As someone with crazy curly hair, I have found many of the tips for traveling with curly hair not applicable to my own hair. I’ve asked some amazing ladies (+ one guy) with all kinds of curly hair for their tips for dealing with curly hair on vacation, the best curly hair products for them, and easy travel hairstyles for curly hair. This includes natural hairstyles for traveling as straightening your hair 24/7 is not good for it. I also include travel beauty tips for WOC, which is often not included in tips for curly hair. Thanks to my contributors for their fantastic tips for their recommendations for travel tips for curly hair and the best curly hair travel products.
Note: this post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information.
As a traveler with curly hair, I know the struggle of find in a good travel hairstyle for curly hair given the craziness that travel can bring: rain, humidity, water… However, as someone with thick frizzy hair somewhere closer to 3B/3C, I can tell you that it’s tough to find curly hair travel hairstyles that are inclusive of women who don’t have straight/slightly wavy hair. Unfortunately, straightening my hair every day is terrible for it, so I’ve struggled to find curly hair tips that work for me.
I’ve asked curly haired bloggers (who are majority WOC) with every consistency of curly hair to give their favorite easy travel hairstyle for curly hair, including vacation hairstyles for black hair, and the best travel hair products for curly hair.
(Sorry to those with straight hair, but you’re not included here.)
Type 2 Curly Hair
Type 2 Curly Hair is slightly curvy and/or wavy. You might have an S shape close to your head. It is still prone to frizz.
My hair is an odd blend of wavy/curly. It usually “listens” when I straighten it, or curls up nicely with mousse and a diffuser. But when traveling, I do NOT have that kind of time!
My tip would be use a good styling creme /curl mousse after showering and then DON’T TOUCH THAT HAIR! (Put your curl mousse in a travel sized container to ensure you’re safe to fly with it!) I usually just throw stuff in it and go, and embrace the natural texture. It can be fun to see how different climates affect my hair; I never know what I’m getting. I prefer to wash every other day and use dry shampoo on the off days. Seriously, whoever invented dry shampoo deserves a medal. This keeps my ends from getting too dry but minimizes the oil that seems to collect on the scalp hair.
Speaking of oily hair….whenever I have an overnight or long, long flight, I totally give up on keeping my hair looking cute. It seems to get especially oily and dirty in transit. However, I hate tossing my hair up into a ponytail.
My go to easy travel hairstyle that looks cute when I arrive: I do two braids and cross them over the crown of my head, a bit of a Heidi look. I keep them in place with bobby pins. It’s a very cute look, virtually prevents my hair from moving an inch, and best of all, goes untouched by my hands. Once I arrive at my destination, I take down my hair and enjoy the fun crimped waves that result. Voila….beautiful upon landing. 🙂
Curly or straight? That all important decision determines if I’ll be ready and out the door in 5 minutes, or 5 hours. My hair is long and thick. When I allow it dry naturally, I get nice loose curls, but I prefer my hair straight – which amounts to some serious time, effort and maintenance on the road.
Jacob (from Wanderlustingk.com)
Yes, my husband! Perfect curls while traveling is also important for guys with long hair! For those days where he’s just not feeling like having frizzy hair and is on the go, he swears by the three hairband ponytail (one at the top, one in the middle, and one towards the bottom) for keeping the frizz under control while hair dries. He’s become a bun person after realizing how fantastic it is to keep your hair off the back of your neck while traveling in hot weather. His must: Extra hair ties.
Jacob is a big fan of ethical products that don’t test on animals. He’s been amazed by how much healthier his hair has become after using products with argan oil/not using an all-in-one shampoo. (Luckily, he has a wife who recommended changing his shampoo from an all-in-one to a shampoo and conditioner.) One additional note: if you have issues with dandruff while traveling, it’s best to bring a small travel sized dandruff shampoo as the options where you’re traveling may not work as effectively as what you have at home, as Jacob has learned.
Type 3 Curly Hair
Type 3 Curly Hair includes lightly curled hair and very curly hair. The defining feature is springy soft curls.
Managing my curls and avoiding frizz while traveling is not always easy. I’m a Latina traveler with very curly hair (small, tight curls that also get dry easily). One of my biggest secrets is to find and get the right haircut for curly hair before I travel, especially when traveling for a longer period with curly hair. You don’t want to risk finding a new person abroad to cut your hair, especially if you are in countries that can’t understand or have experience with your type of hair.
Karen from Wanderlustingk (Me!)
This might shock my readers and friends, but I have very curly, frizzy hair (closer to 3B) and dealing with my curly hair while traveling has been a struggle. I am learning to be better about my curls, but I’m getting there.
I find that not washing your hair daily makes a huge difference for my hair (which is a bit oily) and it looks best on the second or third day. I also love dry shampoo. It is also a lot better for the health of your curly hair as it makes good hair last a lot longer and you can just spray/go if you’re having a good hair day.
After a good hair day (with plopping [more below!], I often tie up my hair in a tight bun overnight, brush my fingers through it (a boar’s head brush can make it too poofy), then just spray dry shampoo in it in the morning to be able to go in 5 minutes. I’m always shocked how many people still compliment me on my bed hair. Also, hats are very helpful if you want a photo on a bad hair day.
Photo in Spain.
When I lived in Singapore
, which has very high humidity, I worked hard to find the right curly products to just keep the frizz down as straightening it was almost useless as my hair would explode once I got outside.
Be aware that if you’re traveling with curly hair in countries where most people don’t have curly hair, you need to bring your own curly hair products for travel. Finding good curly hair products abroad may be difficult and expensive (and just not work for your hair). I really struggled when I was in Singapore for this reason.
As mentioned by Olga, your haircut is important and I made the mistake of getting a hairstyle that looked better straight, not curly, so it’s good to think what your hair will be like curly when getting it cut before your vacation. It was also a bit too short to tie up properly, which was a pain. If you’re looking for an easy hairstyle for travel in hot climates, it’s important that it does not touch the back of your neck when down and/or you can tie it up easily. Similarly, bangs are a terrible idea for people with poofy/frizzy hair while traveling (in my experience). It just looked like I had a big poof ball in front of my face. (No photos.)
Tips for dealing with curly hair in the rain… I’m kind of an expert after living in Amsterdam for dealing with the rain after biking in the rain a lot. It’s best to tie your hair down using a scarf with keeping it tight on your head prior to going outside to compress the frizz and get inside ASAP.
When I travel, I try to take time in between straightening my hair whenever possible to prevent damage and when you’re having a long travel day: who cares what your hair looks like. That said, when I’m in humid environments for days on end, I love a good bun.
My tip for easy travel hair with not much work: PLOP your hair after getting out of the shower
You don’t need to straighten your hair on vacation. I swear by a thing called plopping that you can watch in this short video (I’ve queued it up for you). As soon as you get out of the shower, you’ll want to brush your hair, then flip your hair upside-down prior to wrapping it in a t-shirt to compress the frizz as it dries. You might need to keep your hair inside of the t-shirt for some hours (and bear the mocking of family members cough for how silly you look, but it works like magic on my curly, frizzy hair.
I want to start off with these bold lines of “frizzy hair, don’t care” but in all honesty, I so absolutely do. I have super curly hair, and not the good kind which is lustrous and can be tossed around with that sexy careless abandon, much like what those darned models do. I have extremely thick hair and as my curls metamorphose from tight ringlets right after a shower to loose, dry balls of frizz with every passing day, my head looks like an untended topiary where some little bird could easily lose her way.
So once the D-day of nightmarish bad hair day approaches, I put some styling product (I use Oribe hair styling shield) to get some moisture in those dry strands, comb them up into a top knot, tie it first to a pony tail, twist it into a bun and secure that with bobby pins. When my hair is of shorter length, I simply let it hang loose or just tie a simple pony tail near the nape of my neck to create the illusion of a low bun and pull out some curls from near the sides for a disheveled look (kind of like a glam bed head, with way more bed head and way less glam in the mix). I also wear chunky, colorful and bright drop earrings to take the attention away from the mess that is on top of my cranium and and that trick works when all else fails.
Hey there, I’m Gabby and I’m a curly-headed traveler. I have what my fellow WOC would know as “3C” hair, meaning my hair has tight coils, and is not at all “loose” or “wavy. My hair type is often the most tempermental, and I feel like I’m always in an endless battle with both humidity and dryness! If I use too much product, I have crispy or greasy curls, and if I use too little all definition is lost and I’m left with frizzy, massive hair.
My hair does not do well with directly applying oils, but thrives with mayonnaises and lotiony conditioners. I’m carry-on only, so often this means trying a ton of different products in each country because I can’t cart around my favorite conditioners in bag! So my tips is to KNOW YOUR INGREDIENTS. It took trial and error, but now I know products that are sulfate-free, contain shea butter, and avocado oil (very light), are my saving graces when on the road.
Type 4 Curly Hair
Type 4 hair ranges a lot in texture as it can be thin to course, however curls tend overall to be coily.
I’ve asked Eulanda, Annette, Briona, and Chelsea to go into their favorite natural hairstyles for traveling because everyone deserves to have fabulous curly hair while traveling. Keep reading for vacation hair routines for WOC and easy travel hairstyles for curly hair.
The popular saying ‘curly hair, don’t care’ doesn’t quite do it for me. I do care. A lot. My hair was first relaxed (chemically straightened) by my grandmother at the age of twelve. I went through the next seven years trying to make my hair (and mind) conform to what I saw was attractive in the mainstream media. The idea of embracing my natural hair texture never even crossed my mind until I started university.
The best I can ascertain is that by the time I reached the age of twenty, I was pretty fed up with slathering on the burning white cream, commonly referred to as ‘creamy crack,’ every two months. Additionally, being in a university atmosphere and taking thought provoking classes addressing the systemic racism present in the American media, was like rehab for my ‘creamy crack’ addiction.
These are the best hair products for Afro-textured hair curly hair while traveling (at least for me).
Although I feel quite confident in my current hair regimen, I’m still learning what works best in various climates around the world when I travel. For instance, when I travelled to Iceland I had no clue what to do with my hair when I got in and out of the thermal baths. Let’s just say, I had a new introduction into the effects of cold weather on wet afro hair. I’m grateful that I now have access to products that are created for my hair type. However, I’m more grateful for what the journey towards embracing my hair has taught me about patience, fortitude, and self-love.
When I was younger I didn’t know how to manage my 4C hair, Coily Ziggly hair. The universal beauty standard tells women that long straight locks are more desirable than kinks and curls. So I remember getting my hair pressed and flat ironed as a little girl to achieve a more acceptable look.
After one bad perm, I gravitated towards natural hairstyles like braids and dreadlocks.
One of the best things about being a Black Woman is the opportunity to change up my look in a matter of minutes. From a mohawk to a fro and everything inbetween I just love switching up my look. And don’t even get me started on my wig collection!
Favorite easy hairstyle for traveling: Braids because of their flexibility. Braids are my bestie! I braid my own hair, so that’s a major plus. I like to swim and be active while I travel so braids are my best bet for the digital nomad lifestyle I’m currently living.
My hair type is mostly 4B with curls that have a lot of definition but it doesn’t seem like it because I prefer really big hair and usually pick it out to elongate the strands. Sometimes I do twist outs, but I’m a lazy naturally curly girl who like to spritz and go.
I got my first chemical relaxer when I was in middle school just like most of my friends had. There was no more hair barrettes after this point. Instead, I embraced the straight look. I wore my hair relaxed until my sophomore year of college when I did the big chop. I allowed my hair to transition first, so that it wouldn’t be such a drastic change but it still was.
Chelsea Williams is a wellness blogger based out of Washington, DC. She is the founder of ThatsChelsea.com, an “all things wellness” blog that encourages women to live a more mindful lifestyle through a plant-based diet and non-toxic cosmetics.
Do you have curly hair? What’s your go to travel style for curly hair?