Traveling with curly hair: all the low-maintenance tips you need to look fabulous abroad.

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I at all times thought I had horrible hair. And I’m not simply fishing for compliments right here (ahem: the remark field is under. I’ll wait.) For my complete grownup life, my hair has simply been … not good: it’s half-heartedly curly and wavy on the identical time, tremendous frizzy and fly-away, inclined to separate ends and breakage, and very skinny. It tangles and breaks off if I a lot as have a look at it the unsuitable approach. And it has a unending thirst for blood moisture.

Evidently, it was NOT enjoyable to journey with. Throughout my year-long honeymoon, I backpacked around the globe with my hair shoved right into a messy bun, which I dreaded undoing as a result of I simply knew there could be terrible tangles and breakage to cope with. I didn’t have house in my journey backpack for conditioner, and I didn’t have a lot luck discovering any on my travels. I returned dwelling with among the worst hair of my life, and I used to be prepared to cut all of it off.

However then I heard about one thing referred to as the “Curly Lady Technique.” And whereas the complete technique was extra concerned than I used to be actually ready to do, even making an attempt a half-a**ed lazy model of it really modified my life. I imply, largely it modified my hair, however it modified it a lot that it spilled over into different components of my life, too. The arrogance increase was actual, y’all!

All of a sudden, I didn’t have wishy-washy frizzy hair anymore. It turned out that each one that frizz was really simply thirsty curls ready to dwell life to their fullest potential! And although my hair continues to be tremendous skinny – my ponytail is the width of a pencil when it’s completely straight – you’d by no means comprehend it to take a look at my hair when it’s curly. All you see is full, wonderful, bountiful curls! I felt like a brand new, assured, sassy, curly-haired individual able to tackle the world.

Let me present y’all what I imply. Right here’s my earlier than hair, a wishy-washy positive mess with no actual texture that couldn’t resolve if it was wavy or curly – and this was on a good hair day:

Drinking watermelon juice in a swing in Nusa Lembongan, Bali.
My halfheartedly wavy hair not residing as much as its potential whereas the remainder of me was having a tremendous time in Bali.

And right here’s my after hair, stuffed with luscious outlined curls that I actually by no means even knew I might have:

Lia in a face mask at the airport
The Curly Lady Technique turned me into the sort of one that takes selfies on the airport – AFTER the flight. (Tip: pineapple your hair in the course of the flight for a quantity increase!)

The factor is, residing your curly life to its fullest potential isn’t the best factor to drag off, particularly whereas touring. It’s a bit labor-intensive, requires a couple of area of interest objects, and usually requires some planning forward. For me, what works greatest whereas touring is a really low-maintenance model of my at-home curly hair routine.

What do I imply by low upkeep? Properly, when you’ve received your curls locked in, you’re in luck: your hair will look superb for 5 entire days. Yeah, that’s proper: 5 straight days of excellent hair days in a row. (You possibly can nonetheless bathe in order for you, although. I imply, I generally don’t. However you’ll be able to. I’ll clarify later!) That truly makes it price the additional effort on wash day. (As a result of I’m lazy.)

If it sounds somewhat intimidating, don’t fear: I’ve figured all of it out. Over the previous few years, I’ve managed to take my curls internationally and discovered the way to match my complete hair care routine right into a tiny bag that matches neatly into my carry-on bag! So whether or not you’re a curl professional already otherwise you’re simply beginning to coax your hair to satisfy its curly potential like me, right here’s all the pieces you’ll have to take your curls on the street … or practice, airplane, bus, rickshaw, tuk-tuk, colectivo, moto-taxi, boat… actually wherever, actually.

The Curly Lady Technique (whereas Touring)

Everybody has barely completely different variations of the unique “curly woman technique” – which was coined and first debuted in this book – and over time I’ve discovered what works greatest for me.

I’ve additionally discovered that the routine issues greater than the precise merchandise. My hair is okay and skinny, so so long as I’m not weighing it down with tremendous heavy product, something that can provide it a number of moisture with out product buildup or silicones will work for me! I’m largely simply utilizing cheap merchandise – however they’re utilized very fastidiously.

So, right here’s my routine in a nutshell:

Step 1: The “Reset” Wash

Every part begins with a “reset” bathe. If all goes nicely throughout this a part of the method, I gained’t have to reset my hair once more for an additional 4-5 days.

The caveat is that that is the excessive upkeep bit. Consider it as an funding: the payoff for spending a couple of hours fiddling together with your curls is that your hair will look superb for the remainder of your journey with virtually no effort.

First, right here’s the step-by-step course of I take for laundry my hair.

  1. I begin by shampooing my roots with a mild, sulfate-free shampoo. Not everybody really wants shampoo – many curly women clear with conditioner solely – however I discover that an excessive amount of conditioner weighs my skinny, light-weight hair down! My present favorites are Shea Moisture and Maui Moisture.
  2. I situation all the way in which from my roots downwards with a light-weight, moisturizing conditioner. For me, it’s tremendous vital that my conditioner is light-weight as a result of my hair is tremendous light-weight.
  3. I situation my ends with a thick, heavy, moisturizing hair masks. That is the place my hair wants most of its moisture, so I glob on a LOT of thick, heavy conditioner – however ONLY on the ends of my hair, so it doesn’t crush my quantity. The deep conditioner I’m at the moment utilizing is that this Shea Moisture curl smoothie.
  4. I finger-comb my hair and clip it up for the remainder of my bathe. There are often a couple of tangles to work out at this level, and as soon as I’ve roughly gotten these out of the way in which, I pile my hair on prime of my head and clip it as much as preserve it out of the way in which and let my conditioner soak in.
  5. I comb by means of my hair upside-town and wash out the conditioner. Once I’m prepared to complete up, I run a wide-tooth comb by means of my hair whereas upside-down – this is essential! At this level, try to be beginning to see “curl clumps” forming. Wash your hair out whereas nonetheless the wrong way up, taking particular care to preserve these curl clumps collectively!

Now that you simply’re carried out showering, it’s on to the second half: product software and drying!

  1. Whereas nonetheless the wrong way up, “scrunch” your hair to assist these curl clumps type. You’re principally simply squeezing out some water, in order that once you begin making use of product, it gained’t all combine with the surplus water and fall proper off! Take particular care to to it the wrong way up and gently, in order that your curl clumps get even curlier.
  2. Apply curl cream by “scrunching” the wrong way up. I don’t want to do that each time, however generally my hair wants somewhat further increase, and I discover {that a} curl-forming cream actually helps! There are a great deal of completely different curl lotions on the market. I actually like this one for my positive hair as a result of it’s good and light-weight.
  3. Apply hair gel. That is by far, fingers down, the MOST essential a part of my routine. Your gel is what’s going to preserve your curls going robust for the remainder of the week – it’s ESSENTIAL! There are two methods I like to use gel. First is identical scrunching movement I take advantage of to use cream. The second technique is known as “prayer fingers” – you’re principally operating your palms down the size of your hair, after which gently crunching once more to maintain these curl clumps curly! I take advantage of this extremely cheap, super nostalgic 90’s era gel as a result of it’s low cost, has an awesome maintain and implausible shine, and washes out totally in water so I by no means get product buildup. (Additionally, nostalgia.)
  4. Plop utilizing a micro-fiber hair towel. You wish to plop all your curls onto the highest of your hair and keep away from stretching them out. It’s tremendous straightforward to do utilizing my favourite microfiber hair towel! After which, it’s lastly time to flip right-side up.
  5. Air-dry or diffuse your hair. After letting your hair sit plopped in a towel for some time, you’ll be able to both take it down and let it air dry the remainder of the way in which, or in case you’re tight on time, use a blow-drier and diffuser to softly dry your hair whereas upside-down. If you happen to’re diffusing, begin on the roots util they’re dry, after which gently cup your hair up into the diffuser and push all of it upwards in opposition to your head, so that you’re nonetheless holding these curl clumps clumped!
  6. When your hair is totally dry, “scrunch out the crunch.” That gel you utilized to your hair can have was a rock-hard little forged. Suppose Justin Timberlake’s “Ramen Noodles” look within the 90’s. Whereas splendidly nostalgic, this isn’t the specified impact! You’ll want to interrupt up that gel forged to launch your bouncy, shiny curls. All you must do is scrunch your hair like loopy together with your fingers. I like a variety of quantity, so I’ll even fluff up my roots somewhat bit to actually get that gel damaged up! As soon as your crunch is totally scrunched out, congratulations: you may have lovely, shiny (that’s the gel), bouncy curls.
Curly haired girl wearing glasses and bright red lipstick drinking beer in Salt Lake City.
Nothing pairs with curly hair like vivid purple lipstick (and beer).

Step 2: The Upkeep

My reset bathe takes a variety of work. However fortunately, I solely should do it each 4-5 days. The remainder of the week, I simply do some upkeep to maintain my curls wanting good! Right here’s what I do:

  • Sleep together with your hair piled on prime of your head.

Sleeping together with your hair in a “pineapple” retains your curls above your pillow and shielded from getting stretched, frizzed-out, and in any other case ruined when you sleep! I sometimes simply pile it on the very prime of my head with a delicate scrunchy. Some people swear by utilizing a buff or silk scarf, however I’ve by no means managed to determine that out.

  • Refresh your curls each few days.

Round day 3, my curls begin wanting somewhat flat and fewer outlined, so it’s time for a refresh! There are 2 important methods I prefer to refresh.

The primary is by having a shower with my hair piled up on prime of my head in a scrunchy. I don’t get my hair moist, however the steam from the bathe provides sufficient moisture to my hair to get all of it good and hyped up once more, so by the point I come out of the bathe, I’ve received a number of quantity once more.

The second is a bit more concerned. You’ll want to combine somewhat little bit of conditioner and gel into a twig bottle and fill it up with water.

Flip your hair upside-down and spritz it throughout together with your refresh spray. Then, scrunch your hair (the identical approach you do within the bathe) to assist your damp hair re-form curls. The conditioner provides moisture, and the gel helps set the curls once more. You may have to scrunch out the crunch somewhat bit in a couple of minutes when you’ve dried!

In a pinch, even simply getting your fingers moist, flipping your head over and scrunching your curls a couple of instances will assist add some quantity and definition. The hot button is that curls CRAVE moisture, so any approach you will get moisture into them will assist your curls type!

And that’s it – that’ll preserve you wanting superb for an additional 4-5 days!

Watching the sun rise in Chitwan National Park, Nepal.
Early morning curls whereas watching the solar rise in Chitwan National Park, Nepal.

Curly Hair Journey Necessities

There are a couple of hair instruments that come together with me once I plan to rock curly hair. That is my full curly hair journey packing checklist, and whereas it might look like lots, I’m in a position to shove all of this into a type of drawstring shoe-bags or a medium packing cube for tidy storage in my suitcase.

  • Travel blowdryer and travel diffuser: I really sometimes air-dry my hair at dwelling, however time is a treasured commodity when touring and a blowdryer cuts dry time by roughly a zillion %! It’s additionally a essential device in a chilly vacation spot – no person needs frozen hair (even when it seems to be actually cool). I take advantage of a really small, foldable blow dryer with a collapsible curl diffuser that take up a small quantity of house in my bag. Simply don’t overlook to carry alongside a plug adapter/converter in case you’ll be touring overseas!
  • Microfiber hair towel: Together with a full sized travel towel (since resort towels by no means, ever match me), I additionally carry alongside a small microfiber hair towel to assist my hair dry quicker. I “plop” it whereas I’m getting dressed and prepared for the day after which blow-dry/diffuse it till it’s totally dry.
  • Scrunchies: I take advantage of scrunchies to pile my curls on prime of my head in a excessive ponytail in a single day. That approach I don’t knock out the curls in a single day and get a quantity increase within the morning! Any previous scrunchie will work, however silk scrunchies are greatest for taming frizz and sliding out of tangle-prone hair, like mine.
  • Hair product: After all, you want tiny travel-sized bottles of all your important hair merchandise! I carry alongside my gel, curl defining cream, shampoo and conditioner decanted into little 1oz bottles. And I throw in a wide-tooth comb and a clip for the bathe, too. All of it suits in my zip-up hanging travel toiletry case.
On the beach in Maui, Hawaii.
Right here’s a tip: you want much less product in scorching, humid environments, like a tropical seashore. On seashore holidays, I can often get away with simply moisturizing my sea salt-coated hair and embracing the waves!

Journey Ideas for Curly Hair

Put all of your haircare merchandise into tiny, travel-friendly bottles.

We’re carry-on-only varieties, so all of our favourite merchandise (sure, Jeremy and I each use the very same hair merchandise) get decanted into little tiny bottles that neatly slot in our hanging toiletry bag.

Convey further conditioner!

Don’t rely on the resort’s free bottles, or discovering appropriate hair merchandise wherever you’re touring. You gained’t, and in case you do use some random resort conditioner, you may find yourself making your hair worse – they’re often loaded with silicones!

When you discover a shampoo and conditioner combo that works to your hair, carry as a lot of it with you as you’ll be able to – particularly conditioner, which you’ll be utilizing a LOT greater than shampoo. I’ve a number of mini containers of my conditioner packed into my journey toiletries case, so I by no means run out!

Use a t-shirt to plop in case you don’t have a micro-fiber towel.

I at all times carry alongside a microfiber hair towel to “plop” my hair in, however in case you overlook yours or don’t have one, you’ll be able to simply sub out a t-shirt, or any easy merchandise of clothes. It’s somewhat more durable to wrap round your head, however I discover that long-sleeved shirts work greatest.

What you completely ought to NOT do EVER, is resort to a daily previous terrycloth towel, even for plopping. These little loops of thread on the floor of the towel really feel nice in your pores and skin, however they’re terrible to your hair! They trigger frizz, disrupt your curl sample, suck up extra moisture than you need, and usually wreck an excellent curl day.

By no means use a daily towel in your hair! Any delicate, easy shirt or merchandise of clothes is an enchancment. (Simply be sure that to pack a travel clothesline so you’ll be able to dangle your shirt as much as dry after your bathe.)

Curvy girl in a bikini printed with monstera leaves, turned away with one arm raised in a peace sign facing a beach with palm trees and water in the background.
Rocking curls and certainly one of my favourite curvy-girl swimsuits in Maui, Hawaii.

Plan out your “wash days” strategically to suit into your itinerary.

Wash days are an entire factor. It takes my hair like, 5 hours to air-dry sufficient to the purpose the place I can “scrunch out the crunch.” And I don’t often have 5 hours once I’m touring! Which is why I at all times pack a journey blowdrier and diffuser, however even that may take up 45 treasured minutes that I might spend out having adventures.

So, I plan my wash days strategically. I bathe and reset my hair on journey days, equivalent to once I’ll be on a protracted flight or practice trip. I don’t care if I look cute throughout these days, and it offers my hair loads of time to totally set into the curls it’ll keep in till my subsequent reset day.

Then, for the following 4-5 days, I take advantage of varied methods to maintain my curls wanting good, together with sleeping with my hair in a “pineapple,” carrying my hair in a super-high ponytail whereas I bathe to take in moisture & quantity with out really getting moist, and spritzing my hair with a refresh concoction of water, gel, and conditioner.

Water can have a really completely different impact in your hair whereas touring than you’re used to.

Arduous water” because it’s referred to as, isn’t really ice (complicated, I do know) however water that comprises hint components of chemical compounds and minerals. That isn’t essentially a foul factor, however it could have a destructive impact in your hair referred to as buildup – simply the identical as what causes staining in your tub or tiled rest room flooring. And many motels, hostels and trip leases have arduous water!

To scrub away that icky buildup and preserve it from damaging your hair, both carry a small quantity of clarifying rinse or shampoo, or – my desire – carry a small bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar with you! Distill the Apple Cider Vinegar with water and rinse your hair with it. As a plus, watered down ACV can be my favourite treatment for a foul sunburn!

Convey a pair of tiny, foldable scissors.

That is only a normal journey tip – scissors are tremendous helpful to have readily available. However in relation to hair, scissors will be actually useful. We’ve used ours to trim cut up ends, lower bangs, trim beards, tidy up down there, and – in case you’re up for it – give haircuts! This is the pair we introduced with us on our year-long honeymoon, which has include us in our suitcase ever since.

  • Haircare Journey Tip: ONLY use these scissors on hair –  by no means on paper or the rest! You can probably harm the blade which might in flip harm your hair.
Jeremy exploring the Palace Market in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Bonus photograph of my good-looking husband and his lil entrance curls! He swears by the Curly Lady Technique, too. Besides his is 50x simpler as a result of his hair air dries in about 5 seconds.

Take particular care with the ends of your hair.

(Rhyme intentional.) The ends of your hair are essentially the most vulnerable to breakage and splitting, which ends up in tangles and frizz – two issues I’m regretfully nicely versed in. I take a tiny tub of split end balm.  I put it on my ends after showers, each time they’re feeling dry, or simply once I have to tame issues down and easy issues out. I brush by means of with my boar bristle brush to unfold the oils by means of my hair evenly.

In a pinch, Coconut Oil and Olive Oil are implausible for hair. 

Just a little tub of coconut oil or argan oil goes a good distance. Whereas it’s not nice for facial pores and skin, coconut oil is ideal for hair, fingers and ft, and dry lips.  

And each argan oil and olive oil are all-around magnificence powerhouses! I carry Argan Oil on journeys to make use of for each my face and hair … however I’ve additionally been identified to benefit from shared olive oil bottles in hostel kitchens, too.

Just a little little bit of oil goes a good distance: put a dime-sized drop in your fingers and easy by means of your hair beginning together with your ends.

When all else fails, simply get your hair moist and begin over.

The magic of curly hair is that each time you get your hair moist or add moisture, you may have a possibility to reset your curls – even in case you’re not doing an entire “reset” wash day.

You possibly can spray water into your hair, put it up right into a ponytail when you bathe your physique, or simply get your fingers moist within the sink and scrunch your hair to reset your curl sample.

I’ll typically do that with a very annoying curl up entrance that will get simply frizzed out – you’ll be able to actually re-curl a bit of hair together with your finger and let it dry into an entire excellent lil’ corkscrew.

And now, my fellow curlies, go forth and look fabulous!

What questions do you may have about touring with curly hair? Drop me a remark under!

Psst: On the lookout for extra ideas for feeling and looking implausible whereas touring? Check out a few of these different posts:

xo Lia & Jeremy signature graphic


Our High Journey Ideas & Assets

Listed below are our favourite journey ideas & assets for saving cash and planning journey logistics! For extra ideas, try our travel tips resource page or our guide to planning a trip.

  • Reserving Flights: To attain flight offers, search on Google Flights or Kayak. Cash-saving ideas: fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on solely on a price range airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
  • Lodging: We often keep in budget-friendly trip leases, boutique motels or non-public rooms in hostels. We use Booking.com to ebook motels (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to ebook hostels (low deposit, straightforward change/cancellation, and glorious evaluations). For trip leases, we desire to ebook utilizing VRBO as a result of they have decrease charges and higher help than Airbnb, and we’re not followers of Airbnb’s unethical observe report. It’s also possible to ebook trip leases on Expedia and Hotels.com. We additionally use TrustedHousesitters as each hosts (for our dwelling and our fur-child) and vacationers!
  • Journey Insurance coverage: We at all times, at all times, ALWAYS purchase journey insurance coverage for worldwide journeys, and we STRONGLY recommend it – go to our Travel Insurance Guide to seek out out why. We advocate both World Nomads or SafetyWing for worldwide journey insurance coverage. SafetyWing is among the few insurance policies that covers Covid-19, and so they have glorious month-to-month insurance policies which are excellent for Digital Nomads and long run vacationers!
  • Journey Credit score Card: We ebook all of our journeys on our favourite journey bank card. Not solely can we earn money again that we will spend on extra journey, however the card affords implausible journey perks like journey insurance coverage, journey delay and cancellation protection, misplaced baggage reimbursement, and rental automobile protection, which helps defend us on our travels. Learn more here.
  • Vaccines & Meds: We use the journey guides on the CDC website to analysis beneficial medicines and vaccines for worldwide journeys. We at all times advocate getting each vaccine beneficial by the CDC! You may get them at your major care physician’s workplace or a walk-in pharmacy.
  • Excursions: We love reserving guided excursions, particularly meals excursions and strolling excursions, to get an area’s perspective and a historical past lesson whereas sight-seeing! We ebook our excursions utilizing Viator and GetYourGuide.
  • Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to determine the way to get from place to position, and ebook native transportation on-line utilizing Bookaway wherever we will. Once we ebook a rental automobile, we use Kayak to check rental corporations and discover one of the best deal.
  • Baggage Storage: Each time we’re trying out early or making the most of a protracted layover, we use LuggageHero to securely retailer our baggage whereas we’re operating round. Use the code PRACTICALW for two hours of free baggage storage on us.
  • VPN Service: A VPN retains your digital data (like web site login particulars, financial institution information, and so forth) protected, even once you’re linked to an unsecured community whereas touring. Plus, it enables you to use Netflix & different streaming websites overseas! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO once you join!
  • What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we carry on each journey. We even have packing lists for hot weather, cold weather, and plenty of extra. Check out all of our packing guides!


The Ultimate Packing List: 43 Must-Have Travel Items (by a Full-Time Travel Blogger)


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