A lot goes into planning a trip: picking a destination, deciding where to stay, making an itinerary, and, of course, planning out what to pack. It can be challenging for anyone, but especially those with natural hair, who want to make sure their hair stays in tip top shape while abroad.
I’ve been there. As a writer that covers a wide range of subjects — beauty, fashion, and entertainment — I travel a lot for my job. In the last year, I’ve traveled somewhere at least once a month — Toronto, the Caribbean, Utah, just to name a few.
As life would have it, because of my busy schedule, I don’t always have the time to do a protective style like box braids, so I ended up just rocking my ‘fro. I’ve grown savvy on tips and tricks for maintaining my 4C tresses while traveling.
If you’re a Black woman like me with natural hair who loves to travel or even has a trip coming up, here are six tried-and-true tips of mine for looking after your hair on the go. Contrary to popular belief, traveling with natural hair doesn’t have to be stressful as you plan ahead.
Create An Itinerary With Time Set Aside For Your Hair
If you’re traveling for an extended period of time, you’ll need to wash your hair while you’re away. In that case, before leaving for your trip, create a loose itinerary that includes your day-to-day activities, as well as some time for you to cleanse and moisturize your hair. Additionally, make sure you set some time aside every night to braid, twist or pineapple your hair (i.e. put in a loose high pony or in mini ponytails depending on length) at night. After all, the last thing you want is to wake up with your hair matted and detangled because you went to bed without tying it up the night before.
Check The Weather Forecast Ahead of Time
It’s no secret that hair reacts differently depending on the weather, and that’s especially true for curly and coily tresses. Before you set off on your travels, make sure to check what the weather will be like where you’re going so you can get a good sense of what hair products you should bring with you and how to best care for your hair while you’re away. So, for example, if you’re going somewhere extremely hot or with unbearable humidity and your hair is prone to getting frizzy, pack anti-frizz products that will help tame your mane as well as a dry shampoo to soak up grime and excessive sweat on your scalp. As for traveling to places with frigid temps, make sure you carry nourishing styling products and oils as the cold air can dry out your hair, which can lead to breakage.
View this post on Instagram
Utah was absolutely breathtaking. I had such a great time there, I almost shed a tear when I had to leave. Thank you @skiutah for taking this city girl out of her natural habitat and bringing me to this magical place to experience skiing for the first time. I can’t wait to come back. 😊😊
Have A Backup Plan In Place
No matter how much you plan, sometimes unexpectedly things go wrong, and that can include your hair just not cooperating when you need it to. To avoid something like this from ruining your trip, have a backup plan in place just in case your hair decides to go rouge one day. Pack things like cute head wraps that you can tie your head up with or have a few simple hairstyles in mind (and the products to pull it off) that you can do in a pinch like a low bun. Loza Tam has a great selection of head wraps if you’re in the market for one.
Bring More Hair Products Than You Need
Even if you’re going somewhere that you know has stores that stocks natural hair-friendly products, it’s always smart to bring all of your own go-to products just in case you don’t have time to go shopping. And, make sure to bring enough products that can last for the duration of your trip. If you’re only traveling with a carry on, make sure to buy travel size hair care, and pack them in a plastic bag as not to spill all over your clothing.
Pack Your Holy Grails In Your Carry On
Hands down, nothing brings me more fear when it comes to travel than the thought of an airline losing my luggage with all of my important items in it and never getting it back. Not to be dramatic, but I’d probably lose it if that were to ever happen to me, so to avoid that nightmare situation, I pack all of my valuables, including the products I absolutely need on my trip in my carry-on — and I highly recommend that you do too.
Personally, my must-have products for my hair are a non-flaky dry shampoo, shampoo, conditioner, leave-in treatment, and a styling cream and oil my hair loves. I also need an empty spray bottle, a wide-tooth comb for detangling, and plastic hair clips that hold my hair when I section it off while washing and styling it.
Invest in a Silk or Satin Travel Pillowcase and Bonnet
Sleeping on cotton pillows in most hotels and AirBnBs can dry out your hair. Invest in a good silk or satin travel pillowcase as well as a cute bonnet or satin-lined cap you can put on at bedtime to protect your hair. Silk and satin are less absorbent than cotton, so they won’t soak up your hair’s natural oils while you’re off in dreamland. Black-owned brands like Grace Eleyae and Glow By Daye have really pretty options and they’re pretty affordable.