After creating your travel vision board, choosing a destination, and booking your Airbnb (or Inclusive) and flight, you're ready. You're finally doing something about your wanderlust. You've planned your itinerary down to a tee and the week is finally here. You've also forgotten to account for one thing: your hair.
That luscious mane of yours may be easy to care for at home, but travelling while natural can be a whole 'nother beast. Here are some suggestions to help you stay happy, nappy, and fabulous while travelling.
Weather apps will be your best friend
Always check the weather. One more time for those in the back: always check the weather. In choosing destinations, hair is typically the last thing we consider. You want a nice, relaxing vacation by the beach or an exciting adventure in the jungle, but are you and your hair ready to deal with stifling humidity? While things like precipitation and humidity aren't deal breakers for everyone, for those of us with 4c, moisture-sensitive, betternotbeglycerineinthis curlies, humidity disrupts all of our hair plans. This goes for the opposite as well. If you're looking at areas with colder climates, consider what it will take to maintain moisture. Also, if you plan to country hop during your trip, take into account how the different climates can affect your hair.
Consider protective styling
If you're the type that spends the week with your nose to the screen and the only time you get to enjoy your hair is the weekend, the last thing you probably want to do is wear a protective style on vacation. However, this may be the best way to protect it from things like chlorine, sun-damage (it's a thing), and even worse, neglect. Crochet braids, twists, and updos can be a great way to show off your hair's versatility while keeping it healthy.
For extended stays, BYOP
When you pack your toiletries, most people know the 3 oz travel rule. You also should keep in mind that your favourite products may not be available in the locales you visit. As a rule of thumb, when in doubt, bring your own products. Die hard Shea Moisture girl? Most likely you won't be able to find your favourite Curl Smoothie in Mykonos. This doesn't affect people making short trips as much seeing as though you can bring all the travel sized bottles you need, but for extended stays such as studying abroad, working abroad, and missionary trips, consider bringing extra of your favourite products.
Get ready to be in the hot seat
Unfortunately, with the advent of globalisation and amid global anti-black sentiments, natural hair can be regarded as a sign of militancy and viewed with suspicion. There are numerous reports of women having their natural hair unnecessarily searched and being unreasonably profiled as criminals. While these occurrences may appear to be a minor issue in the West, remember that your chosen destination may not be as hospitable to proud black women with fierce natural hair. Brace yourself just in case these things happen, but don't let them ruin your experience!
Depending on your destination, hair can operate as a great cultural exchange mechanism. Take the time to research and dive into the culture around you. See how hair is viewed in the local community and be open to different methods of care that may ultimately help you along your natural hair journey. Exotic ingredients like kukui oil, sapote oil, and kokum butter can be found in some unsuspecting locations so make room for these in your suitcase along with other souvenirs – just check with customs first.
Travelling abroad is an invaluable way to break away from the mundaneness of work and home life. With the number of POC travelling steadily increasing, it's important to take note of other's experiences and use them to guide your trip-planning. With that said, grab your passport and take your curls around the world!
What are some of the ways you prepare yourself and your hair for travelling?