4 Things To Consider When Planning To Travel With Natural Hair


by Paula Dixon of CurlyHairAdventures

There’s multiple things to take into consideration when packing for vacation. But what happens when you’re a naturalista and need to maintain your healthy hair throughout vacation? When packing for my trip, my natural hair regime is just as important as packing my clothes.

Here are four things to consider when managing your natural hair during your trips.

Photo Credit: TravelNoire


First you should check what the temperature will be at your destinations. I use weather.com and frequently check the 10-day forecast up until I’m getting ready to leave for my trip. Clearly this is just a prediction, but you can get an idea of how the weather will be in your destination; this will help you decide:
  • How You’ll Style Your Hair – The weather during your stay will help you determine what style will be most appropriate for the climate (Will there be rain? Will it be humid & hot? Or is it going to be cool the entire time?).
  • What Type of Hair Products You’ll Pack – Depending on how you style your hair, you’ll probably need to pack specific products to retain moisture and prevent damage.
    • Protective Style – Protective styles, such as braids or twists done with extensions, require minimum manipulation and can work well to protect your hair (hence the name), just remember to also take care of your hair underneath of course. Normally I pack: light oils for my scalp (jojoba, avocado, castor or coconut oil), a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner (depending on length of stay) and my hooded dryer attachment from Gold n’ Hot to make sure my hairstyle is fully dry (you can find the attachment on Amazon)
    • Straight Hair – If you’re wearing your hair straight I recommend this style when you’re going to a destination that will be relatively cool, with no chance of precipitation. Once straightened, I personally don’t put any product in my hair. I find adding anything to my straight hair makes it weigh down and appear oily – and it tends to make my scalp flaky quicker. But you can bring light oils with you to help prevent dryness (I love using sweet almond oil)
    • Natural Curls – Wearing your natural hair out is always a great option for vacation.  My curly hair, for instance, thrives in humid weather. Take into consideration the products you normally use to take care of your curls in warmer weather, that should be what you pack for your trip
    • Don’t try a new product when you’re on vacation because that could be a recipe for a bad hair day

Photo Credit: SheIsGenevieve


The length of your vacation will determine:
  • How You’ll Style Your Hair –
    • Short-term trip – If your trip will be less than a week, you probably won’t have to worry about missing wash day. Washing and styling your hair a few days before or the day of your departure will help your hair feel fresh and should last through your trip with little to no extra products needed (this does depend on the activities you do, like swimming). I’ve traveled to places for less than a week and either wore my hair in senegalese twists, box braids, straightened and a fresh unraveled twist-out/braid-out
    • Long-term trip – If your trip will be more than a week, you’ll have to pick the style that lasts you the longest. I usually wear my hair in a protective style when traveling for more than a week – this helps save time on maintenance and up keeping. When my hair is straight, it gets very oily and weighed down by the fourth or fifth day. When my hair is in its naturally curly state, it needs water to thrive. So I dedicate an entire day, once a week, to giving my hair some TLC (detangling, cleansing, deep conditioning, etc.). But that process is time consuming, and when traveling, I don’t have as much time to fully care for my hair. This is generally why I avoid wearing my hair curly or straight during long-term trips and just opt to wearing a protective style
  • How Much Hair Products to Pack –
    • Short-term trip – These trips require packing fewer products (or at least it should if you’re a strategic packer). Usually I pack my hair products I will be using in TSA approved bottles and carry them in a TSA approved toiletry bag
    • Long-term trip – If your trip is longer than a week you’ll probably want to consider dishing out more money to check-in your luggage, so you’ll have larger quantities of natural hair products you can take with you. If I’m wearing my hair in a protective style, I’ll most likely just put my products in my TSA approved bottles and toiletry bag, which should last me for a couple of weeks. If I decide to wear rock a fresh twist-out, braid-out, flat twist, etc. then I’d pay to check-in a bag so I have more products with me (I only choose this option if I know I’ll get a wash day during my trip)


Will you be hiking (I probably wouldn’t because of my fear of heights )? SwimmingSunbathing at the beachTrekking through a rainforest? Whatever you decide to do will help decide:
  • What Style Will be the Most Practical – Use your activities to help you decide what hairstyle would best make sense. If you’re going swimming it may be best to wear a protective style (braid/twist extensions or your natural hair in bantu knots, flat twists, braids, etc.) You’ll have to prep your hair for the harsh chlorine or salt water, then take care of your hair after getting out of the water. Clearly you wouldn’t straighten your curly hair if you’re going to be in the water or sweating.
  • What Type of Products to Pack – As mentioned above, if you know you’ll be swimming or sweating at some point during your trip then you should prep your hair before and then take care of it after you’re out of the water – I pack: Coconut oil and use it to prep my hair prior to getting into the water (Rinse your hair in water then apply your preferred oil) – then use a cleansing shampoo, deep conditioning treatment, oil, leave-in conditioner and styling cream once you get out of the water. If I’m doing other adventurous things that will make me sweat, I pack a co-washing conditioner and peppermint oil because it helps my scalp feel free of any sweat build up.

Photo Credit: TheTravelingChild


Traveling domestically or internationally will change the way you pack. When packing clothes for a domestic trip, you may be more comfortable in taking risks since you know the culture/norms. But you might tone down your outfits on international trips to avoid drawing unwanted attention that can make you susceptible to being pickpocketed (e.g. socks and sandals, I’m really not sure why people do this one in particular)
  • Domestically – When I’m traveling domestically I don’t typically pack larger quantities of my staple hair products because I know I’ll be able to purchase more if and when I run out. I also bring my own hair appliances (if needed) because I know my destination takes my appliances voltage.
  • Internationally – I am more adamant in packing my staple products in larger quantities when I’m traveling internationally because I’m unsure if I’ll be able to purchase more. I am also weary of buying products in a country that speaks a different language because I might not be able to understand and decipher all the ingredients on the container.

Let me know how you manage your natural hair during your trip. Do you wear a protective style, straighten your hair or just let your curls do their thing?