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Curly Nikki

Vacation Hair: Doing (and Packing) the Least

By January 27th, 202135 Comments
Vacation Hair: Doing (and Packing) the Least
by Shelli of Hairscapades
As you know, the airlines are bugging. They are essentially charging for luggage by the pound, with a separate fee for the clothes on your back O_o. So, when you learn that your airline is charging $43 for the first checked bag, $40 for carry-on and an additional $25-$100 for any luggage over the weight limit, you figure out how to make do with less really quickly!! Now, in the past, I’d pack everything but the kitchen sink … I hate being under-packed. But, my frugality far outweighs my fear of not having options, so I knew that, when I went on vacation to Playa del Carmen last week, I had to keep my checked bag under 40 lbs … and that meant big ol’ bottles of hair product were NOT making the cut!!
Vacation Hair: Doing (and Packing) the Least
I came up with a plan to get through my vacation with good hair and
minimal products and effort. I had three initial goals in mind.

  1. Clean hair: I didn’t want to worry about shampooing on the trip.
  2. Well-Moisturized: Needed to make it through the week of heat, humidity and water activities.
  3. Sustained Style: I needed to start with a braided or twisted style that would last a few days, stretch my hair and could be transitioned into other styles through the week.

I pre-pooed/deep conditioned, washed and styled my hair in 12 braids on the Friday night before I left for my trip. Now, I was all set for the week with the exception of packing a few hair essentials. I settled on 3 products that I knew would satisfy multiple purposes and packed small, travel-sized containers of them. The items that made the cut?

  • A small squeeze bottle that I filled with Aubrey HSR Conditioner = moisturizer, styler, cleanser.
  • A small sample pot of Wonder Curl Polishing Pomade = shiner, sealer.
  • A carry-out container filled with Eco Styler Olive Oil Gel (a 1/2 c. container would have sufficed) = styler, slicker.
I also packed an empty spray bottle so that I could dilute the conditioner and make a liquid “leave-in” moisturizer to apply as needed.I also knew that I needed a few useful, but compact, hair tools! As I stated above, I wanted a style that I could transition throughout the week. So, I brought an empty spray bottle (to dilute the conditioner), my trusty banana clip, a black satin scrunchy, a few bobby pins, a set of Goody Spin Pins, 4 small perm rods, a small jaw clip and my sheathed purse shears to deal with any pesky knots and splits. Finally, I had to protect my hair! So, I packed a satin bonnet, wide and narrow satin scarves, my terry-lined shower cap and a satin pillowcase (never leave home without that either)!

And voila, vacation hair:
Vacation Hair: Doing (and Packing) the LeastVacation Hair: Doing (and Packing) the Least

Vacation Hair: Doing (and Packing) the Least

So, to wrap this up, here are my tips for easy, peezy vacation hair with minimal effort and products:

  • Wash, condition and style hair the day or night before the trip.
  • Choose an initial style that “travels” well (i.e. tolerates humidity, winds, snow, etc.), can last several days and can be converted into other styles later in the week.
  • Consider a stretched style so that, if washing and a detangling are necessary, it cuts down on the time needed to do it.
  • Think about the activities that you will be doing and how/if they will impact your hair so that you can select the right products for the job.
  • Select products that you don’t need a lot of so that you can bring travel size containers instead of full-size ones.
  • Select products that will serve multiple purposes.
  • Bring hair tools that will allow you to maintain and convert your look, if necessary, through the week.
  • Hats can be your friends in all seasons. They can conceal scalpy twists or braids, salvage a bad hair day and protect your hair from the elements.

And that’s it! Hope that it helps!


How do you do vacation hair? What products and tools do you consider essential? What tips do you have for making vacation hair painless?


  • hairscapades says:

    My scale doesn't seem to get an accurate weight that way. Like, can't leave the suitcase entirely on it and can't see the results. But yeah, if it works for you with just the luggage, my way is definitely an added step or two! LOL!

  • nylse says:

    we just put the bag on the scale..that seems much easier. of course place the scale on a level surface first.

  • CurvyCurly says:

    Absolutely! I really appreciate the time I've saved these past years 'doing hair' on my vacations. I used to dread getting my hair wet when I was relaxed and when I did, it would take over an hour to wash, blow dry, and then flat iron each time. I used to feel so bad about hubby waiting so long for me even though he tried to come across as if he wasn't irritated, hungry or just ready to go doing something fun NOW. No More of That…..Just Easy Breezy Baby.

  • Cassandra [C.] says:

    ennui. . . my new found love. I think i may put it on a t-shirt, lol..

  • Ericka says:

    Thanks. Heading on vacation in a few days and this certainly helps! Was toying with whether to do braids or do a more natural style.

  • hairscapades says:

    LOL!! Yes, I like that one … I'm good for that. I recently used ennui to describe Kristen Stewart and like to throw words like beget, vanguard, juggernaut and the like around. 11th grade vocabulary rocked!!! LMBO!!

  • Cassandra [C.] says:

    lol, wow really? had no idea, about the vowels thing that is. And "facetious" is one of my favorite words too. I love throwing it in random convos [appropriately of course] and watching peoples reactions… *sigh* priceless

  • hairscapades says:

    Oh, and in case anyone was interested, here is the link to the full post on my site where there are more pics and link to my FB album from the vacation:).

    Thank you!!


  • hairscapades says:

    Awww, thanks CurvyCurly!! And you had it down too!! Isn't it great to manage to have nice hair with minimal effort on vacation?!?! Definitely don't want to waste time in a hotel room messing with hair when you can be out enjoying the scene!!

  • hairscapades says:

    Sounds like a plan Megan!! You're ahead of the game! But yeah, those baggage fees are no joke and on top of the expensive tail flights, it really burns my chaps!! LOL!! But, don't go by this as the standard fee. Each airline has their own fees and some charge more, some charge less and they can have different weight limits!! So, when you book that first flight, check the baggage fees and also if you can get a cheaper fee by paying in advance. A lot of them charge about $8-$10 less if you pay 24 hours in advance online.

    Oh, and this is a trick to check the weight of your own bags. Pack it, then get on a scale by yourself to weigh yourself. Then, get on the scale with bag in hand. Subtract your solo weight from your weight with bag in hands … voila … you just found out how much your packed bag weighs:)!


  • hairscapades says:

    LOL!!! Slick Dr. Mermaid!! LOL!

    Awwwww, thanks everyone!!! I'm happy to be of service to the ones that found this helpful and I think you so much for the kind words about my hair:)!!


  • hairscapades says:

    Oh yes, hair oil does leak! I do the tape method sometimes, but most often I place the bottle in a thick freezer bag. Because, even taped, those jokers always seem to leak!!

    I got back over a week ago, but I did enjoy it:). Thank you!!

  • hairscapades says:

    Thanks ladies:)!!


  • hairscapades says:

    That is IMPRESSIVE Angelina!!! I can't even use a duffel bag for a WEEKEND trip!! LOL!! I've gotten by using the little hotel conditioner on a trip to Cancun a few years ago. I would wash and leave the conditioner in and bun it. Low maintenance for sure!

  • hairscapades says:

    LOL!! I was being facetious Cassandra:). Oooh, I like you … you used one of my favorite words … you know it's the only word (or maybe it's one of two, with all of the vowels [not including faux vowel Y] in it in "aeiou" order?

    Ummm, what was I talking about? LOL!! Yeah, they don't charge you for the clothes on our back by the ounce … YET. But, given the way things have been going, I wouldn't be surprised to see that announcement on the news, among cries of outrage followed by complacency, in a few months.

  • CurvyCurly says:

    Gorgeous hair as usual Shelli! I did similar things for my recent vacation. Started with clean, conditioned hair in twists; wore the twists a day or two; wore a twistout; and then bunned or puffed or some other updo a day or two. Once my hair got wet with salt water I decided to go ahead and wash/condition and wear a wash n' go for the remainder.
    My essentials: light conditioner, pomade, spray bottle, oil mixture (for hair and body) and of course bobby pins, spin pins, headbands, and satin scarf for sleeping.

  • Megan Montgomery says:

    If I were going on a trip which I need, I would bring my Shea moisture curl and style milk (leave-in/styler) satin covered rollers (some), satin scarf, claw clip (for updo), and Carol's Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey (shiner and sealer). My hair would be in a twist and curl or braidout. I have never flown on an airplane yet and I am 22 thanks for the heads up on what to expect and how much money extra bags cost that go over the weight limit.

    Megan Montgomery

  • Jacinta W says:

    Mostly I wore twists/braids on vacation before deciding to transition. Now that I am more comfortable with my transitioning hair and am wearing more twistouts and braidouts, this post has definitely helped me to devise some sort of plan for packing in the future. Awesome post and even more awesome hair!!

  • Ashley says:

    Wow your hair is beautiful! When I travel I just get some braids or twists installed. My hair is so picky n when I'm on vacay I don't want to worry about that. But maybe you just inspired me…

  • Nisha says:

    Man oh man….I LOVES YOUR HAIR!! My definite hair crush!!

  • keetaray says:

    This was VERY helpful! Thanks so much for this post. *thumbs up*

  • Erika A. says:

    Thanks so much for these tips, Shelli! I'm going on vacation and was wondering how/what I would pack. This is very helpful.

  • Hilary B. says:

    Great tips! love the braidout

  • LaTresha Sayles says:

    Yay! Thanks for the tips Shelli! I love your hair! Enjoy your vacay! 🙂

  • Taylor says:

    Great tips! I'll keep this in mind for the few times in my life I will vacation somewhere (;_;)

  • Dr Mermaid says:

    I went on vacation in June and brought the entire kinky curly line in some little plastic cups that resemble the pee cups at the Dr's office. I did get a few weird looks but my hair was fresh everyday

  • laughing808 says:

    great tips, I try to pack a small amount of conditioner and daily moisturizer. But a simple must pack is aloe vera gel…… works wonders on taming the unruly hairs, moisturizes and it helps with sun burn.

  • Lauren says:

    This article was right on time! Heading to Costa Rica next week and I was wondering how exactly how to pack the least amount of products in light of having to wash daily! Thanks for this : )

  • Thetruthisoutthere says:

    Thank you Shelli for writing this!
    I had about a tablespoonful left of Jane Carter Nourish & shine and had to toss it because the TSA screener said the container was "too large". "Its only a little bit in here miss!", "You can get out of line and put it in one of our free bags at the counter over there". There were a hundered people in that line, so, NOT!!!
    TSA people don't play – place all of your small dollar-store travel containers in a TSA sized ziploc bag and keep it moving…

    HAIR OIL LEAKS!!! Put your hair oil in a screw top container and TAPE THE NECK CLOSED! wrap this container in a snack sized zip-loc bag and place it in the TSA bag. Test it out before you leave and you'll see that I'm right :-). Learned the tape trick from my Bajan inlaws.
    I don't bother with a spray bottle anymore – I fill the sink (or get a basin) and dip my comb and brush as needed when styling my KCCC/KCKT wash-n-go

    HTH – enjoy your trip!

  • Brooke B. says:

    I haven't had the pleasure of traveling with my natural hair yet, but when I do I will certainly refer back to this article it was very helpful, thank you Shelli.

  • Andrea Dawn says:

    Thanks for this, Shelli. I'm planning a tropical vacay this fall, and I was already thinking about how to pack appropriately for my hair. Great tips!

  • keisha billups says:

    I had to go thru this when I went to Bahamas last year. I was newly natural tho, so I brought everything!! I know better now. Nice tips!! Thanks.

  • AnnabelTRP says:

    Wonderful tips! I'll definitely try these on my next trip! Twists on the flight are a great idea!

  • Angelina says:

    I have gotten down to not checking a bag and bring everything in my carry-on duffel bag. It's big enough to slide under the seat. It saves me a lot of time because I don't have to bother with waiting for my bag or even losing it. During my last vacation to Montreal (a one week trip). I did my usual braid out and bought my hair tools, I just buy hair product at the local drug store to get by. I can always find a decent and affordable conditioner to use as a leave-in and some hair oil.

  • Cassandra [C.] says:

    So, do airlines really charge for the clothes on your back?!? or were you being facetious? Pretty soon, people will start traveling in their birthday suits [no need for body scans then, hehe]
    anyways, the hair was cute

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