Traveling with Natural Hair | Keeping it Simple

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Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that traveling with natural hair can be a bit…tricky. This is at least partially due to the fact that I have several hair textures, and that working with my hair in any type way while its wet requires time AND a lot of patience. I know someone out there feels me! So in the post I’m going to give you my best tips for keeping it simple while traveling with natural hair.

Styling Options

As you likely know, there are four main options for styling your hair while you travel:

  1. Braids/Twists – Maybe the easiest options, keeps you from really having to think about your hair at all while you travel. This is really great, especially if you are going to be swimming a lot on your trip. I got braids for the first time this year since 1999 for my trip to Thailand and again for my travels to Colombia/Peru. While I loved how easy they were, I had a pretty severe scalp reaction both times, so this will probably not work for me going forward :(. A subset of this could be braids / twists with your own hair.
  2. Weave / Wigs– Another great option if you want a break from doing your hair. I personnally have never had one before, so can’t speak from personal experience, but it will certainly save your time when traveling. Although maybe not as much time as you’d save wearing braids. 
  3. Flat Ironing / Straightening – This is a good option if you are traveling somewhere with low humidity, and/or if your hair can hold a straight style for a while.
  4. Keeping it Natural – This could include wash and go’s, twist outs, braid outs, or any other style that you wear so that your hair is out in its full glory during the day. This is how I most often wear my hair on most days and when traveling, as this is how I like it best. This is also where the rest of this article focuses (just so you know!).
traveling with natural hair
Rocking braids in Thailand 

Selecting Your Style & Setting a Schedule

When choosing your style, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Amount of Maintenance Required: If you’re wearing your hair out in any way, I suggest that you select the style that is the most low maintenance. And one that you could wear that for the duration of your trip. Of course, choose one that still has you looking good :).
  • Planned Activities: Will you be swimming a lot? Will you be outdoors for most of the day? Certain activities could make your hairstyle less likely to hold up, so keep that in mind.
  • Weather: A bit tied to the consideration above, thinking about the weather is key. Will it be raindy? Or humid? Those are some of the worst offenders when it comes to keeping your hair out!
  • Experience: If you are a newbie natural, I recommend going with braids or weave. Trying to figure out a great routine on your vacation will probably cause more stress than anything else. Also, even if you are experienced, now is really not the time to try something brand new. Do what you know 🙂

After you decide which hairstyle to go with, I recommend setting a schedule for hair washing (or maintenance) that doesn’t conflict with any tours or travel days already planned for your trip. I personally stick with wash and go’s for the most part. My hair used to love twist-outs, but not so much anymore. Who knows why haha.

By planning out your wash days, it will keep you from worrying about when you can fit it in after your travel. It will also make sure you like IG ready for all of your pictures. If your trip is short, this is not something that you’ll have to worry about, of course.

Also, pick a back up style that is easy to do for those days when your hair just doesn’t act right or the weather is cray. My go-to is a big bun – it almost never lets me down haha.

traveling with natural hair
Wearing my go-to bun in Barcelona – Bad hair day savior!

The Hair Products You Need

Hair products are really specific to the individual’s hair type. I will go through some products that work for me, even in humid and wet conditions, which may help you too! For reference, my hair is between 3b – 4b (yes, I know), and somewhat fine and relatively porous. This makes is very sensitive to humidity and any wet conditions. The products that I tend to take on every trip include:

Kinky Curly Knot Today: Yes, after all these years, I still have not found a leave-in that works better for my hair. It’s hard to beat the slip, and definition that you get from this one.

No products found.

Kinky Curly Curling Custard: Another staple that I like to travel with as my results are just so consistent. This is also great to travel with because a little goes a long way and my hair tends to stand up to the humidity pretty well with this one.

Unkle Funky’s Daugther Curly Magic: I LOVE this gel, it’s become my new favorite over the years, especially in the cooler months. It is similar to the KCCC, but not as sticky. A little goes a long way with this one too.

Uncle Funky's Daughter Curly Magic
  • Aloe-based formula; natural fragrance
  • Firm hold provides lasting curl definition

Shea Moisture Virgin Coconut Oil Rehydration Treatment Masque: This deep conditioner really does the trick, it keeps your hair shiny and moisturized. It’s especially helpful in drier temperatures. You could also use this for twist outs, as long as you use it in moderation.

Shea Moisture 100 Percent Virgin Coconut Oil Rehydration Treatment Masque for Unisex Masque, 12 Ounce
  • After shampooing, apply a generous amount, focusing on mid length to ends; Comb through for even distribution
  • Made with Fair Trade Shea Butter

Almond Oil: My hair likes this oil, but choose one that fits your hair best to take on the journey with you! This will allow you to keep your hair moisturized / refreshed each day.

NOW Solutions, Sweet Almond Oil, 100% Pure Moisturizing Oil, Promotes Healthy-Looking Skin, Unscented , 4-Ounce
  • 100 PERCENT PURE AND NON-GMO: A natural oil that’s perfect for nourishing and reviving any skin type
  • PROMOTES HEALTHY-LOOKING SKIN: Almond oil is easily absorbed and won’t clog pores, promoting clear, soft,...

Edge Control: One of my favorites. I think that the one that design essentials sells is the best on the market. It lasts all day on my very tightly curled edges. 

Design Essentials Natural Honey & Shea Edge Tamer Hair Gel, Clear, 2.3 Oz
  • Delivers A Long-Lasting Firm Hold, Specially designed for curly to coily hair textures. No Flacking, No Build-Up, Adds...
  • Unique non-greasy formula infused with moisturizing Honey and Shea Butter ingredients to provide a fabulous shine...

The Hair Tools + Supplies You Need

After you select your hair products, you now need to make sure you have the proper tools and supplies with you too. A few things that I never leave home without include:

You’ll of course need to be able to pack all these things efficiently. I recommend packing your products in small travel-size bottles/jars, and using a small pouch like this one to keep your head bands, ponytail holders, and bobby pins all together. I know that it sounds like kind of a lot to bring along with you, but believe me if you only take travel-sized products, you’ll do just fine.

ALINK 16pcs Travel Size Toiletry Bottles Set, Tsa Approved Clear Cosmetic Makeup Liquid Containers with Zipper Bag
  • VARIETY OF BOTTLES TO MEET DIFFERENT NEEDS - one 60ml (2 oz. ) pump bottle, one 60ml (2 oz. ) flip-cap bottle, one 30ml...
  • BPA-FREE, TSA APPROVED - Made of high-quality non-toxic BPA-free PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) material, food safe...

My Experiences with Natural Hair Around the Globe

Know that wearing your beautiful crown of natural hair while you travel can evoke a variety of responses in other countries. Especially in places where it is far from the norm. I have had a lot of questions asked about my hair, and have actually had some random touching. I’ve also gotten nice comments as well. The key here is keeping up good spirits and using it as a teaching moment when you travel. Don’t let it ruin your day or the perception of the people in the place that your visit :).

traveling with natural hair
Traveling with my Natural Hair in Paris

In Summary | Traveling with Natural Hair

Traveling with natural hair can be challenging, but keeping a simple routine while you travel will help your focus remain on the fun part of your trip. In summary, the steps to keeping it simpler are:

  1. Choose your (low maintenance) style(s)
  2. Set a schedule
  3. Pick your products
  4. Grab your hair tools
  5. Pack it all up and you’re ready to go!

I hope this helps anyone planning a trip soon. Especially those of you gearing up for a longer trip.

Let me know your thoughts. What styles do you choose when you travel? What are your favorite products to bring on your travels? Tell me in the comments below!

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Traveling with Natural Hair | Keeping it Simple

Last update on 2024-04-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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