I am not much into fashion. When someone tells me about a hot new designer, my mind draws a blank. But one thing I do know—what to wear and how to look and feel my best on a trip, whether it’s an adventure getaway, a visit to an animal sanctuary or a luxury escape. I’ve been traveling for over a decade and been to more destinations than I can count. While I’ve made my share of mistakes, I’ve picked up a few habits and learned valuable lessons along the way. In honor of Fashion Week, I decided to share ten of my favorite travel fashion tips for women. Enjoy and feel free to share.
1) Colorful Scarf- If there is one thing I always purchase on my travels, it’s a scarf. They sell them in local markets for dirt cheap (as low as three bucks). They come in different colors, they are soft and cozy, and are really handy on the plane where it gets rather chilly. Wrap it around your neck, pull it over your shoulders, or use it as a pillow, and you are relaxing in style. When you return, everyone is going to want to know where you got that exotic scarf from.
2) Sarong- It’s an all-in-one piece of clothing. It can morph into a beach towel, a cover-up, a bedspread, and even a dress for that beach party. You can pick one up in any design and color you want at local markets wherever you go.
3) Long Pants and Skirts- When traveling to certain parts of the world, women are expected to cover themselves. I remember wearing short shorts by mistake in a remote village in Zanzibar and getting stares from everyone. I vowed to respect cultural norms and never make that mistake again. On a recent volunteer trip to Guatemala where I worked with the community on building a new school, I made sure to pack clothes that covered my legs and avoided awkward moments.
4) Crease Free Bright Clothing- Who has time for ironing while on the go? Besides, when you are backpacking, you are lucky if you have clean clothes. Pack clothes that don’t wrinkle easily and look good no matter what the day brings. Better yet, leave the dark, drab clothes at home and opt for reds, yellows, bright blues, and you’ll be amazed at how much better your mood is.
5) Dresses, Dresses, Dresses- I felt the need to mention this thrice because dresses are so much fun when traveling. They take up less space, and they are perfect for any event, whether it’s a sunset cruise or an impromptu date with a cute stranger, not to mention the attention you’ll get when you are the only one at the dinner table who took the time to put on a nice outfit.
6) Comfy Sandals- I see women waiting in the airport security line sporting five-inch heels and cringe. It’s never a good idea to fly with high-heeled sandals (they are more likely to hurt you when there’s an emergency than the cause of the emergency itself). That said, fancy flats or low-heeled sandals are ideal for dinner dates and enjoying the nightlife.
7) Boots and/or Sneakers- When I visited a horse sanctuary for the first time, I didn’t think to bring sneakers with me. Thought my Tevas would do the trick, but if one of the horses stepped on my feet by mistake, that would have hurt. Badly. I knew better for my next visit.
8) Bandanas- Another accessory that’s a must for female travelers is the bandana. When you are on a safari in Africa or on a jeep safari in the Aruban desert, hair magically collects dust. To protect your scalp and hair from the grime, slip on a bandana. Again, pack a few in different colors to match your clothes, and you will be exploring in style.
9) Hats- Sun hats are a must for that beach vacation, and they are easy to pack too. Don’t feel obligated to stick to the wide brim straw hats. There are so many options—from baseball caps, studded caps to fedoras—fit for any activity you may partake in on your trip.
10) Notebooks- This one is for travel writers. I have more notebooks than I can keep track of, all from different parts of the world—Panama, India, Costa Rica, etc and in various sizes and designs. The covers make for good conversation wherever I am and in the dead of winter when I am snowed in, I can flip through my notebooks and get transported to a faraway place.
Hope these tips help you travel in style and stay comfy.
Featured Photo: Bartolome, Galapagos Islands 2012