I wonder why not more people travel with wigs. It’s ingenious! You can easily change your hair style depending on your mood or outfit (or the colours of your destination), you can cover up bad hair days (or no hair days) and don’t have to style your hair for epic holiday photos. So if you want to pack your wig for your next trip, here are my personal tips.
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My Personal Wig Stories
I started my world trip three years ago with a black wig, which got a “sibling” after I entered a cosplay shop in Japan. The black wig was perfect for blending in just a little more in Japan at a point where I stood out thanks to my bleached blonde pixie cut. I did get the occasional side glance but also sneaky photos taken “of the wall behind me”. Yeah, right. With the black wig, that was no more!
The pink wig got more attention, naturally, but it also felt so exciting as I loved having pink hair during my trip to Australia. The overall dying process left my hair dead and my scalp burning, so I knew I wouldn’t wanna go through that ordeal again. Cue the wigs!
Getting that exact shade right is hard when you buy premade wigs (especially those with lower end prices), so I decided to order a long white wig and cut and dye it myself. If you don’t know what you’re doing, I don’t recommend this. Still, I travelled with the pastel mess all over Croatia and it popped amazingly against the teal blues of Plitvice Waterfall.
Before my trip to Romania in time for Halloween, I invested in a pokerstraight deep red wig and, and a blorange curly bob for my Greek holiday. That’s five wigs in total and I rotate them depending on where I am travelling to and how much space I have left in my suitcase. Long hair is generally annoying in hot climates, which also goes for wigs. (Also, it can get quite warm underneath a wig – especially with cheap synthetic wigs.)
How to Pack a Styled Wig
Wigs are practical in that they are light and don’t take up much space. They can be squeezed and stuffed. And here lies the danger. Wigs can break. So to not damage your new hair style, the trick lies in the way you fold and pack it.
Turn your wig inside out (unless it’s heavily styled or spiked, such as with cosplay wigs), carefully curl up long tresses and place it gently inside the wig top. Then put a hair net around it to keep everything in shape.
Now, store it in a zippable plastic bag to avoid moisture or at least put it in a (silky) scarf for protection. If your wig is very dear to you, pack it in your carry on. Alternatively, you can also wear it on your head. More wig packing ideas include special hair packaging boxes, hair extension or wig travel case or wig packing bags.
Hair wigs and Airport Security
While I personally have never worn my wig on flights as it’s not the most comfortably thing to do and also not the best in terms of looking after your wig (tossing back and forth on upright plane seats etc), TSA security shouldn’t have a problem with your wig. Just like with your clothes, scans will see right through them. Generally, wig clips do not set off airport sensors.
If you want/have to wear a wig going through TSA, choose a very unassuming style, such as a simple ponytail. Try avoiding complicated updos or long tresses that could potentially cover something up. You want to avoid looking suspicious.
In the rare case that you would be suspected to carry something underneath your wig or you have too many bobby pins in place (avoid metal clips), you might have to take off your wig or security might go through your hair.
Should you be asked to take off your wig and you really don’t want to do that in public, don’t hesitate to ask if you could do it in a private room. This way you can also reattach it without feeling watched and stressed. However mostly, wearing a wig at the airport isn’t a problem.
Extras to Pack with Your Wig
To wear your wig, you need a hair net for your own head (not just the one to secure the wig in when you travel). Should you be a scatterbrain like me, consider packing at least one back up wig as well as a comb with wider teeth to gently comb the hair and not yank at the strands.
Don’t forget the right shampoo and conditioner for artificial hair. And if you use front lace wigs, keep the wig glue handy. Fill them into travel size bottles and seal pace cling foil between the bottle neck and cap to avoid a spilling on the plane. It does happen. I speak from experience.
Packing List for Wigs
In case you want everything listed for overview, here are the essentials for using wigs at the airport and during your travels.
During your holiday, you might be excused to use regular shampoo and spray on a mix of conditioner and water to make the hair smoother and easier to comb out. But take care not to distress your wig too much so as to avoid damaging the artificial fiber or creating dreads. You cannot leave the treatment to after your holiday with your wig. Ideally, you wanna use special wig shampoo and conditioner. Fill some up into travel size packages as you won’t need all of it.
To keep the wig in shape, unpack it after you have landed and lie it flat on an even surface. Alternatively, you can pack a a light, portable wig stand (instead of a wig head) and then prop your wig over it. When staying in hotels, you might want to get creative by using lampshades or turned over ice buckets, edges of TVs and the like. Maybe even an inflatable ball?
Make Your Wig Look Natural
If you really want to fool people into thinking your wig is your real hair, you can totally do that! Wigs with bangs make it that much easier and if you throw on a hairband, distract with some clips or a hat, you are already halfway there.
To go the extra mile, you need to utilise the power of makeup. Get a powder in the shade of your wig’s roots and blend it in with your own roots and skin around the wig. Don’t be too shy about, put in a lot of colour. (You can even draw on permanent roots with oil based sharpies to make it look more natural.)
To get rid of the hair shine, use synthetic hair shampoo and conditioner, let it dry completely and naturally (no blow dryer or putting it on the heater). Then, you can even add dry shampoo spray. Afterwards, you can style it some more with a hot airbrush, curler or hair straightener on low heat.
Check the Weather
If you don’t have to wear a wig every day, you might want to check the weather report because wearing one in super windy or hot and humid weather is dreadful. Are you going to get your hair wet during rainy days, a cruise or beach holiday? Are you going to be active?
If you do want to wear it, make sure you secure it well. Does it secure with a headband only or have extra clips or clasps to attach to the wig cap? You want to look extra fabulous and not all mangled or short of hair during your trip so a quick weather check is vital. Also, wearing a hat on top of a wig is a bad idea. Too much hair, too little headspace.
How to Travel with Braids
Braids are very different as you won’t take them off unless you are done with them or need them redone. On the plus side, you only need to wash your hair every week (or max every two weeks), which is such a big time saver. That is, until you realise that you need to wash row after row on your scalp, that they hurt a lot when heavy and soaked with water and drying them takes about 5-6 hours. (You shouldn’t use a blow drier!)
To keep them looking mighty fine, carry a silk(y) scarf with you to use for your neck (otherwise prepare for frizziness) and to place on your sleeping pillow. Carry a medicinal and moisturizing spray and other hair care products in travel sized bottles (again, use cling foil). Also, don’t pull your braids too hard when you have to wrap up and unwrap yourself throughout the flying process.
If you are carrying a backpack, make sure you pull up your hair to avoid getting caught in the straps and causing even more frizziness when you travel with a wig. However, don’t ever use a rubber band! Instead, use a hair band with fabric around it or a smooth plastic band (even though they can be terribly annoying as they don’t stretch too well).
Is Travelling with a Wig Worth the Hassle?
If you ask me, it definitely is. It might seem like caring for them takes up a lot of your time. But when you measure that against your regular hair hygiene routine or when you don’t feel comfortable showing a bald head for instance, it really doesn’t.
On top of that, you don’t need to style your hair if your wig already comes as a full look – curled, pokerstraight or styled. Wigs are light, they are easy to put on. Of course, the more you want to make your wig look real by applying glue, makeup and tweaking the cut, the more effort a wig costs you. But you take your hair to a hairdresser, too.