Seven of the worst things to wear while travelling

Stylish woman walking in Italy

Being comfortable while exploring a new country is crucial. But, in some cases, it’s also important to wear clothes that won’t make you stand out too much. Keep in mind local customs and attitudes, as well as religious beliefs, when choosing what to wear while travelling.

Whether it’s to evade unnecessary attention or to avoid being uncomfortable on a long flight, here are seven things you should avoid wearing while travelling, as well as ideas for what to wear instead.

Revealing clothing

One kind of outfit to avoid is one that reveals too much of your body. Research your destination before packing, opt for modest clothing in more conservative destinations, and always cover up appropriately when you’re visiting religious sites.

Sleeveless tops and shorts – as well as shirts with distasteful logos or words – can be considered offensive in many Middle Eastern and Asian countries, and many churches in Europe have strict dress codes.

What to wear: pants and long skirts are a safe bet, and women may want to carry a shawl just in case. As a general rule, travellers should cover their shoulders and knees when entering any church or holy site to avoid unwanted stares or being denied entry. It’s also wise to keep your feet and ankles covered. When in doubt, stick to long sleeves, and men, keep that chest hair concealed.

Expensive jewellery

Expensive or flashy jewellery can attract unwanted attention, increasing the risk of theft or pickpocketing. You’re more likely to lose or misplace things while travelling too, so leave the valuables at home. 

What to wear: consider packing a couple of costume accessories that complement your outfits if you must wear jewellery. If you always wear your engagement ring, turn the stone so that it faces the inside of your hand when using public transportation or navigating through dense crowds.

Impractical shoes

Wearing impractical shoes during your travels can quickly turn your adventure into an uncomfortable ordeal. Not only can they cause blisters, foot pain and discomfort, but they can also hinder your ability to explore and fully enjoy your destination. Navigating unfamiliar terrain, such as cobblestone streets, rugged landscapes, or long stretches of walking, becomes a daunting task when wearing shoes that lack proper support or durability.

What to wear: consider the climate and the activities you’ll be doing on your trip and pack comfortable, supportive shoes in neutral or darker colours. And don’t forget the appropriate socks.

Very bright colours

Vibrant hues tend to attract unwanted attention, potentially making you a target for pickpockets or scammers, particularly in crowded tourist areas. Very bright colours also tend to show stains and dirt, making them impractical for long journeys or outdoor activities that you tend to engage in while travelling. 

Avoiding certain colours can even keep you safe. In sub-Saharan Africa, where tsetse flies transmit a potentially fatal disease known as trypanosomiasis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing neutral colours that blend with the background environment because the flies are attracted to bright or dark colours.

What to wear: opt for more muted or neutral tones for a versatile and understated wardrobe that not only respects local customs but also ensures a more comfortable and secure travel experience.

Backpacks and large bags

Carrying a large bag can make you more susceptible to theft or pickpocketing, especially in bustling tourist spots where such occurrences are more common. Additionally, lugging around heavy bags for extended periods can cause strain and discomfort, resulting in fatigue and hindering your ability to fully enjoy your travels.

What to wear: opting for smaller, secure bags that can be worn across the body or kept close is a safer and more practical option, ensuring ease of movement and greater peace of mind while exploring new destinations.

Uncomfortable fabrics

Selecting comfortable fabrics for your travel wardrobe is essential to ensure a pleasant and hassle-free journey. Uncomfortable fabrics can cause irritation, restrict movement and lead to unnecessary discomfort, especially during long flights or extended periods of exploration. Fabrics that don’t breathe well can also result in excessive sweating, making you feel sticky and in need of deodorant.

Avoid silks, nylon, leather, rubber, and, more generally, clothes made from a non-performance synthetic material. Rough materials can also cause skin chafing and irritation, further adding to the discomfort. 

What to wear: check the weather at your destination and keep in mind your activities when packing. Opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics that provide ease of movement and keep you feeling fresh and at ease throughout your adventures. Some foolproof fabrics for packing and travel are moisture-wicking activewear, cotton, jersey, and clothes marketed as wrinkle free.

A large coat

Unless you’re skiing or visiting the snow, leave the bulky coat at home. Not only can it be cumbersome to carry and manage, especially during transit or when moving between different environments, but it can also take up valuable space in your luggage. 

What to wear: choosing a versatile, lightweight jacket or layers that can be easily adjusted is a more practical choice, ensuring comfort and convenience throughout your travels. When travelling to a cooler destination, pack a few longer-sleeved shirts as a base, then layer jumpers and a jacket.

How many of these things do you leave at home while travelling? What’s the one item you’re most likely to take on a holiday? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Wrinkle-free packing tips

Written by Ellie Baxter

Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.

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