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 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, susceptible to separate ends and breakage, and intensely skinny. It tangles and breaks off if I a lot as take a look at it the unsuitable method. And it has a unending thirst for blood moisture.

Evidently, it was NOT enjoyable to journey with. Throughout my year-long honeymoon, I backpacked all over the world 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 take care of. I didn’t have area in my journey backpack for conditioner, and I didn’t have a lot luck discovering any on my travels. I returned dwelling with a few 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 referred to as the “Curly Lady Technique.” And whereas the complete methodology was extra concerned than I used to be actually ready to do, even making an attempt a half-a**ed lazy model of it truly modified my life. I imply, largely it modified my hair, nevertheless it modified it a lot that it spilled over into different elements of my life, too. The boldness enhance was actual, y’all!

Instantly, 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 although 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 understand 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 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 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 dwelling as much as its potential whereas the remainder of me was having an incredible time in Bali.

And right here’s my after hair, filled 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 who takes selfies on the airport – AFTER the flight. (Tip: pineapple your hair throughout the flight for a quantity enhance!)

The factor is, dwelling 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 objects, 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 bought your curls locked in, you’re in luck: your hair will look wonderful for 5 entire days. Yeah, that’s proper: 5 straight days of excellent hair days in a row. (You possibly can nonetheless bathe if you need, 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 internationally and discovered easy methods 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 fulfill its curly potential like me, right here’s every little thing you’ll must take your curls on the street … or practice, aircraft, bus, rickshaw, tuk-tuk, colectivo, moto-taxi, boat… actually anyplace, actually.

The Curly Lady Technique (whereas Touring)

Everybody has barely completely different variations of the unique “curly lady methodology” – which was coined and first debuted in this book – and over time I’ve discovered 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 may give it plenty 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 little thing begins with a “reset” bathe. If all goes properly throughout this a part of the method, I received’t must 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 just a few hours fiddling along 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 delicate, sulfate-free shampoo. Not everybody truly wants shampoo – many curly ladies 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 best way 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 crush 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 often just a few tangles to work out at this level, and as soon as I’ve roughly gotten these out of the best way, I pile my hair on high of my head and clip it as much as hold it out of the best way and let my conditioner soak in.
  5. I comb by my hair upside-town and wash out the conditioner. Once I’m prepared to complete up, I run a wide-tooth comb by my hair whereas upside-down – this is essential! At this level, you need to be beginning to see “curl clumps” forming. Wash your hair out whereas nonetheless the other way up, taking particular care to hold these curl clumps collectively!

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

  1. Whereas nonetheless the other way up, “scrunch” your hair to assist these curl clumps kind. You’re principally simply squeezing out some water, in order that once you begin making use of product, it received’t all combine with the surplus water and fall proper off! Take particular care to to it the other way up and gently, in order that your curl clumps get even curlier.
  2. Apply curl cream by “scrunching” the other 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 completely different curl lotions on the market. I actually like this one for my positive hair as a result of it’s good and lightweight.
  3. Apply hair gel. That is by far, palms down, the MOST important a part of my routine. Your gel is what’s going to hold your curls going sturdy for the remainder of the week – it’s ESSENTIAL! There are two methods I like to use gel. First is similar scrunching movement I exploit to use cream. The second methodology known as “prayer palms” – 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 exploit this extremely cheap, super nostalgic 90’s era gel as a result of it’s low-cost, has an incredible maintain and incredible shine, and washes out absolutely in water so I by no means get product buildup. (Additionally, nostalgia.)
  4. Plop utilizing a micro-fiber hair towel. You wish to plop your entire 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 may both take it down and let it air dry the remainder of the best way, or when you’re tight on time, use a blow-drier and diffuser to softly dry your hair whereas upside-down. When 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 conserving these curl clumps clumped!
  6. When your hair is absolutely dry, “scrunch out the crunch.” That gel you utilized to your hair could have become 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 it’s important to do is scrunch your hair like loopy along with your palms. I like lots 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 absolutely scrunched out, congratulations: you will have 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 shiny purple lipstick (and beer).

Step 2: The Upkeep

My reset bathe takes lots 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 along with your hair piled on high of your head.

Sleeping along 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 when you sleep! I sometimes simply pile it on the very high of my head with a comfortable 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 primary methods I prefer 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 hyped up once more, so by the point I come out of the bathe, I’ve bought plenty 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 along 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 would possibly must scrunch out the crunch somewhat bit in a couple of minutes when you’ve dried!

In a pinch, even simply getting your palms moist, flipping your head over and scrunching your curls just a few instances will assist add some quantity and definition. The secret is that curls CRAVE moisture, so any method you may get moisture into them will assist your curls kind!

And that’s it – that’ll hold you wanting wonderful 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 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 checklist, and whereas it could appear to be loads, I’m in a position to shove all of this into a kind 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 valuable commodity when touring and a blowdryer cuts dry time by roughly a zillion p.c! It’s additionally a important device in a chilly vacation spot – no person needs frozen hair (even when it appears actually cool). I exploit a really small, foldable blow dryer with a collapsible curl diffuser that take up a small quantity of area in my bag. Simply don’t overlook to carry alongside a plug adapter/converter when you’ll be touring overseas!
  • Microfiber hair towel: Together with a full sized travel towel (since lodge 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 absolutely dry.
  • Scrunchies: I exploit 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: In fact, you want tiny travel-sized bottles of your entire 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 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 scorching, humid environments, like a tropical seaside. On seaside 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 sorts, 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.

Deliver further conditioner!

Don’t rely on the lodge’s free bottles, or discovering appropriate hair merchandise wherever you’re touring. You received’t, and when you do use some random lodge conditioner, you would possibly find yourself making your hair worse – they’re often loaded with silicones!

When you discover a shampoo and conditioner combo that works on your hair, carry 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 when you don’t have a micro-fiber towel.

I all the time carry alongside a microfiber hair towel to “plop” my hair in, however when you overlook yours or don’t have one, you may simply sub out a t-shirt, or any easy 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 on your hair! They trigger frizz, disrupt your curl sample, suck up extra moisture than you need, and usually break an excellent curl day.

By no means use a daily towel in your hair! Any comfortable, easy shirt or merchandise of clothes is an enchancment. (Simply ensure that to pack a travel clothesline so you may 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 considered 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 often 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 valuable minutes that I might spend out having adventures.

So, I plan my wash days strategically. I bathe and reset my hair on journey days, resembling after I’ll be on a protracted flight or practice journey. I don’t care if I look cute throughout these days, and it provides 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 exploit varied methods to maintain my curls wanting good, together with sleeping with my hair in a “pineapple,” sporting my hair in a super-high ponytail whereas I bathe to absorb 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 completely different impact in your hair whereas touring than you’re used to.

Onerous water” because it’s referred to as, just isn’t truly ice (complicated, I do know) however water that accommodates hint components of chemical compounds and minerals. That isn’t essentially a nasty factor, however it may possibly have a detrimental impact in your hair referred to as buildup – simply the identical as what causes staining in your tub or tiled toilet flooring. And many inns, hostels and trip leases have arduous water!

To clean away that icky buildup and hold it from damaging your hair, both carry a small quantity of clarifying rinse or shampoo, or – my choice – 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 remedy for a nasty sunburn!

Deliver a pair of tiny, foldable scissors.

That is only a basic journey tip – scissors are tremendous useful to have readily available. However in the case of hair, scissors may be actually useful. We’ve used ours to trim cut up ends, reduce bangs, trim beards, tidy up down there, and – when 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 possibly can doubtlessly harm the blade which might in flip harm your hair.
Jeremy exploring the Palace Market in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Bonus picture 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 susceptible 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, each time they’re feeling dry, or simply after I must tame issues down and easy issues out. I brush by with my boar bristle brush to unfold the oils by my hair evenly.

In a pinch, Coconut Oil and Olive Oil are incredible 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, palms 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 recognized to make the most of 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 palms and easy by your hair beginning along 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 will have a chance to reset your curls – even when you’re not doing a complete “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 palms 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 may actually re-curl a chunk of hair along with your finger and let it dry into a complete good lil’ corkscrew.

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

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

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

xo Lia & Jeremy signature graphic


Our Prime Journey Ideas & Sources

Listed here are our favourite journey ideas & assets for saving cash and planning journey logistics! For extra ideas, 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 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 inns or personal rooms in hostels. We use to e book inns (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to e book hostels (low deposit, straightforward change/cancellation, and wonderful evaluations). For trip leases, we choose to e book utilizing VRBO as a result of they have decrease charges and higher assist than Airbnb, and we’re not followers of Airbnb’s unethical monitor document. It’s also possible to e book 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 advocate both World Nomads or SafetyWing for worldwide journey insurance coverage. SafetyWing is likely one of the few insurance policies that covers Covid-19, they usually have wonderful month-to-month insurance policies which might be good for Digital Nomads and long run vacationers!
  • Journey Credit score Card: We e book all of our journeys on our favourite journey bank card. Not solely will we earn money again that we are able to spend on extra journey, however the card gives incredible 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 really helpful medicines and vaccines for worldwide journeys. We all the time advocate getting each vaccine really helpful 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 a neighborhood’s perspective and a historical past lesson whereas sight-seeing! We e book our excursions utilizing Viator and GetYourGuide.
  • Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to determine easy methods to get from place to put, and e book native transportation on-line utilizing Bookaway wherever we are able to. After we e book a rental automobile, we use Kayak to check rental firms and discover the perfect deal.
  • Baggage Storage: At any time when we’re trying out early or profiting from a protracted layover, we use LuggageHero to soundly 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 info (like web site login particulars, financial institution data, and so on) protected, even once 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 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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