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Having wild, curly hair is a double-edged sword. Yes, there are occasions when it looks amazing — but most of the time, it’s out of control with a mind of its own!
If you have wavy, curly or otherwise uncontrollable hair, you’ve likely got styling it down to a science: perfect products, tools and humidity conditions.
But when you travel, especially long-term travel, you don’t have those luxuries.
Here are the steps to traveling with uncontrollable, curly hair:
1. Get the right cut.
When you go to the salon, ask your stylist for a haircut that works with your hair’s natural shape — NOT a style that requires a round brush and a flatiron.
If you’re traveling long-term, get a style that can grow out easily without requiring frequent trims.
2. Keep your hair hydrated.
Keeping your curly hair moisturized and hydrated is the key to keeping it from becoming a frizzy mess.
For starters, stop highlighting your hair. In addition to requiring frequent, expensive touch-ups, it dries out your mane. Learn to love your natural color.
Second, curly hair doesn’t need to be washed as often. Don’t wash it more often than every other day.
Third, go easy on the heat styling. Leave the hairdryer and flatiron at home!
Fourth, if you’re spending lots of time outside, protect your hair from the sun as much as you can.
3. Use the right products.
Make sure you pack the right hair products. Gels and sprays are alcohol-based, so they dry out your hair. With curly hair, you want to stick to cream-based products.
Another tip: If your stylist recommends you buy expensive hair products, don’t buy them at the salon — go home and buy them on eBay. You can get them for half the price or less!
4. Let your hair dry while it’s in place.
Does your hair tend to explode when you let it air-dry? Try putting it into a loose braid, bun or French twist while wet. This is a super-easy way to get your hair to dry smooth. Don’t twist it too tightly, or only the outer layer will dry!
Braiding is also an excellent way to get natural-looking waves. Try different widths and styles!
5. Set it free.
Chances are you’ve been overstyling your curly hair for years. What if you did nothing to it at all, letting the chips fall where they may?
Don’t think I’m crazy!
Being in another climate could be just what your hair needs. The combination of air, humidity and native flora could combine to give you hair that looks surprisingly amazing.
I should know. The picture above is me after a few rainy days in Buenos Aires, no products or styling whatsoever. I could never get my hair that big and lustrous at home!
No matter what — never leave your hotel without a few elastics and extra-long hairpins in your purse. Even when your hair is looking gorgeous, bad hair days can strike out of nowhere!
24 thoughts on “Tips for Traveling With Curly Hair”
Oooh, letting hair dry in a loose braid on extra-humid days is GREAT tip! As a curly-haired girl, I thought I’d heard every hair tip out there ten thousand times, but that one’s brand new to me!
Also, couldn’t agree more about advising girls step back from their normal hair routines while traveling. I’m always amazed when I hear about people going for long-term (or even short-term) travel and taking up valuable suitcase space with hair dryers. No thanks!
I’m glad to have introduced you to it! Let me tell you, it’s been a lifesaver on some occasions!
Haha, good tips, Kate! (At least… I’m assuming they are; I don’t actually have curly hair.)
Though, I think most of these tips could apply to anybody, not just those with curly hair. Learning how to get your hair to behave, and when to leave it alone is valuable even when you have straight hair, like me.
For example, when I was traveling around NZ, I left the hairdryer and straightener at home, letting my hair air-dry and do all the crazy things it wanted to. I just basically had a new hair-do every day!
Ever since I got dreads, I have found posts about haircare strangely interesting…
BEST. BLOG. EVER.
LOL!! Thank you!
LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!!!!!! I couldn’t agree with my curls anymore so I did the Japanese Hair Treatment. Best. decision. Ever. If I miss my curls, I’ll use my curling iron.
But, now I’m screwed. I need to do my 6 month retouch and as I procrastinate that, the curls are coming back and not responding well to rainy days 🙁
Regardless, great tips!!! Having curly hair on the road is harder and we curly girls should get discounts on these products abroad for what we have to go through!
Love this topic! Thanks so much on behalf of wavy-haired travelers everywhere!
While I was living in NZ, my hair was out of control. I finally went to a salon in Christchurch, had a trim, and asked the owner what did he have that he could possible suggest for me. He turned me onto Sebastian’s Texturiser, which is a flexible gel (meaning if you are like me, your hair is up/down/ponytail/bun/loose/under a hat any number of times per day) so it will put up with what you put your hair through.
Being New Zealand, this wonder product cost me $40NZ a bottle, but it was worth it! I did order a few bottles off of TradeMe (a Kiwi Craigslist kind of thing) and eBay Australia. Back home in Canada, the product is about $15. Ive been using for about a year now and will never travel (or live!) without it again =)
Great suggestion, Kelly! Sounds like a cool product — I’ll look into it!
Love this post. I will def. try #4. Thanks for a very useful tip. No one ever write about these uber important things like curly hair 😉
I find the less I do to my hair the better it looks. Especially now that I get my hair cut by someone who has curly hair herself (she owns the hairdressing place, so charges a bit more, but it’s worth it.) I also use this product called curly hair solutions Curl keeper, and the weirdest thing happens now: my hair is curly not a giant ball of frizz.
You look great Kate! As a curly head myself I always take a hair serum and mask with me when travellilng. It’s kind of a luxury and takes up some much-needed space but it’s worth the effort!
Thanks, Alison! Great tips!
Love it! I am slowly mastering the tricks of travelling without my hair straighteners and an endless supply of frizzease! Also having issues as I need my highlight roots are getting out of control … but as a redhead in a country where everyone has dark brown hair I am not sure it is worth the risk!
Just what I was looking for! Am getting ready for a trip to Europe and have decided to leave my heated hair tools at home. This helps! Thanks.
Me too, last time I went to Europe in 2013, I would blow dry my hair with the dryers in Italy and Spain and it never got so curly, just wavy. No more, getting small travel products for curly hair and a collapsible diffuser to attach to hotel hair dryers.
Hi Kate, fab tips. I have crazy, frizzy curls that I normally just ignore by pulling my hair into a ponytail and never leaving down unless I’ve straightened the crap out of it! Just lately I’ve started to go with the flow more and leave it to dry naturally. When I went travelling long term my trick was to cut all my hair off! I had seriously short hair! The only problem, as you say was keeping it neat with regular trims. I kinda had a bit of a mullet going on towards the end because I’d not had it cut!
As a fellow curly-top, thank you! Some of these I knew, others were a nice little extra. I have so much problems with my crazy curlies 😉
hahaha very good!
GIRL. Yes. This was one of my biggest stressors before leaving but I am learning to embrace the natural ‘do. It’s always a work in progress 🙂