What makes good travel clothes and how much do I need?

The answer to that question is.... a lot less than you think.

Clothing: (I'm really talking to the girls here.  You guys aren't too bad in my experience although you may pick up a few ideas.)

You really don't need as much as you think you do.  I found that it didn't matter how long I was going for, even for a year, I didn't need any more clothes than I needed for a week.  The exception to that would be if your climate changes from say the heat of southern Spain to snow capped mountains of Canada.  If that is what you are doing, then I would take what I needed for the place I was going first or longest and head straight to the charity shops, if they have any, or local markets when I needed clothes for change in climate.

Don't make the same mistakes I made.

We had way too much luggage

Now, if I can't get it in my Osprey Talon 33 then it doesn't come with me.

I have also found that many backpackers have a box of clothes you can swap for something of yours.  Generally these are clothes left behind deliberately or by accident by other backpackers who have no intention of coming back for them because they are either in some other part of the country or have even left that country.  It worked out really well for me when I came from a cold climate to equatorial temperatures and had very little that was cool and loose.  I swapped one of my fleeces for a loose shirt and a t-shirt.

What Makes Good Travel Clothes?

  • Comfortable: You must be comfortable in your clothes and that includes your underwear.  You are going to be wearing the same things for a long time.
  • Quick Drying:  This should really be at the top of the list. Not only do you want them to dry quickly when you've washed them but they need to dry quickly if you are wearing them on the hills.  You don't want to get cold with damp clothes.
  • Hard Wearing: Your travel clothes are going to be put through their paces.  Make sure they can stand up to the miles of walking and sitting on walls.  They will also be getting washed a lot. 
  • Versatile: Make sure everything goes with everything else.  You don't want a shirt that can only be worn with one pair of trousers and if you are lucky enough to find a washing machine, you want to be able to put all the clothes in together and not have to separate whites from colours.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

My kit list usually includes:

  • 2 x Walking trousers (1 with zip off bottoms to make them shorts or capri and the other non crop - they can act as your dressy pair if needed). Some people like to take a pair of jeans with them but not only are they much heavier than walking trousers, they take ages to dry if they get wet.  Most come with SPF protection now but as long as they are comfortable they will be fine.  My favourites are the ones that roll up to make them capri pants -something like these.

  • 1x Leggings (useful to wear under walking trousers if its cold)
  • 1x Leather belt - always smartens up the trousers and can come in handy for wrapping around things.
  • 3 x T-shirts (inlcuding a long-sleeved T-shirt)
  • 2 x Shirts long enough to wear over leggings.  Must not crease and  must be quick drying.
  • 4 x Buffs  I use my buffs for everything from tying my hair back, wearing it like a hair band, a scarf and to cover my head in Muslim countries, a sweatband around my wrists and they are especially good when out walking and it gets really hot.  If you dip your buff in a stream then put it round your neck, it is deliciously cooling.

  • Waterproof Jacket Now this is where you may need to spend a considerable amount of money depending on the kind of trip you are embarking on.  If it's just for wandering in the city, almost any waterproof jacket that's lightweight and folds up inside itself is ideal.  But if you are taking on some prolonged serious hill walking you will need appropriate kit and I would head to a specialised outdoor shop for advice.  With waterproof clothing for the hills, it's important to ensure that your jacket allows your body to breath or you will end up as wet on the inside as you are on the outside.  Some people suggest you take an umbrella - I personally hate umbrellas.  Unless you are very tall (which I am definitely not) they get in the way when you're in crowds. You either end up poking people with it or having your view obstructed by other people's umbrellas  

    • 5 x Pants/Knickers/Underpants I have heard of may space saving, weight reducing techniques you can employ to cut down on the number of pants you take with you, from using panty liners to wearing them inside out but they don't take up a great deal of room and can be stuffed inside things in your pack and if you go for quick drying again, you'll be sorted.  A quick drying option would be ones made mainly from manmade fibres like polyamide or polyester with a cotton lining/gusset.
    • 2 x Socks 2 pairs of socks should be fine if you can wash them frequently.   
    • 2 x Bras Sports bras often dry quicker but you may find them uncomfortable to wear all the time.
    • 1 x Fleece You will need at least one fleece type jacket wherever you go because even in warm climates, it gets cold in the evening and cold indoors if they have air conditioning.  You will probably need more than one if you are going somewhere cold.
    • 1 x Swimsuit Useful as a spare top too, if needed.
      • Dry sacks - Dry sacks are invaluable when travelling.  They are lightweight and can make all the difference to your trip.  They have so many uses apart from just keeping your gear dry.  They are useful for separating your dirty stuff fromyour clean stuff, wet gear from dry gear and generally great for keepings things sorted.  They are available in vaious sizes from small for mobile phone and wallets up to pack size.  I love my family of 4 from Exped which I use everyday for camera equipment, phones and notebooks - paper ones as well as electronic ones. They are also great if you go kayaking or canoeing and need to take your gear with you.  You just clip them onto the side of the boat and your stuff will stay dry if you capsize, your gear remains with the boat rather then floating off down the river.


      If you are out on the hills, in wild terrain or doing any activity that requires ankle suport then you are going to need a sturdy pair of walking boots.There are many different types of walking boots to choose from and if this is your first time buying a pair, I would advise going to a specialist outdoor shop for their advice but you can prepare by searching for adivce online and checking out the optsions available.  Although the lighterweight goretex walking boots are very popular, I still prefer a sturdy pair of leather boots that will last for years and remain waterproof if waxed regularly.  My last 2 pairs of walking boots have been Zamberlan Women's Trail Lite GTX.  I had my first pair for nearly 10 years, so I hope to get as long out of these ones. 

      If you are visiting museums in Paris, you will want a comfy pair of flat shoes that will also do you for evening/restaurant visits.

      Apart from that you will want a pair of flip flops or walking sandals.  I prefer walking sandals because I don't lose them when I wear them in rivers or streams, they can be a bit smarter than flip flops but still quick to slip on and they look OK if I'm museum/city visiting and walking around in a pair of smartish looking walking trousers.  I would normally wear this with a plain t-shirt and non-iron shirt over the top and a bit of nail polish on my toes always makes me feel more feminine. I always go for the ones that are adjustable in as many places as possible because I have very narrow feet and like to feel that I'm not going to walk out of them.

      I usually travel with just walking boots and sandals, so you may find that you don't need the comfy flat shoes as well.

      No comments:

      Post a Comment