Explore in Style
The Guide to Not Looking Like an Idiot While on the Road
It seems that many travellers take both a vacation from work and their sense of style when overseas. Zip-off mantivity pants, arctic hiking boots, and bum bags are often much preferred to jeans, sneakers, and handbags. Yes, I get it. Your multifunctional pants can dry in 36.5 seconds, you ginormous hiking boots allow you to conquer any mountain in your way, and your bright yellow fanny pack provides ultimate practicality. But let’s be honest. Unless you trek through terrain requiring über-functional and everything-proof outdoor gear, you might as well save your money and explore in style.
Keep these five simple rules in mind when packing for your next adventure.
Whether at home or overseas, keeping you wardrobe simple will allow you to create a more effortless and timeless look with fewer items in no time. This is why I like to pack a good amount of ‘basics’ such as several plain cotton tops, a pair of well-fitted denim jeans, and a big woolen scarf alongside a few stand-out pieces such as a colourful coat (if you are not a big fan of bright colours, a camel coat looks fabulous with pretty much anything), an embellished blouse, patent brogues, or a pair of eye-catching earrings. Here are some my favourites:
On my last trip overseas, I lived through four seasons in two months. From 4800m at -18°C in Western China to unbearable heat in the South of Vietnam, my mobile wardrobe was pushed to its limits. Any item you pack should look great on with at least two to three different outfits. For instance, a pair of (comfortable and reasonably sturdy) shoes that you can wear with tights while wandering through a Bavarian Christmas market, with cropped jeans while shopping up a storm in New York, and with your favourite dress while sipping on a fresh coconut in the hinterlands of Bali will go a long way.
Here are some photos from my latest journey to China and Vietnam, during which I found a simple cotton midi dress to be my go-to dress in any climate.
During your adventures, you will quickly see the importance of comfortable clothing. Endless hours are spent on planes, trains, buses, taxis, motorbikes, and boats. For instance, one thing I wish I packed after spending 16 hours on a cargo ship in the midst of a tropical storm in the Molucca Sea was a big scarf to sleep on or in. Instead, I was lucky enough to experience the cool comfort of a rusty steel bench. Feeling comfortable in your travel attire will allow you to relax and thoroughly enjoy your adventures, no matter what the weather is up to. Note that comfort and fashion go together much better than many seem to think. Here are some examples:
Less than two months ago, I found myself at an empty train station in the middle of China at 5 am. Instead of figuring out my transport options, my main priority was to layer up. Why? Well, turns out the Chinese weather forecast is not the most reliable and instead of a ‘pleasant’ 4°C, I was welcomed with -16°C. I have to admit, those super-thick pants lined with polar-fleece from the local market were tempting for a moment. Reminding myself of all the photos I planned on taking that day, I opted for a more photogenic solution that left me feeling cozy and stylish. Here it is:
The North Fake ™ backpack that your boyfriend’s sister kindly picked up for you at a Cambodian market may not endure your upcoming adventures. The moment that you realise your underwear is falling out of a split pocket in the middle of a packed economy class train on Java will always be remembered. If you are planning a longer trip overseas involving a lot of moving around and adventuring outdoors, learn from my mistakes and invest in high-quality, long-lasting products. As a rule of thumb, the items that you use the most should also be the best quality.
How do you explore in style?