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 under. I’ll wait.) For my whole grownup life, my hair has simply been … not good: it’s half-heartedly curly and wavy on the similar time, tremendous frizzy and fly-away, inclined to separate ends and breakage, and very skinny. It tangles and breaks off if I a lot as take a look at it the flawed means. And it has a unending thirst for blood moisture.

For sure, 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 could be terrible tangles and breakage to take care of. 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 house with among 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 Lady Technique.” And whereas the total technique 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 components of my life, too. The boldness increase was actual, y’all!

All of the sudden, I didn’t have wishy-washy frizzy hair anymore. It turned out that each one that frizz was truly simply thirsty curls ready to stay life to their fullest potential! And regardless that my hair continues 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, superb, bountiful curls! I felt like a brand new, assured, sassy, curly-haired individual able to tackle the world.

Let me present y’all what I imply. Right here’s my earlier than hair, a wishy-washy nice mess with no actual texture that couldn’t determine 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, stuffed 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 Lady Technique turned me into the form of one who takes selfies on the airport – AFTER the flight. (Tip: pineapple your hair in the course of the flight for a quantity increase!)

The factor is, dwelling your curly life to its fullest potential will not be the best factor to drag off, particularly whereas touring. It’s a bit labor-intensive, requires just a few area of interest gadgets, and customarily 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 superb for 5 complete days. Yeah, that’s proper: 5 straight days of excellent hair days in a row. (You may nonetheless bathe if you need, although. I imply, I generally don’t. However you’ll be able to. I’ll clarify later!) That truly makes it value the additional effort on wash day. (As a result of I’m lazy.)

If it sounds a bit of 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 found out find out how to match my whole 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 satisfy its curly potential like me, right here’s all the pieces you’ll must take your curls on the street … or practice, airplane, bus, rickshaw, tuk-tuk, colectivo, moto-taxi, boat… actually wherever, actually.

The Curly Lady Technique (whereas Touring)

Everybody has barely totally different variations of the unique “curly lady technique” – 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 plenty of moisture with out product buildup or silicones will work for me! I’m principally simply utilizing cheap merchandise – however they’re utilized very fastidiously.

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

Step 1: The “Reset” Wash

The whole lot begins with a “reset” bathe. If all goes nicely throughout this a part of the method, I gained’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 superb 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 way in which from my roots downwards with a light-weight, moisturizing conditioner. For me, it’s tremendous vital 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 presently 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. Once 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, you have 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 carried out showering, it’s on to the second half: product software and drying!

  1. Whereas nonetheless the wrong way up, “scrunch” your hair to assist these curl clumps type. You’re mainly simply squeezing out some water, in order that if 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 a bit of additional increase, 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 nice hair as a result of it’s good and lightweight.
  3. Apply hair gel. That is by far, arms down, the MOST essential a part of my routine. Your gel is what’s going to maintain 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 take advantage of to use cream. The second technique known as “prayer arms” – you’re mainly 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 a terrific maintain and incredible 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 need to plop all your 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’ll be able to both take it down and let it air dry the remainder of the way in which, or for those who’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 conserving these curl clumps clumped!
  6. When your hair is totally dry, “scrunch out the crunch.” That gel you utilized to your hair can have was 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 you need to do is scrunch your hair like loopy along with your arms. I like a variety of quantity, so I’ll even fluff up my roots a bit of bit to actually get that gel damaged up! As soon as your crunch is totally scrunched out, congratulations: you might 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 vibrant crimson lipstick (and beer).

Step 2: The Upkeep

My reset bathe takes a variety of work. However fortunately, I solely should do it each 4-5 days. The remainder of the week, I simply perform a little 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 delicate scrunchy. Some people swear through the use of 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 a bit of flat and fewer outlined, so it’s time for a refresh! There are 2 foremost 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 overrated 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 a bit of 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 means 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 a bit of bit in a couple of minutes when you’ve dried!

In a pinch, even simply getting your arms moist, flipping your head over and scrunching your curls just a few instances will assist add some quantity and definition. The bottom line is that curls CRAVE moisture, so any means you will get moisture into them will assist your curls type!

And that’s it – that’ll maintain you wanting superb 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 once I plan to rock curly hair. That is my full curly hair journey packing listing, and whereas it might appear to be loads, 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 house, however time is a valuable commodity when touring and a blowdryer cuts dry time by roughly a zillion %! It’s additionally a essential instrument in a chilly vacation spot – no one desires frozen hair (even when it appears 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 overlook to deliver alongside a plug adapter/converter for those who’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 deliver 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 means I don’t knock out the curls in a single day and get a quantity increase 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 all your important hair merchandise! I deliver 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 suits 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 additional conditioner!

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

When you discover a shampoo and conditioner combo that works on your hair, deliver as a lot of it with you as you’ll be able to – 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 for those who don’t have a micro-fiber towel.

I all the time deliver alongside a microfiber hair towel to “plop” my hair in, however for those who overlook yours or don’t have one, you’ll be able to simply sub out a t-shirt, or any clean merchandise of clothes. It’s a bit of more durable 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 an everyday 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 customarily destroy a very good curl day.

By no means use an everyday towel in your hair! Any delicate, clean shirt or merchandise of clothes is an enchancment. (Simply ensure to pack a travel clothesline so you’ll be able to 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 one in all my favourite curvy-girl swimsuits in Maui, Hawaii.

Plan out your “wash days” strategically to suit into your itinerary.

Wash days are an entire 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 once 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 may spend out having adventures.

So, I plan my wash days strategically. I bathe and reset my hair on journey days, equivalent to once I’ll be on an extended 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 take advantage of varied tips to maintain my curls wanting good, together with sleeping with my hair in a “pineapple,” carrying 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 totally different impact in your hair whereas touring than you’re used to.

Laborious water” because it’s known as, will not be truly ice (complicated, I do know) however water that incorporates 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 known as buildup – simply the identical as what causes staining in your tub or tiled lavatory ground. And many resorts, hostels and trip leases have laborious water!

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

Convey a pair of tiny, foldable scissors.

That is only a normal journey tip – scissors are tremendous helpful to have available. However with regards to hair, scissors may be actually useful. We’ve used ours to trim cut up ends, lower bangs, trim beards, tidy up down there, and – for those who’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 the rest! You would doubtlessly harm the blade which may 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 probably the most susceptible to breakage and splitting, which ends up in tangles and frizz – two issues I’m regretfully nicely 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 once 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 incredible for hair. 

A bit of 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, arms and ft, and dry lips.  

And each argan oil and olive oil are all-around magnificence powerhouses! I deliver 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.

A bit of little bit of oil goes a good distance: put a dime-sized drop in your arms and clean by way of 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 might have a possibility to reset your curls – even for those who’re not doing an entire “reset” wash day.

You may spray water into your hair, put it up right into a ponytail when you bathe your physique, or simply get your arms 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’ll be able to actually re-curl a bit of hair along with your finger and let it dry into an entire excellent lil’ corkscrew.

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

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

Psst: Searching for extra suggestions for feeling and looking incredible whereas touring? Check out a few of these different posts:

xo Lia & Jeremy signature graphic


Our Prime Journey Suggestions & Assets

Listed here are our favourite journey suggestions & sources for saving cash and planning journey logistics! For extra suggestions, try 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 funds airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
  • Lodging: We normally keep in budget-friendly trip leases, boutique resorts or non-public rooms in hostels. We use to e book resorts (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to e book hostels (low deposit, straightforward change/cancellation, and glorious evaluations). For trip leases, we favor 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 report. You too can e book trip leases on Expedia and We additionally use TrustedHousesitters as each hosts (for our house 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 recommend it – go to our Travel Insurance Guide to search out out why. We suggest both World Nomads or SafetyWing for worldwide journey insurance coverage. SafetyWing is among the few insurance policies that covers Covid-19, they usually have glorious month-to-month insurance policies which might be excellent 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 presents incredible journey perks like journey insurance coverage, journey delay and cancellation protection, misplaced baggage reimbursement, and rental automotive 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 suggest getting each vaccine really helpful 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 an area’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 find out how 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 automotive, we use Kayak to check rental corporations and discover the most effective deal.
  • Baggage Storage: At any time when 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 data (like web site login particulars, financial institution information, and many others) protected, even if you’re linked to an unsecured community whereas touring. Plus, it helps you to use Netflix & different streaming websites overseas! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO if you enroll!
  • What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we deliver 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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