Regular towels take a lot of room in your luggage, weigh a lot when they’re wet and are unlikely to even be used. If you’re staying at hotels there will always be bath towels available and they can often provide a beach towel for the day. The only towel you should pack is a small microfiber towel to dry your hair.
Pack your silk
Pack a silk or satin pillowcase as a well as a scarf.
Hotel pillowcases are often made of cotton which disrupts curl patterns and can cause breakage. Pack a silk or satin pillowcase or a scarf to wrap around the hotel pillows. This is a handy way to minimise wash days by extending your hair styles and reducing the amount of product needed each day. Silk is super thin so there is no excuse for not packing it.
It’s also a good idea to wear your scarf during flights to keep your hair curly and stop it from fluffing. If your hair is too short to tie, wrap it in a silk or satin scarf, and if it’s longer, tie it in a loose pineapple then add the scarf.
Headbands, bobby pins and hats – Oh, my!
Use head bands and bobby pins to minimise wash days and to save time when you’re running short. These are also handy when you know you’re going to have a classic bad hair day.
There were a number of days on my trip where I simply couldn’t do anything with my hair: freezing at Ollantaytambo in the strong wind tunnels that were previously used by the Incas to store perishable foods, and sweating my way through a 6 hour trek to Machu Picchu. It is much easier to survive those conditions with a scarf or hat to pack the hair away.
Research the locals
If you’re in a country where curls are prominent, chances are you can get your hands on some effective products, so do some research before you go.
While in Mexico and Peru the only curls I saw were on the llamas. When I reached Argentina I started to see some curls creeping through. It wasn’t until Brazil that I knew I was in good hands.
I walked into the closest drug store to assess their shelves and take photos (let me tell you, there was lots to choose from). I then returned to Wi-Fi to translate the labels and decide what to purchase.
Protective styles like braids are a reasonable way to reduce drying out your curls on beach holidays. If you can’t do it yourself you should be able to find help. Many people offered me cheap braiding services at markets and beaches in Mexico and Brazil.
Travelling the world is an incredible privilege and I’m grateful every time I get the opportunity to do it. I hope these tips make it easy for you to do the same, and to help you focus on the more important aspects of your journey like respecting the culture, having fun and staying safe.