General Clothing Comments
Shawls are easy to carry and very useful on planes, trains and
buses. I've managed to be comfy in Detroit in the winter without
a bulky winter coat because I have boots, gloves and a nice big
shawl. And shawls are a nice thing to buy on the road. They are
good souvenirs, a lovely way to remember a place you really enjoyed
(hand-stenciling in Czechoslovakia, tapestry-like weaving in Bruges).
I also have two other general tips: (1) a silk scarf is always convenient
as a cover for coarse pillowslips in a hotel or hostel. (2) And,
most important of all, I advise against white nightclothes because
it is easy not to see them in your bed in a poorly lit hotel room.
That means you can easily forget to pack them when you are moving
Sue, Oakland, USA
I carry thick, unscented baby wipes on every trip I go on. I prefer
the Huggies brand. Great for washing hands, wiping off surfaces,
freshening up, and washing your face!
Annette, Alexandria, USA
Remember that you are a guest where ever you go so dress like one
. Be modest, elegant and comfortable. The locals have had generations
to develop a typical dress that suits the climate and the culture
of their country. Take your cue from them. A smile and an open mind
should be your constant accessories.
Kathy, Toronto, Canada
I don't dress as casually as I do at home and try to be sensitive
to appropriate attire (local dress). I would bring a pashmina or
some form of a shawl or covering if traveling in areas where you
may want more covering - or just to dress up an outfit. I tend to
dress conservatively and have never had any problems with unwanted
attention when traveling alone (at least, not in a very long time!)
Susan, Glen Ellyn, UK
I purchased a black vest at the local Good Will Store, (important
that it be ambly cut) then I sewed pockets to the inside lining
(for glasses, small change purse, pen, etc.). This vest goes with
every thing from skirts and pants. I also have one for hot weather
in a lovely soft floral. I then wear a money belt made from a folded
in half handkerchief with a tie ribbon belt. This holds my credit
card, passport and extra money. This let's me be free from a purse
or backpack and also gives me an extra sense of security knowing
that no pockets are visible.
Sabrina, San Luis Obispo, USA
In order to avoid looking gaudy/being a target for thieves, many
people will advise you to wear old clothing and no jewelry. But
it is important to remember that you are a guest in another country.
Your appearance is a reflection of the respect you feel for that
country and culture. While diamond rings and designer duds should
be avoided, remember that it is rude to parade around a country
in clothing that you would never wear at home.
Sarah, Nashville, TN, USA
Dress comfortably in clothes that you can take care of yourself.
I prefer travelling in the warmer months: less weight and clothes
that are washable. I travel in one pants/jacket/tee shirt outfit
wearing my bulkiest shoes. I take a swim suit, sari-type wrap/ 1
pr of shorts/3 tees that go with all the bottoms/1 pr of pants that
can have the bottom unzipped to make another pr of shorts/ a crushable
skirt that will go with the jacket, and the tee shirt/ a long sleeved
gauzy shirt that will also go with the tee (pants, skirt) One pair
water shoes, one light weight pair of sandals. Undies -- including
one sports bra that can double as a swim top, socks if appropriate.
If I need a warm top, I take a vest or jacket made of fleece. That's
Lynn, Traverse City, USA
Be sure to pack extra insoles for your shoes. Bring extra cushy
ones, especially if you are hiking on marble (like in Greece) or
stone (like in Egypt). Try them out at home in the shoes that you
are planning to wear on your trip. Your feet will be happy and so
will you. A nice, extra item to pack is a small bottle of peppermint
foot lotion from the Body Shop. This soothes frayed nerves and tired
Jackie, Nanaimo, Canada
Pack as little as possible -- I learned this the hard way! I have
found that browsing the "used" clothing stores in my area yield
great clothes at inexpensive prices. That way, if something is lost
or ruined, I don't have to worry. Pack things that will go together.
Don't bring anything that doesn't go with another piece of clothing.
Walking shoes and sandals are perfect for any trip during the summer.
I use a "healthy back" bag (Ameribag) as a day bag and it is wonderful.
I bring a small, cheap bag for evening wear and I purchase cheap
jewelry at discount stores. My $5 watch from Walmart looks great
and if lost/stolen, who cares. Just remember that you have to carry
whatever you bring so don't pack a huge bag. I have recently converted
to carry-on only and I will never bring a large suitcase again.
Try it -- you'll love the freedom.
Phyllis, St. Louis, USA
A great packing tip for backpackers is to roll each item of clothing,
then keep them rolled up with the help of an elastic band. When
you open your backpack, and have to rummage around for an item at
the bottom, you may still create a mess, but your clothes will still
be rolled. This prevents the need to refold/reroll your clothes
each time you open your pack. It saves me a lot of time and aggravation.
Carmen, Vancouver, Canada
I travelled in Europe/Morocco/East Africa/Caribbean. I believe
in honoring a country's culture so attempt to dress respectfully;
also, I want to be an honored representative of the USA. I find
that long, no-iron, dresses (with sleeves - very important) work
wonders; they're easy/cool to wear, cover uninteresting walking
shoes, pack well, and fit in everywhere; they can be dressed up
or down; a black one takes you to the finest places and the most
strict places of worship; just hold it up to climb stairs; it's
the coolest thing to wear in hot countries and a 3/4 warm sweater
coat over it looks nice and keeps you warm. I also take a long scarf
(lost best one in Morocco, darn it!); it was pure, soft, black cotton;
actually, it's what the men wear wound around their heads); it,
or something like it, keeps hot sun off your head and cool breezes
from shoulders; covers head where necessary, as in religious buildings
and Muslim countries; let me correct - it isn't necessary, as a
traveler, to cover your head (except in the religious buildings)
but it shows respect, gets help easier when you need it, it's fun,
keeps head cool, and, I confess, I like to plunge into a culture
as much as I can to make a trip even more interesting. The scarf
can be made w/black, sheer cotton or cotton blend material; mine
was about 10 feet long and 2-1/2 feet wide; fringe the ends by pulling
threads... voila! you're right in style; happy traveling and keep
in mind, "There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who
is foreign." by Robert Louis Stevenson"
Elaine, Phoenix, USA
Long skirts everywhere; long sleeves, hair up and covered with
a hat or scarf in the Muslim world. I dress conservatively and pack
very light (three skirts, four tops, a sweater, and a bottle of
Woolite will do me for a month). A London Fog raincoat with a removable
lining is great for spring/fall travel. In one respect, I disagree
with the standard advice -- I don't leave my good jewelry at home.
When I travel, I aim to look like a respectable local woman of my
age and social class; if she wears her rings and gold necklace on
the street, so should I.
Suzanne, NYC, USA
Ed. note: Anyone who
is a "practiced" thief generally can spot a tourist a mile away.
Wearing good jewelry in some poorer countries is an instant ticket
to trouble. Want to wear jewelry. Choose something pretty that clearly
has no value.
I travel internationally a good percentage of the time. Trying
to find a coat that works for a semi-dressy situation, at a mill
work site, and in the city can be a problem. You need warmth, water
resistance, wind resistance and, if you are me, style. Style can
be very important because this is the outermost garment people see
and judge you by. This is important in countries like Italy or Japan
where style is more important than it might be under similar circumstances
in the US. I have found that good quality leather coats tend to
be the best option. These are not "biker" style jackets by any means.
My favorite is a 3/4 length that goes well with pants suits and
is just long enough to look OK with a skirted suit with a coordinated
color. The best part is that they don't get dirty when I have to
climb around a building site or when I am stuck on a train. A spill
can be usually cleaned up.
Linda. St. Charles, USA
A WonderBra is my favorite way to carry money--take the pads out
and put the money in. Much nicer than a money belt.
Becky, Michigan, USA
My recommendation for comfortable, flexible and appropriate footwear...to
dress up or down.... First buy a pair of replacement insoles designed
for runners. These are well cushioned and have good arch support.
Then take the insoles shopping for flat heeled ankle-high boots
in your favorite style. You want to get the boots in a larger size
so they can accommodate the "running" insoles and the socks you
plan to wear--I find that I need a full size larger. With this approach,
you'll have footwear that provide the comfort of athletic shoes,
but look like stylish city boots. Your footwear won't give away
your "tourist" status, and you'll be able to walk all day on cobblestones,
bricks, or pavement without breaking down in tears by the end of
the day. P.S. Make sure to break them in before your trip. And if
you wear them on your flights (I do!) just take a thinner pair of
socks to allow room for the inevitable swollen feet.
Chessie, San Francisco, USA
The best tactic I have found to feel safe is "Disguise". Like disguising
yourself as a poor backpacker with tatty clothes, I disguise my
expensive camera in a coolbag (not a suspicious camera bag advertising
CANON!!), I disguise my small camera, not in a pouch but in a small
plastic contact lens travel bag, my (cheap but silver) jewelry in
a plastic film container, my traveller's cheques inside the scruffy
pages of my diary, etc.etc. This doesn't help you when these things
are lost or stolen anyway, but it does give the impression that
you have no valuables on you. (Shame that the same people who are
doing the stealing are probably reading all this on the internet
Yolanda, Oostkapelle, Netherlands
Take bandanas wherever you go. They're cheap, colorful, lightweight,
small, easy to clean, and have a thousand uses. They can dress up
an outfit, be used as a hand towel, cover your hair (head), bind
up a sprained ankle, be used as gifts. Don't leave home without
them or buy a couple along the way.
Lynn, Scottsdale, USA
I traveled for years and found a sure fire way to ascertain that
I always carried everything I need. I keep a spreadsheet in Excel
(packing list.xls). I print out a copy before I pack and check off
items as I pack them or as I decide I don't really need them this
trip. When most of the list is checked off (you always have last
minute items like eyeglasses, brush, etc.), I circle the last few
items so I don't overlook them on the, by now, very marked up page.
Linda, Rockport, USA
Always carry a bandana for head covering when visiting religious
sites. Catholic and Muslim sites frown on uncovered female heads.
Rule of thumb, when in doubt, cover yourself. A lightweight long-sleeved
shirt can always be removed later and is good sun protection anytime.
Ginny, Denver, USA
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