Shampoo options for girls who travel

shampoo options

For some products, I don’t mind buying whatever is on sale, but this is not the case with shampoo. When I find something that makes my hair smell AND look great, I stick with the brand. In fact, I’ve only changed when my favorite shampoo was discontinued!

I know I could purchase a bottle of shampoo once I arrive at my destination, but I prefer to pack my own. For most of us, liquid shampoos are our first choice, but are they always the best solution?

Liquid shampoo

Liquid shampoo is my go-to shampoo when I travel, no matter where I’m going and how long my trip will be. While two-in-one shampoo plus conditioner products are available, I prefer to use a separate shampoo and conditioner.

Where do you fall on the bottle size debate? Do you pack a travel sized bottle, adhering to carry-on baggage liquid restrictions, or do you toss a regular sized bottle in your checked luggage?

Carry-on bottles must be 3.4oz/100ml or less in volume. On short trips, when I save checked baggage fees by traveling carry-on only, I opt for the travel sized bottle. If I’ve checked a bag, I almost always pack a regular sized bottle, as it is better value for money.

Pros:

  • Bring your favorite shampoo with you on the road! You’ll love the way your hair smells and feels.

Cons:

  • Sometimes the travel sized bottle just isn’t enough, especially if you have long or thick hair.
  • Regular size bottles can spill if you do not pack them correctly and can take up precious room.

Dry shampoo

I have not used dry shampoo, but I’ve regularly seen it available in two different styles – paper shampoo (or shampoo sheets) and canned or bottled dry shampoo (which may actually be a liquid!).

Paper shampoo is available in paper-thin sheets that are approximately 1×2 inches per sheet. You can find the sheets in small packets, roughly the size of a package of dental floss, and each packet holds 30 or so sheets.

Pros:

  • No spills in your luggage.
  • Pack it in your carry-on bag.
  • It’s small and lightweight.

Cons:

  • You will most likely need multiple sheets to product enough lather, so one package of sheets won’t last for long.
  • The sheets can be difficult to individually remove from the package, especially when your fingers are already wet in the shower.

shampoo options - Oscar Biandi Dry Shampoo
Oscar Biandi Dry Shampoo
Canned or bottled dry shampoo may come in powder or liquid form. For both forms, the name “dry shampoo” refers the fact that you do not wet and rinse your hair to use this product.

Dry shampoo is often sprayed on the roots of your hair, and the shampoo then absorbs or breaks down oil and grease. This gives you a clean look, and some products also add volume to your hair and make styling easier and longer lasting.

Pros:

  • Running short on time? It’s super quick to use.
  • No access to a shower? You can use this anywhere.

Cons:

  • Dry shampoo is a short term solution to producing a clean look – you will still want a lathering shampoo for a trip of more than a few days.
  • Some products come in an aerosol can, and like liquids, these are restricted by volume for carry-on luggage.

>> Read Caroline’s post on how to use the dry shampoo (plus find out her favorite brand!)

Shampoo bar

shampoo options - godiva solid shampooIf you want to avoid a traditional liquid shampoo but aren’t too keen on dry shampoo, consider a shampoo bar. A shampoo bar is solid and similar to the size of a bar of soap used to wash your hands or your body. I tried Lush’s natural Godiva shampoo + conditioner bar, and Caroline loves Dr. Bronner’s products, one of which is a solid shampoo bar.

To use a shampoo bar, first thoroughly wet your hair. Next, slide the bar from the roots of your hair to the tips. With the Lush bar, I used 3 slides on the left, middle, and right of my head, and my hair is 5-6 inches past my shoulders. Play with the number of times you may need to apply the product to product enough lather for your hair!

Pros:

Cons:

  • Shampoo bars can melt if they are left in water (e.g., on a shelf in the shower) and do not dry. Remove them from the shower and store in a tin designed for shampoo bars or soap dish.
  • Some people, including yours truly, do not like the feel of their hair after using a shampoo bar.

>> For more about shampoo options, read about the best concentrated shampoo for travel and eliminating shampoo altogether!

What is your shampoo packing solution when you travel? If you love a dry shampoo or a shampoo bar, let us know!

Written by Heather

Heather Rudd Palmer is a 30-something with a love for travel, food, and healthy living. After short trips to Europe in her 20s, Heather left her job at 30 to live, work, and travel in Australia for a year. She visited every state and territory, embarked on two road trips, worked at an organic food store, and ate her way through Sydney. She's now a career counselor for university students. You can find Heather at There's No Place Like Oz and Healthy Life Heather.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. ChasingAmber says

    I have very difficult hair. I travel with good shampoo and conditioner with no regrets. My mini hair dryer and full size GHD flat iron are among my most favored items I packed and was told not to. Lastly, the Oscar Blandi bottle of dry shampoo you show here is the absolute best for those days when you can’t or don’t want to wash! It’s amazing and I can go 3 or more days without a proper wash and still look and smell clean!

    3+ months on the road, 13 countries later!

  2. Sofie says

    I’ve never heard of a shampoo bar. Good to know it exists!
    I actually have refill bottles for when I travel. That way I can pack a small bottle that I can take with me as carry-on AND have my favorite shampoo with me. Hema (a Dutch chain) sells these refill bottles, but I’m sure other stores do as well.
    I usually don’t do real long term traveling, so the refill botles are a good option for me. I also use them for body lotion, day cream etc.
    If I would go on a looooong trip, I think I’d prefer my brand of shampoo in my check-in bag.
    Or I’d stay in hostels and hotels that offer shampoo:D

  3. Lisa Taylor says

    I am a no ‘poo girl. Plus I have a pixie cut.
    I buy baking soda and vinegar at my destination… or I just buy some of those small travel size packs and use them. Chances are if the trip is under a month I won’t need to wash my hair much – and a lot can be washed out in only water!

    That said, I don’t scrimp on the showers, dependent on destination! – I use a lot of body wash and deodorant. 😉

  4. Annette says

    If you don’t like the residue left by Lush shampoo bars, you’ve got to try Basin solid shampoo! I’ve considered switching from my usual shampoo to this for every day. One bar lasts a long time, too.

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