Oh! The drama! You’re going traveling for months and you don’t know what to do with your hair. Long or short? Styled or not? If you’re in a country where you don’t speak the language, what will happen when you get a trim? Relax…we’re here to help.
Snip-Snip Go the Scissors: No, we’re not trying to make you look like a boy and tell you to chop off all your hair. However, before you hop on the plane, you need to take a trip to the salon/supercuts/mom’s kitchen. Having a good haircut can make a world of difference to your appearance when you’re rushing between long train rides, marathon touring and going out on the town. When looking for a dazzling ‘do, we recommend thinking about the following:
- Temperature: Long, heavy hair is hot. Period. Even in a ponytail. You know and we know it. If you’re about to trek the jungles of South America, traverse the Australian Outback, or tour the deep south in the summer, you need to think twice about having a horse mane hanging down your back. Consider when and where you will be traveling. During the winter, it may not matter, but in the summer, tropical areas will become even more sweltering. Remember: heat stroke is not fashionable. Those with considerably thick hair should consider thinning as an option. If you do decide to take a whack, think about donating your hair to a charity such as Locks of Love. You may even be able to get a free or reduced-price cut from a local salon!
- Ease: Come on now, do you really want to spend an hour every morning in an icky hostel bathroom, trying to blow dry your hair into that super cute style, only to have it fizz out, twenty minutes after you walk out the door into the midmorning rainstorm? Seriously. We didn’t think so. Ease is the key to a good haircut on the road. Avoid any style that will require you to spend an excessive amount of time in front of a mirror, holding a hair dryer or applying product. Wash and go styles work the best. Another question to ask yourself: How will this cut grow out? Will it be even or will I look like a shag dog? Cuts with a lot of layers, or those that require trims in the back every few weeks (think: slant cuts) can be a real pain. Yes, you can get a haircut on the road, be it’s hard enough to get a decent looking haircut in your home country, where you speak the language and you can tell the stylist what you want. Try doing it in Thailand. It’s not pretty. If you are going to be on the road for a long time, seek out a style that is easy to trim and maintain.
- Flexibility: Up, down and sideways; there are a lot of things you can do with your hair. A cut that will allow you a little bit of flexibility isn’t a bad idea. You don’t know what you’ll end up doing on the road. Whether its rough and tough hiking or dancing to your heart’s content at the most fashionable club in town, having a hair style that will work with you in all situations is ideal.
- Comfort: Haircuts can require a compromise between fashion and practicality. However, it doesn’t have to be a forfeit of fun. If short, chopped hair makes your forehead so big you could reflect the sun, or a bob cut makes your face resemble a bowling ball, don’t do it! A style that you feel comfortable with is required. As the cliché goes, in the end, only you know what works best for you. We here at BnA HQ (ok, Court) tend to favor lengths that falls between your ears and shoulders. These cuts are short enough to keep your neck cool and long up to put up when you don’t want to mess around with it (which, honestly, will be most of the time).
Color Me Crazy!: Sorry girls, having dyed hair on the road is a bad idea in general. Anyone who is hitting the road for more than a month must deal with highlights and colors that grow out. Unless, of course, you like that look, in which case, go for it. Do something really wild and send us the pictures. Anyway, those on short trips have to cart along extra products and worry about how their beach time will fade that once-brilliant shade of red. Like haircuts, you can get a dye job on the road, but avoid doing one in the hostel bathroom. It’s really gross for the rest of the hostel-goers and the managers aren’t too keen on it either.
Possible exceptions to the no-color rule: blond or light-haired women who are traveling to areas where they feel their hair makes them a target for harassment, such as the middle east. In this case, women should pick colors that tone down their natural brightness.
Product Pickin: So what to take? Hair binders are a must, both thick (for ponytails) and thin (for the cute pigtail look, those with thin hair, or as bracelets). Unfortunately, those with longer hair won’t be able to use most two-in-one shampoo/conditioners for an extended period of time. Even though you’ll have to pass on that extra nightclub shirt (you’ll only wear your favorite one anyway) to make room, take both shampoo and conditioner. Leave the hair dryer at home, along with most of your hair products. A travel-size bottle of gel or hair spray can last a long time if you only use it when you go out.
A note on traveling to islands: often, showers consist of salt water, which can wreak havoc on hair, especially hair under the stress of dyes, blow dryers and product. Yet another reason to leave the bottles at home!