The idea of TWN (Traveling while natural) can be daunting. But armed with the right tips, you can have a great experience.
It’s important to remember that whatever your reason for traveling is, it is definitely not to spend hours on your hair. Below are some essential things to remember prior to and while traveling with natural hair:
1. Check the weather conditions.
Regardless of how curly or kinky* your hair is, extreme weather conditions can affect your hair regimen. One of the most important things to check before traveling long distances is the level of humidity and dryness in the new environment.
For example, a shift from very hot and humid weather to cold dry weather would call for a reduction of humectants like glycerin and aloe vera that can strip moisture from the hair.
2. Keep it low maintenance on the plane.
Think about it- when traveling, your main objective is to be comfortable for the length of the trip. This calls for a simple twisted hairstyle covered by a hat or headscarf. When traveling, I like to twist my hair into goddess braids then wrap it with a cute scarf.
This way I can be cute and comfortable. Then, upon arrival, I undo the twists and am left with an instant twist out! A word of caution- the TSA has lately been picking through head wraps, so make sure to tie your scarf in an easily removable style, or just stick to a hat.
3. Pack wisely- bring only the essentials
Since you are traveling and not relocating, there is no reason for you to pack up your entire shelf of products. Bring only your favorite two to three products in travel sizes.
If you want to save extra money you can buy a pack of reusable containers from a local beauty supply store or drugstore and fill them with your favorite conditioner, styling cream or gel. Make sure to properly seal your products and leave behind anything you can buy in the place to which you are traveling.
4. Water can be your best friend– and worst enemy
Drinking water is an essential part of any hair regimen, but this is especially true in new environments. Keep your body hydrated so that your hair remains healthy.
You should also pay attention to the water quality in the new location. Some water stores have higher levels of sodium, which can be drying. You can either research this beforehand or do a small patch test on your hair. If the water quality is particularly bad in your area, your best bet would be to use bottled water once you arrive.
5. Collect, collect, collect!
Many foreign countries specialize in the very ingredients featured in your favorite natural hair products. Take advantage of this and collect these resources throughout your travels.
For example, you can find large quantities of shea butter* from Ghana for less than ten dollars, and the same goes for coconut oil* in the Dominican Republic and Ayurvedic herbal oil in India. When you return you can store these items and use them to create your own customized hair products!