Living with curly, kinky hair is hard enough and traveling never makes things easier: new climates, different levels of humidity, liquid limits in planes and the like make traveling with hair that needs extra care much more challenging. Now every type of curly hair is different and requires a different combination of products, magic, and luck to make it look good each day. So what works for my curly hair may not work you but feel free to give it a shot.
Dealing with a New Climate
This is probably the hardest part! You’ve probably gotten down the chemical composition that is required to make your hair bouncy, shiny and cute in your home environment but travel puts you into a new climate. Even if it’s more or less the same as where you live, minor things will make a big difference. I live in Central Florida: intense sun, humitity and heat but even traveling to Costa Rica or Mexico (also tropical climates) means I had to tweak my morning routine.
Before I leave to a new place I do a little weather research looking at humidity levels, saltines (if I’m going near the ocean), temperature and average weather patterns. This gives me a leg up on how to change how I use my products while traveling. Working with curly hair is an art and science, requiring patience and lots of time to learn it. I’ve had over a decade of much frustration but I’ve kinda gotten it down now. If you are new to the curly game or have always straightened your naturally curly hair, worry not, you’ll get there…in a few years. 🙂 Just keep practicing!
These are the products we bought in Mexico since we couldn’t fit travel-sized bottles for 5.
Packing your products
When we travel it’s tipically with just a carry on and a personal bag which means we have to abide by the liquid restrictions: 3 oz maximum bottles in a 1 quart clear bag per person. Well that can be limiting to someone who uses specialized products. The only specific product I buy travel-sized is hair spray because it doesn’t matter what company I use; everything else I put my own tried and true products in empty travel-sized bottles.
I use a few things daily that go with us on nearly every trip: LA Looks Nutra Curl, Aussie Moist shampoo and conditioner, and Macademia leave-in-conditioner. These are usually squeezed into one quart-sized bag while my husband might take our other liquid toiletries like deodorant, toothpaste, face moisturizer, sunscreen, lotion, perfume, etc. (this list changes according to the trip).
The maximum sized bottle you can take on a carry-on is 3 oz but that does not mean all your bottles have to be three ounces, for example I take a tiny travel perfume that is only 1 ounce and I don’t use shampoo every day so that is typically in a smaller bottle; this way we save precious space for our liquid limit.
Read more: Travel Tips: Traveling as a Couple
Don’t be Afraid to Embrace Accessories
Even if you’ve got your hair game down pact, there are going to be days it just will not do what you want it to. Instead of fighting it and feeling miserable all day, embrace accessories! On nearly every trip I take at least one hat or headband and a ton on bobby pins, clips and hair ties.
Hats and headbands are easy ways to mask a bad hair day or are easy options if you don’t want to wash your hair in the morning (which is how I feel most days lol). Headbands and turbans are new territory for me but there are lots of videos on YouTube and I’ve really enjoyed exploring this new way of doing my hair. Hats are great because they provide full coverage and sun shade if you are in a hot climate. However, my ladies with curly hair will know this to be true, you CANNOT take it off once you’ve committed to the hat for the day! Make sure you are ready to rock the hat all day and night if you put it on.
Now if you don’t want to commit to the hat look, pins and clips are the way to go. Adding little braids or twists can spruce up unruly hair. It’s hard to see because my hair is so dark but above are some photos of my hair with some different styles (all of these days started off in frustration with my hair, by the way). Even if you don’t normally do your hair in any special way at home, travel is a good time to try new things. And use your surroundings as inspiration, the local ladies obviously know how to leverage the weather in their favor.