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What Should I Wear?

Packing for the rain forest

When I went to Venezuela, I explored the Amazon rainforest. It's very very humid and very wet all of the time. I strongly suggest that you pack a box of zip lock bags to store your clothes in. They were a lifesaver for me because in the jungle you really have to limit how much baggage you carry. I organized a shirt, shorts and 2 pairs of panties in one zip-lock, so that I could have one fresh change of clothes for each day. The bags also help to store your dirty humid clothes at the end of the day, so the rest of your clothes won't get wet and smelly.
Gisela, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico

North American tourists that visit the rain forest invariably overpack. And what they do take is often hilariously wrong for the climate. To find out what's right, click here.
Sandy Huff, Safety Harbor, Florida


As is the case in most Islamic countries, it is important for women to cover as much of their body as possible in loose clothing. I've found that in Pakistan, people are really appreciative of tourists who wear the traditional punjabi dress, shalwar kameez. It's basically a long tunic and baggy pants worn with a long scarf draped around the neck or shoulders. You can buy simple, inexpensive cotton shalwar kameezes in any market or clothing store. If you're going to Pakistan in the summer, they're the best thing to wear.
Sabiha, Ann Arbor, USA

I've found that the best all-round outfit is a Western form of the Muslim Shalwar Khamiz, a tunic top with a fairly high neck (doesn't need to have a collar) that reaches to about the knees and has sleeves to the wrist, and loose-fitting trousers that reach the ankles. Good walking shoes on the feet and a long scarf that can be draped over the head and shoulders completes the ensemble. The scarf is necessary for Muslim countries. As a feminist, I don't of course condone the covering up of women, but in remote areas of Pakistan it is a courtesy to those who have not asked Western women to visit. The main thing for women travelers to remember is that correct dress should not be considered an option. In poor countries, where every tourist uses up too much water, electricity, and food, it is the least we can do to be considerate.
Carolyn Clarke, London, England

In ultra-orthodox countries like Yemen and Pakistan, Dress very conservatively. I often felt more comfortable even covering my hair with a long scarf.


I'm sending along this clothing advice based on my trip to Panama.In spite of the heat, almost no one wears shorts in Panama City. Even in the poorest sections, people wear long pants and appear to be well-groomed. My advice is to wear cool slacks or a sundress in the city so that you don't stand out as a tourist. I'm told that this custom is a holdover from the days of Manual Noriega, who banned the wearing of shorts in public because they were something the Americans customarily wore.
Sandra G., Toronto, Canada

In 2003 I spent five months travelling in Central America -- Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras-- a single woman travelling alone! I read a lot of travel information on the area and they all said that women should cover up, i.e. skirts or pants -- no shorts, to avoid being harrassed by the local men. I found this to be absolutely true. Some women I met complained about being followed, called names, etc my local men, but they were wearing shorts! I never had any run ins like that thanks to being properly attired while on the street or travelling by bus.
Christine, Campbelton, New Brunswick, Canada

Papua New Guinea

If you're traveling outside the major cities/tourist traps, women should stick to long skirts instead of pants/shorts. Not only will this cut down on risks and offenses, but people will see you as a person rather than a tourist.
Pete, Chicago, USA

Do not wear shorts in Papua New Guinea . Showing your thighs is regarded as a "sexual come-on" in this part of the world.
Pat, Brisbane, Australia


Paraguayan day-to-day wear is generally very casual. But keep in mind that the better you dress, the better you are treated -- especially in restaurants or malls or when asking for directions or assistance. Jeans and a fitted t-shirt will work, but be careful not to wear low-cut necklines or revealing clothing because this will attract unwanted attention, stares, and even catcalls from social deviants and, even old Paraguayan men. Also it is important to note that in the city shorts are not common for women. Blondes also attract a lot of attention here. Much of the dress code depends on the season and fashion is strongly influenced by neighboring Argentina and somewhat from Brazil. During the spring and summer, clothing is generally white, light colors and lightweight skirts. Fall and winter styles have become Bohemian. For men and even girls, soccer jerseys are acceptable at any time, provided that you're not rooting for the "wrong" team. For example, during a Paraguay/Argentina game, Do not wear the Argentine colors of light blue and white. Good luck and enjoy your visit.
Rebecca, Asuncion, Paraguay



I lived in France for a year. Many French women put a great deal of time and energy into their appearance. They can spend hours on personal grooming -- hair, nails, less is more make-up -- and deciding what to wear. Even when they dress casually, French women give their clothing a great deal of thought. They are taught from an early age to make the most of what they have. If you want to blend in but don't want to wear black I would recommend going for an "English Country" classic look -- neutral blazers, jackets, suits, blouses, skirts, dress pants, raincoats -- with special attention to the details. The easiest accent is the neck scarf. And I did see women wearing blue jeans in France -- at museums, on the weekends, walking their beloved dogs -- even women of a certain age -- but the jeans were crisply ironed and worn with tweed blazers, blouses and high heeled-boots.
Kate, USA
More on Paris, etc. back to

I keep seeing posts advising Americans not to wear sneakers in Paris.
I agree with the part about not wearing sneakers to restaurants/out at night to the theatre, etc. Yet it does seem necessary to be prepared for a lot of walking -- whether around the Louvre, in the scenic parks (such as Le Parc Floral w/ its wonderful music concerts) or up and down the hilly area of Montmartre. Travel is much better (and one is kinder/makes a better impression on the locals) when one is not irritable and focused entirely on painful feet. Also, I have seen pictures from Paris street fashion blogs of Parisians and models too in Converse and other black sneakers. In Europe I have seen Parisians and Londoners wearing more of the stylish skinny jean styles with more formal or "flowy" tops. The Little Black Dress w/ ballet flats is quite wearable too for more formal occasions. Suggestion: wear ballet flats and bring heels in a purse for Metro travel.
Audrey, SF Bay Area, USA

Just returned from Paris and want to pass along what women are wearing this winter. Dark wool coats and jackets in many different lengths accessorized with ruffled scarves, wool cloches and berets are the choice of many women. Many young women wearing very short skirts with boots and leggings and colored leg warmers peeking over the top. Leave your high heeled ones at home. Flat boots in any style keep you warm and sure-footed. It is cold in Paris and everyone was bundled up but looked very stylish. Bring your fur if you have one, the warmer the better. The most apparant fashion was the wearing of black Buddy Holly style eyeglasses on women, men and children.
Lynne, Topsham, USA


See also Latin America

I visited Machu Picchu in late November and the daytime temperatures were very warm so I recommend you wear lightweight pants and layer your tops so during the heat of the day you can remove the outer layer. Good tennis shoes are essential. Don't forget your sunscreen as you can become sunburned very quickly high in the Andes Mountains.
Bridget, Houston, USA

Peru is a very poor country so it is dangerous (and in bad taste) to show off expensive jewelry, designer clothing, etc. My girlfriend brought an expensive leather jacket which was promptly stolen from our hotel room. There is no need for dressy clothing in Peru because it is a very casual place. In Lima and Cuzco, you may want a skirt or dress to wear to a restaurant, but nothing like a cocktail dress is needed. If you are going to Machu Picchu bring cotton khakis, t-shirts and a fleece for the morning, depending on the time of year. Remember the seasons are opposite of the USA. I went in September so it was coming on spring. The mornings were cool and it got very hot by noon and I would strip down to a t-shirt and jeans. By 3 PM the temperature starting dropping like a rock and by 4 PM I needed my fleece. There aren't many restrictions about dress in Peru, but if you overdress, you will look out of place. If you are taking a raft ride on the Ollytambo (I recommend it), wear river pants (waterproof khakis) and a pullover rain poncho. I stayed very dry in this gear. If you are hiking, wear sturdy shoes but avoid the heavy hiking boots which will slow you down. I wore Sketchers jammers. Tennis shoes are okay, but there are a lot of rocks and it is rough terrain. Make certain you have shoes with ankle support. Take a small back pack for hiking, you will need it. You will want your hands free for photo taking, etc. Always take spare batteries and plenty of film for your camera because you won't have any place to buy these things at the ruins. There is literally nothing in Machu Picchu - no vendors, no hawkers, no concession stands after you pass the front gate. Take water and sunscreen -- you are at 12000 feet! Also a sun hat with a wide brim and sunglasses are necessary. Bottom line -- jeans and t-shirts with a fleece will carry you through most of the trip.
Francesca, Steubenville, USA

In my visits to Peru I always try to fit in by wearing no name brand stuff like jeans, tennis shoes and t-shirts and I don't wear a lot of make up.....that's all I can say. People out there were really nice to me and I never had any trouble with anyone. I loved my visit to Peru.
Julie, Houston, USA


Women usually cover up -- avoid unwanted attention by sticking to jeans/pants or knee length shorts/skirt with tops that have sleeves. This is the general attire here. Polo tops are popular and very comfortable. Natural fibers are the best for work clothing/suits etc.
Louise, Sydney, Australia

I have lived in the Philippines before. If you are travelling to this destination I suggest: any conservative outfit such as t-shirt and long pants (lightweight but not transparent). No jewelry. Revealing clothes attracts gropers, rude men and pickpockets. A handkerchief is handy to wipe off sweats, or just to protect your nose from smog.
Jennifer, Orlando, U.S.A.

You can wear ANYTHING in the Philippines especially in the main cities. Shorts and sandals work best with the weather
Weng, Manilla

In Manilla people dress very well . Business women wear designer clothes but they avoid black. P.S. If you are travelling with a man you can pass this info along--Business attire for men may be suits or at least white or light shirts with a tie. For social occasions, men wear a "barong tagalog" or an open shirt.
Ruth Halcomb, Sherman Oaks, California
Ed. note: Ruth is Editor of the newsletter, Network for Living Abroad, a resource for study, work, living and travel abroad. It's great! Want to know how to get a subscription? Contact her at

Because of the heat and humidity, try to wear lightweight clothes made primarily from natural fibers, preferably cotton. Carry a collapsible hand fan and use it when necessary. Take a flashlight, baby powder and industrial strength deodorant. In a country where power failures and reductions ("brown-outs") are frequent, a flashlight is essential. In the Philippines, count on three to four hours of brown-outs (ergo no air-conditioning) per day. If you are trying to conduct business under these conditions, you'll be grateful you remembered to douse yourself with baby powder before leaving your hotel in the morning.
Barb Ouimet, Montreal, Canada

Proper attire is very important in the Philippines. When going to a bank, or other business foreigners will be better treated by dressing in something more formal than shorts, flipflops and a tank top. Foreigners that dress in beachwear everywhere they go will be viewed poorly. When visiting a home, look for a row of shoes at the entrance - this is a sign that you should also take off your shoes.
Joan, Tuscon, USA

Pack shorts, skirts and t-shirts. This is what I saw being worn there as it is always hot, even after it has rained. But malls, cinemas and hotels are all air-conditioned so that you will get very cold in a shorts and t-shirt outfit. I suggest you carry a light, cotton shawl (easy to carry and put in a handbag) at least to protect your arms when you're indoors.
Issa, London, UK

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