Those of us who like to travel on a budget know that just because we’re carrying backpacks and taking overnight buses doesn’t mean that we all like to wear gypsy pants or *shudder* the dreaded zip-away-cargo-pants-shorts combo.
I personally view travel style as an extension of personal style, not its second class cousin. I usually stay away from “travel clothes” per se (with the exception of this awesome travel belt) because they’re too utilitarian for me.
You know how you usually feel better when you look better? Just because you’re a backpacker or travelling on a budget doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your style. Here are four tips I swear by for looking put together on the road.
1. PACK CLOTHING THAT’S REMIXABLE AND WITHIN THE SAME COLOUR PALETTE
Capsule wardrobes are having their moment in blogland right now, but if you’ve ever packed remixable outfits for a trip then you know it’s the exact same concept. When packing for travel, especially if you’re only bringing carry-on, choose tops that match with all of your bottoms and never underestimate the power of dresses. I wrote a lot about this in my post about what to wear for backpacking Central America if you’re interested in reading more. The most important takeaway: make sure pieces are versatile so you can wear them for more than one type of scenario.
2. ADD A FEW ACCESSORIES IN COMPLEMENTARY COLOURS
Based on the colours you chose in step one, pick a few accessories in complementary colours that will match the majority of your outfits. Simple pieces that coordinate with each other are a perfect way to look put together without putting in a lot of effort. A scarf in particular is the ultimate multitasking accessory, especially if you're travelling within conservative cultures.
For jewellery, I recommend bringing no more than one pair of earrings, a necklace, a funky ring, and a set of bangles. You can mix and match from day to day, plus it leaves lots of room should you pick up any more accessories on the road (which, duh, is bound to happen).
3. CHOOSE NON-WRINKLY, FAST-DRYING MATERIALS
When you’re regularly on the move, it’s important to have clothing that dries quickly, washes easily, and isn’t too heavy or bulky. In hot and humid environments, the key for me was to have a few moisture-wicking pieces in my wardrobe rotation. They’re great for staples like leggings and tank tops and can often be worn again after they’ve been aired out.
4. PACK CLOTHING THAT YOU’D ACTUALLY WEAR “IN REAL LIFE”
Why bring it if you don’t like it? When I pack for trips, I choose clothing that I enjoy wearing regularly because if I’m packing a capsule wardrobe I’m probably repeating pieces every few days. It’s important to have items that are flattering and make me feel good wearing them. And – how could I forget – travellers take a ton of photos! Do you really want to be wearing the aforementioned zip-away cargos in all of your pictures because they're the only pants you brought? Not unless you're my dad (sorry dad).
What are your secrets for not looking like a backpacker when you’re travelling long-term?
PS: My travel makeup essentials + a pre-travel planning checklist for anyone who's getting ready to pick up and go.
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