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What Should I Wear?

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 on.
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 it.
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 feet!
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 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 too! )
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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