(written in May 2012) So in a couple of days I will be jet-setting across the world for my much-anticipated trip to Nepal and China. I’m more than thrilled but I’m also going to be living out of a backpack for 2 and half weeks. I have done backpacking before but never for this amount of time and so I started to wonder… How could I still look stylish while backpacking? Now I know that I won’t be wearing suits or collared t-shirts but there is still a way to look cute and reasonable while backpacking.
1) Find pieces that are interchangeable. Pieces of clothing that could be used for layering as well as matching with jeans, etc… Solid colors like blue, black and white are great because they can go with many other different patterns and colors. This includes finding some shirts and vests that could go with any pair of shoes. If you’re going to be hiking on this trip then I would be ready to buy some good-looking hiking boots from Adidas or Timberland shoes. I would also try to find an interchangeable belt or at least work with one type of belt to save on space.
2) Find cheap items. Bring items that can be ruined or if they were stolen you wouldn’t care. For this I would usually go to places like H&M and Forever 21. They have relatively cheap clothes that are cute, interchangeable and would be okay if they were lost or ruined.
3) Add a scarf. Scarves are great for winter or summer. They look cute and much of the world wears scarves (including both men and women). There are such things as summer scarves that tend to be lighter and more flowing while there is of course heavier winter scarves. Scarves add design and will keep you comfortable no matter where you are.
4) Leather boots are a must. Over the years I have learned that leather boots are a godsend, especially if you’re hiking or in a muddy area. They are comfortable and will last long (if you take care of them) plus they look great. Even if you are going to a beach area they are still comfortable to travel with and are more stylish over tennis shoes (although there are some stylish tennis shoes).
5) Always have accessories. Having jewelry that is cheap yet practical and cute will make you feel more stylish on your journey. I wouldn’t recommend bringing expensive jewelry because you run the risk of having jewelry pick-pocketed or becoming lost but rather jewelry you don’t care much about. Bottom line… I wouldn’t take anything that means a lot to you. Find jewelry that is no more than 20 dollars and that goes with much of your outfits. And if you lose it… you lose it! No big deal.
6) Splurge a little on a cute (and durable) backpack. This is important because this is what you are going to be living out of for the next few weeks. So be ready to spend money on a quality backpack. The backpack should be able to stand up to the pressures of traveling but it also can look good. My backpack was relatively inexpensive (70 bucks) and it’s a Quechua back (nice and orange so I can’t lose it!) I know they have some great backpacks at REI as well and if you look online.
7) Shop at specialty stores when buying for your trip. I have found my specialty store here in Chicago and I love that they take pride in traveling and offer such interesting products. (Flight 001 and you can also order online.) Just yesterday I got a nice bag organizer to sort out my clothes and to save space. It’s functional, efficient and looks great!
8) Always bring hair-gel, mousse, styling cream, etc… so you can do your hair! However you make yourself get pretty in the morning find a way to bring it in your backpack. Since you can only have 3 fluid ounces you can pick up jars and bottle places from The Container Store, so you can be under the 3 fluid ounce rule. They also have tubes so you can bring hand-creme, wipes or lotion which I would also recommend. During a flight your body gets dehydrated and greasy (for me at least) so having lotion and wipes to clear my face after a long flight makes me feel and look better.
9) Appearance wise you can make yourself look great with a few amounts of clothing and some nice jeans/shorts and some shoes! But what about internally. Getting enough water and sleep is important to looking and feeling stylish while you travel. If you’re not in a good mood then chances are you not going to be feeling all too stylish and wanting to dress the part.
To some, my little list here may sound vain but there was a day when people traveled in style. Just because you are backpacking doesn’t mean you can’t have some nice pieces of clothing, etc… (I mean getting on a shirt takes the same amount of effort whether it looks like crap or not). Prepare for your trip and see what the weather will be like for wherever you are going (tip: Remember planes tend to be cold inside so bring something warmer for the plane ride). For me dressing up while traveling and looking decent is out of respect. Most cultures will appreciate someone who dresses nice and not a foreigner who looks like a bum! Happy Travels!
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