Tips for traveling with curly hair.

Years ago, I strongly considered trying out for Survivor. I think I would have done a great job flying under the radar because people tend to underestimate me…but I’m stronger and smarter than I look 😉 Anyway, I ultimately decided against trying out for the show.

I like to blame it on my hair.

Oh, the drama. My hair is simultaneously great and terrible. Great because it’s unique – it’s my signature look and my statement piece; terrible because it’s demanding and slightly exhausting and sometimes I can’t see while I’m driving because it’s in the way.

Clearly, I’ve had this hair my entire life, but I’ve only recently embraced it fully. It can be a tough world for us curly girls. Especially when we travel…although over the years, I’ve learned a few tips that have made it easier.

Here they are:

1. Don’t wash your hair as often.

Have you tried this yet? Not washing my hair was the best tip I ever got. In fact, my hair is so dry that I only wash it a few times a year – I just use conditioner instead. It’s made a huge difference. My hair is healthier and curlier, and it just looks better. This tip is great for travel because it cuts out both a product (shampoo) and a step (washing).

2. Keep your hair happy.

I’ve already told you that my hair broke off in Hawaii last year, right? Yep. I was living it up in the surf for days, not really thinking about the deadly combo of drying salt water and scorching sun. When I got home, my hair broke off in handfuls. It was traumatic. I managed to save it with a good cut, but if you look closely you can totally see all the sunbleached damage (no, those are not on-purpose highlights!)


My advice: moisturize like a maniac, and cover it up (hat, scarf, towel…). If you decide to frolic in the waves, rinse out your hair with non-salt water afterwards. And don’t forget to moisturize on the plane! I like to put on a deep conditioner, then wear a hat.

3. Try local products.

This can be really fun. Local drugstores and dollar stores often stock products that you’ve never heard of or could never get at home. I’ve found the most amazing goodies while traveling abroad – Shea Butter in Africa, Coconut Oil products in Hawaii. Ayurvedic Herbal Oil in India…delightful and usually super inexpensive. Live it up.

4. Contain the madness.

Twist it, braid it, Princess Leia it…or have someone do it for you. This is me, getting my hair twisted in Cameroon.

cameroon hair braiding

5. Cut it off.

Just kidding.

Have you got any tips for traveling with curly hair?



  1. Unfortunately my hair is not a curly as yours, so I can’t let it go natural too often. So I wish I didn’t have to but I always travel with my dual-voltage flat iron. ~Another curly girl.

    • Points Pixie says

      Denise L – Ya gotta do what ya gotta do!!

      I went through a phase where I stuck my head in the freezer to “seal” it after I washed it. So I’m not judging 😉

  2. I’ve found that sometimes crazy curly hair is helpful in deterring unwanted attention while traveling and other times it can be a good conversation starter with interesting folks. Sadly, when I go natural, it looses some curl and becomes more wavy. Either way, it works! Thanks for sharing your techniques!

  3. I have wavy curlyish hair in humid climates such as Hawaii, and wavy-straighter hair on the mainland. I let it go natural most of the time except when i’m traveling for work in which case i’ll blow dry and sometimes flat iron it straight (it’s wavy-straight naturally).

    I use a lot of coconut oil, and focus on the ends. I wish I had more suggestions but that works well for me.

  4. Do you have any tips for travelers with straight hair?

  5. My best tips are:

    Wet your hair down BEFORE getting in the ocean or pool… if your hair is saturated with fresh water, it can’t absorb the chlorine or salt water as much.

    Buy a hairpiece. Seriously. I bought a high-quality ponytail headpiece that looked like regular straight hair. When I went to Europe (for weeks!) I had a rotation of hair-do’s that included (day one) straightening only the roots of my hair and wearing the ponytail; (day two) straightening the rest of the hair; (day three) wash and wear curly; (day four) rinse with conditioner and pull the roots back straight while wearing a headband so I could start the next day all over again with “Day One” hair.

    Get a good haircut before you go.

    Take plenty of scarves that can be headbands as well as accessories.

    Pack your one favorite product. You can try cool new stuff while you travel, but you can always count on your fave.

    • Points Pixie says

      Robin – Where were you before I went to Hawaii??

      Seriously, your tip about wetting your hair BEFORE you go in the pool makes so much sense. Love it, love it. Thank you.

  6. Don’t wash your hair? Totally DISGUSTING.

    • Points Pixie says

      Paul – Yes, clearly I am DISGUSTING and have terrible personal hygiene.

      Normally I don’t respond to comments such as this, but I feel that your ignorance is reprehensible. Before commenting, please educate yourself on the facts: hair of different ethnicities and textures (other than straight) needs different care.

    • For someone with straight hair that is oily or greasy, yes that sounds disgusting. But for those of us who have such dry and brittle hair that it would be STRAW if we washed it daily, this is good advice. Keeping harsh cleaning chemicals away from my hair (and lightly scrubbing the scalp only with a cleansing conditioner) is the best advice I ever got for my curly hair.


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