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10 Solo Travel Tips For Women With Natural Hair

This is how one woman kept her hair and skin in check while traveling to seven countries in 14 days. 

Bianca Maxwell

Serena Genovese
By Bianca Maxwell · April 4, 2017

Traveling while fuzzy (Translation: while rocking natural hair) is a travel hack I just discovered while treking alone to seven countries in 14 days. It was a spontaneous traveler’s dream, but packing only an arsenal of minis in my carry-on, was a potential hair nightmare.

To get through multiple climates and airport security, I came up with an awesome action plan to make sure my hair and skin were iPhone camera-ready everyday.

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Here’s a rundown of my “mane” travel tips and picks for getting around the world and back while looking my very best! 

The best advice I ever received for my acne-prone skin was to commit to a skincare line and forget the cocktail of high-end products. The ingredients in your skincare should be gentle and designed to interact harmoniously. The same principle goes for your hair! Everyone’s hair needs different levels of protein and moisture support, so find the products that suit your needs and use them religiously. Try the Mario Badescu Gift Set for Combination + Oily Skin Gift Set

Bianca Maxwell
$30 available at Ulta

A custom haircare routine can only take you so far, so a multi-vitamins to cover the gaps. I recently switched from a talking a vitamin pack 2x a day, to just 2 vitamins in the morning by Ritual. The small clear bottle with a month’s supply is an easy to travel companion, you can take it on an empty stomach and your hair and skin will give you the radiant glow only good nutrition can give.

Katie Mack

Protein treatments, like ApHoghee's Keratin 2-Minute Reconstructor, and a dusting (not a trim) every 3 months will make your hair stronger and less likely to fray while you are away. This is pre-flight maintenance you don’t need to pack.

$9 available at Target

I’m one of the offenders that does not wear a bonnet or a scarf. Instead, I sleep on a satin pillowcase. To take hair protection a step further on flights and trains, I wear a satin-lined dad hat, or beanie to keep my ends safe from scratchy headrests. Shop all three by Grace Eleyae at https://www.satinlinedcaps.com/.

Bianca Maxwell
$21-$25 available at Satinlinedcaps.com

If you are one of those women that have a handful of favorite products that can be used in 100 ways, take the time to do test runs. I took my most dependable products and did a week of test runs on applications and mixtures to see how my hair would settle. Spending the time to do this saved me from buying and bringing the wrong products, and wasting suitcase space.

Vanessa of Flytographer

Once I figured out which products I was going to bring and how to apply them, I focused on how much I needed of what, based on the weather I would be visiting. For colder, damp climates like London, Dublin and Paris (above), my main concerns were losing definition from rain and humidity and shrinkage. I relied on the LOC (Leave-in, Oil, Cream) method to get me through that time.

Bianca Maxwell

In dryer climates such as Marrakech, Spain and Portugal (above), my hair was prone to drying, so I switched to the LCO (leave-in, cream, oil) method.

Bianca Maxwell
$11 available at Target
$12 available at Target
$4 available at Target

I embraced the magic of the minis after a self-made mini exploded in my carry-on. Now I’m a mini addict! My products don’t end up in TSA trash, or on my going out tops. My go-to’s are made by Shea Moisture and Jane Carter Natural Hair Solutions. They fit easily into a travel pouch, and there's enough to last a week with daily wash-n-go’s.

Bianca Maxwell
$20 available at Ulta
$20 available at Target

I had crown envy from Lupita Nyong'o and Alicia Keys, so I gave it a test run before I left. My wrapping skills are subpar, but I highly recommend bring a printed scarf with you on a trip. Not only will you protect your hair, but it will add a great pop of color to any photo you take. Also, if you plan on doing a camel ride, bring it with! Shop the Tembi African Wrap from The Wrap Life below and if you're looking for a bralet to match, shop the one I'm wearing at American Eagle

Katie Mack

You'd figure a wash-n-go that only lasts two days would make me a diffuser-dry kind of girl, but I am strictly air-dry to keep heat damage at a minimum. I go the extra mile and rinse with cool water to close the hair cuticle after conditioning, too. 

Bianca Maxwell

And it can be fun! You can airdry twirling in the streets of Rome...

Bianca Maxwell

...Or take it to new heights while hot air-ballooning in Morocco.

Bianca Maxwell

Two weeks of mistreatment on textured hair will set back the last year of growth, so replenishing the moisture as you go is a must. I packed sample sizes of my favorite hair masks by Jane Carter, Revive and Repair, and used them on early morning flights and rinsed out on arrival. This kept my hair soft after wearing it down and out for two weeks.

$11 available at Target

When I got back home, I did  a deep conditioning hair mask with Shea Moisture's 10-in-1 Renewal Hair Mask. This made my hair feel like I never left!

$13 available at Target