Travel Diaries: Hair Care Tips From 4 Travel-Savvy Bloggers

Travel Diaries: Bloggers share their favorite hair care products and tips to look great while traveling. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Welcome to the first installment of Travel Diaries, where I share a round-up of tips and recommendations from bloggers and other frequent travelers. I’m hoping to make this a monthly feature, so if there are topics you’d like to see covered, please let me know. To kick things off, we’re talking…

Travel Hair Care! 💁‍♀️

Many of you have asked which hair care products and tools are best to travel with, and how to pack them. I’ve been at a bit of a loss to answer, because my hair care routine is pretty minimal. Shampoo, conditioner (maybe), quick blow-dry. Maybe a little texturizing spray. C’est tout.

So for this Travel Diaries, I asked four of my blogger friends, each a seasoned traveler, and each with a different hair type, to share their favorite hair products, tools, and tips for travel.

Jennifer – A Well Styled Life

Jennifer Connolly shares her favorite products and tips for hair care while traveling. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Hair type & challenges:

I have poker straight, fine, limp hair that is thinning. It’s just below chin-length (due for a cut) with a few layers. I struggle with a lack of volume and body.

Jennifer’s tips:

I never check a bag so I take sample sizes of my products. If they’re not available, I’ll decant into a container that is TSA size approved.

Josephine – Chic At Any Age

Josephine of Chic At Any Age shares her favorite hair care products and tips. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Hair type & challenges:

Length is short at the back and chin length at the sides with a side fringe. I have always had thick slightly wavy hair but have noticed that it has got a bit thiner with age. I no longer colour my hair so it is grey at the front and sides and darker at the back. Sort of salt and pepper. I find it fairly easy to style. I lift the roots with my fingers to start. Then use a 5 inch roller brush to control the waves. Now my hair is a bit thiner it can go flat at the top and sides. A bit of dry shampoo or hair spray can zizz it up. 

Josephine’s travel hair care products:

I have not been long haul for a while so I take everything in my carry on bag. I decant small amounts of each product except the dry shampoo into plastic containers and only take essentials as you can buy products in Europe if you run out.

Beth – Style At A Certain Age

Beth of Style at a Certain Age shares her hair care tips. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Hair type:

Thick, naturally grey, can be frizzy

Beth’s Tips:

Sometimes when it’s time to travel the last thing we think about is our hair. What with packing lists to complete, skincare products to purchase and deciding on the perfect pair of shoes to walk those cobblestone streets. If carry-on space is tight the last things we want to pack are oversized hair care products or heaven forbid a bulky blow dryer. Especially if we’re traveling overseas and the currents are different.

But have you ever attended a special event while on vacation and your hair was all wrong because the hotel shampoo left it limp and lifeless? We’ve all been there which is why i love to travel with products that not only keep my gray hair silky and smooth but will make it through the security line in a breeze.

My favorite products from Kerastase keeps my frizzy hair in check and comes in travel sizes. You can purchase the shampoo and conditioner separately. Or buy the travel-sized trio that includes a blow-dry primer
that protects my hair from the heat.

And i also love to throw in a travel-sized hair dryer that tames my thick hair in minutes. It’s called the mini blast ionic blow dryer that comes with dual voltage capacity that’s perfect for travel. It’s compact, lightweight and the perfect size to slip into my carry-on.

Alison – Wardrobe Oxygen

Alison from Wardrobe Oxygen shares her favorite (curly) hair products for travel. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Hair type:

I have brown shoulder-length fine curly hair.  I get my roots touched up every 2 months and let the ends fade out creating a bit of a balayage. For years I thought my hair was wavy and difficult and once I turned 40 it started thinning making it even harder to manage.  Last spring my stylist suggested I embrace the natural curl he recognized from his training.  He gave me a DevaCut and I started researching products and methods to embrace and encourage curls.  I now have truly curly hair which I didn’t think was possible!  It has not only made styling simpler, it also makes my hair look much thicker.  I find my curls look best when I let them airdry which is the biggest challenge I find with my hair. 

Alison’s hair care tips for travel:

  • I use Ouidad products for curly hair and have travel-sized bottles of my must-have anti-humidity shampoo and conditioner.  With curly hair, I only wash my hair twice a week, though I do sometimes co-wash (wash with conditioner) between shampoos if my hair gets dirty or really sweaty.
  • To achieve great curls, I use a lot of a lightweight gel (the anti-humidity gel also from Ouidad), so much that the TSA-friendly bottle is empty after a weekend getaway.  Depending on the length of the trip and whether I am checking luggage, I either take one travel bottle for every two days (I keep refilling the ones I own from my big bottle) or I pack a larger bottle in my checked luggage.
  • I also pack an empty spray bottle; I fill it with tap water to revive curls in the morning between washings and then apply more gel.

The hardest thing with my hair that my curls are best when air-dried.  I try to schedule washings with the rest of my itinerary so I don’t run around town with a sopping wet head.  I dry my hair with an old t-shirt instead of a towel which is easy to pack and I’ve been known to rock a t-shirt turban until we literally walk out the door for the day. I pack a small-barrel curling iron in case my hair doesn’t like the local water (my curls take a few days to get used to soft water or well water). I also pack a silk turban (I have one from SILKE) to protect my curls while I sleep so I have less work to do in the morning to have good hair.  I’ve also learned to pack a beret or small hat for the times when my hair completely revolts against the local water so I can look stylish while hiding a mess!

Many thanks to these generous bloggers for sharing their travel hair care tips and products! Please do go visit their blogs. Do you have any tips or challenges when it comes to travel and your hair?

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  1. Travel hair. My hair is long (bold, I know) with bangs, thinning, fine-ish, slightly wavy. I start the week by blow drying the bangs dry and drying the rest upside down not quite dry, pin it in a coiled bun on top and let it dry and set overnight. I use Suddzz root lift on roots or Aussie scrunch while hair is still damp.
    When I take it down, it’s gently curled and volume-y. I touch up thin spots with Drop Red Gorgeous powder. Best trick ever for making thin hair look thick.
    I wear it down for a few days, on about the 4th day, I freshen up with Tresseme dry shampoo.
    On day 5 and 6 – or for dress up occasions, I put it up with a little hairpiece that’s on a coiled scrunchy and pull some of my own hair through, and it looks very French with my bangs. Voila. A weeks worth of hair with one washing.
    This works travel or home – and, of course, there’s always a hat.

    1. Drop red georgeous powder? I looked it up and it seems to be a powder for root touch ups. How does it work to solve thinning hair problems? Thanks.

  2. I have thick shoulder length hair, and have the roots done every eight weeks and highlights added three or four times a year. Longer hair that can be pulled up or back is very practical for travel. I find that spending money at a good salon can save you a lot of money/time over all. A good cut is bottom line for easy travel Honestly can’t imagine travelling with as much product as the first blogger! . I stopped using Kerastase products as I developed severe dermatitis ( they are great products but really over perfumed) and use Living Proof products which are a Godsend! Also you can buy their travel sizes at Sephora. I only wash my hair once a week on the advice of my stylist. This protects the colour and my scalp.
    Most places have a hairdryer or I let it dry overnight but my hair straightener..first thing in the suitcase!

  3. My hair is much like Susans both in style and texture.The complication is that I am prone to eczema on my scalp and face which is provoked by most hair products, so I am very limited in the styling products I can use. A couple of years ago, I found myself in York England without the hypoallergenic gel I normally used to boost the volume a little. I found a salon near by, and a stylist there introduced me to a paste made by L’Oreal Professional that was almost life changing. When my hair is nearly dry, I rub a small amount on my hands and run it through my hair, and it gives me instant volume and adds quite a bit more shape to my fine, thin, straight hair. It comes in a small tub that TSA does not seem to count as a liquid. Interestingly I shared this with a friend who has very wavy hair, and she has found that it eliminates two other styling products from her toiletry bag.

      1. L’oreal Professional Techni Art, Deviation Paste

        They have rebranded this line, and the new name is “Archi Texture”. I am told that the paste sold under that name is the same, but because I have something of a stockpile and haven’t needed it yet. I have purchased it through Amazon, and the newer brand is also available that way.

        For my short hair, much the same length as Susans, I use about 1/2 teaspoon, so that little jar lasts about 6 months. I rub it between my palms, run my fingers through my hair, and push things around till I like it, and then I don’t mess with it for the rest of the day. Besides giving me some volume, I can control the direction so that all of my hair doesn’t fall into my face like a mop. Its been a real game changer for me. I hope you like it.

  4. I went on a trip, left my hair care products on my bathroom counter . I used the complimentary shampoo and conditioner provided by the ship and used Lubriderm lotion to tame the frizzes. At the end of two weeks, my thick hair was shiny and smooth!

  5. I’ve become reliant on a hot air brush ( John Frieda Hot Air Brush, 1 1/2-inch Hot Air Brush to style my hair at home. I get results that are equivalent to a blow dry by my hair stylist! It’s not dual voltage however.

    I managed to find one that was dual voltage but its performance was subpar (it was not a high quality hot air brush and could only be used on low setting at 220 volts). And on a trip to France last fall, I felt a small shock while using it so that was the end of that! And then it occurred to me – why not check to see if I can find one here in France? And I did just that. It was not expensive, the quality was far better than my dual voltage brush and the results were as great! And – problem solved for future trips!

    1. I have looked at hot air brushes for years and never bought one. Had one many, many years ago that I loved; then they stopped making them. But I will try this one! See my comment below: yes to buying hair dryers in France; mine is one of the best, and smallest , I’ve ever used!

    2. Can the French hot air brush be ordered here in the United States? I’m also a huge fan of the John Frieda brush.

  6. I have to use a hair dryer each and every time my hair is wet, either after shower or swim. Absolutely no getting around that one! And hair dryers…well, don’t get me started. England, I have found, has the best dryers in almost every single hotel. Superb. They all have the director nozzle (a must for me). French hair dryers are the worst, almost as bad as the U.S. I too have bought a small travel dryer in France and it is wonderful. So, it depends where I am travelling if I pack a dryer! But…I also do not do carry ons, so I don’t really have a problem with space in my checked suitcase.

  7. Sorry, but I can’t be bothered with fussing about a lot of hair products when travelling, usually 4-6 weeks a trip. First, an impeccable haircut. Only bring a small container of blow dry protector cream, It’s a 10, and my very compact & powerful European voltage hairdryer bought in France years ago. I have dry fine hair, so I leave in hotel conditioner the whole time while showering and this accounts for enough softening of my dry hair. I buy a small can of quality hairspray once overseas.

  8. Interesting post as most of us would like to look chic at n our travel photos. I rarely use a hairdryer because it causes my hair to frizz and break more. I have long, thick, wavy hair that I have cut to fall into place. To me a great haircut is worth more than all the products. I do let it air dry and when traveling add a tiny bit of R+Co Twister. That helps hold the waves longer in any type of weather. I put a small amount in a travel squeeze bottle. Last trip to Spain for a month I tried a bar shampoo which was easier to pack. It came with it’s own cute little container. I plan washing my hair so I don’t have wet hair at awkward times. Alison mentioned this. Sometimes after a long day out i will wash it in the evening and let it dry over night. I also pack a small root powder kit for when the gray starts showing. On long trips this is great to have. Thanks for bringing up this subject as I find hair and beauty products take up quite a bit of packing space.

    1. Last summer my sister encouraged me to use the products for curly hair. My hair is wavy rather than curly but I love the way it looks now rather than styling it and using a hair dryer. I also use the DevaCurl products but am going to try the Quidad products. Great post.

    2. Not that y’all will necessarily have this problem with Devacurl products, but just an FYI: my daughter has very curly hair and has used Devacurl products for a long time. She has suffered from terrible dandruff for a while now, that didn’t seem to respond to any efforts to get rid of it. Then she ran out of her Devacurl stying gel, and was too busy to get more, so switched to another product for a while. To her surprise, the dandruff almost immediately improved, and is now mostly gone. She feels there’s a direct connection there.

      1. Very interesting, Jill Ann. Thanks for the heads up on this. I’ve switched between a few different gels so will us my Devacurl exclusively for a while and see if this becomes an issue for me.

      2. There lately have been a lot of complaints about DevaCurl causing scalp problems, including hair loss. Google it to read more.

  9. Wonderful post! Due to medication, my previously wavy hair is straight as a poker. And, of course, a bit thinner as I age. I’m on my way to a Caribbean resort tomorrow and have decided to take travel shampoo, conditioner, texturizer, and smoothing cream. I’ll let you know how successful this minimal approach is after a week!

    1. I never knew the curl in your hair could be affected by a medication! My wavy/curly hair did go straight for about 6 months after each of our 3 children were born, but then went back to its normal texture. I get an abbreviated version of a Brazilian Blowout keratin treatment every 2-3 months which keeps my hair much straighter and way less frizzy. I usually try to time them to be done about 2 weeks before I travel for the easiest care. You do have to wear a hat on the beach though because the salt air can strip the keratin just like laureth sulfate in shampoos.

  10. I have VERY curly, dry, and fine grey hair and recently went from below shoulder length to a much shorter cap-like style – longer on top and shorter on the sides/back. I travel a lot and my favorite product is Bb.Curl Pre-style / Re-style Primer. I pack a small travel size bottle and (at locations) add a little to a small spritzer bottle (which I also bring) filled mostly with purchased bottled water ( to avoid odd minerals and water quality). A little goes a long way and I use the mix to coax curls back into shape in the morning and for any time a refresh is needed. It also helps minimize the number of times I need to wash my hair and the quantity of curl product needed.

    Go Greener – Please consider decanting products to travel containers rather then purchasing and repurchasing travel size products. It’s considerably cheaper by the ounce and helps reduce plastic waste. Our planet thanks you!

    1. I’m a fan of L’Oreal Elnett hair spray. It provides a decent hold but brushes out, so it’s not stiff/sticky. The large can is about $13, but unfortunately the travel size can, where I live anyway, is $6.99. That offends my thrifty sensibilities! I found that the small cans are much cheaper, and readily available, in Europe, so I stock up when on the way home from there. Btw it comes in aerosol cans, so you can’t just decant from the large size.

  11. An informative thread, but — for me — the best travel hair products are none at all! I am lucky in that I only need to shampoo once a week, but I used to tote a mini-dryer, a mini-straightener or curling iron, special brushes, and gel/products for my thick, frizzy, below shoulder-length cut. Then, on a trip to Morocco years ago when I didn’t have time to deal with it all, I ventured into a “salon” in the midst of the medina — no men allowed! — and discovered the marvelous pleasure of paying someone to wash and style my hair abroad. When in Rome, as they say. I enjoy contributing to the local economy, and that first experience in Tangiers — entirely in French (which I don’t speak), with women chatting and small children playing — is one I will never forget! I carry-on only, so the space saved is an additional gift. Since I tend to be the organizer and sometimes overfill each travel day, taking time for myself is calming and rewarding. We take hundreds of photographs, have visited six continents, and I DO care about how I look, otherwise, I wouldn’t be following a lovely and stylish blogger 😉 My favorite journeys are 3-7 weeks long, and this is what works for me.

  12. Ellen, I am very interested in the name of the L’Oreal product as well. Thanks
    Also I have thin, baby fine hair with multiple sensitivity to products. My dermatologist recommended Free and Clear shampoo. It works well and actually gives my hair volume without added hair products. It also cleared the rash and dryness on my scalp!

    1. I have used Free and Clear products; I didn’t love them, but they did the job. I had been using the styling gel, but not with a lot of love. Then I accidentally trandfered it to a GoTube container for travel that had shampoo already in it, rendering it unusable…thats how I discovered the paste. I have posted the information about it in a post above.

      I use Bumble and Bumble shampoo and conditioner; for whatever reason, they don’t bother me and I like the result. The dermatologist has suggested that it might be a different masking fragrance than most lines use. Free and Clear has no masking fragrance at all so its closer to being perfectly hypoallergenic.

  13. I lost my hair a few years ago so I rely on wigs, scarves and hats. Entering the world of wigs was intimidating for me but I’ve made good progress and gotten beyond the stigma that is attached to wearing a wig. I get frequent comments on my flattering “hairstyles” and people are surprised when I tell them it’s a wig. I’m not ashamed to reveal that I’m a wig-wearer because my hair loss has nothing to do with anything I did or didn’t do. When traveling, I wear my most comfortable lightweight synthetic wig (most of my hairpieces are lightweight- no more than 2.3 .oz or so). I also pack wig shampoo/conditioner.

    1. How would you pack a synthetic wig? I have had some thinning and am considering bringing one along on a two week trip to France. I’ve been watching Mimi’s Wig Boutique on YouTube and FB

  14. I am a lazy hair styler—can’t stand the feel of product, and the feminist in me is always annoyed by the amount of time and money women have to waste on their hair. My normal routine for fine, chin-length bob is wash, dry upside down, finish with a round brush to get the ends sorted. So that really limits what I need to pack for carry-on-only travel. Just the round brush and a folding blowdryer, if I suspect the hotel won’t have one.

    I’ve recently switched to using solid shampoo (part of a larger effort to cut-back on single-use plastic), and have discovered that not only are my hair and scalp much happier, but it also means one less liquid to squish into the 3-1-1 TSA bag!

  15. I can’t imagine traveling with all the hair products the 4 bloggers use/recommend. Add in some makeup and there’s no room in the TSA quart size bag and all of a sudden you’re checking luggage.

  16. It is not coincidental that the generations who have been ‘forced’ to use sodium laurel/laureth products have thinning hair. Take a look at the ingredients on the bottles of anything you buy to put on your hair; if you see the ‘family’ of sodium laurel chemicals, you will lose hair. Instead, look specifically (and carefully) for products without sodium laurel/laureth chemicals. These products *do* exist, and you will stop losing hair. I was getting so much thinning I had a bald spot at the top of my pate less than ten yeares ago, and now that bald spot is completely gone after being more careful about the products I use.