Fair warning, I’m going to use the C word a lot in this post. I know it’s a word that makes a lot of people cringe and feel uncomfortable but in a post like this, it just has to be done. I’m talking of course…about chafing.
Most people with an average body size have come face to face…er…thigh to thigh with the infamous chub rub. Thighs that rub up against one another with every step can cause a redness and a burn that will ruin your day. Travelers especially are susceptible to bad chafing, due to all the walking involved in exploration. If you’re a traveler and you are facing the dreaded thigh burn, here’s how to deal with chafing while traveling.
I’m one of those people that is constantly hit with a stream of ailments. Colds, rashes, tummy troubles, joint pains, blisters the size of China, random infectious tropical diseases, you name it. So when it got to the point where I was ready to saw my own legs off in Europe, I wasn’t entirely surprised.
I have a weird-shaped body and finding any pants that truly fit me is next to impossible. I generally just have to settle for pants that mostly fit. And on my third day in Belgium, I got so sick of hoisting my pants back onto my mountainous hips that I finally gave in and just let them be where they wanted to be. This, of course, resulted in the mid-seam of my pants resting right in the spot where my thighs meet.
At the end of that day, I felt an intense stinging while I showered and was concerned to find itchy red patches on my thighs. But I figured it would be healed by morning and moved on with life.
Enjoying the views in Ghent, while ignoring the burning pain on my legs
Over the next few days, the red patches got worse and I found myself checking out the small pharmacy section in a Belgian corner store. I found some large bandages that I could layer to cover the painful bits of my legs and found some relief when walking.
However, I quickly ran out of bandages and the process of peeling them off my itchy red thighs at the end of the day got very painful. By the time I got to Romania, I found myself in a pharmacy asking for an anti-itch cream and a new solution to the sticky bandages. By this point, the patches had spread to cover the majority of my thigh area, and my skin was raw, red, and very inflamed.
As I thought about other options, I ended up buying one of those long bandages similar to what you’d use to wrap a sprained ankle. I wrapped each upper leg in layers of the fabric and found a lot of relief from the pain. However, these bandages lost the battle with gravity and by the end of my day exploring Timisoara, I had a ring of bunched up bandage sitting above my knees, and no coverage on my stinging thighs.
Love these pants, but they don’t love me back 🙁
I googled how to deal with chafing while traveling, and didn’t find much help there either. I managed to get through the rest of my trip using the anti-itch cream and the large sticky bandages, but it took a lot away from my experiences. I would have had the drive to do so much more in Germany if I wasn’t wincing in pain with every step.
Fast forward to a year later, and I find a super cheap flight to the city of Merida in Mexico. I had never been to Mexico before, but I knew one thing for certain: it would be hot. And hot weather meant shorts and sweaty thighs.
I was so scared about repeating the Great Chafe of 2017 that I began doing hours of research on some of the best anti-chafing products out there. Determined to really find the best one, I gathered a whole collection of products and tested them all while in Merida. Here’s what my dedicated research found.
How to deal with chafing while traveling:
Body Glide for Her
Much of what I had read online listed Body Glide for Her as one of the best products to prevent chafing while traveling. I gave Body Glide for Her a try on my first day in Merida. I spent the day exploring the city under the hot 90-degree sun.
Body Glide for Her essentially feels like Chapstick for your thighs. It’s slightly sticky but basically coats your thigh skin so it can’t get irritated by the friction. I wish I would have brought the stick with me as I explored though, because about 2 hours later I could no longer feel the glide of the Body Glide for Her and was beginning to feel the familiar burn of chub rub.
Body Glide for Her is one of the less expensive products I found, and would, therefore, make a great addition to the bag of a budget traveler. You just may want to keep it on you when you go out, in case you need more!
Pros: Lightweight, Packable, Very affordable
Cons: Needs reapplication after 2 hours, A bit sticky feeling
Good Old Fashioned Baby Powder
This stuff has been used for decades for absorbing unwanted sweat and oils from the human body! Another traditional way of preventing chafing while traveling is to use baby powder on your thighs. I gave baby powder a try in Merida while going out for dinner one night. I don’t know if I just didn’t put enough on, but it only worked for about an hour. I was also self-conscious about having white powder on my legs, and the residual powder on the edges of my shorts.
Baby powder is a good idea if you suddenly discover you need some help with your thigh area, and you need some relief while you’re abroad. I’m pretty sure you can get this stuff anywhere. It works as long as you don’t mind multiple reapplications and smelling like a freshly diapered baby.
Pros: Affordable, You can find it pretty much anywhere
Cons: Smelly, White powdery mess
MegaBabe Thigh Rescue
MegaBabe Thigh Rescue is a very similar product to the BodyGlide, in that it feels like rubbing Chapstick on your thighs. This Chapstick, however, feels very moisturizing and not very sticky. I slathered it on for another day of sightseeing and sorbet eating in Merida. I was pleasantly surprised by the ease at which my thighs would slide right past each other. My coating of Thigh Rescue lasted between 3-4 hours before needing more.
The one thing I did notice was that the thigh rescue was a bit more visible on my skin when wearing it. It would leave streaks of white which I would then have to rub in my hand.
Pros: Stays on for a good amount of time, Feels nourishing to the skin
Cons: Pricier, Have to order online, Can leave residue
If you’re in a pinch and you’re not sure about using products on your thighs, you can always opt for wearing a tight pair of bike shorts under your clothes. These babies are skin tight and offer a protective barrier for your thighs that will not wear off through the day.
However, bike shorts are best when worn with dresses or skirts. Trying to stuff a second pair of shorts inside another pair of shorts can be uncomfortable and lead to overheating in warm climates.
Pros: Doesn’t wear off, Can buy at local clothing or sports shops
Cons: Can’t wear with shorts/pants, Not much breathability, Takes up more packing space
These bad boys take the win for the most effective product for dealing with chafing while traveling. These are little bands you wear around your thighs to prevent the skin from making contact. They are lightweight and silky smooth, and they feel great to wear. I was worried that they might not stay in place, but after a few hours of wear, they were still perfectly placed.
There was just one downfall with them. My Bandelettes are made of a soft, silky lace, and lace is often associated with a more risqué vibe than I generally try to convey. I tested them under a pair of running shorts while grabbing lunch and doing some errands in Merida, Mexico. In a country where I already get a good amount of unwanted male attention just for having lady parts, it certainly did not help to also have lacey fabric sticking out of my shorts.
While they were magical for preventing chafing, I felt self-conscious and anxious while wearing them in Mexico. I would recommend first giving them a try in a less conservative setting, or wearing them under longer shorts/skirts.
They do make a pair that are made of a more solid fabric, instead of the lace. I will be investing in a pair of these ASAP. But hey, if you’re a lady that can rock lacey thighs, definitely give these a try!
Pros: Silky and soft, Don’t fall off or need reapplication, Very packable
Cons: Pricier, Lace may not always be the best option
Pants/shorts that actually fit
I suppose this is the most obvious solution. When your pants fit right, odds are you won’t have to deal with chafing while traveling. As with shorts, for females, it can be difficult these days to find shorts that don’t cut off right below your butt cheeks. I love these shorts from Eddie Bauer, because they’re long enough to cover my thighs, but not so long that they look unfeminine. They’re also made of a comfy stretch material that fits my weird body really well.
Pros: Don’t have to pack extra stuff, Effective against chafing
Cons: Why don’t more companies make pants and shorts that fit me?!
Just because your thighs like to get all cozy up on each other doesn’t mean you should have to deal with the uncomfortable consequences. Employing a combination of these products can really help when dealing with chafing while traveling. So pack your bags and don’t let a bit of chub rub spoil your adventures!
Note: Thanks to BodyGlide, MegaBabe Beauty, and Bandelettes for providing me with samples of their products. All opinions expressed are 100% my own!