Google Header -->
Skip to main content
Curly Nikki

What’s in your Zip-Lock?- Air Travel and Natural Hair

By January 27th, 202129 Comments

What’s in your Zip-Lock?- Air Travel and Natural Hair
With the upcoming holiday season and also the boom in baggage check fees up to 35 dollars each way with some airlines, a lot of travelers are forced to pack carry on bags. According to TSA regulations you must follow the 3-1-1 guideline for all carry on luggage.

What exactly is 3-1-1 you ask? 3-1-1 is 3.4 ounce (100m) or less by volume in 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag and only 1 bag per passenger. This One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring.

So the question to my fellow naturals is what do you do? Would you be forced to fly Jet Blue or
Southwest which currently don’t have baggage check fees? Would you call it a day and do a protective style that would last the duration or your trip? Or would you be like me with a TWA (that I can’t do much with) and have to sit down and decide what products you can and cannot live without.

What items would you bring and why?


  • RUCreole says:

    Can you say Miss Wiggy? 🙂

    I pack my half wigs, I have an assortment from Kinky, Curly, Wavy and so on, I keep my hair in two strand twist and travel with the half wigs, I untwist the front to blend and I'm good to go, I retwist at night and repeat the process. I really can't be bothered with my hair cuz I use a half bottle of Suave Coconut to co-wash and 1/4 bottle of Herbal Essance Hello Hydration (yeah I'm supper heavy handed)

    THE END!

  • Anonymous says:

    I do mostly try to follow my normal reggimen, and just do a style a like, braids, puff, bun etc..
    And i did take many products with me this year in the summer, maybe to many, cuzz i did'nt use them all.
    Next time i would do washing day with co-wash, conditioner and detangling and styling, the day before or on the day the flight will go, and pack my moisturizers(Bee Mine Lusicious Moisturizer and Bee Mine Curly Butter), a cheap great conditioner for co-wash, coconut oil for sealing, hair tools and accesories and my wide tooth comb, and a satin scarf for get the edges to lay down and sleeping. And maybe i would also pack my Kinky-Curly Products(Knot Today and Curling Custard), for a wash'n'go.. I'm a product freak on holidays lol, i was jut about getting over weigth this year, but only nearly! 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    This is a great post and everyone is posting great info. I am going to Belize at the end of December to visit relatives and will be gone for two weeks. And I am already fretting on what hair products to take and how much to take. This is my first trip since being natural and I hope to narrow down my products to just three…at least that's the plan. Not sure on the style on the plane, cause it will be a long day, flying from Chicago to Cancun then the bus into Belize, so I have to make sure whatever I do it will hold up throughout the day. I usually just do a wng. I plan on putting some items in my purse in case I need to refresh.

  • ACNimmons says:

    I just traveled to Vegas last month and was posed with this very issue! Since I knew I'd probably be washing my hair (because I would be swimming) I decided to bring a 3 oz bottle of conditioner, a 2 oz jar of Oyin Whipped Pudding, and a small sample container I got from Lush that I put CD Mimosa Hair Honey in (probably like .5 oz). For a day and a half I wore a braidout, went swimming, washed my hair and left in loads of condish and a little Oyin WP, and then perserved my style for the third day by sleeping with my hair wrapped and piled on the top of my head. On the third day before I went to a show i wet small sections of my hair and defined it with the conditioner. For moisture I used the Oyin (the CD kinda just sat in there in my baggie lol). It was a tight fit in the bag but it worked! I brought other other stuff like deodorant and stuff, but as far as hair is concerned I'd suggest a large bottle of conditioner, a moisturizer, and possibly some stretched style you can wear for a few days at a time. If not, the big bottle of conditioner will assist you in your wash and gos. Make sure your moisturizer can act as a sealant, styler, and leave-in and your set to go. (I use conditioner to style so I wasn't afraid of leaving other styling products I don't use as regularly at home). My hair is about 3 inches past my shoulders and really thick, and I only used about 1/5th of the bottle the day I co-washed, so the 3 oz bottle should last about 4-5 days if you wash once a day. Hope this helps!

  • Anonymous says:

    These are some really good tips. I'll have to keep these in mind for the next flight I go on. ~KF519

  • JulieOne says:

    I went to Aruba for a week with only my 3-1-1 carry-on baggie…. I had Devacurl One Condition, Hair Rules Daily Clarification, Hair Rules Leave-In and a Ouidad Humidity Gel….The only new addition was the Ouidad product since I was afraid of the humidity…. My hair survived and was perfect! I rocked huge afros, perfect curly updos and loose curl wash and go's…. I think the salt water and sun helped 🙂

  • Barbara Naturally Speaking says:

    On my last trip I wore my hair in a braidout. I wanted to be comfortable on the flight, without my ponytail interfering with sleep. In terms of products packed I didn't take anything on the plane with me except for a few ponytail holders in my purse, along with my denman brush. I did pack my shea butter in a jar with the lid screwed on tight. I also packed conditioner. When I got to my destination I purchased olive oil. I didn't want to take a chance with oil leaking in my checked luggage after being thrown around.

  • missreid says:

    Perfect timing, as always! I just made two trips in the last three weeks (one to Boston and one to Washington, DC). I just wear my hair in an afro (the shrunken up, just-washed kind) or 2-strand twists. There's not a lot of maintenance and neither style is affected by the elements. In either case, I have the little travel bottles you buy from Target and I just fill those up. I have 2-ounce jars that I use for mango butter or styling aids (i.e. Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie). I also have a spray bottle for my Juices-n-Berries and a squeeze bottle for my body oil. Trust me, I can't take a trip without my stuff. After each trip, I dump my stuff back into their original containers and clean out my travel bottles, so I can use them for different products if needed.

  • Anonymous says:

    I traveled in August and brought shea butter and Sheep sorrell oil (Crystal's Royal Secrets)and I bought conditioner and shampoo there.

  • mysskay says:

    I went to the beauty supply store and brought 3oz size spray bottles for liquids and I use small (generally 1-3oz) plastic storage containers for solid products; stick them in a baggie. I've thought about checking my bags or even overnighting a box for my Christmas trip home.

  • Perkisha says:

    I usually use fill up a small container of gel and conditioner, styling tools and that's all I bring (in addtion to bobby pins/scrunchies/headbands). But I never really thought about it because I just throw it in my suticase and check it w/o a problem. I never really thought about what I'd do if I lost my luggage though, Lol. I usually wear my hair loose or in a faux wash and go (with braided roots for quicker styling and less use of styling products). Then I just wet at the hotel, put conditioner in and the gel and thats it.

  • Gold Label says:

    I use the shampoo and conditioner available wherever I am, whether at the house of a friend or relative, or at a hotel. Although I swear by Aubrey Organics shampoo and conditioner, I figure diverting once in a blue moon is no biggie. However, I WILL NOT TRAVEL without my unrefined shea butter. A little goes such a long, long way and I use it for my hair and body. Nothing else needed and it makes my hair look AMAZING. Best product ever!

  • Tonya says:

    I pack travel containers of conditioner in my quart size ziplock. Then I throw my natural shea butter in my carry on since it's solid until you warm it in your hands. I haven't had any problem getting it through security. Finally, I have a travel-size spray bottle that I usually bring empty, but could easily take filled with my favorite moisturizing spritz. (My hair loves plain old water, so I don't have to worry about filling it before I leave.)

  • Lori says:

    Gosh. I haven't thought about this much since I've only traveled once since being natural…and I drove and took everything but the kitchen sink. I'd like to think I could make do with the hotel shampoo and conditioner, but I'd still need to take some oil or butter. Honestly, I don't think I could do it. I'd have a problem with just my usual toiletries, not to mention all of the new WNG choices I have. I'd either have to drive or just pay the extra baggage fees. I'm not willing to compromise on my hair products. I'm more likely to take fewer clothes in order to make room for all my conditioners, oils, etc.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have sample/travel sized containers for conditioner, butter, and spritz. I fill them up with what I'm currently using and keep it moving. And of course I make sure to do my hair at the last minute prior to the trip if it's going to be a long one. Sometimes I buy a bottle of Suave Coconut at my destination if it's available and I can afford to say goodbye to what I don't use. I travel regularly and I haven't checked a bag since a cruise in 2007.

  • Anonymous says:

    I travel frequently and I often stay longer than a week. Since I have a lot of hair, that means I can't survive any trip without full-size bottles of my favorite haircare products. I finally got tired of paying baggage check fees, so I now mail/UPS/FedEx my conditioners and stylers. It's much cheaper than checking in your bags too!

  • Chéri says:

    If I Do Take A Suitcase That Will Include The Full Size Products I Want To Use, However I Usually Buy New Products When I Travel LOL

  • Anonymous says:

    For travel, I put my hair in a high pony with curls hanging out the top so I can loosen it up for comfort on the plane without jackin' my edges. LOL . I travel light cuz' I hate to wait at baggage claim, so I carry on a ziploc bag with a sample size of a leave-on conditioner, a samole size of a deep conditioner, a small container of ecostyler gel ( I bought a little 2 oz container to put it in) a tube of goe oil (which can be used for body and hair), small tube of toothpaste, a small container of body scrub, and a 3.0 bottle of perfume. This combo can last for at least 2 wks.

  • Anonymous says:

    I just did this a few days ago. I did my usual wash/condition/braid the night before travel. I carried a 3-oz bottle filled with Knot Today leave-in conditioner, an 8-oz empty spray bottle that I used to mix the conditioner & water for moisturizing & braiding at night, a 3-oz spray bottle of distilled water, jojoba, tea tree oil & lavender oil which I use for my scalp each night and add a little to my conditioner mix, and a 3-oz bottle mix of castor oil & EVOO for sealing. I have a shea butter/coconut oil/vitamin E oil mix in a baby food jar that I use for my face and body. I thought a long time about how to whittle down my products for travel, and it worked out very well.

  • Chéri says:

    It's Been Aloe Vera Gel, Oil, & Conditioner For Years Just In Case My Luggage Is Lost Every Now And Then I'll Somethign Else…But I Usually Have My Hair In Some Sort Of Style Or Bun So I Don't Have To Hassle With It. I Also Travel With Loads Of Ouchless Ponytail Bands, And Always One Of Two Head Wraps To Blend With My Clothes(If I Feel Like Covering My Hair)…I Also Am A Lover Of Hats So I Take One Or Two Because I Always Come Back With More Hats, LOL

  • socialitedreams says:

    I pretty much only travel southwest anyway, so I toss my hair stuff into the suitcase and check it, no problems. I generally have a sew in or some protective style when traveling anyway, at least the past couple of trips I did, so no need for much.


  • Anonymous says:

    I am in this very predicament as of this Friday.
    I will be traveling home to see relatives and I have to figure out what style I'm wearing so I can bring what I need to keep the style, YIPES!!
    Allnatural1 (Michelle in TX)

  • Sherri says:

    I fly every month (long distance relationship) and I'm a total pj. I have about 3 gallon size freezer bags that are full of products everytime I travel. Even with travel sized products I have waaay too much stuff to carry on! And it's not even just hair products. It's hair, face, body and even things like nail polish. I usually will carry on my duffle bag with shoes, just to keep my checked luggage under the weight requirements. Maybe I'm too high maintenance. Time for some self reflection:)

  • AfroAdie says:

    This is perfect timing, as I have a week long trip coming up soon. I'm a true PJ, and I didn't even think about all the flying restrictions (it's been a LOOOOOONG time since I've flown). The good thing is that I am flying Southwest, but I do need to think about buckling down my hairstyle decision.

  • Shala says:

    I actually never even considered a protective style when travelling because I ALWAYS have my flexi rods and bobby pins handy!! 🙂 I bring almond oil, shea butter and use the conditioner provided in hotels. I use the conditioner to braid my hair into 8 braids and seal my ends with shea butter before I roll them on a flexi rod. I put some almond oil on my hands in the morning when taking the braids out, fluff and go! I can pin it up, bun it, high ponytail or leave it be. It's what I do to my hair everyday anyway 🙂

  • Noelleartemis says:

    I'm so glad this is a post! I had a business trip last month and I deliberately got my hair braided because I didn't want to deal with taking my styling products on the plane. I'm eager to see what other naturals do in this situation.

  • aubin says:

    I tend towards protective styles when I travel so product use is at a minimum. I also have a pretty good list of cheap products I can get at Walgreens or CVS in the tiny $1 bottles, or I plan on getting a tiny bottle of olive oil somewhere at my destination.

  • Anonymous says:

    I usually wear a protective style (braids, twists) during the week in an updo for 4-5 days – and then take it out for some weekend glam. So all I need is a moisturizing spritz in a airline friendly bottle and a styler with a little hold (CD Hair Milk, Oyin Handmade Shine and Define, Afroveda Pur Whipped Jelly) for touch ups. I too use the sample sizes. I should carry a butter or oil to seal my ends with but the real estate in my quart-size ziploc comes at a high price!

  • Anonymous says:

    Great post. I've traveled as far as Africa with ONLY a carry on. It's much less hassle. I'm not a big fan of protective styles at all but they can be convenient. I will usually do my hair half in/half out (flat twists or twist up do with some hair left out).I find this is easy and gives me versatility since I have less hair to deal with out, but I still get the out look. In my carry one I simply take a sample size Oyin shine and define or even simpler a very small travel bottle of conditioner I can use as a leave in and styling aid. On a recent trip to Canada, I forgot my conditioner and I used the one the hotel provided me to damp set my hair and it worked fine. Less is really more.

Leave a Reply