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Curly Nikki

The DOs and DON’Ts of Traveling Natural

By January 27th, 202113 Comments

by Ernessa T. Carter of Fierce and Nerdy

I’ve climbed to the top of a volcano in New Zealand, I’ve landed a book deal, and I’ve given birth to a child. But I would say that 2010 brought my biggest challenge yet: keep my natural looking pretty while on book tour for my first novel, 32 CANDLES.

Did I succeed? Well in a couple of words … not always. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t. Just in time for Thanksgiving, I’m sharing what I learned about keeping a natural awesome on the road, so that you don’t have suffer as I had to suffer.

DO buy travel-sized containers at your local beauty supply store, so that you can bring along your must-have products. Also when making your hair products order, check to see if there aren’t smaller sizes available. Companies like Oyin Handmade sell many of their product in carry-on friendly sizes.

get a new hairstyle the day before you’re set to go on the road. I know you want to look nice for your event, and it would seem that right before an event would be the best time to invest in going to the hairdresser. But trust me, don’t do it. It takes time to get a new hairstyle really looking the way that you want it to. Going with a tried and true style might feel boring, but it will guarantee that your hair will look good on the day of the event.

wear a protective style on the plane, but…

wait until right before your event to take down your hair. I’ve been unpleasantly surprised with only minutes to spare before an event upon taking my hair out of its protective style. Now I always take it down the morning of, giving it a chance to breathe and settle into a style throughout the day or for me to save it with accessories if it refuses to act right. Speaking of which…

make sure to bring along an array of accessories. I now carry two headbands (one with a distracting flower and the other with a more subtle design), two elastic bands, a bohemian hat, and plenty of combs, b/c when all else fails, and frohawk will save the day. Just remember headbands distract, hats cover, and an updo is definitely your friend.

A fro hawk saves the day at my hometown book signing in St. Louis.
So very grateful for plastic combs and aloe vera gel!

The DOs and DON'Ts of Traveling Natural
Photo Credit: Nicole Moton


  • modest-goddess says:

    I read your book 32 candles and recommended it to by best friend. She finished it in a day.

  • beadgyrl says:

    I've only been natural for two years now. I've been to Jamaica, and Canada the last two summers. Now working a twa to me on vacation or traveling is easy, because it's mostly co-wash and go or headbands. My hair has just now started hitting the 5-6 inch mark, and now I can do my twists. I haven't had the pleasure of traveling yet. But I am sure by next summer when I travel, it will be twists of some sort. But I do highly recommend as she said in the article to buy SMALLER containers for your beloved hair products (butters, shampoo-conditioner, etc) and a couple trusty combs of course, barettes or bobby pins, headbands, a hat (which saved me many times). Great article!

  • club villamar says:

    Thanks for the hair tips you provided in the post.I found all tips impressive and implement tips during my travel.I love the post.

  • kimmie0810 says:

    This book is in my Amazon shopping list. I'll be sure to add it to my cart the next time I place an order!

    I haven't traveled since being natural (this time which is the only time I've done it the right way w/o healthy well moisturized hair). I'd really have to narrow down my product choices that I could carry on with me. But I know I'd end up with some things in checked baggage. I guess conditioner would be my main thing b/c I can co-wash with it, use it to leave-in & to "style" as in, control my hair & give it some definition. I guess it would have to be my Hair One cleanser & YTCucumber or Totally Twisted.

    Headbands are my bestest friends since I did my BC. Before that, it was ouchless hair bands. I bought those things in bulk & had them tucked everywhere

  • Anonymous says:

    I just read your book last week and I loved it! I try to travel with freshly washed and styled double strand twists. I can wear my hair in a variety of styles, and when they look tired I just refresh them with a quick rinse and whatever conditioner is available. I always carry my shea/coconut oil/aloe mix to seal my ends.

  • Bianca says:

    Since i was a little girl, I traveled with freshly washed and done hair, tied with a scarf…
    often under a beret.

    My biggest travel issue is the travel size means nothing to my hair and I often can't find the products I use in a different part of the country…

    I've used hotel lotion as conditioner in a pinch…I've also mail ordered products to be sent to my location…of course, I've also gone shopping for products when I arrive…

    When you're away from home for a month or more…travel size might as well be ant size!

  • DvaAuNaturel says:

    Great advice. I absolutely LOVED your book and will be looking forward to the next one. My book club read it and by far it was the best we've read in a long time.

  • Anonymous says:

    Travel size essential items are a must; sometimes when I get to my destination, I purchase a small jar of olive oil and depending on the city/country, sometimes can get oils at cheaper prices.

    I had a question related to travel and b/c I've been traveling so much didn't get to post. On long-haul overnight flights (6+ hours), do you take your satin scarves with you to cover your tress when you decide to sleep and/or rest your head on the seat covers or do you just go with the flow and not use a scarf?

  • Anonymous says:

    Wash your hair before you go.

    I'm an StL girl but my hair has gotten used to east coast water and maintenence. The water hardness/pH at your destination may play havoc with your tresses.

  • StaceyMarie says:

    I've learned that I can get by with 3.5 oz of shea butter, 3.5 oz of gel (Olive oil Ecostyler, aloe vera, or flax seed), and a few bottles of conditioner (I do a modified tightly curly method and must have conditioner in my hair). Also transitional styles are good. Twists–> twist out(warm weather) —> Afro —> puff(s) —> bun(s) —> tucked and rolled updo and then by that point I'm probably home! I also make sure to pack a couple of hair bands or knee highs, scarves, crochet tams, and headbands in coordinating colors. My hair never seems to work w/the plastic combs when it's away from home!

  • Liz says:

    I'm taking a trip with my boyfriend to his hometown in the VI this summer, and I've been thinking about what to do with my TWA whichby next June will be a not-so-much TWA lol…now I have an idea of what direction to go in. Thanks so much for this!

  • Anonymous says:

    I've been natural for over 15 years and nothing stresses me out more than trying to figure out what to do with my hair when traveling for business or pleasure. Forget about "I have nothing to wear", it's "what am I going to do with my hair". This article was absolutely hilarious and filled with great advice!

  • Coily84 says:

    Great Advice! I bought this book online this weekend. Can't wait to read it 🙂

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