I don’t know about you but I had a weekly (if not, monthly) beauty date when I was living a normal life back home. Like normal people, I had frequent visits to the salon to have my hair done, manicure, pedicure, foot spa, and all those girly stuff women needed in order to look neat. I recently had a salon date with my mother (that she paid for, of course) and I realised I haven’t done this in a while. So much that I don’t know how to sit on the salon chair anymore let alone sit still while the hairdresser was cutting my hair. I hated it because for a time, I lived a life without going to this place.
Seriously, you need to learn how to cut your own hair while traveling long-term.
Not just your hair but also doing your nails, waxing your legs and armpits and every dreadful beauty regimen a woman needs. When you are out there, you will not have the chance to have the beauty lifestyle you have back home. It’s just one of the least important things you’ll think about. It’s not a priority if you are traveling for an indefinite period of time.
My being adventurous is not just about seeing new places and eating exotic food. It also consists of experimenting that’s why I call my journey experiential learning. Growing up, I did cut my hair in different styles. I was itching to get a new look every once in a while not just because I worked in fashion but the better explanation for it is I cannot keep still. I always feel the need to do something new, in the same manner that I constantly feel that I have to move.
When I left home, the grooming part never crossed my mind. “I am going to travel the world. What’s more to think about?” I said to myself. Time passed. My hair grew long. I am blessed with very thick hair (something I inherited from my mother) and while I am thankful for it, it did not help in my travels. I needed to do something about it.
The grooming need emerged when I was in Marrakech, Morocco. When it comes to our physicality, we tend to go to people we trust. How in the world can I do that if I am in a country where I don’t speak the language nor do I know anyone who can help me look for the best groomer in town? I tried my luck and Googled. About 15 minutes away from my hostel stood a mini shopping centre. Google said the best salon in the city is located there so I went. The name of the salon was in Arabic so I did not bother to find out what it is. The thing about traveling in Africa is that, it’s difficult to find a multi-national salon that rings a bell. Entering the salon and getting my hair done was from my own ability to jump into the unknown, hoping to be successful in the end.
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A dude stood and murmured something in Arabic. “I doonnnn’t speak Arraaabbiiccc.” I said while circling my hands doing a sign language that I am not even sure about. I positioned my fingers like scissors and said, “cut” while going through my hair. He pointed to the chair and did not even ask what kind of haircut I wanted. He just started grabbing his stuff. I tried to stop him but I kept praying a woman will come out of nowhere and do the job. I was really terrified. I felt like he was going to shave my head. Just when he was about to strike, I excused myself and said I was running late for a meeting and I had to go. I stormed out of the place. Confused but relieved. I kept the long hair until I reached Brasil after three months.
Welcome to the life of a solo female traveler who cuts her own hair
The long hair had to go. To be honest, I did not try to go to a salon in Brasil even if I was living with a fellow woman. I am sure she can translate for me but I just had the urge to do it by myself to achieve what I wanted. At least I did not blame anyone for my actions. That was good enough for me. I grabbed a pair of scissors from my housemate’s office drawer (God, office scissors, not even a legit pair!), faced the mirror, bowed my head down, tied my hair and started cutting the ends. My Couchsurfing host was looking at me like she thinks I am crazy. I was afraid I would tangle my hair but I still did it. It was uneven, very short than usual but I can still tie it. That was the most important part for me. When in doubt, my mantra was: put some red lipstick, your wayfarers on and tie your hair up. It’s safe. It will make you look decent.
From then on, every time my hair grew, I did it by myself because I already knew how to do it. It’s also cost effective most especially if you are moving from one country to another. I did it by the beach, at the staff dorm, in my hostel, anywhere that I felt comfortable in, I did it for the next 3 years of traveling. I maintained having a short hair because it was just easy to deal with it. (Picture on the right was the first time I cut my hair in Brasil. Not bad eh?)
The different reactions from people
“You’re so brave.” a girl from my hostel in Uruguay told me. She said she will never dare cut her own hair and will prefer to just wait until her backpacking spree is over. If I waited until mine was over, my hair would’ve grown up to my toes and I can never deal with that. Ever.
Some guys said, “You look like you have a character with the short hair. But I like long better.” Thank you, mate. But I did not cut my hair for you. This is for me. Well, I did not say that aloud. I just find it staggering that people actually care if your hair is long or short.
And the funniest thing? I had girl suitors because they thought I was a lesbian. Why in the world will you incorporate short hair with gender? Oh, people from all over the world really have their own perceptions on certain things.
Having a haircut in another country is easy.
I am not making it complicated or dramatic. You can easily go to a salon (not in Africa!) and say you need a haircut. That’s it. But mind you, I met some men travelers who struggled, too.One of my guy friends got a haircut when we were in Belize and he got crazy on the barber. Another friend of mine ended up shaving his head in Peru because the haircut did not work. Again, language barrier.
Yeah, it’s easy. I just prefer to do it on my own because I like challenges. They make me feel alive. I even had a deep undercut in San Jose, Uruguay for my 26th birthday! The best part was when some of my girl friends learned that I cut my own hair, they trusted me with their hair instead of going to the salon! I could’ve opened my own parlour when I was in Argentina. Everyone looked at me like I was a the Goddess of the scissors. I love that I was able to discover something I didn’t think I would ever do.
What’s your worse grooming experience abroad? How do you go about having a haircut while traveling? I’d like to hear your thoughts! Share it on the comment box below!
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