I Cut All My Hair Off for Travel: And I Have No Regrets

hair off for travel

Ah, the old travel hair conundrum. Ladies, you know what I mean. What happens when you’re on the road or living in a country where you can’t convey exactly what you’re going for with your hairstyle? It’s hard enough being able to get the point across in your own language, let alone one where you’re far from fluent. Throw in that what’s hot in Europe, Asia, or anywhere else on the globe might not be what you want to sport when you return home, and you have a disaster waiting to happen.

I’ve covered traveling with a no-f*cks given attitude on makeup, but for some reason, I have a harder time with it on hair. I’ve traveled with almost every hairstyle in the book. Long and dyed, shoulder-length and natural, in awkward grow-outs and stuffed back in buns and ponytails. However, I had never jumped in the deep end and actually gotten out the razor, which is why I was so surprised when at some point, I wanted it all off.

‘This could look really bad,’ I thought, remembering a pixie cut from before recorded time. ‘But it’s been so hot in Spain lately, and I’m about to embark on a 115km walk.’

Thankfully, I found a hairdresser in our neighborhood in Granada who spoke fluent (much better than my own) English. She also spoke fluent Italian, Spanish, French, and Swedish, but whatever. Not impressive. She brushed out my shoulder-length, highlighted blonde hair that I had been sporting for about a year.

“You have such nice hair!” she said. “What do you want to do with it?”

I wanted it off. All of it.

I had a moment of flashbacks of trying to take care of my hair abroad, in shared bathrooms in hostels, and those times when I couldn’t find a hair tie. I remembered that I wrote a blog post not that long ago about authentic traveling, and not caring about what we looked like while doing it. And I thought of that long, long walk with a blanket of hair on my neck, sticky with sweat.

Out came the razor, and clumps of hair fell to the ground. Instead of feeling horrified, I felt liberated. I didn’t care for once what people would think (well, maybe a few) and it felt so good to have it off. As she styled it into a cut that looks vaguely like ScarJo’s recent locks, I imagined fast showers, a cool neck, and 10 minutes max of styling time. Even more, it made me feel like I could take on what I was about to do more than caring what I actually looked like doing it—which was really the point of having it cut.

The result? I loved it.

Shaving your head, or parts of it, isn’t right for every female traveler. I’m still slightly envious of those travel bloggers and influencers who pull off long, gorgeous locks and look like they make it through life without sweating (in my next life). Hair is a weird thing and it matters more to some women than others. For me, I was happy to set aside my vanity for a more functional purpose, but not everyone can make that decision.

However, if you are thinking about taking the plunge, I’d say go for it. No one expects guys to look good when they travel, and if you don’t care, then the rest of the world probably doesn’t either. Worst case scenario? You can always grow it back out again—and when you’re busy traveling, it takes less time than you think.

Alex short hair

How about you? What’s your go-to travel hairstyle?

Keep wandering,

Alex Signature Wander


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  1. Travel & Shit

    Ah see I’m lucky in that I regularly rock a skinhead so I’ve no qualms with having the lot shaved off. It’s also cheaper, and It’s easier to communicate when you don’t share s language with the person doing the shaving 😀

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  2. Bri Ollre

    I love getting my hair cut when I travel. There’s a salon I go to every time in Dublin, and I usually do end up chopping off most of it. Never as short as you’ve gone (which looks great by the way!) but having manageable hair is such a great thing when traveling.

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      Alex Schnee

      It’s highly underrated to have something unmanageable. Things are tough enough, let alone as something that requires a lot of effort! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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  3. mollytemp

    So glad I read this! I’m headed to Spain to walk the Camino in a little over a month, and every week I tell myself I’ll make an appointment to chop my hair off, and then every week I “forget…” I love your attitude towards hair and casual travel, I can do this!

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      Alex Schnee

      Good for you, girl! It’s an undertaking, but one of the things that changed my life quite drastically. With the heat and everything right now (it’s been killer in Spain), I’d say go for it. More than anything, it will make the walk SO much cooler! Buen Camino, and keep me posted on how it went!

  4. Andrew

    Had 1 haircut for the last 15 years – #3 clippers. Works everywhere, and easy to explain in foreign places. Worst case scenario is ending up with a #2 cut, so no big drama!

  5. Olivia

    Oh man! That is dedication! I go from crazy extremes of long hair (which I can’t argue is easy just to throw up in a bun) to short hair which is easy for me to let air dry. But good for you! 🙂

  6. Ellie

    Great attitude and great post! The English speaking stylist is sooo important. A language barrier recently meant the woman lopped off three more inches than I wanted. Since then, I’ve toyed with taking it all off. I like your style!

  7. klee92

    Looks great on you!! Definitely would save myself the trouble of embarrassing amounts of dry shampoo 😛

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