Up until about a year ago, I was the girl with the really long hair. I was also the girl with the really thick hair. My lion mane kind of identified me; it was a disproportionately big part of my identity (pun intended.) And while I could hide behind it when things got awkward or flaunt when I wanted to feel sexy, there was one time having giant hair was a consistent pain in the ass – on my travels.
Hiking in Panther Town, North Carolina, I was amazed by the density of the foliage and the density of the frizz ball atop my head. Summiting Wayna Picchu in Peru offered breathtaking views of Machu Picchu below and my tresses in the wind all over my face. As a lover of camping, hiking and climbing, I have left a trail of broken hair ties scattered across the globe. I love my hair – not despite its oddness but because of it – and I’d never complain. But I needed a better way to tame the mane.
Enter the travel buff. I didn’t really know what a buff was until my friend Sara lent me hers when we were camping in Canasí, Cuba. Sara’s hair makes my hair look feeble and limp; it’s the most beautiful golden head of hair I’ve ever seen. Seriously, the girl’s hair makes me want to break a few rules, and I’m pretty sure she’s got to go to Home Depot or something to find industrial-strength hair ties to manage it. To that end, she always travels with a buff.
I too now always travel with a buff.
The buff is a genius travel accessory in its simplicity – it’s pretty much just a ring of stretchable fabric. Or maybe it’s more of a tube, as mine is a bit over a foot long. Whatever it is, it acts as a versatile headband, allowing the wearer to bunch it up, stretch it out, or tie it tight around her hair. Check out this sweet diagram outlining some of the virtually infinite ways you can employ this bad boy on your adventures. (I swear, this isn’t a shameless plug for Buffs, I just seriously love them.)
My buff comes with me on any and every manner of travel adventure – from my more rugged outdoor excursions to lazy urban exploration. At this point, that buff of mine is racking up some serious mileage and crossing off countries visited left and right. It made having a ridiculous amount of hair an afterthought to my travels, which is a huge relief. And it made me feel like I was looking good doing it (as good as a girl can look makeup-less and sweaty hauling it up over a mountain, anyway.) That may sound silly, but it matters.
I mentioned that the buff tamed my plus-sized hair until about a year ago; that’s when I cut it all off and donated it to Locks of Love, another organization I’ll push just out of sheer love. They do great stuff, and it’s an awesome cause. But the buff still travels with me. I thought it’d be less useful without all the hair, but it’s still my number one travel accessory. And while I may never get used to short hair or feel like it’s very “me,” the buff makes me feel a bit more like myself.