Travel Tips: Solid vs. Liquid Products

Lush products that are great for travel. Or are they?

Lush products are great for travel. Or are they? Photos by Lush.

 

Over the last two years we’ve traveled a lot. But on most trips we’ve been forced to check our luggage due to highly restrictive carry-on requirements imposed by our long-time air carrier of choice: Uzbekistan Airways. I mean choice with a bit of wink and nudge, mostly because Uz Air was just about the only carrier we could fly internationally while we were posted in Tashkent, and they had a very serious 8kg carry-on restriction. As a result, even our smallest carry-on suitcase had to be checked, despite the fact that most flights were less than 50 percent full and there was a ton of available space in the overhead bins. While it wasn’t always convenient to wait for luggage after a flight (Tashkent International Airport, I’m looking at you), it was nice to be able to pack a sufficient amount of toiletries for a two-to-three week trip.

Adapting to carry-on only travel has been a bit challenging. On our first domestic US flight we were held up at the TSA checkpoint in Houston because Paul packed his Leatherman tool in his carry-on. Um, no, that’s not allowed through security, my friends. His excuse for the oversight? That he’d been packing it in his small suitcase on every trip for the last two years, so he just did what came naturally. He also forgot to pack his dopp kit on that trip, but that’s a story for another day. Figuring out how to get all the lotions and potions into containers less than 100ml that all fit in a quart-sized bag should be second nature after more than a decade of such restrictions, but somehow the magic still eludes.

So of course I was thrilled to read about Lush’s solid shampoos, conditioners, and soaps as I was looking for product alternatives for our nearly three-week jaunt across Mexico. I’ve enjoyed a variety of Lush products over the years, especially their bath bombs (most of them, anyway. One day ask me about the one that left seaweed sludge all over the tub. Ick.). A few days before our trip Paul, my sister Cheryl, and I headed to the only Lush outlet in Houston, located at the Macy’s in the Galleria. Like most Lush shops, the space was small, but packed with the usual wonderful variety of products and scents.

We honed in on the solid products and spent a good ten minutes with one of the associates who explained the various options for shampoo, soap, lotion, conditioner, and toothpaste. We sniffed and rubbed and washed and lotioned and finally settled on the quintet of products you see in the photo collage. I’ll leave you to check out Lush’s site for specific ingredient details, but here’s a quick and dirty (ha!) review of the stuff we’re traveling with.

From top left:
Peace Massage Bar ($13.95 for 2.3 oz.): This lotion bar smells divine, and it was tough for us to choose which of the massage and lotion bars to take. I loved the fragrance mix, but Paul found it a bit overpowering. It melts beautifully into the skin, leaving a soft sheen once it’s rubbed in. However, it isn’t long-lasting at all, and in less than a week we’d used more than half of it. I’ve been conserving it and bought a small pot of Nivea at the local supermarket. For the price, I wouldn’t buy this product again to use as a lotion since it runs down so quickly.

Dirty Toothy Tabs ($4.95 for 20): These have been a fantastic surprise. Two boxes of these tablets take up about as much space as a travel-sized tube of toothpaste and don’t count against your quart-sized baggie of liquids and gels. While I don’t think that this variety tastes like mint, as advertised, the tabs do foam up nicely and clean the teeth well with a mixture of baking soda and neroli oil. They lack fluoride, which is okay for relatively short-term travel. The taste takes some getting used to, but I would absolutely buy these again for travel.

Trichomania Shampoo Bar ($9.95 for 3.5 oz.): This shampoo bar is for coconut lovers! Paul and I both tend to have slightly dry hair, so we asked for the most moisturizing shampoo in their shop. The coconut scent is sweet but not overwhelming, and the lather is rich and creamy. I’ve actually used the lather as body soap on the days I wash my hair because there’s a lot of it and it doesn’t seem to make my skin dry. This is the longest-lasting bath product we purchased, and our chunk of the bar is still going strong after two weeks. It’s also worked well for quick clothes-washing, just a quick swipe over the garment to be washed. With all that we’ve used about 1/4 to 1/3 of it. I won’t need to buy more before our next travel, but if I did, I would definitely buy this again.

Honey I Washed the Kids Soap Bar ($7.95 for 3.5 oz): This soap has a sweet, subtle honey scent, and comes complete with a little edge of beeswax straight from the hive. As much as I love the scent of this soap, we used it up very quickly (hence I’m washing with the Trichomania). It’s not a very dense product, and despite carefully conserving the bar in a soapdish that closes, it just doesn’t have much staying power. I would not buy this again (despite the heavenly scent) and I’d opt for a bar of Dove or Caress in the future.

Jungle Conditioner ($8.95, 2 oz.): Despite how short our hair is, Paul and I both like to use a bit of conditioner. This conditioner bar has a nice scent, though it’s a bit heavy on the sandalwood. Unfortunately, like the Honey I Washed the Kids soap, this bar disappeared pretty quickly. After reviewing the Lush site, it seems we may have been overusing it. It doesn’t make your hair slick the way liquid conditioner does. In fact, it’s quite hard to even sense that it’s on your hair while it’s wet, but it does work as advertised. I might buy this one again to see if more judicious use still gives a good result.

To protect all your goodies, Lush also sells aluminum containers sized for the products. They are lightweight and the product fits perfectly into them. It’s nice that they are made from a recyclable material, and even if you choose not to refill it with a Lush product, it makes a good travel accessory or mini container.

Overall I like the Lush solid products, but I’m not convinced that they are the perfect solution for travelers. However, just freeing up the space that shampoo and toothpaste take up makes a huge difference for me. Even though all of the products weren’t wins for travel, I did enjoy using all of them!

3 Unique Spas: Las Vegas, Khaolak, Istanbul

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When vacation time is at a premium what better way to maximize relaxation than with a day at the spa? On hitting your destination, an aromatherapy massage can be just the thing to help ease the transition from our 24/7 connected lifestyle. Before you depart, a luxurious, pampering treatment might help pave the way back to civilization and leave you with a sense of well-being that lasts long after the vacation ends. The average spa treatment might not be all-powerful, but a well-timed spa visit often provides the oasis of calm we need from time to time. Here are three unique spas and treatments to soothe body, mind, and spirit.

Canyon Stone Massage at Canyon Ranch Las Vegas

The Canyon Ranch Spaclub is nestled between the Venetian and Palazzo hotels, but it’s a world away from the garishness that marks so much of Las Vegas. The large spa never feels crowded, and the public areas are soothing and calm. Cell phones and electronics are banned throughout the facility, even in the locker rooms. A salt grotto in the co-ed public area and the herbal laconium in the women’s spa are two unique offerings, complemented by the usual steam room, Finnish sauna, and hot tub. During the 80-minute stone massage the therapist uses heated, smooth river rocks to work into the muscles of the back, arms, and legs, and even gives a little attention to the tummy. Toward the end she places cool stones between the toes and finishes the treatment with a gentle face massage. With numerous attendants, plenty of relaxation areas, and high-quality toiletries, this spa excels on details, as well.

Thai Massage and Pedicure at Khaolak Bhandari Spa, Khaolak, Thailand

The beachside town of Khaolak has no shortage of lovely, affordable hotels with spas, and as in most Thai beach towns there are inexpensive massage huts and shops everywhere. Set deep in the Khaolak Bhandari Resort, the Bhandari Spa is surrounded by fountains and makes the most of its lush, tropical location. While many treatments are offered in private rooms, the main treatment area for Thai-style massage, pedicures, and foot massage is located in an open pavilion where several patrons receive their services at the same time. On arrival, after crossing the bridge over a lily pond, each guest is offered a refreshing iced tea and a cool towel. This ritual marks your entry into the serene beauty of the spa. Those receiving a treatment in the pavilion change into comfortable fisherman-style pants and a loose linen top and then take their place on a thick, cushioned mat. Afternoon treatments are often accompanied by a rainstorm, and the cool breeze and patter of raindrops enhances the deeply relaxing environment. While the Bhandari Spa doesn’t offer complimentary steam rooms or hot tubs, it offers an incredible environment and the legendary smiling Thai customer service. All services end with a steaming cup of ginger-honey tea, enjoyed on a deck overlooking the spa’s gardens and lily pond.

Zevk-i Sefa at Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam, Istanbul, Turkey

The Ayasofya Hamam boasts a magnificent location: directly between the Blue Mosque and the Ayasofya in the Old City of Istanbul. It’s in just the right place for an early evening treatment after a long day of sightseeing. Built in the 16th century by the renowned architect Sinan, this Turkish bathhouse boasts the traditional treatments with a modern twist, all offered in a beautifully restored marble bath with stunning domes overhead. The traditional Turkish bath involves bathing with hot water poured from golden bath bowls, resting on a heated marble slab for about 20 minutes, and the famous scrubbing using a rough silk mitt. It’s not for the demure, as your bath attendant gets up close and personal with everything. A rich bubble wash and gentle soap massage complete the experience. At Ayasofya you can add even more luxury, and the Zevk-i-Sefa also includes a full body clay mask (complete with another bubble wash), and a luxurious oil massage given in a private area near the top of the bathhouse dome. Watching the late afternoon light transition from light blue to deep navy through the pinholes glass in the dome is relaxing all on its own.

Photo: Hurrem Sultan Hammam, courtesy of Satayman, via Wikimedia Commons