Nothing says “I’m a backpacker” quite like sleeping in hostels and carrying a gigantic backpack. Nothing, that is, except having unkempt feet. You can’t expect to travel a thousand miles (or more) in Havaiana flip-flops and not do some serious damage to your feet. All hope is not lost, however. If you pack a few things and do a little preventative maintenance you can be proud to walk the Cinque Terre trails or the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage on your own two beautiful feet.
What to pack? (Left to right.)
- A solid color for your toenails.
- A dense glitter polish to coat the solid color. Essential!
- A pumice stone. (Wash, rinse and dry any new pumice stones before packing.)
- Nail clippers.
- Nail polish removing pads.
- Nail file (background).
How to maintain your pretty paws on the road?
- Before you go, give yourself a pre-pedicure. Remove any nail polish, soak your feet, remove dead skin with a foot file or other tool, clip and shape toe nails, and finally cover feet with foot lotion and a pair of socks for at least a few hours.
- Once the lotion is thoroughly absorbed, go over toe nails with polish remover to eliminate any residual traces of oil. Paint your toes with two coats of a solid color, then top with a layer or two of glitter polish. You know how glitter polish is a pain in the butt to remove? Yeah, that’s what you’re going for here.
- (If you get a salon pedicure before you go, choose a salon that will provide you with a mini-bottle of polish for touch-ups, or that will sell you the colors you need. A budget-friendly option would be getting a solid-color pedicure in the salon and then topping with your own dense glitter top coat.)
- During your trip, wash your feet at every opportunity and use the pumice stone to scrub your heels and any callouses that form on your feet. Carrying foot lotion isn’t the best use of space in your backpack, but do use your regular body lotion to hydrate the skin on your feet. If you’re in a place that has laundry you can use socks to help the moisture really penetrate your skin, but I’d skip this step unless laundry was in the immediate future (carting around smelly socks is bad enough, I can’t even imagine carting around smelly socks that were also greasy from lotion).
- Trim and file toe nails as needed.
- You’ll be thanking me for that glitter top coat by now. Repair any minor chips to the pedicure as they arise. After three or four weeks you can use the polish-removing pads to remove your toenail polish (if it won’t come off make sure to hold the pad on the polish for a minute or two before rubbing; you can also wrap the pad onto the toenail with a little piece of aluminum foil for extra glitter-fighting power) and re-paint your nails to keep them looking fresh.