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

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I all the time thought I had horrible hair. And I’m not simply fishing for compliments right here (ahem: the remark field is beneath. I’ll wait.) For my total 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, susceptible to separate ends and breakage, and intensely skinny. It tangles and breaks off if I a lot as have a look at it the flawed method. And it has a endless thirst for blood moisture.

For sure, it was NOT enjoyable to journey with. Throughout my year-long honeymoon, I backpacked world wide with my hair shoved right into a messy bun, which I dreaded undoing as a result of I simply knew there can 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 a number of 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 known as the “Curly Woman Methodology.” And whereas the total methodology was extra concerned than I used to be actually ready to do, even attempting a half-a**ed lazy model of it truly modified my life. I imply, principally it modified my hair, but it surely modified it a lot that it spilled over into different elements of my life, too. The arrogance enhance was actual, y’all!

All of a sudden, I didn’t have wishy-washy frizzy hair anymore. It turned out that every one that frizz was truly simply thirsty curls ready to stay life to their fullest potential! And despite the fact that my hair remains 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 have a look at my hair when it’s curly. All you see is full, superb, bountiful curls! I felt like a brand new, assured, sassy, curly-haired particular person able to tackle the world.

Let me present y’all what I imply. Right here’s my earlier than hair, a wishy-washy high-quality 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, filled with luscious outlined curls that I actually by no means even knew I may have:

Lia in a face mask at the airport
The Curly Woman Methodology turned me into the form of one who takes selfies on the airport – AFTER the flight. (Tip: pineapple your hair through the flight for a quantity enhance!)

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

What do I imply by low upkeep? Nicely, when you’ve obtained your curls locked in, you’re in luck: your hair will look wonderful for 5 complete days. Yeah, that’s proper: 5 straight days of excellent hair days in a row. (You may nonetheless bathe if you would like, although. I imply, I generally don’t. However you may. I’ll clarify later!) That really 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 the world over and found out the best way to match my total 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 fulfill its curly potential like me, right here’s every thing you’ll must take your curls on the highway … or prepare, aircraft, bus, rickshaw, tuk-tuk, colectivo, moto-taxi, boat… actually wherever, actually.

The Curly Woman Methodology (whereas Touring)

Everybody has barely totally different variations of the unique “curly lady methodology” – which was coined and first debuted in this book – and through the years I’ve found out what works finest for me.

I’ve additionally discovered that the routine issues greater than the precise merchandise. My hair is ok 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 principally simply utilizing cheap merchandise – however they’re utilized very rigorously.

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

Step 1: The “Reset” Wash

Every thing begins with a “reset” bathe. If all goes properly throughout this a part of the method, I gained’t must reset my hair once more for one more 4-5 days.

The caveat is that that is the excessive upkeep bit. Consider it as an funding: the payoff for spending just a few hours fiddling together with your curls is that your hair will look wonderful 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 truly 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 essential 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 overwhelm my quantity. The deep conditioner I’m at present 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 normally just a few 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 high of my head and clip it as much as maintain it out of the way in which and let my conditioner soak in.
  5. I comb by way of my hair upside-town and wash out the conditioner. After I’m prepared to complete up, I run a wide-tooth comb by way 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 maintain these curl clumps collectively!

Now that you simply’re completed showering, it’s on to the second half: product utility 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 while 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 enhance, and I discover {that a} curl-forming cream actually helps! There are a great deal of totally different curl lotions on the market. I actually like this one for my high-quality hair as a result of it’s good and lightweight.
  3. Apply hair gel. That is by far, fingers down, the MOST important a part of my routine. Your gel is what is going to maintain your curls going robust for the remainder of the week – it’s ESSENTIAL! There are two methods I like to use gel. First is similar scrunching movement I take advantage of to use cream. The second methodology is known as “prayer fingers” – you’re principally working 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 important maintain and unbelievable 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 simple 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 may 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. Should you’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 towards your head, so that you’re nonetheless maintaining these curl clumps clumped!
  6. When your hair is totally dry, “scrunch out the crunch.” That gel you utilized to your hair can have changed into a rock-hard little solid. 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 solid to launch your bouncy, shiny curls. All you need to do is scrunch your hair like loopy together with your fingers. I like numerous 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’ve gotten stunning, 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 brilliant purple lipstick (and beer).

Step 2: The Upkeep

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

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

Sleeping together with your hair in a “pineapple” retains your curls above your pillow and protected against getting stretched, frizzed-out, and in any other case ruined whilst you sleep! I sometimes simply pile it on the very high of my head with a comfortable scrunchy. Some of us 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 trying somewhat flat and fewer outlined, so it’s time for a refresh! There are 2 predominant methods I wish to refresh.

The primary is by having a shower with my hair piled up on high 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 overvalued once more, so by the point I come out of the bathe, I’ve obtained 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 sprig 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 method 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 must 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 just a few occasions will assist add some quantity and definition. The bottom line is that curls CRAVE moisture, so any method you may get moisture into them will assist your curls type!

And that’s it – that’ll maintain you trying wonderful for one more 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 just a few hair instruments that come together with me after I plan to rock curly hair. That is my full curly hair journey packing listing, and whereas it might appear to be quite a bit, I’m capable of 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 truly 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 important device in a chilly vacation spot – no one 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 neglect to convey 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 convey 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 high of my head in a excessive ponytail in a single day. That method I don’t knock out the curls in a single day and get a quantity enhance within the morning! Any outdated scrunchie will work, however silk scrunchies are finest 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 convey 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 matches 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 sizzling, humid environments, like a tropical seashore. On seashore holidays, I can normally get away with simply moisturizing my sea salt-coated hair and embracing the waves!

Journey Suggestions 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 depend 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 normally loaded with silicones!

When you discover a shampoo and conditioner combo that works to your hair, convey as a lot of it with you as you may – 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 all the time convey alongside a microfiber hair towel to “plop” my hair in, however in case you neglect yours or don’t have one, you may simply sub out a t-shirt, or any clean merchandise of clothes. It’s somewhat tougher to wrap round your head, however I discover that long-sleeved shirts work finest.

What you completely ought to NOT do EVER, is resort to a daily outdated 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 smash curl day.

By no means use a daily towel in your hair! Any comfortable, clean shirt or merchandise of clothes is an enchancment. (Simply be certain to pack a travel clothesline so you may cling 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 a complete 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 normally have 5 hours after I’m touring! Which is why I all the time pack a journey blowdrier and diffuser, however even that may take up 45 treasured minutes that I may spend out having adventures.

So, I plan my wash days strategically. I bathe and reset my hair on journey days, reminiscent of after I’ll be on an extended flight or prepare trip. I don’t care if I look cute throughout these days, and it offers my hair loads of time to completely set into the curls it’ll keep in till my subsequent reset day.

Then, for the subsequent 4-5 days, I take advantage of numerous tips to maintain my curls trying good, together with sleeping with my hair in a “pineapple,” sporting my hair in a super-high ponytail whereas I bathe to take in moisture & quantity with out truly getting moist, and spritzing my hair with a refresh concoction of water, gel, and conditioner.

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

Laborious water” because it’s known as, just isn’t truly ice (complicated, I do know) however water that comprises hint parts of chemical substances and minerals. That isn’t essentially a foul factor, however it may have a unfavourable impact in your hair known as buildup – simply the identical as what causes staining in your tub or tiled toilet ground. And plenty of lodges, hostels and trip leases have laborious water!

To clean away that icky buildup and maintain it from damaging your hair, both convey a small quantity of clarifying rinse or shampoo, or – my desire – convey 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 also be my favourite remedy for a foul sunburn!

Convey a pair of tiny, foldable scissors.

That is only a basic journey tip – scissors are tremendous useful to have readily available. However with regards to hair, scissors might be actually useful. We’ve used ours to trim break 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 anything! You might doubtlessly injury the blade which may in flip injury 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 Woman Methodology, 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 probably the most liable to breakage and splitting, which results in tangles and frizz – two issues I’m regretfully properly versed in. I take a tiny tub of split end balm.  I put it on my ends after showers, at any time when they’re feeling dry, or simply after I must tame issues down and clean issues out. I brush by way of with my boar bristle brush to unfold the oils by way of my hair evenly.

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

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

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

Just a little little bit of oil goes a great distance: put a dime-sized drop in your fingers and clean by way 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’ve gotten a chance to reset your curls – even in case you’re not doing a complete “reset” wash day.

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

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

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

What questions do you’ve gotten about touring with curly hair? Drop me a remark beneath!

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

xo Lia & Jeremy signature graphic


Our Prime Journey Suggestions & Assets

Listed below are our favourite journey suggestions & sources for saving cash and planning journey logistics! For extra suggestions, take a look at 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 suggestions: 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 normally keep in budget-friendly trip leases, boutique lodges or personal rooms in hostels. We use to guide lodges (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to guide hostels (low deposit, simple change/cancellation, and wonderful opinions). For trip leases, we favor to guide 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 file. You too can guide trip leases on Expedia and We additionally use TrustedHousesitters as each hosts (for our dwelling and our fur-child) and vacationers!
  • Journey Insurance coverage: We all the time, all the time, ALWAYS purchase journey insurance coverage for worldwide journeys, and we STRONGLY counsel it – go to our Travel Insurance Guide to seek out out why. We suggest both World Nomads or SafetyWing for worldwide journey insurance coverage. SafetyWing is likely one of the few insurance policies that covers Covid-19, and so they have wonderful month-to-month insurance policies which can be excellent for Digital Nomads and long run vacationers!
  • Journey Credit score Card: We guide all of our journeys on our favourite journey bank card. Not solely can we earn money again that we are able to spend on extra journey, however the card presents unbelievable journey perks like journey insurance coverage, journey delay and cancellation protection, misplaced baggage reimbursement, and rental automobile protection, which helps shield us on our travels. Learn more here.
  • Vaccines & Meds: We use the journey guides on the CDC website to analysis advisable drugs and vaccines for worldwide journeys. We all the time suggest getting each vaccine advisable by the CDC! You will get them at your main care physician’s workplace or a walk-in pharmacy.
  • Excursions: We love reserving guided excursions, particularly meals excursions and strolling excursions, to get a neighborhood’s perspective and a historical past lesson whereas sight-seeing! We guide our excursions utilizing Viator and GetYourGuide.
  • Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to determine the best way to get from place to put, and guide native transportation on-line utilizing Bookaway wherever we are able to. After we guide a rental automobile, we use Kayak to check rental corporations and discover the perfect deal.
  • Baggage Storage: Every time we’re trying out early or making the most of an extended layover, we use LuggageHero to securely retailer our baggage whereas we’re working round. Use the code PRACTICALW for two hours of free baggage storage on us.
  • VPN Service: A VPN retains your digital info (like web site login particulars, financial institution data, and so on) protected, even while you’re linked to an unsecured community whereas touring. Plus, it allows you to use Netflix & different streaming websites overseas! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO while you join!
  • What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we convey on each journey. We even have packing lists for hot weather, cold weather, and lots 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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