Pro Tips: How to Become a Successful Traveling Hair Stylist

If you are a licensed hairstylist working full-time in a salon or a freelance stylist wanting to join the ranks of mobile hairstylists who travel to parts unknown (or just a bridal suite), this is the #goals article for you! Here, we give you a behind-the-scenes peek at the lives of traveling hair stylists while touching upon the joys and challenges of how to be a successful mobile hairdresser. We won’t just give you tips on how to become a traveling hair stylist but share a personal account of a stylist (this author) )who traveled to over nine countries doing what she loved most—beauty!

What is a mobile hair stylist?

A mobile hairstylist or traveling hairstylist can mainly be someone who owns a mobile hair salon, but mostly, a mobile hairdresser is simply a freelance stylist who takes their services to their clients. A traveling stylist will go to a client’s home, office, or bridal suite or travels to different cities worldwide, providing hair styling services. What they may all have in common is that they’ll have made their salon equipment portable within a hair stylist travel case. Just add water.

A traveling hair stylist can be:

  • In production, working on a film, commercial, in theatre, or fashion.
  • Working on a cruise ship or seasonally at a resort within your state.
  • A personal or celebrity stylist.
  • One who owns a mobile salon.
  • A trade show stylist, trainer/educator, or brand representative.
  • Renting a station as a freelance stylist taking jobs in many different capacities.

Note: Traveling to someone’s home or office isn’t regulated by the BBC (Board of Cosmetology), so the first thing you need to do as a mobile hairstylist is to check your state’s guidelines on working on location within your state. It’s also illegal to perform services in another state or many countries where you are not licensed (unlike New Zealand).


What are the benefits of being a mobile hairdresser?

Depending on the type of mobile hairdresser you are, the benefits can be experiencing new places and things and never allowing your license to pigeonholed you into doing the same thing day in and day out. If you do get to travel on a film, for example, you’ll get to meet new people and learn to expect something new and surprising each day. You can be your own boss.

What are the disadvantages of being a mobile hairdresser?

Most careers have their drawbacks; it depends on what’s a pro, what’s a con, and what’s a dealbreaker for you. As a freelance stylist in general, there can be a lot of uncertainty about when your next job or project will come through, so you need to be calm in the face of uncertainty. In addition, you have to be self-reliant in the roles like business owner, accountant, marketer, and PR, as well as advocate for yourself on your prices and schedule, all while needing to self-finance all of your traveling hairstylist equipment.

Traveling hairstylist equipment

Condense your kit! Whether you’re traveling down the street or to China, see how small you can get your gear. Learn how to ensure your hand-tied wefts, find new ways of packing your i-tips and practice using your Fusion kit on stationary clients before you start traveling, and see how small you can make things while still having it work for you. There will be less certainty about the space you will be working in, so learn to work cleaner, tighter and smaller.

WATCH: Traveling Hairstylist Tips - How to travel with your kit

Mobile hairstylist insurance and other business needs

If you are a freelance stylist renting a station, chances are, you’ve already gotten yourself a business license, insurance, a bookkeeper/accountant and are marketing the heck out of yourself. Some of these things come in handy around tax time and make it easier to apply for small business benefits, while mobile hairstylist insurance can cover a lost kit, a client you’ve injured, or you in the case of an accident.

How to become a traveling hair stylist?

Since there are many different types of traveling stylists, there are all kinds of roads to getting there, so ask yourself what kind of life you are looking for. Create a plan starting with the end in mind and then work your way back to now, detailing how each step would have to be achieved. As a freelancer of any kind, it is vital to have a strong base in multiple areas of your industry so that you are never left relying on one stream of income.

Don't forget these important Professional Tips:

  1. If you do not have consistent gigs lined up at first, stay in one place for more extended periods in one general area to avoid burnout and build stronger professional and personal relationships. A three-month minimum in one place makes more sense than only one.
  2. You must be comfortable with uncertainty. If you are a chronic worrier or suffer from uncontrollable anxiety, this may not be the right path for you.
  3. Read the fine print to a “T,” have travel and health insurance, and have more than one debit and credit card on hand for unexpected emergencies and extra work tools/products.
  4. Learning how to be a successful traveling hairstylist is more about who you will become on the journey to achieving your goals than the goals themselves. Trust me; you will become a completely different person.

Final Thoughts

In the end, you are navigating your way through how to become a traveling hairstylist or even just a freelance stylist in general starts with having a solid foundation in your craft. Know how to ebb and flow and be versatile with that freelance life, and there’s no way one city can hold you. Taking your act on the road can be liberating and highly challenging in ways that you can never fully prepare for, so trusting in your ability to take care of yourself will be your greatest asset.

Do you think you could ever become bi-coastal, key a film in another country, or kick-off your freelance business locally? If you loved this article, please share and be sure to follow us on  Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube!