Keeping your mane tamed when you’re constantly traveling and living on a budget can be difficult. We all lust over long luscious locks or those super cute elfin bobs, but staying stylish when you’re living out of your suitcase and don’t have the time, or money, to spare on keeping your locks under control, is tricky. After three years of travelling, I’ve gone from a super-short bob to a crazy, out-of-control ‘fro and now to a sleek long ‘do with a fringe. I’ve tried it all and I’ve even gone from brown to black, to bright red and hints of purple along the way. Over the three years, I’ve dealt with the humidity of the jungles of Thailand and Sri Lanka, I’ve coped with the unpredictable nature of Melbourne and Tasmanian winters and I’ve even put my hair through being fully styled and heat-treated every day for a job. Plus there’s the constantly changing countries and climates from the hot to cold and even the water can have an effect, as I noticed going between the softer water of Australia to the hard water of the UK. Traveling hasn’t just been exhausting for my body, it’s taken it’s toll on my hair too and I’ve had to find ways of looking after it while sticking to my budget.
My top budget-friendly hair-care tips:
The hardest one of all – trying to make sure you have regular trims. If you’re backpacking or travelling for work this is a nightmare and often gets forgotten but it can really make a huge difference. Before my last haircut, I went six months before having a trim and my god my hair needed it. You see, my hair does this thing where it grows out as well as long – it just gets bigger and bigger with a heck of a lot more attitude. Combine that with the heat and split ends, and it becomes a mess of knots and tangles that I struggle to get a brush through. Getting regular trims can help protect the healthy hair by stopping split ends, keeping it under control and making it less prone to knots.
But where am I going to find a regular hairdresser when I’m backpacking? Have you thought about looking in your hostel? Hairdressers go backpacking too and often if you look on the noticeboard of Facebook groups for the area, you’ll see posts advertising cheap haircuts by travelling hairdressers. Don’t worry, I’ve done this many times and it can be great. One of my best travelling friends is actually a trained hairdresser and she picked up work wherever she went offering haircuts for men and women in the hostel. Not backpacking and want something a bit more upmarket? It’s worth seeing if your hotel can recommend a hairdresser’s nearby, or looking online/social media, or even take a walk through the local mall to find a chain you feel comfortable going to. If you go home between trips, always go back to the same hairdresser – I’ve been going to the same one since I was 12 and she’s amazing, she always knows exactly what will suit me and what the best style is to help my hair get back to normal.
Can’t afford a professional cut or simply don’t have the time to spend getting it dyed? Well, why not look at doing it yourself? If you have a low-maintenance hairdo, perhaps it’s long or you just have a fringe that needs trimming every now and again. Don’t attempt this unless you feel confident with a pair of scissors, but I used to cut my own fringe when I was away at university and couldn’t get to a hairdressers. I even started cutting in my own layers for a while. Dying your hair can cost a fortune, but let’s be honest, we love the feel of freshly dyed hair. I’m always playing around with my colour and definitely couldn’t afford to do it if I went to the salon, but by dying it myself at home, or getting a friend/my mum to do it for me, I can have the best of both worlds. Choosing your dye wisely can actually be great for your hair – my locks always feel 10x healthier and glossier after I’ve used L’Oreal Casting Creme Gloss Semi Permanent hair dye and the conditioner is amazing. It has no ammonia in it so it’s not as harsh as other dyes. Whenever my hair feels dry from the sun, faded or just full of split ends, I dye it and it instantly feels so much better.
My saviour for everything. Coconut oil is incredible – it doesn’t matter whether you use it on your hair, your skin, in your food or anywhere else you can think of – it has such a great impact on your body. I never leave on my travels without it. When travelling to tropical countries, I always rub coconut oil all over my skin and in the damp ends of my hair after every shower. It really helps to keep my hair in good condition and to keep your skin soft and well-moisturised. Even when I’m in colder places, I rub coconut oil into my hair once a week and even rub it into my nails – it really does help to strengthen them. When I’m in the UK, I always buy it from Aldi – it’s the cheapest I’ve found and you get a HUGE pot that will last you ages.
For day-to-day care, it’s important to find a budget-friendly shampoo and conditioner that will actually care for and protect your hair. I’m making sure I choose paraben and sulphate-free brands which help your hair to remain undamaged, but I also try to look for brands that protect against sun-damage. Travelling in places like Australia and Asia, it’s important to realise the impact of being exposed to strong sunshine and UVA/UVB rays on a daily basis, and just as we buy moisturiser with sunscreen in it, to find protection for our hair. I also, always try to use colour-protect products to make my dye last as long as possible, it definitely fades quicker in the sunshine so every little bit of protection helps. Always plan for the hair you will have – if you are travelling to a humid country and are prone to frizz then target this problem instead of using the volumising shampoo you use in the UK to beat the climate. Most important, don’t spend the earth – you don’t need to buy the most expensive just because it’s a big brand. I love the Aussie range and L’Oreal.
Sometimes a basic shampoo and conditioner isn’t enough to revive your hair after a lot of time spent in the sunshine. I swear by deep conditioning treatments, especially when I can’t get it cut. During the six months where I didn’t get a chance to have it cut, I swore by deep conditioners – it was the only way I could get a comb through my hair! I try to use them at least once a week but often I’ll use them more – this depends on your hair type. Again, it doesn’t have to be expensive, my favourites are the L’Oreal Extraordinary Oil and Aussie Three Minute Miracle and both cost just a few £££.
One of the best things you can do for your hair when travelling a lot is to cut back on washing it. Use the time to train your hair to require washing less, embrace the dry shampoo and start getting more creative with styles. Growing it out when travelling can be a great way to do this, after travelling with both short hair and long hair, I would choose long hair every single time. Short hair is a pain and needs styling every day, but long hair barely needs to be brushed! The longer your hair, the more easy to style it is and the more it lends itself to easy ‘do’s like braids or ponytails. Plus, it doesn’t get dirty as quickly and, if you train it up, you can easily get down to washing it just once a week. Crappy showers in Sri Lanka meant I unintentionally did this and soon found my hair would easily last a week without washing, especially if I added a touch of dry shampoo and some clever styling. The less you wash it, the less product you use and the less often you have to buy replacements – saving money too!
Embrace the braid
I love braids. They are so easy and effortlessly stylish, so comfortable for travelling and so good at hiding what state your hair is really in. Travelling in Asia with long hair made me a lot more creative at styling my hair and saving myself from both the humidity and having to wash my hair. It kept my hair off my face and they were fantastic for long journeys – I could easily not wash my hair for days and still arrive not looking like I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards. The more you practice, the easier it gets and soon you’ll be able to braid your entire head of hair in less than 30 seconds, and if you leave them in overnight with damp hair, or fresh from the ocean, you’ll be left with those soft, gorgeous waves.
Travelling can be the perfect opportunity to really take a break from using heat on your hair – hairdryers and straighteners can really damage your locks over time and it’s a good idea to take a break. If you’re moving around a lot, going natural can help save your hair from further damage and it can also save room in your suitcase. I’m quite lucky and my hair really suits the heat and humidity, it brings out my natural curls, so I always leave my hairdryer and straighteners/curlers at home when I travel and just go natural. Even when I travel in cooler countries, I try to just give a quick blast with the hairdryer and always use heat protection spray.
Eat your hair healthy
You know how we’re supposed to make sure we get our five-a-day? Well just as it’s important to eat loads of vitamin C so you don’t get sick, your hair needs certain vitamins to avoid getting brittle and weak. Incorporating certain foods into your diet can naturally help boost your hair’s health, avoiding the need to take supplements. Think things like eggs and avocados, lots of leafy greens such as spinach, and plenty of nuts and seeds. Its easy to build these into your diet and luckily they’re pretty tasty foods. I love to make sure I have vitamin-rich breakfast or brunch – poached eggs with spinach and avocado – or I sprinkle nuts and seeds into my granola or on salads. Little things like this can have a huge impact on how thick and healthy your hair looks.
Ir’s amazing the huge impact our hair has on our life, I recently had a total hair makeover and it made me feel absolutely amazing. Having my first hair cut in six months, finally having shape to it and even a fringe, it really did change my whole outlook. Hair is so utterly important to us, and for those going through hair struggles, it can be a horrible time. If your hair is feeling less than healthy, or has started to fall out, it’s a good idea to see a doctor and get advice as this could reflect other medical issues. For anyone who suffers from hair loss – Have you considered looking into FUE hair transplant costs? The Harley Street Hair Clinic specialise in hair transplants and you can read more about their FUE procedure and ATP procedures on the website.
What are your best budget haircare tips for regular travellers? How do you deal with the changing climates? What are your favourite haircare products?