What Not to Wear — 5 Things to Leave at Home When You Travel

Posted by - January 24, 2011 | Category: Archives

“The finest clothing made is a person’s skin, but, of course, society demands something more than this.”  – Mark Twain

Twain had the right mindset. Less is more, especially when it comes to travel apparel.  Everyone knows you should pack light.  And we have a general idea of what we should pack.  But what are some things we can definitely leave behind?  This list, while not definitive, is a good starting point for what not to wear when you travel.
  1. Anything White — White may be suitable for Christmas and Klansmen, but it has no place in the traveler’s wardrobe. One stain and you will be forever classed as the traveling grunge. Take darker shades and patterns to hide any mishaps.
  2. Hiking Boots — I’m talking about those hardcore mountaineering boots here. While not completely verboten, think about what type of activities you’ll be engaged in on your travels. If your daily adventures involve schlepping yourself up mountainsides, then knock yourself out.  Otherwise regular cross trainers, running shoes, or trail shoes are much more appropriate.  I have a pair of  North Face Hedgehog hikers that have served me well.  They are waterproof, breathable, ultra-light, and most importantly — comfortable!
  3. Tennis shoes — Unless your travels involve a round or two at Wimbledon, leave these in your hall closet.  They hold stink like an ex holds a grudge. It’s hard enough meeting people on the road — you don’t need foot raunch standing between you and newfound comrades.
  4. Jeans — Yes, they look good (on some), but here’s why they make the What Not to Wear Traveling list:  they’re heavy, they get dirty easily, and they restrict movement.  Chances are you will need pants of some sort, unless of course you follow the Mark Twain school of clothing (see above), so casual pants or khakis are probably a better choice.  They’ll keep you warm if the temperature dips, and you can usually get away with wearing them at clubs.
  5. Anything from your last trip — Unless your last trip was to a travel outfitting store, leave those “clothing from abroad” purchases safely stored in your tickle trunk at home. Saris, sarongs, burqas, kurtas, abayas, ponchos, chamantos, oh my! The list is endless, and in all honesty, most look ridiculous on any traveler outside the region where it was initially purchased.  So unless you’re doing it for religious regions, give the rest of us a visual respite please.

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9 comments - add one
  1. good shout on these mate, couldn't agree more. Yet everytime i go – i still always bring too much, sometimes we never learn :S

  2. I like what you have to say about tennis shoes. 🙂 I'm actually toting jogging shoes along with me on my travels. They're perfect for gym workouts too. Does that count as something I should have left behind?

  3. Johnny, I know what you mean — sometimes it's hard to let go…

    Sabina, your jogging shoes are perfectly acceptable! (See Hiking Boots above…) Be careful though — the glue on mine melted while climbing Pacaya in Guatemala. They were never the same again after I Superglued them back together…:>)

  4. All I ever need is flip flops for shoes. 🙂 Well, maybe one or two days out of a long trip I will wear close toed shoes. I have to say, I often bring items from my last trip on the next trip. In my opinion, if it's not going to fall apart then why not?

  5. I agree with most of these. I always take a pair of jeans though. They’re great for everyday tours, going out and make you look less like a tourist (depending on where you’re traveling of course). You also don’t see stains on them that easily and they’re quite robust. True they’re not good for hiking trips for the reasons you mentioned and they also need forever to dry, so a glacier guide won’t let you on his hike wearing denim. I totally agree with the hiking boots issue though – leave them at home unless the sole purpose of your trip is hardcore hiking.


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