Camp hair, don’t care

Change is hard

Imagine this, you have sold your home and moving somewhere new (even if you haven’t done it, imagine it…for now).  The excitement of the road calls, and while you’re excited to travel…you also have to give up some things that have become a comfort.  How would you feel if you had to give up your favorite hair stylist? A) camp hair, don’t care! B) I miss my hair stylist every day or C) I wonder what it will be like to find new stylists all over the country?

As I embark on this grand adventure of becoming being a nomad, I currently feel D) All of the above.  Admit it, having a hair stylist you trust to make you look great is, well, a treasure.  We follow them from salon to salon.  We are sad when they have life issues that keep them from our regular appointments.  We share their details either with everyone (as a brag) or only very close friends (so as to not have to wait for an appointment!).  We all probably have at least one bad hair story (I have more than I care to remember) that helps us latch onto a stylist when we finally find one.  My last steady hairdresser I adored because she “spoke blonde” (I trusted her enough to have a hair extensions adventure).  Although I was happy for her, I was sad for me because she shifted her services and started cutting hair in clients’ homes (and I was a pricey distance away).  Now that I am a nomad, my network for finding a trustworthy hair cutter and colorist has to change.  Not just once, but most likely a process that will happen again and again, with all the feelings that go along with fears. 

“Last month my hair got so butchered I had to have my husband help me fix it.  Ugh.”

– Maureen

The Boston search

The first leg of my grand nomad adventure finds me in my hometown in Massachusetts.  It’s been a while since my hair was blue (see Blue Hair, Don’t Care) because the blue dye tends to stain the tub – not a good thing when selling a house.  My hair has grown, and my “sparkles” (aka gray hairs) have not taken over enough to keep my natural hair looking more than a mousey brown.  Before we head west, I want to have some fun hair color and a cute cut.  Time to start the search.

As was usual in searches past, I started with my network.  My mom has her own treasured person, but her person isn’t great with fashion colors. My friends have a good hairdresser, but they live further out from Boston than I hoped.  Fortunately, a future campmate of mine (we will be camping at Burning Man) who is also a pro photographer, recently moved down from Boston to Brooklyn,  tapped into her network and provided me with a list eight people to check out.  This search felt familiar, and yielded results.

Hair Cuttery
I set up an appointment to consult with the recommended hair colorist. Not being familiar with the salon, I was surprised to discover it was part of a small chain. I was happy she was honest in saying she couldn’t do what I was hoping to do. She called over a co-worker, who said she could try…(red flag! time to jet out!)
Shag Loft Boston hair salon
One of those places that likes to put on airs. This trendy South Boston salon’s receptionist didn’t even bother to greet me. While I waited, I had a chance to get a feel for the place…I had hoped for “instagram-able” but it was more like forced ’90s retro. The colorist definitely knew what I wanted, and had the skill – and made sure to connect on Instagram…but the rates were even higher than the original funky cool place in Brooklyn!

While conducting my search, I wondered, what will it be like for me to maintain this color on the road?  Or at the very least, what will it be like to find a decent haircut while traveling across America in places where I won’t have any family or friends to discover recommendations?  Would I dare to color my hair in whatever rolling home we end up traveling in?  Facing my irrational fear of never having a good haircut/color again, I decided to ask some experts.  Women who are already living and grooming on the road.

Camp Hair, Don’t Care.

Thankfully, there’s social media to help us out.  There are plenty of communities to tap into, and it’s always wonderful to connect with people who’ve been out there doing what you want to do, too.  I learned so much in a short time!  The women from the Facebook RV group who advised me have a certain wisdom about them, a straight-forward attitude too.  Here is what I understand as being behind the “Camp hair, don’t care” mentality:

  1. Do it for you, and the rest won’t matter
  2. It’s only hair
  3. Have a partner who doesn’t care about what your hair looks like, loves you for you
  4. Embrace the curls/straight/grey/odd colors/shortness/length of your hair
  5. You’re camping, just keep it out of the fire.

Tips for finding a hair stylist when you have no network

  1. Makes Instagram your friend, using hashtags of where you are located.  Two people told me this (Christine, my son’s girlfriend; and Johnny, the hairdresser I located after my Boston search).  Good stylists will post images of what they like to do, not just what they can do.  They use Instagram to attract new customers that want what the stylist also wants.  This makes a happy combo.
  2. Yelp or Google.  These two search engines were mentioned the most.  Read the reviews of the stylists.  Check the stylist against their Instagram account.   “That was the scariest part of our three-month trip. I went to two salons on the road. I looked at yelp and google reviews of the salons to decide. First salon was in Winslow AZ. The salon was a little rundown but stylist did a great job. Next was in the very pricey town of Lake Tahoe, CA. That woman did not know what she was doing and charged twice as much. The mistake I made on that one was I looked at the reviews for the salon but not stylist.”
  3. Local colleges or high schools that have cosmetology.  Students are overseen by much more experienced teachers.  Some may offer free haircuts (usually men, but maybe the really easy short haircuts too).  Sharlene has done this even when not traveling.  She likes going to schools and offering to be their test dummy…for cheap!
  4. Walk-in salons.  Walmart, truck stops and chain stores were mentioned as being somewhat reliable.  Along this line is using Groupon to find a deal at a salon.  But then again, the phrase “it’s only hair” also cropped up during these recommendations.  It could be great, it could add to your horror story.  Maybe that’s the adventure!
  5. Talk to people who have haircuts & color you like where they get their hair done.  Not people at the campground, people in town. 
  6. Mobile hair salons are a growing trend.  These are converted vans or short buses which drive to the customer.  They often need to plug into electricity (unless they have their own large generator).  I’ve heard rumor that some stylists also live in RVs or travel with their gear, and are willing to work while on vacation.  One thing to check for are certifications (some states it is illegal to cut hair without one!)  Along with the growth of mobile hair dressers is the start of a potential national certificate.

Tips on haircare while traveling/RVing/Camping/Glamping

Camp Hair don't Care hat
Perfect hat for those special occasions!
  1. Baseball or trucker caps are your friend.  They cover all sorts of hair days.  Wanda said that while wearing a cap, a friend said it made her look 10 years younger!  Others suggest covering your head with scarves, headbands or even do-rags.  Wigs are not advisable, as they can make your head feel hot.
  2. Hair blowers can blow a fuse.  Air dry or towel dry.  Just don’t make coffee or have the A/C on while blow drying your hair.  If you must use one, try those travel size ones. Alternatively, use the electric outlets in campsite bathrooms.
  3. Be conscious of how much water you use (very important when boondocking, which is – basically – camping off grid).  Don’t use cream rinse in the shower, use a leave-in cream rinse.  Make your showers short with sweet smelling soaps and shampoos.
  4. Here’s how to unclog your drains, important to know if you have lots of hair (plastic pipes are different than house pipes!)
  5. Saving space is key.  Curling irons can double as flat irons.  Nivea hand cream can work as well as some other hair gels/oils.
  6. Embrace your curly hair.  Or try a keratin treatment (if you’re okay with those chemicals) which should help for 10-12 months.
  7. Grow your hair long.  Put it in a ponytail “easy peasy”.  Keep it in braids. Put it up in a messy bun.
  8. Linda thinks a medium cut can be easier than to deal with than short hair, which requires more trimming.
    Short hair is rocked by a majority of campers.  Sandy, who loves her super short pixie cut, asserts it’s low maintenance and takes less water to wash.  Many trim it themselves, and often repeat “it’s only hair, it will grow back”!
This exchange on short hair cracks me up!

Change may be fun

I finally did find a hair stylist who made me feel comfortable with his knowledge, and his price range. He promised me he will give me the color recipe to take with me on my grand adventure, so the next stylist will have an inkling of what was done before. My hope is that the colors I chose will be fine in the transition of growing out, and that my natural silver will grow in and I can do the blue tips myself – the adventure being where I actually figure out to do them (my converted rolling home, a campground bathroom or -maybe like in a spy movie- in a rented motel room?).

This is your opportunity to primp less and enjoy the journey more

Overall, what I look forward to is meeting many of these straight-forward women who know one thing for sure. “It’s only hair.” Oh, and that my attitude becomes A) Camp hair, don’t care. The life lesson in taking care of your hair? Be present, be you. Change can be easy, if that’s what you decide.

Tell me, how do you feel about your hair style, as well as your hair dresser? What are your camp hair stories? Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. Lisa Stimpson

    Getting my hair done in 15 minutes! I am glad to see I am not the only one stressed about my hair stylist. My godfather was a hair stylist and cut my hair my whole life. Then I went to Renzos in Bedford for 8 years then my friend Debbie did it for 15! Now I finally found my friend Shawnta for the last 5 years. Can’t wait to see your new do!

    • Stacey Newman Weldon

      I remember Renzo’s! I think they are still around. It is odd, how important our stylist is, how we can attach so much to having a “good hair day”!
      I’ll be premiering my hair on Saturday, when I do the drawing in a FB Live in the Adventure Wednesdays Explorer Group!

  2. Nancy Daugherty

    My hair has pretty much been “–whatever!” It was always at least wavy, and got curlier and curlier as I got older. Now it’s all — um, sparkles you say? Just white (with a little “pewter” back where I can’t see it) now.

    You said, ” No longer having a home to call my own, let alone a long-term mailing address…has been interesting.” and that has always made me think of the Old Chinese Curse, “May you live in interesting times…” “Interesting” covers a lot of territory; my mother said “Yes, interesting–like a wart on the end of your nose!”

    I wish you all the best on your Hair Adventure! May it turn out better than the one when you were in grade school, and experimented with a perm–on small rollers.

    • Stacey Newman Weldon

      I live in interesting times for sure. Warts and all. That perm that made me look like little Orphan Annie was freshman year of high school! The good part was when it grew out, the permed part bleached in the sun…the beginnings of me being blonde!


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