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Vacationing while natural 🏖💕👩🏾‍🦱

Updated: Apr 30, 2021

Whenever I go on stay/va/baecation, I often agonise over caring for my hair. Even as a self-proclaimed minimalista (a naturalista with a minimal haircare routine and list of products —just shampoo, deep conditioner, my homemade hair mix, and a Denman brush for me!), I still have a lot to consider. Things like:

Outside Meiji Jingu Shrine, Tokyo
  • What will the weather be like there?

  • How will my hair react to this country’s weather conditions/ humidity level?

    • ...will my styles remain cute throughout?

    • ...or will I need to improvise/ adapt?

  • Am I gonna go swimming? And if I do...

    • I gonna dip my head in the sea/ pool?

    • ...or am I gonna tread with my head above water?

  • What cute styling options do I have for each day's adventure/ activity?

  • On which days will I have the chance to wash it?

  • Will there be enough running/ hot water for me to detangle and do my 'wash braids/ twists' in the shower, or will I need to detangle and style outside the shower?

  • Would the people I'm staying with mind that I'll be running their (hot) water for that long?

  • Will I have to wash my hair before bedtime so it can partially dry overnight, or will I have time for it leisurely air-dry during the day?

  • What cute style can I put my hair in while it dries?

etc. etc.

As a globetrotting Yaadi, I’ve had to figure this all out with each vacation, and I won't lie: it was a struggle. For us Black women, our hair's gotta look RIGHT, and I've had sooo many instances on stay/va/baecation when mine was anything but. Mind you, I'm way past the respectability politics of gelled hair, slicked hairlines, and Eurocentric definitions of neatness, but I do like to look like what I consider to be presentable when I leave the house: symmetrical, uncrushed, fluffed, and stylish.

Strawberry-picking in Fukuoka

One important thing I've learnt that helps me decide the answer to everything is: when planning a vacation, I need to know the pace. Fast-paced journeys over a short period of time mean that I'll be rocking the same style from start to finish, there'll be no head dips under water, and the default hairstyle will need to be versatile enough to allow for various styling options. Fast-paced journeys over a longer period of time mean scheduling my haircare routine into the predetermined downtime. Slow-paced journeys over a longer period of time mean having the ease of determining for myself when I can care for my hair without worry. I can change my styles with each wash, and I can take my time when doing my hair. For the last two, I always make sure to let the people I'm travelling and/ or staying with know that I'll need some time for my haircare routine.

Channelling Ororo Munroe 💕

And I know: all this is something that braids and a wig/ extensions could easily remedy, but I'm just not one of those naturals who likes anything extra on/ covering their head. Not even a baseball hat. I sweat too much for that! I'm forever a visor > hat kinda gal, and in winter, the caps have to be knitted. Outside of cosplay– I just generally don't like fake hair, though I will –on the extremely rare, once-a-decade occasion– rock invisible braids/ twists. Headbands are generally more my speed, and I never travel without a few in my luggage.

Back when hubby and I were dating, we went to Johannesburg for two weeks. Some days were fast-paced, but we had our scheduled days off. For this trip, I opted for flat-twists on both sides of my head with twists going down the middle... mohawk style. On wash day, I'd comb everything out, wash, condition, and –when my hair dried– put the same style back in.

If you look closely, you'll notice I'm in the same clothes and headband in several of the pics, and that's because after we left the Cradle of Humankind, we went spelunking at the Sterkfontein Caves nearby (see last photo, bottom right). A safety requirement for spelunking was that we wear hard hats. Naturally, there's no way to fit a bun updo under a hard hat, so I had to take down my hair and rock 'the push back'. This is why versatile hairstyles are clutch! Had my hair been in -say- a cornrowed updo, I wouldn't have been able to switch it up at all.

A post about our trip to South Africa/ Joburg will have to wait for another day, as this remains one of my most favourite countries/ cities of all time. I will say though that when we went, it was in the fall (late-April/ early-May, as SA is in the southern hemisphere), and there was little precipitation and hella low humidity. As a result, my hair was able to stay stretched the entire time, and my styles never looked old. For this naturalista, this was seriously A+ 💕

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