I never really drew a parallel between natural hair and frequent travel until one of my guy friends jokingly asked me if all girls who travel a lot have natural hair. He had seen Clutch Magazine’s article entitled “11 Black Women Inspiring Us to Travel” and noticed that a good number of us were rocking the natural look. I initially laughed it off but then thought about the women I know who skip the country on a regular basis and sure enough, the majority of them abandoned the creamy crack years ago.
Now, I’d never suggest that that women with relaxed hair don’t travel because that would be a stretch. Back in the day when I was rocking the asymmetrical pixie cut (a la Kelly Rowland ‘02), my perm didn’t keep me from jet-setting to the islands as much as financially possible. However, when it was time to take that signature beach picture (the one where you’re knee deep in the ocean, hand on your hip and tummy tucked in so tight you can’t breathe), I would have to keep looking back to make sure the waves didn’t sneak up on me and kiss the back of my neck, awakening my nicely laid down “kitchen” from it’s slumber and derailing my sleek ‘do into a fuzzy disaster.
Now that I’m natural I don’t have to run from the waves. In fact, I embrace them and even (dare I say it) swim underwater! I do handstands on the ocean, chase brightly colored fish and when I get out of the water the only “kitchen” I’m worried about is the closest one that sells jerk chicken. I can dance to salsa or soca or bachata or whatever the DJ is spinning at the local hole-in-the-wall club without worrying about sweating my hair out and can plan a day of sightseeing without worrying about a drizzly forecast.
When exploring the world and enjoying the great outdoors, the last thing you want to worry about is your hair. While natural hair definitely has it’s challenges, the right attitude and a few simple tips can make traveling a more rewarding experience. Here are some ways to keep your hair maintenance to a minimum while jet-setting:
- Keep it simple – A vacation is not the time to try out that new twisted updo you saw on YouTube. Stick to what you know and save the innovation for weekends at home.
- Let it ‘fro – if you’ve never rocked a true afro now is the perfect time to try it! Let go of the “styled” look for a bit and set your curls free in a place where nobody knows your name.
- Be prepared – different climates can make your hair act a fool so make sure your bag is stocked with products to counter humidity, salt water, hard shower water, dry air and other damaging elements of nature.
- Get it done – if you truly struggle with styling your own hair, you may want to get it twisted/braided professionally before traveling. The last thing you want is to come back with no pictures because your hair was a disaster.
- Relax – This is not the red carpet (unless of course you are actually going to Paris Fashion Week in which case can you take me with you?) It’s your vacation. You are there to live and love life so focus on that and less on getting every curl on your head in place. You’ll spend less time in the bathroom mirror and more making memories to tell your grandchildren.
Tracey Coleman is the Director of Events for the Curly Girl Collective and a travel writer for Brooklyn Travel Addict. You can follow her travel adventures at @bktraveladdict and keep up with the Curly Girl Collective by following @ilovecgc.
How have your experiences been traveling with natural hair? What are some things you do to make styling your hair a breeze while traveling?