How To Care For Relaxed Hair During Summer Travel

I like to travel. I want to go to different places whether in the U.S. or overseas to experience new cities and cultures. To do that I need to spend some time in those places, more than just a couple of days and I don't want to have to worry about my hair while I'm there.

I don't do protective styles such as braids like a lot of other women with relaxed and even natural hair tend to do. I find that to be tedious because I don't want to sit that long for a style or pay that much. I prefer to work with my own hair. This hasn't been a problem for me because as I've gotten to know my hair better, become more knowledgeable about relaxed hair care in general, and tried different approaches I've figured out what makes sense for me to care for my hair while I'm traveling in the summer or any other season.

white and brown suitecase with a summer hat and sunglasses
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When I travel it is easy to start to stray from my regular hair regimen because my setting is different and my daytime routine is completely different. The problem is then my hair doesn't act right during the trip or even after and I have to do some remedial work depending on how long I strayed from my relaxed hair regimen. 

To avoid doing that I've created a plan for how I can still care for my relaxed hair while traveling but still have fun and not make the trip all about my hair.

Step 1: Prep my hair

Before I go on my trip I want to make sure my hair is ready for the trip it's in a good state at least for the first few days of my trip or all of it if the trip is a shorter one. 

Determine if I should get a relaxer touch-up

I don't always get a touch-up prior to my trip. It really comes to where I am in my stretch, how long my trip will be, and what I anticipate doing on that trip. I stretch my relaxer 10-12 weeks. So if my trip falls on that 11th or 12th week and I will be gone a week or longer I will try to get a touch-up before I head out. The reason I will get a touch-up is because there is a good chance I will need to wash my hair during the trip and will need a shortened version of my wash routine making it harder to deal with the two textures.

There are a few instances where I don't worry about getting a touch-up. Those are 
  • When I'm gone for less than a week I just get my touch-up after I return
  • If I'm in the middle of a stretch I don't worry about getting a touch-up since the new growth isn't a lot

Prep my hair for travel

Yes. Outside of determining if a touch-up is needed, I get my hair ready. I like to wash my hair before I go on any trip, especially if falls over a weekend because that's when I usually wash my hair. The only time I don't worry about washing my hair is when it's an overnight trip.

I go through my full wash routine and may decide to use a clarifying shampoo to get my hair really clean and fresh so it's on its best behavior. I also make sure to give my hair a lot of moisture. I want to make sure my hair is really moisturized because I typically spend a lot of time outdoors when I travel in the summer and that heat and sun can give my hair a beating and dry it out.

Step 2: Pack my hair products

To me, it is really, really important to pay attention to the hair products I pack. Especially when I go to another country. The reason is I can't get all of the hair products I typically use in just any country or city overseas. And if I could find it, I would probably be paying a lot more for it than I'd like to. While I could use hair products provided by the cruise ship or hotel or that I could find a local store I'd prefer not to because my hair may not take to them. 

Determining what I am packing is based on how long the trip is. For longer trips, I typically take a larger suitcase so I check my bag when flying allowing me to take more products and full-size products. If I'm driving I also have this option. If I'm doing a carry-on I have to think strategically and get travel size or put the products in smaller bottles.

Here's what I pack for shorter trips (5 days or less)

  • Comb: I've gotta have a comb to work out any tangles.
  • Satin cap or scarf: To keep my hair covered and protected at night
  • Hair clips and scrunchies: I take a couple of these because I know I'll want to wear my hair sometimes to keep it out of my face and off my neck

  • Shower cap: To keep my hair covered when I take a shower and wash my face.
  • I may take a shampoo and deep conditioner if I think there is a good chance that I will need to wash my hair on the trip.

    What I pack for longer trips (5 days or more)

    For longer trips, I pack everything mentioned above but make sure that I add the following

    • Shampoo: I use two different shampoos at home but I only take one when I travel. It’s either the TGIN Moisture Rich Sulfate Free Shampoo or the Joico Moisture Recovery Shampoo which has sulfates in case I need a deeper clean than a sulfate-free shampoo can give. I typically don't take a clarifying shampoo because I want to make sure I'm adding moisture to my hair when I'm away from home.
    • Deep conditioner: I don’t like to wash my hair without deep conditioning. I try to take a deep conditioner that only needs a few minutes to work like the Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioner because I usually don’t have 15-30 to spend on deep conditioning.
    • Heat protectant: I typically use two different types of heat protectant - spray for blow drying and a serum for flat ironing. So I'm only taking one heat protectant I don't take the spray. I take the serum which is the Mielle Mongongo Oil Pomade-to-Oil Serum.
    • Blow dryer: I could use the blow dryer in the hotel I’m staying at but they typically aren’t that good. So I bring my own and include the comb attachment.
    • Flat iron: If I blow out my hair properly, the flat iron isn’t needed to smooth out my hair but it’s helpful to add some curl.

    Step 3: Determine my hair routine for the trip

    While I don't plan out what I'm doing with my hair every single day of the trip I do like to have an idea of what I need to make sure I know what things I need to do and what things aren't always necessary.

    Typically I plan to

    • Wrap my hair every night: I don't always take a satin pillowcase so it's important to keep my hair covered at night. Also, wrapping my hair helps to keep it smooth.
    • Moisturize and seal as needed: If my hair is in a good state I don't need to moisturize it every single day, just when needed. I expect the same when I travel. So I pay attention to how dry my hair is starting to feel to know if a little moisture is needed.
    • Wash my hair as needed: If I'm traveling for more than a week I know I'll need to wash my hair at least once. I can sometimes go longer than a week but not if I'm spending time outdoors and sweating which happens when I travel in the summer. If I can work it out I prefer to wash my hair towards the end of the trip because I know it will just be a few days until I re-wash my hair at home. I also keep in mind that if I decide to swim I may end up washing my hair more than once which is fine considering the products I use. It will just be time-consuming. 
    • Deep condition when I wash my hair: I make sure to deep condition my hair because it helps add moisture.
    • Keep my hairstyles simple: There are several days during my travels when I will wear my hair up. This helps to keep my hair protected from the elements and gives it a little bit of a break. I also don't worry about styling my hair much during the trip. I typically just let it hang straight if it's not in an updo. I only add some curls if it's for a special dinner but that's rare because if it's a hot and humid climate the curls won't last long.

    How do you care for your hair when traveling during the summer?


    1. Yay for awesome traveling hair! Thanks for sharing your tips chica!

      KLP | SavingOurStrands

    2. I pack a lot of products because you never know what you won't be able to find where you are going.
      I actually have purchased a few travel bottles that seal really well and I decant most of my products into these containers.

      1. I like that idea about the travel bottles. I've searched for some and haven't been able to find any that don't start to leak after a few uses.

        Which hair products do you take with you when you travel?


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