Half asleep, I slowly wake up as the glare from the light above hits me square in the eyes; this is why I hate hostels, some compete moron has come into our dorm in the middle of the night and turned on the light with absolutely no consideration for anyone else in the room.. I start to get up with the intention of telling him where to go but as my eyes adjust to the brightness I realise that it’s only one of the guys that we’re already staying with and HOLY SHIT! his shirt’s literally covered in blood stains.. ‘What the hell happened to you?!’ I ask, thinking that maybe he’s been stabbed, shot or bitten by a crocodile given the amount of blood smeared across his upper body. ‘Oh nothing man’, he says, ‘some dickhead just dropped a glass of wine all over me’. A giant piece of the puzzle slips into place. It was wine not blood. ‘Damn’ I say, ‘blood would have been way cooler’… ‘you should wear more black stuff’ I mumble as I get back into bed.
When I travel I tend to pack a pretty limited number of things, I’d say I have a less is more strategy to clothing while away. It does get a little boring too be honest but I’m generally not aiming to hit up fashion week in Paris when I travel so I’m not really too fussed. This post is about some of the clothing and gear tips I have gleaned while abroad in the past year, either via experience or from other travellers, here are a few tips to help you pack better for a long trip.
Travel Clothing Tips
Colours matter: Black glorious black! See opening story.. also I remember a couple of guys I stayed with in the UK continuously wore white stuff and to this day I have no idea why or how, since everything I purchase that starts off white generally turns a sort of, off muddy brown colour within hours.. literally every time I buy a new pair of white shoes I make a promise to look after them, that I’m going to cherish them, care for them and make sure they are as pristine and crisp in 6 months as they are right now… 15 minutes later I’ve usually already scuffed the tops of them, somehow there’s a red wine stain or two down the side or I’ve dropped a chocolate milkshake all over them (true story). Black solves all your problems; you can do all the above to black shoes and no one would even notice. (Parents with young children know exactly what I’m talking about). Bring darker coloured clothing when you travel, you will need to wash it less. This is good.
I take my jeans: The endless prattle I constantly hear from other people about travelling without their jeans.. they take too long to dry, they’re too heavy, they’re not practical etc… I always rock a pair of jeans when I travel. If you own any jeans that cost more than it does to feed a small village in Africa then, firstly you need to re-evaluate your prioritise and secondly maybe take a pair that you don’t mind getting a little beaten up. Jeans are hardy, long lasting and look good so you won’t feel like Indiana Jones when you hang out with locals and friends you meet along the way. The other bonus is that the less you look like you’ve just come from a Kathmandu sale (or other travel store) the more ‘local’ you’ll look, reducing your chances of being pickpocketed etc.. too. I like Levis since they meet all the above requirements, my most recent pair have lasted 12 months with continuous use and are still going strong.
Style vs Practicality: Generally I’d say go for practicality as style gets put on the backburner when your halfway up a mountain and your CK jacket is not really helping keep the rain, sleet, cats and dogs out.. Better making sure your gear is practical first and stylish second. If you can get the best of both worlds then fine, but make sure it does what it’s supposed to do as a priority. This also means that while buying cheap stuff off Ebay straight out of China might save you a few clams, it won’t be worth it in the end and you’ll probably have to re-purchase better gear later on. Best to shell out up front IMO.
Shoe choices: Buy good shoes. A wise man once said ‘always spend the most you can afford on your shoes and your mattress, because when you’re not in one, you’re in the other’, it’s very true. In cold environs I travel with Dc Martins (heavy yes but also awesome, these bad-boys are the best walking shoes I’ve ever used, and you can also wear them to a bar with jeans too) and a pair of barefoot runners (super light) while in warmer climates I roll with barefoot runners and some good open topped walking shoes (yes nerd shoes; you age about 10 years when you wear them but they’re killer for walking in hot weather and if you’re English, wearing with your socks).
Socks and jocks: I take 3 pairs of black undies, 3 pairs of longer back socks and 1 pair of black sport socks. I have started journeys with more of both but always needed to drop the weight while on the road, leaving pairs of undies and socks among other things in various places around the world. In my experience I have found that these numbers are about optimal for me.