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It can be difficult to pack for your holiday. You don't want to be uncomfortable or stress about what to wear, travel is supposed to be fun after all! So we've got some tips on how to pack clothes like a pro and avoid clothing disasters on your holiday. Consider asking yourself these 11 questions before you pack that piece:
1. Is it versatile?
When you are exploring, you'll be probably go through a number of different environments throughout the day. Maybe a temple in the morning, a waterfall in the afternoon then dinner and drinks in the evening. There's no time to head back to your accommodation on many days traveling. This means what you're wearing will need to be versatile. A lightweight blouse or a maxi skirt are perfect for this kind of day and will leave you cool and comfortable. Going somewhere cold? A nice sweater and jeans are universally appropriate.
3. Is it wrinkle-free?
Most problems on holiday are encountered by wearing the wrong fabrics. Learning about the pros and cons of fabrics is a great way to get the most out of your clothing and your money. A quick look at the label when you're packing is a good idea. Linen is a natural fabric, extremely lightweight and breathable but it wrinkles like crazy! Same goes for silk and viscose/rayon. However, this doesn't mean you need to avoid these fabrics all together. Many companies will blend them with other fabrics to cut down on wrinkles. Polyester is great because its durable, doesn't lose its shape or wrinkle but it can make you sweat and has been considered an environmentally unfriendly material when compared to natural fibers. However, they do have a longer active life than most garments and fortunately, many companies have started recycling polyester fabrics, making them a more viable option in recent years according to TED Research. If you need to get wrinkles out and there's no iron handy, try hanging up the piece in the bathroom when you take a shower. The steam will help remove wrinkles.
4. Does it suit the climate?
Like I said above, it's all about fabrics. Wool is a great choice for wet or cold climates as it retains it's warmth even when wet. However, it can be heavy and shrinks in the dryer. Blends are a great way to maximize the positives of a fabric. A wool blend is less itchy and won't be as heavy or shrink as much as well as being much cheaper to buy. Cotton is breathable and doesn't hold onto smells so it's perfect for humid climates. However, it loses it's warmth when wet so just remember to pack a small sweater if you are going to be in a humid climate into the night. Lycra and spandex are stretchy and bounce back. A small amount of these blended into jeans and trousers will make your long haul flight much more comfortable.
5. Does it suit the culture?
We do a google search of our destination and what styles of clothing are acceptable before we pack. Tourists are often targets for pick pockets and other types of theft so we usually try to blend in with the locals. Designer labels and other flashy clothing and accessories are probably best left at home! Unfortunately, there's another layer of this question that applies more to women than to men. You might not agree with it but it doesn't change the fact that clothing choices can get you into trouble on your trip. For example, in Greece and Bulgaria, women are not allowed into orthodox monasteries or churches if their shoulders are not covered and they must wear a full length skirt or dress. Also, low cut or sheer tops may get you unwanted attention in some countries. An over-sized scarf can be used to cover your shoulders or legs on short notice as well as add an extra layer for warmth. If you are really at odds with the local culture and their rules, you might want to consider another destination where you can enjoy your holiday and make less changes to the way you dress and act.
6. Will it weigh down my bag?
Coats, jeans and sweaters make cold climates a little trickier to pack for. We try to limit everything heavy to two items. One coat that's waterproof and another for warmth. Shoes are also one of the heaviest things you will pack. We pack one pair and wear the other to the airport. Shoes need to be comfortable and durable, chances are you'll be walking in them in all day! I usually wear a pair of runners to the airport and for outdoor days as well as a pair of sandals, flats or boots depending on the climate. If we are staying in accommodation with a shared bathroom, we usually double the sandals as shower attire to avoid potential fungal infections.
7. It is secure?
This one relates to backpacks, purses and pockets. The last thing you want on your holiday is to have a pick pocket take your money, or worse, your passport. Zippers with anti pull tabs or bags with secret compartments, like this one from amazon, are your best option. Avoid purses that do not have a zip closure, things could fall out when your traveling or be stolen. A cross body bag is a good idea because it can't be easily ripped from your arm. I try not to leave anything in my coat or trouser pockets, I really don't want to lose something important while I'm traveling! I am moving from one destination to another so there's usually no time to trace our steps back to look for something. Not to mention you might find reporting a lost or stolen item very difficult in a different country with a language you can't speak.
8. Do I wear it regularly?
As I mentioned above, I used to bring clothes for every occasion possible but I ended up wearing the same things I did at home. We all want amazing travel photos and to wear new stuff on our holiday to get out of that work rut. But our favourite clothes are our favourite for a reason. They are comfortable, suit us and we look great in them! You don't want to be fiddling around with an uncomfortable dress that doesn't fit properly when you should be enjoying a wonderful holiday! This applies to shoes even more so. You don't want to get blisters when you are going to be walking for hours! Wear the tried and tested.
9. Is it easy to care for?
Think of your destination and what type of laundry services will be on offer. Will you have time to properly take care of certain fabrics? For example, wool needs to be air dried. Do you have enough wool socks packed to leave some drying in your accommodation? In comparison, things made of polyester or cotton tend to dry quickly. Tide has a guide on how to read washing labels on clothing tags that can help you decide what to bring on holiday. Avoid packing anything with that dry clean only symbol! If you're traveling chances are you won't have the time to wait for an item to be dry cleaned in the event of a major stain. A friend of mine had a beautiful light grey winter coat (which was dry clean only) when she came to visit me in London. We went to the Winter Wonderland event in Hyde Park and a lady pushed right into her. She ended up spilling a whole cup of mulled wine all over herself and being on holiday had no time to get it dry cleaned, thus ruining an expensive coat. My point is, you never know what's going to happen. Materials like velvet are notoriously difficult to clean and are ruined easily. If the unexpected does happen, try to put water on the stain immediately. Real Simple has an easy chart for what to do for each type of stain.
10. Do I actually need to buy this and does it need to be brand new?
I always want to wear new clothes on holiday! It's refreshing and think of all the cute insta photos. But is it something I really need? It is not very budget or sustainability minded to purchase clothes for a holiday, especially if the climate is very different from the one you live in. If you have time before your trip, go through your closet. You may find items you forgot about or ways to revamp your outfits. If you do need to buy something, try a thrift store! One of the ways we can afford to travel is by getting almost all of our clothing from second-hand shops. It also helps the environment. UK sustainable clothing charity WRAP stated that if the active life of a clothing garment is extended by nine months, it significantly lowers the environmental impact of it's production. Always check out second-hand clothes thoroughly before you buy. Look out for the fabrics mentioned above and any imperfections including stains, holes or pilling.
11. If yes, should I invest in quality pieces?
If you need a new pair of shoes and can't find what you're looking for at a thrift shop, a bargain purchase might not be the most budget friendly option. Fast fashion is cheap, trendy clothing items made from low quality fabrics. If you need to replace it three times more often than the quality piece, it probably isn't cheaper in the long run. If you are buying something to wear through your holiday and beyond, consider investing in a quality item. Cheap fabrics like acrylic make you sweat, hold the smell and lose their shape after a few washes. If wool makes you itchy, try a wool blend over an acrylic sweater. Take some photos in the items in the dressing room, it will give an idea of what it looks like from different angles and give you a snapshot of your future holiday photos. Remember, if you are buying something new before you holiday, make sure you break it in before you leave! This gives you time to return what you don't love and stop those walking blisters.
Wear comfortable layers for long haul flights (and for the rest of your trip!)
If you've ever been on an airplane, you know they can be chilly! And before you get on, you'll probably get warm with all of the stress of security and boarding. Layers are absolutely perfect for traveling because chances are you will be inside and outside, walking and resting all in the same day. I tend to wear a small cotton tank top or undershirt so that if I sweat, my sweaters and blouses don't get ruined or need to be washed immediately.
Pack a sewing kit for trips 3 months or longer
Going on a year abroad? Teaching in China? Consider packing a travel sewing kit from your nearest fabric store. The kits from dollar stores are a bit cheaper but in my experience they are useless. When I moved to Canterbury, England for my masters degree, I used my sewing kit at least five times and even had traveler friends borrow it! You don't want to throw out a coat because of a missing button. There are tons of how to sewing videos online like this button fixer. This is especially a good idea if you are traveling to more rural areas where you won't be able to get a kit!
Hope you guys enjoyed this post! What are your favourite clothes for travel? Do you have any tips?