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How to Travel With Natural Hair

Updated: Jan 20, 2022

With summer in full swing, the warm weather has many of us rearing to head out on vacation and travel to various destinations away from home. If you have natural 4C coily hair like myself or similar, you likely have considered how your hair will fair alongside your summer plans. If the thought of being in and out of the water, battling the humidity of the unairconditioned outdoors, or being away from the treasure trove of hair products that reside under your bathroom sink fills you with hair anxiety, I'm here to help! Below are 5 easy hacks that I have collected over the years that have helped me to successfully travel with my natural hair whilst keeping it healthy and looking cute.

1. Protective style, protective style, protective style.

I cannot say this enough, protective styling is hands down the best way to keep your natural hair healthy and thriving while traveling. A protective style is any style that keeps the ends of the hair tucked away and minimises the amount of times you are touching and combing your hair to restyle it. Since your ends are the most fragile part of your hair, keeping them hidden away from the changing environments and conditions, synonymous with traveling, helps to keep them safe from damage. Additionally, the beauty of wearing a low manipulation style is that you can keep that same style for a lengthy period of time, this is especially helpful when you are staying in a location that does not accommodate all the tools and products usually at your disposal. Some of my favourite protective styles that have served me well throughout the years include; braids, twists, cornrows, buns and more recently wigs. Just a friendly reminder; do not neglect your hair whilst it is in a protective style, keeping a basic routine of washing and moisturising when appropriate will help keep your hair nourished all while staying protected.

2. Stick to styles and products that your hair knows and loves.

While we all want to look our best whilst travelling, this is not the time for experiments. I know that the excitement of wanting to try out the new travel sized natural hair product you purchased a few days before your trip can make this enticing, however, it's not worth risking your hair rejecting these products while you are away. To get around this, test any new products on your hair a few weeks in advance of your trip to see how your hair reacts. Also, rather than purchasing new travel sized products you have never used before, make use of small empty containers to transfer your tried and tested products into.The same rule applies to experimenting with new hairstyles. We have all been through the frustrating near tear experience of struggling to follow a YouTube hair tutorial without success, let's not bring this energy to our vacation trip. I cannot reiterate enough the importance of sticking to what you know! I have found that keeping a mental list of a few hairstyles I know and love in my back pocket helps keep me and my hair looking and feeling great.

3. Pack your holy grail products in your carry on

This is especially the case when traveling on an aeroplane to a far away destination. Keeping your favourite hair products in an easy to access carry-on bag will allow you the ability to keep your hair moisturised and looking and feeling good during a flight or a long airport layover. Additionally, in the unlikely but all too common event of your checked in baggage being delayed or lost, having your natural hair products on hand saves you having to hunt down new products in a location that may or may not have what you need. Please be sure to check the approved quantities of liquids and creams that your airline allows in a carry on bag to avoid any heartbreaking confiscations.

4. Always come prepared with a plan B

Even the most seasoned naturalista will admit that their hair does not always come to the party when required. Whether it’s unanticipated weather conditions affecting your hair, a hairstyle gone rogue, or a wash day disaster, coming prepared with a plan B when all else fails will mean that not all is lost. Below are some of my favourite go-to plan B hairstyles that have gotten me through some tough times while travelling;

  • Head Scarfs/Wraps

  • Hair Puffs/Ponytail extensions

  • Hats

  • Wigs

5. Learn to embrace your hair in any condition

At the risk of contradicting everything mentioned above, this perhaps is the most important hack of all. This is because let’s face it, it is almost inevitable that your hair will not always turn out as planned. In its truest sense, learning to embrace your hair in any condition means not only working with what you got but also confidently rocking and loving what you got on that beautiful head of yours! While personal experience has shown me that this is not always the easiest thing to do, I can personally attest to the fact that letting go of the tightly held image in your head that dictates what your hair should or shouldn't look like will set you free. This new found sense of hair freedom will not only allow you to not hold back from any travel related activities, but will also have you loving those amazing curls.

By Sapwe Musowa


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