How to Prep Your Natural Hair for a Camping Trip ⛺

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Camping was a foundation part of my childhood. Every summer, my extended family would plan two to three trips to the beautiful provincial parks of Alberta. We would either stay in our tent trailer, an Alpine Club of Canada hut, or tents depending on how remote our campsite was. Access to water was quite limited and we had to pack light, which meant no room for extraneous items like hair care supplies.

Whether your regimen is minimalist or high maintenance, every naturalista needs her holy grail kit to keep her curls popping. But when you've got to choose between packing camping essentials and your fave styling gel, it's a no-brainer: the hair stuff stays home. This generally wasn't a big deal for our shorter trips. My hair would usually be tucked away in box braids or cornrows ― styles that could survive a weekend without fuss. Longer trips took a bit more planning, though. If we were going away for a week or two, I'd try to get my hair done as close to our departure date as possible to maximize the longevity of the protective style. This way, I wouldn't need to touch it up during the trip and could get away with shampooing just once if necessary.

If you're going camping or travelling for an extended period of time, I recommend sticking to the easiest styles and simplest products you can find. The last thing you want to do is spend hours detangling your hair in the woods when you could be enjoying the gorgeous scenery. Here are some suggestions:


Approximate Length of Trip
Hairstyle
What to Pack
1-3 Nights
  • Bun
  • Big cornrows
  • Big flat twists
  • Bantu knots
  • Spritz bottle of water and essential oil (to keep your curls moisturized)
  • Headscarf (to protect your hair from the sun and at night)
4-7 Nights
  • Smaller cornrows
  • Smaller flat twists
  • Braids
  • Twists
  • Spritz bottle
  • Headscarf
  • Conditioner (but only if you wash your hair more than once a week)
7 Nights+
  • Braids
  • Twists
  • Weave
  • Spritz bottle
  • Headscarf
  • 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner (unless you're doing the No-Poo Method, in which case just bring conditioner)
  • Oil (preferably one that you're already bringing to cook with, like olive or coconut oil so you save can pack more efficiently)


Buns are fantastic for short trips because you don't have to spend any time installing them, and they do a decent job keeping your coils out of the way. Big cornrows, flat twists, and Bantu knots are better options if you don't want to restyle your hair every morning, but because they won't last longer than a few days before getting fuzzy, you should consider medium to small ones for week-long trips. Most naturalistas are able to keep braids, twists, and weaves in for anywhere between two and eight weeks, making them ideal for trips longer than seven nights.

Of course, some lucky people get to travel for months and months at a time. Should you be on the road for over eight weeks, I would suggest braids or twists ― but only with your own hair. Taking down extension hair in the wilderness is very difficult and time-consuming. You can literally shave hours off this process by braiding or twisting your own hair, taking it down after a few weeks, giving it a good wash, and reinstalling the style while sitting by the campfire.

If you're wondering why I haven't mentioned twist outs, braid outs, or wash-and-go's, it's because those styles are wayyyy to high maintenance for camping. Moreover, you'll be in big trouble if it rains or you decide to take a dip in the lake! That said, I'm sure many people have no issues travelling with their Afros out and you're certainly welcome to try it if you want, but I prefer to keep the number of things I need to worry about to a minimum.

No matter what you decide, make sure you're doing what you can to keep your hair healthy while you travel. Remember to moisturize regularly and protect it from the elements. And try not to worry about it so much! It'll keep growing no matter what, so just relax and have a fantastic vacation.


How do you keep your hair healthy while travelling? Share with us in a comment below!

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