The Road-Tripping Writer Who Stores Face Masks In The Glove Compartment


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"My name is Archana (@slowtravelmovement), and I’m a writer who’s currently road-tripping out west with my husband and dog. I've always been a huge traveler—I get it from my parents who grew up in India, lived in Malaysia, and have been everywhere from Paris to Thailand. I met my husband in college, and fortunately he has that same zest for exploration. From 2011 to 2012, we backpacked around South America, Hawaii, and Asia, and it was one of the best experiences of our lives. But we weren’t working then, so this road trip is a happy blend of wanderlust without bleeding money. Right now we’re in Ojai, California for three months. Then we’re headed to Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.

While we’re on the road, I’m working as a content strategist and copywriter for brands with a wellness bent. For about 15 years I was a writer and editor for magazines like Entertainment Weekly and Condé Nast Traveler. The shift from traditional journalism to marketing copy was initially scary—“the dark side!” people would say in journalism school—but I love creating stories for companies who are putting out good in the world (clean beauty, healthy pet food, etc.).

I’d call myself a Type A hippie—a mix between a free spirit and a lover of routine. In New York I’d experiment—the Victoria Beckham bob, smoky eyes, funky manicures. Then in San Diego, it was all about a low-fuss look. Because space and money are at a premium for me right now, I'm traveling with only one toiletry kit and a Glossier pouch. But what’s great about traveling by car is that you’re not restricted to TSA parameters. I stuff face masks and shampoo into the glove compartment and other nooks. I’ve also gotten my husband into skincare, so we share a lot of the products. And logistically, the type of packaging matters too—no pump bottles!

I love experimenting with serums and balms and exfoliants, but my skin freaks out if I do too much. In the mornings, if I’m not working out, I just rinse my face with water. If I’ve worked out, I use The Holistic Science Co.’s Olive and Marula Cleansing Oil, and follow with their Pure SPF 15. It’s not the highest SPF out there, but the consistency is incredible. I seal it up with their Precious Flower Oil, which has red raspberry seed oil, a natural sun protectant. Sometimes I’ll use The Holistic Science Co.'s Vitamin A.C.E. Super Antioxidant Facial Serum, which is powerful and helps with my dark spots (relics of pimples past!). It can be a bit drying, so I don't use it every day.

Mid-day, I like to spritz Wildcare's Ojai White Sage hydrosol. Not sure it adds much, but it smells damn good and helps the 3PM drowsies. My deodorant is Agent Nateur, the only aluminum-free deodorant I’ve loved thus far. And of course body SPF! I use Loving Naturals Clear Body SPF 30. It’s very oily, but I like that it clocks in at 1 on the EWG hazard scale.

That’s often all I do if I’m just working at home. But other times I add Lily Lolo Big Lash Mascara, Glossier Stretch Concealer in G6, and lip balm—either Burt's Bee’s Tinted Balm in Red Dahlia, or L:A Bruket Almond Coconut Lip Balm, which is the best, smoothest lip balm I've ever tried. “Glam” for me means adding Glossier Haloscope in Topaz and either Wet N Wild liquid eyeliner in Black (I haven’t found a great clean option, so recommendations welcome!) or a lipstick like Glossier Generation G in Zip or Kosas in Fringe. I fill my eyebrows in with Revlon’s ColorStay Brow Pencil in Dark Brown. I had huge caterpillar brows as a kid, started waxing in my early teens, and they’ve been wonky ever since. Now I only thread my brows and upper lip, which is tough while traveling through these small towns. So I mainly tweeze…even my upper lip, which is pure torture.

At night, I start my more full-on routine by cleansing with Glossier Milky Jelly. I love that the consistency is somewhere between a cream and an oil. Then when my skin is still slightly damp, I pat on Josh Rosebrook’s Active Infusion Serum, which has calendula, turmeric, rose hips, licorice, and lots of other goodness. I’ve tried a lot of serums, but I notice a glow with this one almost immediately. I let that sit for about a minute and then apply a thick moisturizer. I’m currently loving The Grapeseed Company’s Cali Vine Face Cream. I got it at the Ojai farmers’ market and the founder said it was the one item she’d take with her to a desert island. She’s not wrong—it’s spectacular. In the winter, I use H is for Lovers Bara Facial Balm, which is deliciously thick and helps with hyperpigmentation. It’s not cheap but a little goes a long way. I then seal things up with Sara Elizabeth Skincare’s All-in-One Neroli Oil, or for a cheaper option, GoPure Beauty’s cold-pressed rosehip oil. My skin is dry, so besides trying to chug water, I’m all about oils.

Twice a week I exfoliate with Sara Elizabeth’s Blueberry & Oatmeal Enzyme Powder. I also loved Eminence Organics’ Bright Skin Licorice Root Exfoliating Peel—people would stop to compliment my glowing skin, but it didn’t make the road trip cut and I felt guilty about the waste of single-use pads. Once a week I apply Botnia Skincare’s Kale Yeah! mask with goat’s milk yogurt when I can find it. It gets crusty but doesn’t tighten and crack, and when I wash it off, my skin has bounce. For body scrub, it’s another Ojai farmers’ market find: Ojai Sugar Co.’s First Rain Body Exfoliant (my husband uses her incredible Beard & Aftershave Oil). And I go into a panic if I don’t moisturize post-shower. My go-to is The Holistic Science Co.’s Smell Good, which is technically for men. But if that’s not available, a lotion like Alaffia’s Neem Turmeric will do.

I’m pretty terrible at hair and nails. I have fine, naturally curly/wavy hair—I looked like Shirley Temple as a toddler. But I always wanted stick-straight locks. In elementary school before straighteners were a thing, I thought I could get the look by running baby oil through my strands. What a mess. Then I embraced curls in college and used mousse that resulted in crunchy curls. My preference now is blowing out my hair with a round brush and adding cool-girl waves with a curling iron, but that’s not practical on the road. So I’m trying to love my natural curls again. I use O Way Moisturizing Hair Bath and Rahua Voluminous Conditioner. I’ve found some success with Innersense’s Quiet Calm Curl Control, a splash of Oway Flux Potion for hold, and air drying, but with traveling, different water, and different climates, my hair morphs all the time. Right now it’s thin and broken from the arid Ojai weather and hot yoga. I’ve been doing a bit of warmed-up olive or coconut oil on my ends once a week, but it’s often a greasy mess until a few washes later. As you can tell, it’s complicated.

My nails are very brittle—I take Biotin daily—and I have a bad habit of peeling them. I’d even peel gel polish, which makes my spine tingle just thinking about it! I should be better about moisturizing my hands because I get a lot of hangnails. Lano Rose Hand Cream has a thick consistency that’s not overly goopy.

I don’t expect to do all of this when we’re camping, but otherwise, yes! That’s the perk of traveling slowly—a week here, a month there. We can explore but still maintain some routines. If I wasn’t living out of a 55L backpack and a duffel, I’d do pretty much all of the above anyway, but add a jade roller and cool mist humidifier. And maybe some facials.”

Photos via the author