I live in a country in the middle of Europe--we have the advantage of being able to go basically everywhere in a short amount of time. Traveling a weekend away (or more) with curly hair is not an easy task, though. With straight hair the only thing you need is a brush and a bottle of shampoo. Or maybe even less, since hotels normally provide little sample sizes of hair products.
But travelling with curly hair? That is a whole 'nother story.
Stylers, combs, picks, cleansing conditioners, leave-ins, gels, finishing sprays. It can easily takes up more space than clothes! Not to mention all the Airlines rules, that allow you to carry only a small amount of liquids in the carry on. (Be careful because some airline companies don’t allow you to bring more than 1L in total in your carry on, so consider your face creams, body creams, and so on!) Here are my insider tips on packing your hair care efficiently for a trip.
The Weekend Escape
For a short 2 days trip I normally use only a carry on bag that I take with me in the cabin: I don’t have time to waste waiting my bag!Travel light, be honest with yourself. Do you really need 4 pairs of shoes for a 2-day trip? Probably not. This also applies to hair products. If you follow the No Poo Method, there is a great chance you won't wash your hair. Just to be safe in case anything happens (hello, London’s weather) I normally carry a TSA approved 100 mL container filled with a conditioner that can also serve me as co-wash, conditioner and leave-in. My top one is the Elucence Balancing Conditioner: It is light enough to be used as a co-wash, in cleanses well, but it has also a bunch of hydrating and nourishing properties that make it a great leave-in. As I am a gel girl, in the second 100mL container I have my favorite gel: Ouidad Climate Control. It has a medium hold, and it performs well in almost any weather condition.
Keep in mind that I have long hair and a medium density. If you have thicker or longer hair, double up the amount and take 2 containers of conditioner.
Bobby pins and hair ties (the phone cord hair ties) are a must in case you need to handle a hair emergency and on the go. Could you be fancier and take more? Of course, but I prefer to leave room in my bag to bring back all the nice stuffs I buy!
The One To Two Week Vacation
Since 2 weeks is a pretty long time not to wash your curls, you will probably wash them more than once. In this case, one 100 mL container of conditioner is not enough. Bringing a full bottle of shampoo and conditioner is also not a good plan, since it takes a lot of space and normally you won't use it all.For the long vacation, you also have to consider if you are going on a beach vacation or a city trip. You will need more products if you are in and out of the water all day long! For a beach trip, I normally take 3 bottles full of conditioner (100mL each) that I use as co-wash and leave in. I like to take a gel-cream or a cream as a styler with me because I need less of it to style my hair! 2 containers of 100mL are good enough to keep my hair in place.
If you want to travel with a carry on, and you have a lot of hair, solid shampoos (like the Lush or Bobeam bar) are also TSA friendly, mess-free alternatives! I have also seen solid conditioner at Lush, they are definitely worth to try! Another alternative if you don’t mind to play the curly mixologist is to bring a clay (like Rhassoul clay) that you can eventually mix with water to create the perfect gentle cleanser. It's not a liquid so you can bring how much you want!
If you check in your bag
In this case, you can take with you a whole bottle of conditioner to use as co-wash, leave-in, and deep treatment. For styling, I normally go with a good gel that I can count on. Beside the Ouidad Climate Control the DevaCurl Arc Angel is an old trusted friend.
Depending on where you are going, consider trying local products, so that you don't have to bring too much. A good silicone-free gel is really easy to find in almost every country.Garnier Fructisse is a brand you can find almost everywhere and they have a lot of silicone-free conditioners to use as styling and co-wash. If you can, another good tip is to put your hair in a protective style, so that it can last you a lot: a twist-out is the best for traveling, since you can keep your hair twisted during the journey and take them down at your destination--you can easily retwist at night with some hair cream for a long lasting style. A Curlformers set for wavy hair is also a good option, since you can rock it for a week with the use of a dry shampoo (Batiste is my favorite). Wrap at night to keep it stretched.
Enjoy your sweet escape and don't stress too much about how your hair looks: the joy of a vacation will make you shine like a star even with a frizzy hairstyle!