Fashion While Traveling

Packing a suitcase for a trip abroad is a monumental task. Before getting on that plane, train, or boat, we have to figure out what the weather will be like and what activities you’ll be doing. However, something a lot of travelers don’t think about before they leave are the dress codes of the cities and countries they’re visiting.

“Dress codes” might sound juvenile, but it’s the best way to describe some of the unofficial rules of fashion in various cities around the globe. Now, you can pack and wear whatever you want in most places; however, there are some of us who might care about fashion while traveling so we can blend in or so we’re respectful of another’s culture. Here are some reasons you should research dress codes so you know the best practices while traveling.

Clothing Can be a Sign of Respect

There are some countries in the world where modesty is important to their religion and culture. For example, when traveling in the Middle East, women should consider avoiding clothing that will be considered too immodest: miniskirts, tank tops, and shorts nowhere near the fingertips. Men also need to avoid wearing muscle shirts and even cargo shorts in these destinations.

Before you leave for your trip, look at your itinerary and check to see if you’re visiting any cathedrals, mosques, temples, or other places of worship. From there, check and see if they have dress codes. Even if you don’t find one, it’s still a good idea to pack and wear clothing that can become more modest with some adjustments. For example, when my friends and I went to The Vatican, we wore maxi sundresses with either T-shirts or cardigans over top. The men wore khakis that had removable pant legs they could remove after our tour. That way, we were ready for anything.

My friends and I at The Vatican when we were small babes

Clothing Can Help You Blend In

We’ve all seen them. The tourists in the tie-dye T-shirts, khaki shorts, and fluorescent fanny packs. This is the picture of the obvious American tourist, with or without three grouchy children in tow. There’s no better way to stand out as tourist than by wearing clothes you probably wouldn’t even wear in your day-to-day life. Being comfortable while traveling is important, but it doesn’t mean you have to throw style out the window to do so.

One fashion mistake that’s always a dead tourist giveaway is walking around in tennis shoes. While, yes, they are the most comfortable for long treks from destination to destination, locals in European countries only wear them for sports and exercise. So, instead of your traditional running shoe, why not opt for a pair of canvas sneakers, like Converse, PF Flyers, or Vans? These shoes are still more comfortable than flip-flops, but won’t make you stand out in a crowd. Of course, if you need to wear tennis shoes for health reasons, that’s fine too.

You Never Know When Something Might be Inappropriate

This is a little different from sacred places like cathedrals, temples, and mosques where a dress code is obvious and often enforced. Sometimes, locals might find parts of their town sacred and choose to dress respectfully when visiting these places. It’s always going to be in your best interest to dress conservatively while traveling until you get a better sense of what’s considered appropriate. Unless you’re planning to stay at a nude beach the whole time–then you won’t want to dress too modestly.

And it does go beyond showing skin–it can also include graphics and images on your T-shirts and dresses. Your cute T-shirt with that one sassy saying might be a great conversation starter at home, but it’s not always going to translate when traveling overseas. It’s also a sign that you’re a foreigner in a non-English speaking country, which might cause you to be singled out or harassed. 

So, the next time you’re packing for a trip overseas, consider the places you’re visiting. Think about their religions and cultures and whether or not a certain article of clothing will be appropriate.

For more information, check out these great blogs!


Packing for your next trip? Check out this article about acceptable fashion while traveling, and why what you wear abroad matters. #fashion #travel #wanderlust #postcardpress
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