Best Travel Hairdryer Picks: 9 Actually Packable Hairdryers
Best Travel Hairdryer Picks: 9 Actually Packable Hairdryers

When we’re heading out on vacation, it can be nice to cut loose and chill out, but whether humidity makes your locks poof out like you stuck your finger in an electric outlet or you need to get fancier for your best friend’s wedding, you can’t always air dry every day of a trip. And if you’ve ever been counting on a hotel’s dryer just to arrive and find it broken or nonexistent, you know how essential it is to have one of your own.

But what do you look for in the best travel hair dryer? While we want something packable that won’t add much weight to a travel backpack, we also want something comfortable to use yet powerful, which won't cause more frizz than we’re trying to blow away. Whether you need one that can handle international travel or dry your curls in high humidity, we’re rounding up the best travel hair dryers to take the guesswork out of taming your tresses on your next trip.

Why You Should Trust Us

If you’ve seen our staff photo, you know that many of us here at Pack Hacker are rocking long hair, and it takes more time and effort to dry than short locks. We’ve been intimate with blow dryers and the struggles of using unfamiliar tools to get the look we want for decades, so when it came time to pick the best travel hair dryer, we had a good idea of what to look for.

Wind blown hair
Best Travel Hair Dryer Picks | While Mother Nature can take over, we like to look as good as possible on vacation.

We put in hours of research to find the best travel hair dryer for thick hair, waves, and curls, as well as ones that add volume to thin hair and tame humidity-induced frizz. Along the way, we found more than a half-dozen options that would be good travel companions for any trip. We tested them on different hair types in tiny bathrooms with little counter space (not because that’s how we like to live but to simulate the cramped conditions of a hotel or cruise ship bathroom, dear reader! You’re welcome!). We let the strengths and weaknesses of each dryer shine through without fancy tools, focusing on packability and how fast each dryer got the job done.

How We Tested It

Best Travel Hair Dryer Picks Dryers on Counter
Best Travel Hair Dryer Picks | Not every travel hair dryer fits on a small bathroom counter.

Test 1: In testing the eight travel hair dryers on this list, we focused on a few things, beginning with how long it takes to dry a head of medium-length hair. We used testers with thin and thick hair since knowing that it only takes five minutes to dry won’t do you much good if you have locks that would make Rapunzel proud. For each travel hair dryer, we started with a head of shower-damp hair that had been squeezed out and patted with a towel, then clicked go on our stopwatch. In the description of each product, you’ll find how many minutes it took to dry a specific type of hair so you can choose which is best for you.

Test 2: Secondly, we measured the temperature of the air coming out of the blow dryer. Holding a thermometer just an inch away from the nozzle, we turned each dryer on high and held it in place until the thermometer stopped creeping upward. The temps we indicate in each section below are the maximum readings; in most cases, the dryer dipped significantly after reaching that top temp and continued to cycle up and down while running. That’s good because you probably shouldn’t leave a 200-degree blower pointed at your hair for very long if you don’t want to fry your hair!

Using high heat too often can cause damage by breaking down the proteins in the hair shaft, says Nicole Sylvester, a Paul Michel Color Expert certified in Olaplex and Aqua Hair Extensions. There’s a good chance you’ll know it's too hot if your hair starts smoking, she said, although product buildup or improperly washed hair can smoke, as well.

Best Travel Hair Dryer Picks Thermometer
Best Travel Hair Dryer Picks | How hot can they get?

Test 3: We also measured the travel hair dryers when folded up, including their cords, since the dimensions you see on product pages are sometimes confusing or, at worst, deceiving. Even the best travel hair dryer won’t do you much good if it doesn’t fit in your bag!

Of course, we’ll also cover things like how comfortable it is to hold, what attachments come with it, and whether you can use it overseas. So, without further ado, let’s jump in!

1. Conair Worldwide Travel Dryer
Conair Worldwide Travel Dryer

Best for: Dual-voltage use

Folded dimensions: 10.5 in x 5.5 in x 3.5 in (25.4 cm x 13.97 cm x 8.89 cm)

You can’t just take your trusty hair dryer from home if you’re traveling abroad, even if it would fit in your suitcase. Instead, you’ll need a travel hair dryer with dual-voltage capabilities to switch between 110-125 in the U.S. and 220-250 in Europe. While there are many options, we like the Conair Worldwide Travel Dryer because we don’t have to remember to make the switch before we plug it in. This travel hair dryer detects the voltage where you are and switches automatically, with a green LED indicator readout for 125V or a blue 240V for European outlets lighting up on the side of the dryer, depending on where you are.

We put it to use on a head of thinner, mid-back length hair, and all told, it took about seven minutes to dry. The Worldwide Travel Dryer hit a top temp of 172 F (77.77 C) and has pretty good airflow, so we don’t feel as if it’s whispering to us from across the room but actually trying to blow your hair dry.

It includes a concentrator to help you aim the airflow where you want it to go, and it makes a good connection when it clicks into place. However, we get a smooth do even without it, so you may want to leave it at home to save space. Speaking of which, the nozzle on this dryer folds to lay against the handle, saving 3 inches of space in your bag, which is nice since it’s one of the larger travel hair dryers on this list. On the other hand, it’s comfortable to hold.

Why We Like It
  • The dryer detects the type of plug you’re using and switches voltage automatically
  • It has three heat settings and two speed settings
What You Should Know
  • The nozzle stays warm for some time after turning it off
  • Even though the voltage adjusts automatically, you’ll need a travel adapter to plug it into European outlets
See Details & Buying Options
2. BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Travel Dryer
BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Travel Dryer

Best for: International travel

Folded dimensions: 9 in x 3.5 in x 2.5 in (22.86 cm x 8.89 cm x 6.35 cm)

If you need to cut weight because you’re hopping across Europe on budget airlines or filling a duffle bag to hit the gym after work, you’ll probably want to bring a tiny blow dryer that packs a real punch. Many international travelers recommend the Nano Titanium Travel Dryer from BaBylissPRO because it’s easy to switch the voltage between U.S. and European voltage with the tab on the front and because this baby won’t take up much room in your travel backpack. It’s one of the smallest hair dryers we got our hands on, even before you fold it!

However, while the ideal hair drying temperature is somewhere around 125 F and 150 F (51.66 C-65.55 C), the Nano Titanium skyrocketed up to 200 F (93.33 C)! It didn’t stay there for long and dropped to a temperature closer to 180 F (82.22 C) for most of our test, but it did feel extremely hot on our tester’s head and ears. On the other hand, it dried her thick, below-shoulder-length hair in six minutes, which is faster than the non-travel dryer she uses regularly. And there is a low-speed option for a less intense blast of air, though there’s no specific heat setting. It includes a concentrator to pop onto the end, but it almost feels too big for the nozzle and is very loose.

An extra hot hair dryer can damage hair over time, says Nicole Sylvester, who has been styling hair for seven years, causing breakage, split ends, and dryness, so we think this is a travel hair dryer best used for a few days or a week at a time, not full-time.

However, the high heat and powerful airflow make it one of the best travel hair dryers for getting ready quickly. So, if you’re in a rush, this may be the one for you.

Why We Like It
  • It’s super small and lightweight, yet powerful
  • It gives off more heat than nearly any other blow dryer we’ve tried
What You Should Know
  • You may want to leave the concentrator behind, as it doesn’t stay well on the end of the nozzle
  • The folded-up cord is almost as big as the rest of the hair dryer
See Details & Buying Options
3. Revlon Travel Hair Dryer
Revlon Travel Hair Dryer

Best for: Packable foldability

Folded dimensions: 11 in x 4.5 in x 3.5 in (27.94 in x 11.43 cm x 8.89 cm)

Some of us are very committed to a certain hand feel from our hair dryer and don’t want to make sacrifices for travel. The Revlon Travel Hair Dryer feels a lot like a traditional model, but its nozzle can fold down to take up less space in your luggage. Unfolded, it has great ergonomics and a cord with good reach, and is just as powerful as our everyday model, too.

It comes with a concentrator that locks into place nicely, yet is easy to remove and leave behind if you don’t need it, and reached a top temp of 175 F (79.44 C) in our temperature test. That dried our thin-haired tester’s hair in five minutes, flat, which is about how long a traditional dryer takes.

While the handle is nice to hold, we wish we had the same great things to say about the toggle switch to turn it to low, high, or off. It’s hard to use and often skips right past off in the center to low or high instead. Luckily, we only blew the tissue box off the ledge and not something more breakable, but it’s something to keep in mind. While it probably gets easier with practice, this isn’t necessarily the blow dryer you’ll use daily, so that practice may take some time.

Why We Like It
  • You get all the comforts of a traditional hair dryer with a folding design
  • The ceramic coating inside is good for reducing frizz
What You Should Know
  • We’ve heard reports that the dual-voltage function isn’t always reliable, so this may not be the best travel hair dryer for Europe
  • The nozzle remains hot for quite a while after use, so you won’t want to repack it right away
See Details & Buying Options
4. BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Bambino Compact Dryer
BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Bambino Compact Dryer

Best for: Lightweight travel

Folded dimensions: 8 in x 5 in x 2.5 in (20.32 cm x 12.7 cm x 6.35 cm)

When looking for the best travel hair dryer, who do you ask? Salon specialists, of course! Several of them recommend the BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Bambino Compact Dryer, which is quite small, as any Italian grandma would tell you the name suggests. It’s the same size as the Nano Titanium Travel Dryer; it just doesn’t fold. Frankly, when a blow dryer gets this tiny, we can do without the folding mechanism, and we think that may be why it’s so long-lasting. You don’t have to worry about wires kinking over time if they’re not stressed each time you pack your bag, and it’s OK to take it to Europe because it has a dual-voltage setting.

Regardless of why users haven’t had issues with its longevity, we like its powerful airflow. It, combined with a top temperature of 178 F (81.11 C), dried a head of thick hair in eight minutes. It lacks any temperature settings and just toggles between low and high speeds, but it’s pretty comfortable to hold, with indentations where your fingers can rest, so we don’t have any issue with cramping hands, even though it’s so tiny. This compact hair dryer is also a great choice for bathrooms that lack storage space.

Why We Like It
  • It’s recommended by hair stylists
  • Unlike other models that break quickly, this one has worked for a long time
What You Should Know
  • It doesn’t fold but is still one of the smallest travel hair dryers we’ve found
  • You’ll want to keep it moving while you dry your hair to keep your head from getting too warm
See Details & Buying Options
5. Wavytalk Portable Hair Dryer
Wavytalk Portable Hair Dryer

Best for: Curly hair

Folded dimensions: 8 in x 4 in x 3 in (20.32 cm x 10.16 cm x 7.62 cm)

Curly girls (and guys) have different needs than their straight-haired friends, but it’s not always easy to find a travel hair dryer capable of handling that type of hair. The Waveytalk Portable Hair Dryer comes with a large diffuser and a small concentrator, so you can bring one hair dryer to share among everyone in your group, no matter what type of hair they have. It isn’t the most powerful dryer we tested, and it took our tester with thin, wavy hair about nine and a half minutes to dry her entire head using the diffuser. Wavytalk claims it has five-minute rapid drying, but we think that’s only true for concentrated air on thinner hair.

We got this hair dryer for the diffuser, though, and that attachment works well, as long as you’re careful to direct your hair into its wide opening. However, this travel hair dryer has a short nozzle for packability, and if your longer hair falls along the side, it can get caught in the back of the dryer (ouch!). It’s pretty easy to avoid once you recognize the issue, though, so we’re telling you here!

This travel hair dryer reached a high temp of 160 F (71.11 C) according to our thermometer, so it will take a little extra time to dry your tresses, especially while using the diffuser. But if that’s the tool you need to look your best while traveling, we think the extra few minutes are worth it. Just be aware that this is not a dual-voltage device, so you’ll have to pass on this if you want to take your curly hair to Paris or Rome (or bring a travel adapter that converts voltage).

Why We Like It
  • It comes with a diffuser for drying curly or wavy hair
  • There’s an included drawstring pouch to help you keep the attachments and the dryer together in your bag
What You Should Know
  • The concentrator is surprisingly hard to remove without some sort of extra grip, yet the diffuser pops off easily
  • Longer hair can get sucked into the back of the dryer if you’re not careful to direct it toward the diffuser
See Details & Buying Options
6. Conair Compact Folding Handle Hair Dryer
Conair Compact Folding Handle Hair Dryer

Best for: Budget buy

Folded dimensions: 8 in x 4 in x 2.5 in (20.32 cm x 10.16 cm x 6.35 cm)

Would you believe us if we said that you could get one of the best travel hair dryers we’ve had our hands on for less than $20? Well, you’d better because the Conair Compact Folding Handle Hair Dryer retails for less than $17 at the time of writing, yet does a great job of drying hair. Whether you fold it or not, it’s easy to pack for nearly any trip and has dual-voltage capabilities for travel to Europe. Just be sure to turn the switch on the front before you turn it on, and bring your own travel adapter—it still has a standard U.S. plug.

This travel hair dryer reaches a top temp of 180 F (82.22 C) and got our tester’s thin hair dry in five and a half minutes, which isn’t bad at all. It doesn’t feel too hot on your head, either. Plus, we can get a little extra volume along with a silky smooth finish with a simple round bristle brush—no extra gels, creams, or fancy tools. Along with functioning just as well as models twice its size, the small handle feels great to hold. It’s not super skinny and is ergonomically shaped, just like our favorite hair dryer back home.

Why We Like It
  • It’s super small and lightweight, so it’s comfortable to hold even with weak hands or wrists
  • This dryer feels very powerful for its size
What You Should Know
  • You don’t really save a ton of space by folding it; it’s more that the dimensions are reallocated
  • It’s as loud as a full-size dryer
See Details & Buying Options
7. Panasonic nanoe Compact Oscillating Quick-Dry Hair Dryer
Panasonic nanoe Compact Oscillating Quick-Dry Hair Dryer

Best for: Premium features

Folded dimensions: 9 in x 5.5 in x 3 in (22.86 cm x 13.97 cm x 7.62 cm)

We don’t always bring along attachments when traveling with a hair dryer, but you may want to squeeze the nifty oscillating nozzle on the Panasonic nanoe into your travel backpack or toiletry bag. Instead of having to wave your hand back and forth over your head, this nifty nozzle with built-in fins does it for you. We find that you have to have the fins running vertically for the air to make them move properly, but once you do, it’s pretty amazing to use. However, while it’s not too loud for those around you, it can sound a little like a helicopter in your own ear—especially if you direct the air right at them. If that gets annoying, you can lock the fins into place or remove the attachment entirely.

The nanoe™ technology reportedly takes moisture from the air to penetrate your hair shaft, which should combine with the oscillation for a gentler drying experience, but our thick-haired tester didn't really feel a difference in her hair after using this travel hair dryer. It’s definitely less damaging simply because it only reaches a top temp of 147 F (63.88 C), yet it still dried a shower-damp head of hair in about eight minutes and 40 seconds. That may make it the best travel hair dryer to take if you’ll be traveling for some time because its size and shape are closer to standard blow dryers, but don’t bring it to Europe; it doesn’t include a dual-voltage switch.

Why We Like It
  • The oscillating nozzle is super unique and works well to eliminate hot spots
  • It’s easy to remove the nozzle if you want to leave attachments behind
What You Should Know
  • If you turn the nozzle the wrong way, the oscillating feature won’t move properly
  • The noise may make users feel like they’re standing next to a helicopter
See Details & Buying Options
8. Beurer HC25 Travel Ionic Hair Dryer
Beurer Travel Ionic Hair Dryer

Best for: Frizzy hair

Folded dimensions: 9 in x 5 in x 3 in (22.86 cm x 12.7 cm x 7.62 cm)

If you have hair that frizzes in humidity, you’ll want to pick a travel hair dryer that can try to smooth it out. Blow dryers with ionic technology, like the Beurer Travel Ionic Hair Dryer, seal the cuticles to reduce frizz and enhance your hair’s shine. Our tester’s thick hair definitely looks sleek and shiny after using this hair dryer, although it took about eight minutes to dry her whole head. We were actually surprised to see the number on the stopwatch wasn’t higher, though, because the dryer only hits a top temp of 150F (10C) and doesn’t seem to blow that strongly.

You can add this to your vacation packing list if you’re looking for the best hair dryer for international travel because it has a voltage switch. You’ll have to use your own travel adapter to plug it in, though that’s the case with most dual-voltage hair dryers. You’ll also want to ensure everyone in your room is awake before turning it on because it’s rather loud, especially for how lightly it blows.

Why We Like It
  • The concentrator is easy to remove if you don’t need it
  • There’s a loop on the handle where you can hang it
What You Should Know
  • It only has two speed settings, with no option for low and high temperatures
  • After about five minutes of use, it started to feel very hot
See Details & Buying Options

No matter the best travel hair dryer for you, we think any of these will give you a better look than just throwing your wet locks up in a messy bun or ponytail. Don’t get us wrong; we love a good pony, and don’t judge a bun by its holder. On some occasions, we just need a little more. You’ll have no trouble finding an option here to suit your style, whether you’re a curly girl or looking to amp up the volume.

May 16, 2024

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