I’ve come to notice that when you have been travelling continually for a while, there are some experiences you encounter that you simply wouldn’t face on regular length trips. By the virtue of them being long trips, things come up and you’re unable to just wait them out until you get home again. One of these is haircuts, something I found generally annoying in regular life but made tricky when you’re on the move for a long time.
Of course there are alternatives to it such as growing your hair out or shaving it off, but I don’t think anyone (including me) wants to see either of those looks on me. And so last June, several months after leaving Australia behind, I was in dire need of a haircut. I had just so happened to arrive in Montenegro when I felt I had reached breaking point. I had my first stop in the nation’s capital of Podgorica and the summer heat was starting to get to me, with the hair only making things worse.
So as I went exploring through Podgorica, which unfortunately was not particularly exciting, I took note of barbers and hairdressers nearby. I found one not far from my hotel and decided I would visit once I built up the nerve. As I said earlier, I’m not a fan of hairdressers because you usually get stuck making banal small talk, but going in a foreign country presented new challenges. Really the biggest challenge was going to be the language barrier, making it tough to explain what I was after. I’m not overly particular about my hair, but you never know what can be lost in translation and I was going to have to walk around with whatever I was left with.
To overcome the language hurdle, I first found a photo on my phone with a decent shot of my hair because visual trumps verbal communication often when travelling. Secondly, I looked up the Montenegrin word for “short” so I could give a general sense of what I wanted – although it seems overly simplistic and obvious now.
Eventually building up the nerve, I made my way over to the small, and honestly a little dingy, barber. Walking in, there was no one else there and as soon as he said anything I made sure to respond in English to make it clear I didn’t understand. Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to speak any English, so I showed him the photo at which point he responded with “little, little” and gestured with his hands. From there we were all sorted and he got started on my hair. While I usually hate the small talk at the barbers, there was none as we couldn’t really communicate and so we proceeded in silence, which I kinda liked.
In the end it worked out fine, with me leaving with a reasonably good haircut that resembled the photo and only costing something like 5€. While things could maybe have gone wrong, this experience and others have worked out. It’s funny what little challenges travel can throw at you, but for the most part they’re not too difficult to resolve if you get a little creative.
What other odd little experiences have you encountered while travelling? Please share in the comments below.