We’re always planning our next trip. That is to say, Andrew is researching and booking. I’m thinking about clothes.
There seems to be a spectrum of thought regarding travel garments. Some people buy the gear and clothing designed for their destination. Folks on the other side of the spectrum just pack their favourite stuff and off they go. I see problems and benefits on both sides.
Wearing a tonne of new travel-specific gear is like advertising that you have a lot of cash and don’t know what to do with it. It costs a lot of money to look so naive. You’ll attract scammers like a magnet. But I guess it depends on what your objective is. Being dressed for a no-holds-barred jungle trek is quite handy if you’re in the depths of the Amazon. Less ideal if you’re in a city-centre.
On the other hand, travel can be unpredictable and messy. If you bring your very favourite tried-and-true jeans, they may become ruined or lost forever. But it sure is nice to have some ol’ faithful clothing items along, for comfort’s sake.
I get about 90% of my wardrobe from the thrift shop. This way I’m not super-emotionally attached to the items I bring along on a trip, so if something happens to them, oh well. Here are some of the things I look for, when preparing for a trip:
A hat. I’ve come to rely so strongly on hats that I actually find it shocking to see people out in the elements without a hat. (So, basically everyone.) But not just any hat will do. I prefer to have a hat that I can stuff into my bag at a moment’s notice, without ruining it. The ideal hat will protect me from the sun, rain, or cold. And also look great. I found my perfect hat at Fabhatrix in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket. They make a lot of fancy hats… but this pragmatic model was truly the one for me:
A button-up collared shirt. North Americans tend to wear a lot of strapless shirts and dresses and tank tops, which do NOT cover the shoulders. Those shoulder-less items comprised the majority of my wardrobe on our first few trips, and I spent a lot of time slathering on sunscreen. The most effective sunscreen seems to also be the stickiest, which makes me kind of pissy. If only there was a way I could avoid needing to wear sunscreen AND not burn. Oh wait — there is! The button-up collared shirt has opened up a whole new world of freedom for me. If we’re going out in the hot sun, I just toss on a shirt and off we go! I can still wear my beloved tank tops underneath, and tie the shirt cutely. Or I can wear a long shirt and let it hang casually. It’ll keep me a bit warmer if I’m cold, and will cool me off if I’m hot. I can accomplish this by simply dunking the shirt in water and then putting it on, soaking wet. No matter how hot it is outside, the shirt will immediately cool me down. You can buy these fancy little neck cooler things for traveling which do the same thing… but again, that’s just more stupid travel gear. My thrifted shirts do the same thing, for less.
Stretchy clothes. I like structure quite a lot… but I’ve learned that sometimes I can’t predict what size I will be by the third week of our trip. I look pretty much the same in the pictures, but my more unforgiving garments tell a different story, and can cause some discomfort. I’ve learned that if I prioritize bringing stretchy clothes, at least I won’t find myself lugging around a wardrobe I can’t even wear.
If you’re inclined to give feedback… I’d love to know what you consider to be your travel essentials. Cheers!