How to Travel Odor Free, Post-Hike

There is no way around it – long-distance hikers can stink. It is considerate to travel odor free. Follow these tips before you get on an airplane, bus, train or other transportation so that you do not annoy other people while traveling.

Plane Restrictions

Hiker washing off her hands in a lake

1. Hygiene in Public Places

It is important to clean up after you get off the trail and before traveling in public places. All airlines have a policy that you can be removed from the plane if you smell bad enough. In fact we have heard of a long-distance hiker who declined to shower after their hike and was removed from the plane due to their offensive odor. Similar policies also apply to traveling on buses and trains.

a close up of a hikers shoes and trail poles on trail

2. Keep Your Shoes On

Hiker shoes smell terrible. So it is important to keep your hiking shoes on while traveling in an airplane, bus or train to reduce any offensive odor. It should go without saying that you should not remove your shoes in an indoor public space, like a restaurant or hotel lobby, but we have seen many a hiker do just that.

wet clothes in a plastic bag

3. Bag up Dirty Clothes

Dirty clothes can hold onto bad odors for a very long time. If at all possible, wash all of your clothes when you get off trail. At the very least wash what you are wearing! But if you can’t wash all of your clothes, place the dirty ones in a plastic bag, such as a trash bag, to seal the odors.

A bag of trash

4. Bag up Dirty Backpack

If you are traveling with your backpack, consider packing it into a sealable bag to reduce odor. You can place the entire backpack in a plastic trash bag inside a large duffle bag to eliminate the odor.

Pro tip: if you are finished with your hike and lucky enough to stay somewhere with a shower or bathtub overnight before you travel, take everything out of your pack, throw the pack in the tub, turn on the shower and clean it with soap. Then dry it out as best as you can and hang dry it on the shower head overnight. It’s better than nothing, and very satisfying to see all that dirt go down the drain.

Hikers invinting people to come with them on trail

5. Remember to be kind to your fellow travelers

We get used to the hiking odor and forget that not everyone is a hiker. It’s a badge of honor to emerge from the woods smelling like a long-distance hiker. But when traveling after a hike it is always a good idea to be kind to your fellow humans. You really should travel odor free.