the low maintenance guide to amazing curls abroad

the low maintenance guide to amazing curls abroad

Traveling with curly hair: all the low-maintenance tips you need to look fabulous abroad.

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I at all times 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 total grownup life, my hair has simply been … not good: it’s half-heartedly curly and wavy at the identical time, tremendous frizzy and fly-away, inclined to break up ends and breakage, and very skinny. It tangles and breaks off if I a lot as have a look at it the mistaken means. And it has a unending thirst for blood moisture.

Needless to say, it was NOT enjoyable to journey with. During my year-long honeymoon, I backpacked round 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 cope with. 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 house with a few of the worst hair of my life, and I used to be prepared to chop all of it off.

But then I heard about one thing referred to as the “Curly Girl Method.” And whereas the full 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 really modified my life. I imply, principally it modified my hair, nevertheless it modified it a lot that it spilled over into different elements of my life, too. The confidence enhance was actual, y’all!

Suddenly, I didn’t have wishy-washy frizzy hair anymore. It turned out that each one that frizz was really simply thirsty curls ready to reside life to their fullest potential! And despite the fact 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 have 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 particular person prepared to tackle the world.

Let me present y’all what I imply. Here’s my earlier than hair, a wishy-washy effective 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 up to its potential whereas the remainder of me was having an amazing time in Bali.

And right here’s my after hair, stuffed 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 Girl Method turned me into the sort of one that takes selfies at 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 is just not the best factor to pull off, particularly whereas touring. It’s a bit labor-intensive, requires a number of area of interest gadgets, 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 maintenance? Well, when you’ve acquired your curls locked in, you’re in luck: your hair will look amazing for 5 entire days. Yeah, that’s proper: 5 straight days of excellent hair days in a row. (You can nonetheless bathe if you’d like, although. I imply, I typically don’t. But you’ll be able to. I’ll clarify later!) That really makes it value the further effort on wash day. (Because I’m lazy.)

If it sounds a bit intimidating, don’t fear: I’ve figured all of it out. Over the previous couple of years, I’ve managed to take my curls throughout the world and discovered how to match my total 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 meet its curly potential like me, right here’s every part you’ll want to take your curls on the street … or practice, airplane, bus, rickshaw, tuk-tuk, colectivo, moto-taxi, boat… actually anyplace, actually.

The Curly Girl Method (whereas Traveling)

Everyone has barely totally different variations of the unique “curly girl method” – which was coined and first debuted in this book – and over the years I’ve discovered what works finest for me.

I’ve additionally discovered that the routine issues greater than the precise merchandise. My hair is okay and skinny, so so long as I’m not weighing it down with tremendous heavy product, something that may give it numerous moisture with out product buildup or silicones will work for me! I’m principally simply utilizing cheap merchandise – however they’re utilized very rigorously.

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

Step 1: The “Reset” Wash

Everything begins with a “reset” bathe. If all goes effectively throughout this a part of the course of, I received’t want to reset my hair once more for one more 4-5 days.

The caveat is that that is the excessive maintenance bit. Think of it as an funding: the payoff for spending a number of hours fiddling together with your curls is that your hair will look amazing 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 really wants shampoo – many curly women 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 means 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. This 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 the moment 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 a number of tangles to work out at this level, and as soon as I’ve kind of gotten these out of the means, I pile my hair on high of my head and clip it up to maintain it out of the means and let my conditioner soak in.
  5. I comb via my hair upside-town and wash out the conditioner. When I’m prepared to end up, I run a wide-tooth comb via 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 other way up, taking particular care to maintain these curl clumps collectively!

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

  1. While nonetheless the other way up, “scrunch” your hair to assist these curl clumps type. You’re principally simply squeezing out some water, in order that whenever you begin making use of product, it received’t all combine with the extra 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 typically my hair wants a bit further enhance, 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 effective hair as a result of it’s good and lightweight.
  3. Apply hair gel. This is by far, arms down, the MOST vital a part of my routine. Your gel is what is going to maintain your curls going sturdy for the remainder of the week – it’s ESSENTIAL! There are two methods I like to apply gel. First is the identical scrunching movement I take advantage of to apply cream. The second methodology known as “prayer hands” – 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 take advantage of this extremely cheap, super nostalgic 90’s era gel as a result of it’s low-cost, has a fantastic maintain and unbelievable shine, and washes out absolutely in water so I by no means get product buildup. (Also, nostalgia.)
  4. Plop utilizing a micro-fiber hair towel. You need to plop your whole curls onto the high of your hair and keep away from stretching them out. It’s tremendous straightforward to do utilizing my favourite microfiber hair towel! And then, 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 means, or should you’re tight on time, use a blow-drier and diffuser to gently dry your hair whereas upside-down. If you’re diffusing, begin at 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 maintaining these curl clumps clumped!
  6. When your hair is absolutely dry, “scrunch out the crunch.” That gel you utilized to your hair can have became a rock-hard little forged. Think Justin Timberlake’s “Ramen Noodles” look in the 90’s. While splendidly nostalgic, this isn’t the desired impact! You’ll want to break up that gel forged to launch your bouncy, shiny curls. All you may have to do is scrunch your hair like loopy together with your arms. I like plenty of quantity, so I’ll even fluff up my roots a bit bit to actually get that gel damaged up! Once your crunch is absolutely scrunched out, congratulations: you may have lovely, 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 Maintenance

My reset bathe takes plenty of work. But fortunately, I solely have to do it each 4-5 days. The remainder of the week, I simply perform a little maintenance to maintain my curls trying good! Here’s what I do:

  • Sleep together with your hair piled on high of your head.

Sleeping together with your hair in a “pineapple” retains your curls above your pillow and shielded from getting stretched, frizzed-out, and in any other case ruined when you sleep! I sometimes simply pile it at the very high of my head with a mushy 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.

Around day 3, my curls begin trying a bit flat and fewer outlined, so it’s time for a refresh! There are 2 most important methods I like to refresh.

The first 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 time I come out of the bathe, I’ve acquired numerous quantity once more.

The second one is a bit more concerned. You’ll want to combine a bit little bit of conditioner and gel into a twig bottle and fill it up with water.

Turn your hair upside-down and spritz it throughout together with your refresh spray. Then, scrunch your hair (the identical means you do in 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 want to scrunch out the crunch a bit 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 a number of occasions will assist add some quantity and definition. The key’s that curls CRAVE moisture, so any means you may get moisture into them will assist your curls type!

And that’s it – that’ll maintain you trying amazing for one more 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 Travel Essentials

There are a number of hair instruments that come together with me once I plan to rock curly hair. This is my full curly hair journey packing listing, and whereas it could appear to be lots, I’m in a position to 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 really sometimes air-dry my hair at house, however time is a treasured commodity when touring and a blowdryer cuts dry time by roughly a zillion p.c! It’s additionally a vital device in a chilly vacation spot – no person needs frozen hair (even when it appears to be like actually cool). I take advantage of a really small, foldable blow dryer with a collapsible curl diffuser that take up a small quantity of area in my bag. Just don’t overlook to convey alongside a plug adapter/converter should you’ll be touring abroad!
  • Microfiber hair towel: Along with a full sized travel towel (since resort towels by no means, ever match me), I additionally convey alongside a small microfiber hair towel to assist my hair dry sooner. 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 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 enhance in the morning! Any previous scrunchie will work, however silk scrunchies are finest for taming frizz and sliding out of tangle-prone hair, like mine.
  • Hair product: Of course, you want tiny travel-sized bottles of your whole important hair merchandise! I convey 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. It all matches in my zip-up hanging travel toiletry case.
On the beach in Maui, Hawaii.
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!

Travel Tips 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.

Bring further conditioner!

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

Once you discover a shampoo and conditioner combo that works on your hair, convey 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 should you don’t have a micro-fiber towel.

I at all times convey alongside a microfiber hair towel to “plop” my hair in, however should you 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 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 an everyday previous terrycloth towel, even for plopping. Those 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 damage a very good curl day.

Never use an everyday towel in your hair! Any mushy, clean shirt or merchandise of clothes is an enchancment. (Just make sure that to pack a travel clothesline so you’ll be able to grasp your shirt up to 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 match into your itinerary.

Wash days are a complete factor. It takes my hair like, 5 hours to air-dry sufficient to the level the place I can “scrunch out the crunch.” And I don’t normally have 5 hours once I’m touring! Which is why I at all times pack a journey blowdrier and diffuser, however even that may take up 45 treasured minutes that I might spend out having adventures.

So, I plan my wash days strategically. I bathe and reset my hair on journey days, akin to once I’ll be on a protracted flight or practice trip. I don’t care if I look cute throughout these days, and it offers my hair loads of time to absolutely set into the curls it’ll keep in till my subsequent reset day.

Then, for the subsequent 4-5 days, I take advantage of numerous methods to maintain my curls trying 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 really 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.

Hard water” because it’s referred to as, is just not really ice (complicated, I do know) however water that incorporates hint parts of chemical substances and minerals. That isn’t essentially a foul factor, however it will possibly have a detrimental impact in your hair referred to as buildup – simply the identical as what causes staining in your tub or tiled rest room ground. And numerous resorts, hostels and trip leases have onerous water!

To wash away that icky buildup and maintain it from damaging your hair, both convey a small quantity of clarifying rinse or shampoo, or – my choice – convey 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 foul sunburn!

Bring a pair of tiny, foldable scissors.

This is only a basic journey tip – scissors are tremendous helpful to have readily available. But when it comes to hair, scissors will be actually useful. We’ve used ours to trim break up ends, lower bangs, trim beards, tidy up down there, and – should 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 Travel Tip: ONLY use these scissors on hair –  by no means on paper or the rest! You might probably harm the blade which might in flip harm your hair.
Jeremy exploring the Palace Market in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Bonus photograph of my good-looking husband and his lil entrance curls! He swears by the Curly Girl Method, too. Except 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 the most inclined to breakage and splitting, which leads to tangles and frizz – two issues I’m regretfully effectively versed in. I take a tiny tub of split end balm.  I put it on my ends after showers, at any time when they’re feeling dry, or simply once I want to tame issues down and clean issues out. I brush via with my boar bristle brush to unfold the oils via my hair evenly.

In a pinch, Coconut Oil and Olive Oil are unbelievable for hair. 

A bit of tub of coconut oil or argan oil goes a good distance. While 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 convey Argan Oil on journeys to use for each my face and hair … however I’ve additionally been identified to benefit from 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 via your hair beginning together 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 may have a possibility to reset your curls – even should you’re not doing a complete “reset” wash day.

You can spray water into your hair, put it up right into a ponytail when you bathe your physique, or simply get your arms moist in 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 together with your finger and let it dry into a complete excellent lil’ corkscrew.

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

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

Psst: Looking for extra ideas for feeling and looking unbelievable whereas touring? Take a have a look at a few of these different posts:

xo Lia & Jeremy signature graphic


Our Top Travel Tips & Resources

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.

  • Booking Flights: To rating flight offers, search on Google Flights or Kayak. Money-saving ideas: fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on solely on a finances airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
  • Accommodations: We normally keep in budget-friendly trip leases, boutique resorts or non-public rooms in hostels. We use to guide resorts (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to guide hostels (low deposit, straightforward change/cancellation, and glorious critiques). For trip leases, we favor to guide utilizing VRBO as a result of they have decrease charges and higher help than Airbnb, and we’re not followers of Airbnb’s unethical observe file. You may guide trip leases on Expedia and We additionally use TrustedHousesitters as each hosts (for our house and our fur-child) and vacationers!
  • Travel Insurance: We at all times, at all times, ALWAYS purchase journey insurance coverage for worldwide journeys, and we STRONGLY counsel it – go to our Travel Insurance Guide to discover out why. We advocate both World Nomads or SafetyWing for worldwide journey insurance coverage. SafetyWing is considered one of the few insurance policies that covers Covid-19, and so they have glorious month-to-month insurance policies which are excellent for Digital Nomads and long run vacationers!
  • Travel Credit Card: We guide all of our journeys on our favourite journey bank card. Not solely will we earn money again that we will spend on extra journey, however the card affords unbelievable 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 advisable drugs and vaccines for worldwide journeys. We at all times advocate getting each vaccine advisable by the CDC! You can get them at your main care physician’s workplace or a walk-in pharmacy.
  • Tours: 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 guide our excursions utilizing Viator and GetYourGuide.
  • Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to work out how to get from place to place, and guide native transportation on-line utilizing Bookaway wherever we will. When we guide a rental automotive, we use Kayak to evaluate rental firms and discover the finest deal.
  • Luggage Storage: Whenever we’re trying out early or benefiting from a protracted layover, we use LuggageHero to safely 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 information, and so forth) secure, even whenever you’re related to an unsecured community whereas touring. Plus, it helps you to use Netflix & different streaming websites abroad! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO whenever you join!
  • What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we convey on each journey. We even have packing lists for hot weather, cold weather, and plenty of extra. Take a have a look at all of our packing guides!


The Ultimate Packing List: 43 Must-Have Travel Items (by a Full-Time Travel Blogger)

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