The Mane Question: To Do or Not to Do?


Amidst your many pre-travel worries about packing, flights, schedules, and notifying your credit card companies, you may find yourself asking, “and what should I do with my hair?” Or maybe, it’s on the top of your list.

I have taken three lengthy trips to Europe, and every time I’ve argued – with myself – over the question of whether or not to get my hair “done” before I leave. All three times I’ve opted for a trip to the salon, and I don’t mean just to trim the dead ends; I mean the whole highlights-lowlights-add-some-red-and-angle-my-bangs-this-way kind of job – and every single time I’ve walked out feeling content with my decision, until I’m actually traveling, and I really could have used that $150.

I could have spent that money on a better meal, a better hostel, a better bottle of wine, two more days in an awesome city, that pashmina I decided was too expensive or the trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower I opted out of (true story) – but hey, my hair looked SMASHING.

Immediately post-travel is when I have the worst buyer’s remorse, when I realize my streaks didn’t make my trip any better and I vow to swear off anything material or unnecessary — hair-dos included.

So for my fellow travelers stricken with hair indecision, here are some things to take into consideration when faced with the hair dilemma:

1. Is it really worth the money? Would you rather have a bang-up dye job or have more money during your travels? Salons can be very expensive, and the more complex your hair demands, the more expensive it will be — and don’t forget about tipping.

If you’re confident in boxed hair color, it is much cheaper, but unless you know what you’re doing, you probably won’t end up with salon results. (See number 4!)

2. Who is going to care? Or even notice?

Okay ladies, let’s face it: some people (of the male persuasion, perhaps?) will notice. In fact, in certain parts of the world, your decision to go blonde may greatly increase your number of admirers.

Consider, however, if this is the kind of attention you want. Sometimes when you’re unfamiliar with a place, trying to blend in (or even demonstrate respect, in areas of more conservative cultures) can actually work in your favor.

In my experience, tourists are less likely to be taken advantage of if they can pass for locals. Although your hair likely won’t be the only giveaway, when it comes to your appearance, keep your well-being and safety in mind.

3. What kind of trip are you taking? This is kind of a no-brainer. Backpacking from hostel to couch to campsite probably means you have a little more room to be “liberal” with your hair than for a business trip.

4. How much time do you have? If your hair has been one color for your entire life and an upcoming trip has inspired you to make a change, give yourself enough time beforehand to fix it if something goes horribly wrong or if you end up hating it.

5. Most importantly, who are you? You’re going to be facing an entirely new population or people, so consider what kind of impression you will leave behind, or if you even care.

If you’ve never dyed your hair before, ask yourself, is now the time to do it? Sometimes getting your natural hair color back can be difficult, unflattering, and if you grow it out, it can take years. However, if it’s within your budget to touch up your roots and you can’t handle being immortalized as “two-toned chick” in your trip photos, spend the money if it means you will feel more confident.

Or, if you’re a hair veteran, accustomed to using your tresses as a veritable mood palette, maybe try something different – even wacky – while your boss isn’t breathing down your neck about looking more professional. The bottom line is, do what is going to make YOU more comfortable in your own skin—or hair—while traveling.

Do you get your hair done before big trips?


About Author

Lindsay is insatiably hungry for all things travel. Born and raised in Westminster, Maryland, a small city 45 minutes outside of Baltimore, Lindsay is the first and only of her immidiate family to spend any significant time out of the U.S., and travel has defined her life. After a three week to Spain to visit a friend doing an au pair program in 2009, she was sold. She spent four months saving every penny to go back to Europe, originally planning to go for two months, and ending up staying for four. She traveled, hosteled, couchsurfed through Spain, France, and Portugal, worked for one of Lisbon's top hostels for a month and a half and did a short work exhange stint for a farm in the mountains of Malaga. She has since returned to Europe with her husband, Miguel, where they toured Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain as newlyweds. They hope to travel to Miguel's home country of Peru sometime in 2013. At home in Westminster, Lindsay works as a manager of human resources at an excavating company, and teaches ESOL for adults through the local community college. She will return to school for a Master's in the fall of 2012, and hopes to spend much of her time in the future abroad as a traveler and a professional.


  1. I always get a quick trim before a trip – like, at a drop-in cheapie place – and save the nice hair cut for when I’m back and feeling pretty scruffy. I love having all the split ends and other damage incurred while on the road just cut away – just like “sorry that I washed you with bodywash for a bit there, hair – here is my apology in the form of a luxe haircut. Can we be friends again?” Usually it works. 🙂

  2. I actually have had some fun experiences getting my hair done *while* traveling. I got the best haircut of my life (no joke) in Alsace, France, with the help of my friend’s translation skills. If you’re not worried about the language barrier, it might be cool to see what another culture’s salon style is all about! 🙂

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