How to Style Wavy Hair While Traveling

Traveling with wavy hair can definitely present a challenge. While straight-haired girls can travel with nary a hair brush, us wavy or curly-haired girls have to put in more work, especially in humid climates.

That being said, it is totally possible to make wavy hair look great while traveling. It’s even possible without heat-styling tools! Personally I never bring heat-styling tools on the road. Well, let’s be real – I style my hair with heat like twice a year at home anyway.

Over the years, I’ve learned lots of tips and tricks to keep my wavy hair presentable on the road. So if you too want to avoid looking like a frizzball in Asia, read on.

How to style wavy or curly hair while traveling (without heat!)
Au naturel every damn day

1. Use the Wet Brush

Hands up if you get dreadlocks when you don’t brush your hair.

No joke, the Wet Brush has changed my life. At first I was skeptical – a brush that magically keeps tangles out of your hair? Yeah right.

But seriously, the Wet Brush makes brushing my hair post-shower a task that takes 30 seconds, not ten minutes.

2. Bring hair serum

Hair serum is a super easy way to combat frizz on the road. I’m a long-time fan of like John Freida.

3. Get a Brazilian blowout or Keratin treatment before you leave

How to style wavy or curly hair while traveling (without heat!)
This is my hair right after getting out of a hot tub. I ❤︎ my Brazilian blowout.

A few months ago I got my first Brazilian blowout and it has changed. my. life.

A Brazilian blowout is a professional hair smoothing treatment. It’s awesome because it takes the frizz out of your hair and makes it dry way faster.

I love it because while I still have some of my natural waves, I have none of the frizz. I seriously think I will get Brazilian blowouts for the rest of my life.

Yes, it’s expensive. Brazilian blowouts cost $250 and you have to get them every three months. But I break it down by day – wouldn’t you pay $2.78 to have amazing hair and not wrestle with blow dryers and straighteners?

If you have a Brazilian blowout, you have to use sulfate free shampoo and conditioner. Also, you have to be careful with salt water – so if you’re planning on swimming in the ocean a lot on your trip, a Brazilian blowout or Keratin treatment may not be worth your time.

4. Braid your hair at night

How to style wavy or curly hair while traveling (without heat!)
Heat-free braid waves for the win.

Whether I’m traveling or not, I often braid my hair at night and wake up with beautiful waves. I’ve found it’s most effective when you braid your hair in pigtail braids – bonus points if you can do French braids.

5. Side-braid your hair during the day

How to style wavy or curly hair while traveling (without heat!)

I have to say I’m a big fan of the side-braid. It’s cute and keeps your hair out of the way, whether you’re scuba-diving or motor-cycling.

6. Don’t sleep on it wet at night!

This is fairly obvious, but as we all know, there’s no saving hair that was slept on wet. Ever. But if you must sleep on it wet, definitely braid it.

7. Bring good shampoo and conditioner

Good product can make all the difference for textured hair. If I’m carrying-on my luggage, I bring GoToobs filled with my favorite shampoo and conditioner.

If I’m checking my luggage, I bring entire bottles of shampoo and conditioner.

I’m also a huge fan of Lush Solid Shampoo because it smells great, lasts forever and lathers up surprisingly well.

8. Leave it long & avoid coloring it

How to style wavy or curly hair while traveling (without heat!)

I find that it’s easier to have long hair when I’m traveling. Shoulder-length hair requires a lot more styling, especially when you have wavy or curly hair.

Also, if you can avoid coloring your hair do so – highlighted hair gets tangled so much more easily. (However I always have color-treated hair, so if that’s your thing it’s not that big of a deal.)

Wavy-haired ladies – how do you keep your hair looking good on the road?

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

17 thoughts on “How to Style Wavy Hair While Traveling”

  1. Another good tip is finger curls. Wrap little bunches of hair around your finger and pin it to your head. Sleep on it, and voila, lovely curls in the morning! Serum is good for frizz if styling this way. This process takes me about ten minutes to get my whole head of hair up and saves oodles of time in the morning.

  2. Great tips! I’ve been struggling with my hair lately while travelling, it just never seems to do what I want or look the way I want. I’ll give these tips a try and hopefully I’ll have hair success on our next trip!

  3. I am also a curly haired traveller and only in the last 3 years have I stopped carrying straighteners with me. In fact, I am ashamed to say that when I left for a RTW trip 4 years ago – I packed both my hairdryer AND straighteners. I soon learnt that I didn’t want to waste my time straightening my hair in a humid climate as it was a frizzy mess as soon I would step outside – plus who has an hour to spend on their hair when they are having a ball exploring the world!? I ended up posting my hairdryer and straighteners back from Malaysia so I could get some weight out of my backpack. I now hardly ever straighten my hair – I will only do it if I am either going for an interview or a night out / formal event!

    • That’s awesome! It’s so hard to control wavy/curly hair in humid climates – I pretty much gave up on hair and makeup altogether in Malaysia and Indonesia. Also I know what you mean – I used to straighten my hair a lot back in high school and now rarely, if ever, do.

  4. #1 recommendation for curly/wavy haired travelers – learn to love your curls! If you embrace your beautiful curls, you spend a lot less time dealing with straighteners and blow dryers.
    I am really upset at how much of a curly-hair-isn’t-professional stigma is out there and I hope more women will start confidently wearing their (well styled) natural curls to fancy events and high-powered jobs.

    • I couldn’t agree more. I feel like having curly or wavy hair in the workplace is considered “unprofessional”, which makes getting ready for work take sooo much longer if you naturally have curly or wavy hair. That’s the #1 reason I got a Brazilian blowout, which is actually kind of sad.

  5. My hair is such a mess. It’s super wavy and thick, which is impossible to style in humid weather. I usually wear it in a bun or braids, but I’d like to give that Brazilian blowout a try. My hair thanks you for the tip ;)

  6. I am Brazilian and the Brazilian blowout has changed my life over ten years ago! Really i think it is the biggest revolution in the hair industry in our life time. i have to say I did bring my hairdryer on my big trip but that is only because I will spend a lot of time in Europe and I knew my blowout wouldn’t last forever. My tips are: ask your hairdresser if the product they use has formaldehyde in it, it sounds intense but the amount in it is really small and safe and it is really what will make your hair straight for longer, even better find a Brazilian hairdresser (we are everywhere, ask your nearest Brazilian friend) he/she would have used lost of different products and will know what is best, it will probably be cheaper as well (I live in Auckland/NZ and my dear hairdresser charges me less than 100USD). Don’t wash your hair all the time, that will obviously remove the product faster, I wash my hair 2/3 a week at the most and hardly ever get more than 2 blowouts a year, it also has a bit of a build up effect and it lasts longer the more you do it, you might notice that on your second or third time. If you cant find the special shampoo or that is a bit pricey just use normal baby shampoo which is usually free of sulfate.
    On another note, I am in Ubub right now and about to start my 10 days self made yoga retreat at the Yoga Barn, although I have heard of the yoga barn many times through other people you were the first one to really inspire me, so thank you! Your blog is great and always a big source of information and good reads. All the best!

  7. Thank you for these tips, the no. 1 problem when I am travelling is my long hair..haha but i don’t like to cut it. Well, got an idea form this post.

  8. Before reading your post, I didn’t know what a Wet Brush was (I thought it’s a type of a detangling brush) :D then I clicked the link and realized it’s a brand..

    Great tip on the Brazilian Blowout (I really thought it’ll make curly/wavy hair pin straight so I’ve been avoiding getting one). I had my hair relaxed a few years ago, and while it made my hair smooth and straight, it became ‘flat’ and lacked volume. Your cost-benefit analysis of the treatment also helps put things in perspective. The only downside is, no swimming in the beach :(

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