Every time I have been traveling I have had some form of hair disaster. My first traveling hair disaster happened just before I set off. I was nineteen and about to embark on my gap year in Australia and I'd booked my hair appointment for the morning after my leaving night out. Part way through the appointment I had to be sick and so my perfect hair was rushed and the rich red colour turned out a little more pinkish.
The colour faded so quickly that I had to dye it brown myself a few weeks later and having never dyed my hair before I wasn't surprised when I found flashes of pinkish colour. I've actually managed to make it sound quite cool but trust me, it was not.
When I journeyed to China for a year I was living in the middle of nowhere in a school completely immersed in real China. Therefore it did not seem inconceivable to use the local hairdresser. I took with me a clear picture of what I was after and learnt enough words to say what I wanted. Bearing this in mind I was really quite surprised when my hair was being scrunched in a pot of wax and forced in to curls on top of my head.
It was irrelevant that I was living in an area where nobody knew who I was, I still bought a hat to wear for the two minute walk home. I didn't care if people saw me crying as long as they didn't see the hair. Once home I used my garden hose shower to de-curl only to find that I was now sporting a ‘v shob’ – a very short bob. The hairdresser had not only humiliated me, she had violated me by taking off over half of the hair on my head. There is a distinct reason that I ensure my hair is never shorter than shoulder length and this is because it looks horrendous. I have a round face, slight double chin and limp hair so under no circumstance can I pull off short hair. It took nearly eighteen months for me to feel normal again.
The only saving grace about living on the outskirts of Beijing is that Beijing is home to a Tony and Guy hairdressers which, bearing in mind the above story and the exchange rate a couple of years ago, gave me a minor self-confidence boost as I could at the very least upkeep my blonde hair and read British fashion magazines at the same time.
My brother shaved off his immaculately straightened hair before he jetted off for a year and still to this day maintains that this is the best hairstyle for travelling for both guys and girls. A traveller called Clay concurred with my bro by suggesting people should “shave that shit”. My bro also reminded me how unattractive hair looks when it is stuck by sweat to someone;s forehead. Fair point, but I can't pull off the Britney look and I've got to admit I'm a bit jealous of women who can, although arguably in the cold, extra hair on your head would be beneficial.
Most people I ask about suitable female travelling hairstyles suggest cutting it short. As the China story above suggests, this is not really an attractive option for me in all senses of the phrase. Also, many short hairstyles require maintenance which is not what you want when trekking and camping. With this in mind is it better to have longer hair that you can shove in to a ponytail?
My brother suggests the first step towards a suitable hairstyle to encompass all aspects of travelling is to go to the hairdresser and ask them not to ’do’ you hair. So no bouffant blow dry, no straightening and no bouncy fringe, just a simple cut. This way, you have a realistic idea of what you will be living with and it makes your hair easier to trim when you're on the road. Typical of a guy to come up with a practical strategy to hairstyling but forgets that half the fun of visiting the hairdresser are the compliments and awe of your new perfectly styled head of hair.
This leads us to the issue of upkeep. Guys can visit a barber shop, which realistically are everywhere, or easily get a leading lady to shave it as a form of foreplay. The boyfriend has kindly assured me that he trusts me so much he is happy for me to cut his hair throughout the year. Now I trust my OCD boyfriend but not enough to entrust him with a pair of scissors and my hair, remember I have been badly hurt in the past.
I'm a blonde. I am naturally dark blonde and have spent years and hundreds perfecting my honey, ash and caramel highlights and know the despair when I wake up, look in the mirror and see the dark patches. I have tried and failed to re-touch the highlights myself and as I touched on before I am reluctant to have my dearest anywhere near my head with bleach. So it has been suggested that the best course of action is to dye my hair its natural colour. My response? There was actually a reason that I began the highlighting process. My hairdresser (I felt it may be a good idea to consult a professional) suggested a pleasant chocolate brown colour taking in to account my incapabilities with my own hair but I'm still trying to build up the courage after I mentioned it to the boyfriend and his response was sort of in the form of a grimace. Maybe I should suggest matching grade one hairstyles.
Despite the hair disasters that haunt me, I've always harboured a secret desire for purple hair so maybe I'll take the plunge and relish in the liberation of ditching the products and heated appliances. Travelling is about new experiences so why not?
Do you have any tips for a good low maintenance hairstyle for travelling? Leave a comment below.