Traveling while natural

So, this upcoming weekend, I’m going to visit a friend in Charlotte. No big deal, right? I haven’t seen her in awhile, so I am excited about the trip but the thing that is vexing me most is my hair. I have no clue about how I’m going wear it while I’m there. Traveling as a natural is a whole other kettle of fish than traveling as a relaxed head. When I traveled as a permie, I hardly brought any hair products with me as I didn’t wash my hair frequently. Often, I’d take a comb, the curling iron and some Pink Oil. On a few occasions, I’d get some braid extensions the week before I went on the trip and called it day. Most of those things in hindsight are woefully inadequate, but then, I didn’t take very good care of my hair at the time, nor did I have a clue how to do so.

Now that I’m natural and am aware of how to care for my hair properly, it’s different. I have to take about half of my product stash with me when I travel. I need moisturizers to keep my hair from getting dry, oils or shea butter to seal in the moisture so it doesn’t evaporate and stylers or gels to set my hair. Not to mention a conditioner to co-wash with and a leave-in conditioner to detangle with or use as a moisturizer. I don’t bother taking shampoo with me when I travel these days because it’s just one product too many, but then I co-wash the majority of the time anyway, so it doesn’t matter too much. Just try getting all that stuff on a plane. Putting all that stuff in checked luggage doesn’t always work. When I went to Canada a couple of years ago, I discovered that the top of my container of KCCC had come loose during the flight there and it had spilled, making a gooey sticky mess all over the plastic bag it was in as well as all over all of my other hair products. Hoping to avoid a repeat of that disaster during my trip to Bermuda last year, I wanted to put my products in my carry on luggage. However, as security has become so strict, they make you put liquids in those inadequate 3 oz containers. I attempted to put as much stuff as I could in those containers, but I only have about 4 of those things. Also, 3 ounces of anything is a joke to many naturals. We either have thick hair and/or a lot of it, which requires a lot of product to adequately comb or style our hair. I would have had to take over 20 of those little containers with me to ensure I could wash and style my hair decently and that would have been ridiculous. Frustrated, I stuffed the regular containers of all of my products in the carry on and prayed that the security guards would ignore them. I arrived in Bermuda with all of my products intact, but when I was leaving the country, the guards there confiscated them. It was infuriating, but at least it happened on my way home instead of on the way there as the products they confiscated could be easily replaced in my home territory. Most of the products I use aren’t readily available outside of the United States so if my stuff had been confiscated on my way to Bermuda, I’d have been up ish’s creek. And I have to bring my own stuff as I cannot rely on the shampoo and conditioners that hotels give you. The shampoo the hotels give you usually contain sulfates, which are too harsh for my hair. And most of the conditioners they give you contain silicones, which dry out some people’s hair. Luckily, for this upcoming trip, I’m taking the bus and not flying, so the possibility of stuff getting confiscated is slim to none.  As far as styles are concerned, a lot of naturals would do a protective style to cut down on maintaining their hair, but most protective styles don’t look good on me and even if they did, I wouldn’t have time to do most of them before I leave anyway. Wash and go? I’ve been rocking one since last weekend and I’m itching to do something else. But if I do a twistout or braidout, do I really want to retwist my hair every night while on vacation to maintain them? Bah. I wish I had some bonafide tips for traveling with natural hair, but I actually am in need in some myself. The best that I can come up with is to try to limit the amount of products you take with you to avoid the issues I’ve had before. I have a couple of products from Curl Junkie that double as leave-ins or stylers, so I’ll be sure to bring those. Actually, any product that has multiple uses is ideal so that it can cut down on the amount of stuff you bring with you. Also, if a product contains a lot of oils or butters, it may be best to bring that with you so that you can avoid having to bring oils or butters separately. For example, anything from the Shea Moisture line would do for this purpose. Shea butter is one of their main ingredients so if you use anything from that line, you don’t need to bring separate containers of shea butter or oil. If Shea Moisture doesn’t do it for you, any products containing lots of butter or oils will do. I would avoid taking heat styling tools such as flat irons and diffusers as they can be bulky and take up too much space, leaving no room for more necessary stuff. That’s about all the tips I have for now. If anyone else has any other pointers, I’d love to hear them.

This entire post reminds that I have to start packing.

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