How To Wear Your Hair on Vacation: All You Need to Know Guide For Black Women


Summer is here and there’s no better time to take a vacation than now. 

But what about your hair? You won’t have access to your regular salon while you’re on vacation. And you may not have all of your hair tools and products.

Besides, you’re traveling to enjoy the trip– not to spend the entire time doing your hairBut you still need to keep your hair healthy and looking good.

rihanna gif swimming in pool with sunglasses

Here is your comprehensive guide to maintaining your hair before, during, and after you start traveling. In this article I will share what you need to do to keep your hair beautiful and protected while on vacation. 

What You Need to Do Before You Leave

Prepping your hair before you leave for vacation is one of the most important parts of your trip. 

Your hair is going to need some extra TLC beforehand in order to withstand the sun, sand, saltwater, and chlorine it will be exposed to. 

And you need to make sure that you either pack or have access to getting everything you’ll need to style and care for your hair while your there.

black woman with natural hair sitting in chair outside on vacation

How to Prepare

1. Deep Condition Your Hair

Make sure your hair is clean, moisturized, and strengthened prior to your trip. That is why you need to deep condition your hair. Planning a vacation can be hectic, but don’t neglect your hair on the days and weeks leading up to your getaway. Now is the time to give it everything it needs to keep it looking good when you leave.

2. Pick a Low-Maintenance Style That’s Appropriate For the Location/Weather That You’ll Be Traveling To

Knotless braids, faux locs, crochet braids, and feed-in braids are the perfect protective style for vacation. But don’t get braids the night before you leave for your destination.

They may be too tight and you don’t want to be uncomfortable on your flight or drive. Plan it for a few days to a week before you leave instead.

Another option is to get a sew-in weave that matches the texture of your natural hair. Don’t get something that’s drastically different from your real hair texture, or you’ll spend all your time trying to blend your leave-out. You can even get a closure so that none of your real hair is left out. 

Wigs are a great option if you’re going on a cruise, won’t be in the hot sun. you can switch things up without damaging your hair.

If you’re going to rock your natural curls while you travel, be sure to come up with a quick updo or simple style you can rock in a hurry. Mini twists are a great option because they’re versatile, and when you take them down you’ve got a bomb twist out!

If your hair is relaxed, you may want to rock heatless curly styles like braid outs and twist outs as well. Or opt for a sleek low bun or ponytail that allows you to look good and keep your hair out of your face while you sweat on the beach.

Don’t try a new style you’ve never tried before for vacation. If you don’t know how it will look on you, or how your hair will react to it– don’t do it. I know we all want to look our best when going on a special trip. But there’s nothing that can ruin a great vacation more quickly than a bad hair day that lasts the entire time.

curly haired woman on a boat on vacation

How to Pack

Finding the perfect balance between being prepared and not over packing can be tricky. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The duration of your visit

If your trip is less than a week long, you don’t need much. Pack travel sizes of the few styling products that you’ll need. 

  • The location of your visit

If you’re going skiing in the Alps, or somewhere that’s cold–you may not need to pack the same items as someone who’s traveling to the warm island of the Dominican Republic. The same thing goes for if you’re going to be mainly in a city and not on the beach. 

Are you headed down south for a vacation on your family farm? What you pack and how you style your hair for a trip like that might differ greatly from someone traveling to Paris for a gala. Be mindful of the activities you’ll be engaging in when you pack.

woman with curly hair packing a suitcase for vacation

Materials You’ll Need:

  • A wide tooth comb for detangling
  • A brush for smoothing
  • A Hat for protection from the sun (and bad hair days)
  • A small travel size spray bottle for water
  • Edge control 
  • Travel size shampoo and conditioner
  • Travel sized leave in cream

How to Sleep While You’re There

Your best chance for cutting down on styling time during the day, is to sleep in a way that gives you gorgeous hair in the morning. Here’s how to do this on vacation:

1. Sleep on a Satin Pillowcase

You should take a satin pillowcase with you on vacation. They’re small and easy to fit in your suitcase.  Sleeping on a satin pillowcase prevents dryness and split ends that happen when your hair rubs against your pillow at night.

Plus, it can help preserve your style. Because the material is so smooth, your hair will slide off the pillow instead of getting tangled all over the place.

Satin Pillowcases can be particularly helpful on those vacation nights when you’re out late partying and don’t have time or energy to wrap your hair before falling asleep.

2. Pack a Satin Scarf

A satin scarf can help keep your braids fresh, your edges laid, and your hair soft. You can tie it in whatever way is easiest for you.

Plus, it can double as a cute headband during the day as an accessory for your high ponytail or puff. You can tie it like a bandana and add some large hoop earrings for a trendy bohemian look if your hair is acting up but you still need to look cute on your tourist exploration.

3. Wrap Your Hair in a Beehive

If you have relaxed hair or are rocking a straight sew-in, this method can keep your hair silky straight for longer. Wrapping your hair smooth and taught around your head and securing it with a satin scarf at night will help your hair look it’s best in the morning. 

4. Try a Heatless Curl Ribbon

When you’re at home, perm rods, flexi rods, and other curlers are a great way to get pretty heatless curls. But they can take a long time to install and can take up too much room in your suitcase. A heatless curl ribbon is portable, quicker than using a curling iron, and saves you some heat damage too!

How to Keep Your Hair Clean While You’re Away

If you’ll be staying at your location for longer than a week, or if you’ll be swimming at all, you’ll NEED To wash your hair. Going for long periods of time without washing your hair can lead to buildup on your hair that prevents it from absorbing moisture.

Pack a swim cap to protect your hair in the water. But if your hair gets wet, you have to rinse the salt and chlorine from your hair after a dip in the pool or ocean to keep your hair from drying out and breaking off.

Check flight/customs regulations for packing your favorite shampoos/conditioners beforehand. If you can’t take them with you, research a place where you can get them easily once you arrive.

woman with natural hair surfing in the ocean on vacation

Never go to bed with wet hair–this can be super damaging to your hair. Hair is most fragile when it’s wet and going to bed with wet hair can cause breakage.

Besides, if you’re rocking a protective style you’ll need to make sure your braids are thoroughly dry to avoid mildew.

Most hotels have a blow dryer in the rooms. Be sure to verify that yours will have one before you leave. You can also try dry shampoo to freshen up your hair between washes.

woman with curly hair standing in front on the ocean on vacation

What to Do When You Return Home

Immediately after you return from vacation, you need to go into recovery mode. Stick to a strict regimen when it comes to caring for your hair.

You should take down any protective style you were wearing, and give your hair a break from any high tension styles for a couple of weeks. 

Just like before you left, your hair needs to be treated with extra care. Keep up with your weekly deep conditioning treatments. You can even try steaming your hair and doing hot oil treatments for added moisture and shine.

You may have gotten a trim right before you left for vacation. If you didn’t, get one ASAP. If your hair was exposed to elements like the wind, sun, sand, and ocean, you may have some new split ends that need to be taken care of. The sooner you eliminate these broken hairs from your head, the less severe they will be and the more length you will retain.

black woman with afro hair smiling

Feel Great and Look Great on Vacation

Some of the greatest memories are created while on vacation. You’ll want to look as amazing as you feel while traveling–and your hair is a big part of that.

If you follow this guide, you’ll be prepared to help your hair look its best and remain healthy with the least amount of effort. This way, you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation and have gorgeous hair at the same time.

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Brandelyn Green is the Founder of VoiceOfHair, a platform to help women of color find the best hair care products, regimens and hairstyles! Since starting VoiceOfHair in 2014 she has grown the social media platform to over 1MM+ on Instagram and Facebook. As a natural who is also a salon goer, she wanted to create a platform where people could find the best products, hairstylists, advice and trends.



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