Are you looking for tips for traveling with curly hair?
As a fellow curly-haired traveler, I know the challenges we face to maintain our curly crowns on the road. Whether battling humidity in the tropics, dryness in the desert, or finding hair products abroad, traveling with curly hair can feel like an adventure.
But the good news is that I've spent countless hours experimenting and perfecting my routine, and I've got some tips to help you do the same.
Keeping your natural hair healthy while traveling is more than just packing the best products. It's about prepping your hair before, caring for it during, and knowing how to revive those curls after your trip.
So, let's dive in and start traveling with our beautiful, natural hair!
Special Thanks to RevAir for sponsoring this post. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own. RevAir's Extreme Hydration Hair Collection,is perfect for us curly girls that are looking to add some hydration to our haircare routine. It works great with both straight and curly styles.
19 Tips for Traveling with Curly Hair
It might be easy to feel like curls are hard work; some days, they are. But they don't have to be.
Here is the thing: your curls are not a hindrance. They're a gift! They are a beautiful part of who you are and deserve to be treated with love and kindness, no matter where you find yourself.
The sooner you embrace that crown of curls, the sooner they will work in your favor.
Let's talk about some tips and tricks to ensure you always have a good hair day while on the road.
(1) Know Your Curly Hair Type
Before you even start packing your hair care products, it's crucial to understand your specific curly hair type. Not all curls are created equal! They vary from wavy to coily, each with unique needs and care routines.
Whether you have loose, beachy waves (Type 2), defined ringlets (Type 3), or tight, springy coils (Type 4), your hair requires a tailored approach to keep it healthy and vibrant.
Identifying your hair type is the first step to understanding the best practices and products for your curls. This knowledge is invaluable for maintaining and showcasing your fabulous curls, regardless of your travel destination.
Type 2: Wavy Hair
If you have type 2 hair, your strands fall somewhere between straight and curly, with a slight S-shaped pattern. This hair type tends to be more frizzier and slightly styling resistant.
A lightweight mousse or styling cream can help keep frizz at bay while adding definition to your waves.
Type 3: Curly Hair
Type 3 hair is characterized by well-defined, springy curls with a loopy “S” pattern. This hair type tends to be dry, so opt for moisturizing products. The Extreme Hydration Hair Care Line from RevAir is perfect for thirsty curls.
I have 3c/4a hair and love the Hydrating Leave-In Conditioning Spray.
Type 4: Coily Hair
The tightest curl type, type 4 hair, consists of densely packed coils. This hair type can be pretty dry and requires extra moisture and protection. The Moisture Rich Hair & Scalp Oil from RevAir is a good pick, replenishing moisture and adding shine.
(2) Knowing What Works for Your Curls
Understanding your curl type is just the beginning. Once you've got that down, it's time to experiment and discover what your curls love. Everyone's hair is unique, and what works for one curly girl might not work for another, even if you share the same curl type!
The key here is patience and persistence. You may need to try different products, techniques, or routines before you find your perfect match. Exploring shampoos, conditioners, oils, or stylers, and even different drying methods like air drying, diffusing, or plopping can make a difference.
Remember, it's all about finding methods that enhance your natural curl pattern, maximize moisture, and minimize frizz.
(3) Research Before You Go
Before you embark on your next adventure, remember that some research can go a long way in maintaining your curls on the road. Different locations and climates can significantly impact the behavior of your curls.
It's essential to consider two crucial factors: the type of water at your destination and the weather conditions.
Understanding the Water Type
Water plays a crucial role in your curly hair care routine. The type of water you wash your hair with can significantly affect your curls. Hard water, prevalent in many parts of the world, can make hair feel dry and straw-like, leading to more frizz and breakage.
This water contains a high mineral content, including calcium and magnesium, which can build up on your hair, making it harder for moisture and conditioners to penetrate the hair shaft.
If you're traveling to a place with hard water, consider bringing a clarifying rinse to prevent mineral buildup or a shower filter that can convert hard water to soft.
On the other hand, soft water, treated to remove these minerals, can make your hair feel smoother and easier to manage. Knowing the water type at your destination can help you adjust your hair care routine accordingly, ensuring your curls stay healthy and vibrant.
Consider the Weather
The weather is another essential factor to consider. Humid environments can cause curly hair to frizz and expand. At the same time, dry conditions can strip your hair of necessary moisture, leaving your curls brittle and prone to breakage.
If you're traveling to a humid climate, pack anti-humidity products and sealants to help lock in moisture and keep the frizz at bay. For drier climates, look for deep conditioning treatments and moisturizing products to nourish your hair and maintain hydration.
(4)Picking the Right Products
Choosing the right products for your curls while traveling is a game changer. It's not just about packing light but also about packing smart! Let's dive into some essentials that should find a spot in your travel bag.
Shampoo and Conditioner
First up, your shampoo and conditioner. Choose products specifically designed for curly hair and focus on hydration and frizz control. Don't limit yourself to products that are only available in travel sizes.
It is easy to decant your products into smaller containers. The importance is finding the product that works for you.
Recommended Products: Cleansing Oil Shampoo from RevAir
Next, a high-quality leave-in conditioner is a must for curly-haired travelers. It provides extra moisture and protection, keeping your curls soft and manageable throughout your adventures.
Recommended Products: Hydrating Leave-In Conditioning Spray
PPP Tip: Always pack extra conditioner. Use it as a leave-in or add water to create a refresh spray.
Don't forget your favorite styling products like gels, creams, or mousse. These help define your curls and keep them frizz-free. Keep in mind that sometimes less is more. Sometimes, an excellent leave-in conditioner might be the only hair product you need.
Recommended Products: Hydrating Leave-In Conditioning Spray
Protective Serums or Oils
Lastly, consider packing a protective serum or oil. These products are great for sealing in moisture, adding shine, and shielding your curls from harmful environmental factors.
Recommended Products: Moisture Rich Hair & Scalp Oil
Most hotels may supply shower caps, but I like to pack my own. I use it for deep conditioning treatments on the road and to keep my curls from getting wet when showering.
(5) Prepping Your Hair Before Traveling
Before you jet off on your next adventure, giving your hair a little TLC can ensure your curls look their best throughout your trip. A reset wash is one of the most effective ways to prep your hair.
A reset or clarifying wash is a deep cleanse for your curls, designed to strip away any product buildup, oils, and impurities that regular shampoos may leave behind.
This process creates a clean slate for your curls, allowing them to better absorb and benefit from the hydrating and nourishing products you apply afterward.
To do a reset wash, start with a Detox Pre-Wash Rinse like this one from RevAir. This will help to remove any buildup you have in your hair. Your curls might feel a bit dry or ‘squeaky' after a reset wash – that's normal and a sign that you've effectively removed buildup.
Once your hair is squeaky clean, follow with the RevAir Cleansing Oil Shampoo. This shampoo combines coconut water and olive leaf extract, leaving your curls feeling soft and hydrated.
After your reset wash, following up with a deep conditioning treatment is crucial. This step will replenish the moisture the reset wash stripped away, leaving your curls hydrated, soft, and ready for travel adventures. Apply your deep conditioner, let it sit for the recommended time, and then rinse thoroughly.
Doing a reset wash before your trip will ensure that your curls are as healthy and responsive to styling as possible, making managing your curls while traveling that much easier.
(6) Get a Curly haircut.
Before jetting off on your travels, consider getting a curly haircut. A curly cut takes into account the unique pattern of your curls, cutting them in a way that enhances their natural shape and bounce.
A skilled stylist specializing in curly hair will know how to cut your curls when dry since this is how you wear it daily. They will carve out each curl pattern, allowing it to fall into place naturally, leading to less frizz and more definition.
Think of it as a personalized haircut, where each curl is treated individually, resulting in a cut tailored just for you. This will ensure your curls maintain their form and structure throughout your travels. It's also a perfect opportunity to trim away dead or split ends, exacerbating frizz and making your curls harder to manage.
Remember to schedule your haircut a few weeks before your trip. This gives you enough time to understand how to style and manage your new haircut. It may be an investment, but when you're on the road, exploring new places with great hair, you'll realize it's all worth it.
(7) Protective Travel Hairstyles for Curly Hair
When it comes to tips for traveling abroad with curly hair, protective hairstyles can be your best friend. Not only are these styles practical and time-saving, but they also protect your curls from environmental factors and reduce tangles and breakage.
Here are some travel-friendly protective hairstyles that help keep your curls in check while exploring new places.
Braids are a go-to protective style for many curly girls. Whether a simple three-strand, French, or Dutch braid, these styles keep your hair secured and minimize frizz. Plus, when you undo your braids, you'll have beautiful and defined waves, perfect for a night out!
High buns, low buns, or double buns are trendy and keep your curls tucked away, protecting them from wind, sun, and damp weather conditions. Use a scrunchie or spiral hair bands to avoid causing tension or breakage to your curls.
The pineapple updo, a high, loose ponytail atop your head, is an easy and effective way to protect your curls when you sleep. It prevents tangles and maintains the shape of your curls, so you wake up with your hair still looking fresh and bouncy.
Another great option is twist styles, such as flat or two-strand twists. They are gentler on your curls than braids, and when you take them out, they leave your hair with a beautiful curl pattern.
Twists are my favorite protective style and they are easy to do yourself. I start by drying my hair with my RevAir Reverse Hairdryer. Once my hair is dry and sleek I section it out and do two strand twists.
The style can last up to 2 weeks with proper care. To wash I use a gentle shampoo and conditioner and dry my twists using my RevAir Reverse Hairdryer.
(8) Keeping Your Itinerary and Activities in Mind
Keep your travel itinerary and the activities you plan to engage in mind what planning your hair care routine.
For example will you headed to the carribean where humidity may be your main concern or will you be doing a lot of water sports?
You may need to pack an anti-humidity spray or serum to keep frizz at bay and maintain your curl definition or in the alternative consider rocking a protective style like braids or twists.
For colder, drier climates, a moisturizing leave-in conditioner or curl cream can work wonders to keep your curls hydrated and prevent them from drying out.
If your travels include many outdoor activities like hiking, consider packing a wide-brimmed hat or bandana to protect your curls from wind and sun damage.
Swimming in chlorinated pools or the ocean? Pre-soak your hair with clean water and apply a protective layer of conditioner to minimize the absorption of chlorine or salt.
On the other hand, if your trip involves a lot of city exploring you may want to carry a travel-sized bottle of dry shampoo when you want a refresh but don't have time for a full wash and go.
Adapting your hair care routine based on your itinerary will ensure that your curls will remain healthy and beautiful no matter where you are or what you're doing.
(9) Have a solid curly hair routine, but keep it minimal.
Traveling should be about simplicity and enjoying the moment, and your hair care routine should embody these principles, too. While maintaining curly hair demands a certain level of care, keeping it straightforward and minimal is possible.
Cleanse: Use a sulfate-free shampoo to cleanse your scalp. Remember, curlier hair types can get away with washing less frequently. If your curls start to feel a bit dry, try co-washing (washing with conditioner) instead of using shampoo every time.
Condition: Conditioner is a curly girl's best friend. It keeps your curls hydrated and helps detangle them, making them easier to manage. Rinse with cold water for added shine.
Styling: A good leave-in conditioner and a gel or mousse are all you need. The leave-in will give your curls the moisture they need, and the gel or mousse will provide hold and definition. Remember, less is more!
Drying: Let your hair air dry whenever possible. Diffuse if you're in a hurry, but avoid high heat. Dry your hair with a microfiber towel or a cotton t-shirt to reduce frizz.
Night-time Routine: Before you lay your head down, apply a small amount of leave-in conditioner to your ends, and put your hair up in the ‘pineapple' style to help maintain your curls overnight.
Remember, your goal isn't perfection—it's healthier, happier curls that can withstand the rigors of travel. Embrace the unpredictability of your curls as part of the adventure.
(10) Taming Your Curls with a Wide Tooth Comb
A wide-tooth comb is an indispensable tool for all curly-haired travelers, serving as a secret weapon against tangles and knots that may arise on your journey.
Unlike regular combs or brushes, it has wide-set teeth that gently and effectively detangle your curls without causing breakage or disturbing your natural curl pattern.
When and how to use it, you ask? After applying your conditioner during your wash routine, gently work the comb from the ends of your hair upwards, carefully detangling each section.
The conditioner provides a sleek layer that aids the comb in gliding smoothly through your hair. This method helps avoid unnecessary tugging on your curls, preventing damage and hair loss.
(11) Use a Deep Conditioner
A deep conditioner is another secret weapon every curly girl should have in her travel arsenal. This product is truly a game changer, especially when you're on the road.
Traveling exposes your curls to various elements – from dry cabin air on flights to harsh sun, salty sea water, or even just the change in water quality at your destination. Your hair can quickly become dry, brittle, and unmanageable. And that's where deep conditioning comes into play!
Make it a ritual to deep condition your hair at least once a week during your travels. Apply the deep conditioner thoroughly to clean, damp hair, concentrating on the mid-lengths and ends, which are the driest parts. Leave it on for a while, perhaps while planning your next itinerary or catching up on that book you've meant to finish. After about 30 minutes, rinse it off thoroughly.
The result? Your curls will be deeply hydrated, soft, and easier to manage, which means less time spent on styling and more time exploring your new surroundings. Plus, the moisture from the deep conditioner will protect against any environmental stressors your hair might encounter.
(12) Pack a Satin Pillowcase: Your Curly Hair's Best Travel Buddy
When it comes to tips for traveling with curly hair, a satin pillowcase is not a luxury—it's a necessity. Why, you ask? The answer lies in the unique properties of satin.
This smooth, glossy fabric allows your hair to glide over the pillowcase as you sleep, minimizing hair friction that can lead to tangles, breakage, and the much-dreaded frizz.
Unlike cotton pillowcases, satin doesn't absorb moisture from your hair, ensuring your curls stay hydrated and maintain their shape and bounce.
Packing a satin pillowcase in your travel bag and using it wherever you're laying your head for the night—be it a hotel, a friend's place, or a tropical beach resort—will ensure your curls wake up as refreshed as you do.
It's lightweight, doesn't take up much space, and is an easy, passive way to care for your curls while sleeping.
(13) Protect Your Hair From the Sun
Just as your skin needs protection from the sun's harmful rays, so does your curly hair. Prolonged exposure to UV rays can strip your hair of its natural oils, leading to dry, brittle curls and increased frizziness. But don't let this put a damper on your sunny adventures! There are effective ways to safeguard your curls while exploring the great outdoors.
Firstly, consider packing a hat or a scarf. Not only are they stylish travel accessories, but they also provide a physical barrier against the sun. Choose one of the breathable fabrics to keep your head cool during escapades.
Secondly, invest in hair care products that contain UV protection. Much like sunscreen for your skin, these products help shield your hair from the damaging effects of the sun. Apply the product throughout your hair, taking extra care to cover the ends – the oldest and often driest part of your hair.
And lastly, hydration is key. Keep your curls moisturized by drinking plenty of water and using products with hydrating ingredients. Remember, hydrated hair is less likely to absorb environmental moisture, keeping frizz at bay.
(14) Pack Hair Scarves and Satin Scrunchies
Hair scarves and satin scrunchies are not just functional pieces; they're style statements that can easily elevate your travel outfit while caring for your precious curls.
Hair scarves can be a curly girl's best friend on the road. They're versatile, fashionable, and handy when on the go, but your curls aren't cooperating. You can use them to tie up your hair in a pineapple style to maintain your curls' shape overnight or wrap them around your head to protect your hair from the sun or wind.
With many chic patterns and hues available, hair scarves add extra glam to your travel attire.
Satin scrunchies are another must have item. They are the best option for securing your curls without causing hair breakage or leaving annoying indentations. The smooth satin fabric doesn't absorb your hair's natural oils, thus keeping your curls moisturized and reducing frizz.
(15) Travel Light: Decant Your Curly Hair Products into Travel-Sized Containers
It can be frustrating when you find the perfect products for your hair but they are not available in travel sized. The good news is that traveling with curly hair doesn't mean you have to lug around your entire collection of hair care products.
Here's a game-changing travel hack that every curly girl should know: Decant your favorite products into travel-sized containers!
These small, lightweight, TSA-approved bottles are your curls' best travel buddies. They let you bring enough of your favorite shampoo, conditioner, hair mask, or styling cream to keep your curls looking their best throughout your travels. Plus, they save space in your luggage and make passing through airport security a breeze.
(16) Protecting Your Hair In Flight
Air travel can be exciting but can also be quite harsh on your curly hair. The cabins of airplanes have low humidity levels, which can leave your curls thirsty and prone to frizz.
But fear not, curly girls! With a bit of planning and a few key items in your carry-on, you can land with your curls looking fabulous as when you boarded your flight.
The first rule of in-flight curly hair care is never to board a plane without hydrating your hair. Before you set off, apply a leave-in conditioner or hair oil (like this one)to your curls to lock in moisture and prevent dryness. This step is crucial, as the air inside the cabin is exceptionally dry.
Secondly, invest in a travel-size spray bottle. Fill it with water or a hydrating mist to refresh your curls mid-flight. A quick spritz can revive your curls and prevent them from drying out.
Also, consider packing a satin scarf or a bonnet in your carry-on. Wearing it during your flight can reduce friction between your hair and the airplane seat, preventing frizz and tangles.
Lastly, avoid hairstyles that pull or strain your curls during the flight. Opt for loose styles or a topknot using a satin scrunchie to avoid stress on your hair.
(17) Pack a Refresh Spray in Your Carry-on: The Secret to Bouncy, Refreshed Curls on the Go
You've made it to your destination and are ready to explore. But what about your curls? After a long flight and dealing with different climate conditions, your curls might need a little pick-me-up. That's where a refreshing spray comes into play, and it's an absolute must in your carry-on when traveling with curly hair.
A good refresh spray can work wonders on your curls, reviving them and bringing them back to life. It's like a mini spa treatment for your hair, right there on the go. A few spritzes can redefine your curls, add volume, and combat any frizz brought on by changes in humidity or temperature. It's the perfect way to ensure your curls are always ready for those spontaneous travel photos!
Choosing a refreshing spray that's hydrating and lightweight is key. Look for ones with nourishing ingredients like aloe vera, argan oil, or coconut water. These ingredients hydrate your curls, leaving them soft, shiny, and revitalized without weighing them down. This one by RevAir is perfect for refreshing and moisturing your hair on the go.
(18) Plopping with a T-shirt
The world of curls is full of creative hacks, and one of the most popular (and travel-friendly!) is the t-shirt plop, also known as “plopping.” If you're a curly girl on the go, mastering the art of plopping with a t-shirt can be a game-changer for maintaining your curls while traveling.
So, what exactly is ‘plopping'?
Let's break it down into these easy steps:
- After washing your hair and applying your favorite leave-in products, flat a cotton t-shirt on a surface.
- Bend over at the waist and arrange your curls in the center of the shirt.
- Now, with your head still upside down, pull the bottom of the shirt over the back of your head and tie the sleeves in a knot at the nape of your neck.
- Stand up straight now, and you've successfully plopped your hair! Leave the shirt on for about 20-30 minutes (as your hair dries, you can get dressed and do your makeup). Then, remove the shirt and let your curls air dry.
T-shirt plopping is an absolute lifesaver when you're traveling. It's a space-saver in your luggage and a quick and easy solution to maintaining those perfect, bouncing curls, no matter where you are, while avoiding traditional blow drying or harsh heat.
(19) Drink Water for Happy Curls While Traveling
Hydration and healthy curls go hand-in-hand, especially when you're traveling. For all the curly-haired wanderers out there, you know the struggle to maintain those luscious locks while on the go.
Drinking enough water might seem like an unrelated tip, but trust me, it's a game-changer.
Hydrating yourself internally is just as important as hydrating your curls externally. When your body is well-hydrated, it directly impacts your scalp and hair health.
Drinking plenty of water helps to flush out toxins from your body. This not only improves your overall health but also results in a healthier scalp, which in turn leads to healthier hair. Water hydrates your scalp and hair from the inside out, which can help boost your hair's natural shine and elasticity, giving you those bouncing, vibrant curls we all love.
Traveling with Very Curly Hair: FAQs
Now, let's dive into some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about traveling with very curly hair. I know from experience that traveling with curls can be filled with uncertainty and a lot of hair ties.
But, no fear, curly girls! I've done that and am here to answer your burning questions.
How do you take care of curly hair when traveling?
Caring for curly hair while traveling is no different then caring for your hair while you are home. The key is have a routine that is easy to follow and replicate no matter where in the world you are traveling.
How do you protect curly hair on a plane?
To protect your hair curly hair on the plane start with applying a leave-in conditioner before your flight. During your flight wear a satin or silk scarf and keep a small bottle of refresh spray handy in the even your curls need a little bit a moisture.
How do you dry curly hair when traveling?
Drying curly hair while traveling is best done naturally to avoid heat damage. If you're in a rush, use a diffuser on your hairdryer to distribute the heat evenly and minimize frizz.
Alternatively, the t-shirt plop method discussed earlier is a wonderful, travel-friendly option for drying your curls while helping them retain their natural shape.
How do you travel with natural hair?
Traveling with natural hair involves carefully planning and prioritizing hair care routines that maintain health and beauty. Embrace protective hairstyles like twists or braids to reduce exposure to harsh environments and pack essential hair care products such as natural oils and leave-in conditioners.
Traveling With Curly Hair: Final Thoughts
Traveling with curly hair doesn't have to be a challenge. Every day can be a good hair day when traveling. Regardless of whether you like to wear your hair straight or if you prefer to embrace your curls, no matter the hairstyle you choose to rock, you can enjoy the perfect look every time.
Your best bet for avoiding bad hair days is to follow a few hair care travel tips to help you achieve the same results every time.
We hope you enjoyed reading these great tips. Be sure to check out RevAir's Extreme Hydration Hair Collection, which is perfect for all your natural curly hair needs while on the go.