $15. Miss you, D!

  3. LOL this reminds me of when Bryan and I were traveling around Southeast Asia, for two months, with only carry-on baggage, so pretty minimal. I had this pair of bright lime green Keens that are a lot like your Tevas. One day Bryan asks me if I didn’t feel my bright green Keens made me stick out. My answer: “I’m a redhead in Southeast Asia; I stick out regardless of what is on my feet.” So, yeah.

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