One of the top questions we receive from clients relates to what should be worn during a particular trip. We’ve found that it’s easier to focus on what not to wear. A huge part of staying safe while traveling involves the art of blending in, not standing out. When packing for your next adventure abroad, keep local customs, attitudes, and even religious beliefs in mind. Here’s a list of 10 items you should avoid wearing when traveling abroad.
1. Religiously immodest clothing: It’s a wise strategy to dress conservatively in any country with deeply religious views. Female travelers should avoid miniskirts, super short shorts, tank tops, bra tops, revealing dresses, cleavage-bearing necklines, and sometimes even capri pants. Men should avoid shorts and sleeveless shirts in many Middle Eastern countries or when entering a church or holy place. Skimpy swimwear should be avoided by both sexes.
Pants and long skirts are a safe bet, and women should carry a shawl just in case.
2. Flashy jewelry: Never wear expensive, flashy jewelry when traveling. Leave valuables at home.
3. Bright colors: The trick is to blend in, not stand out in a crowd. Look put together, opting for classic, well-fitting clothing with conservative hues.
4. Cameras: Snap a photo, then put your camera away. A camera permanently hanging from your neck screams tourist. Not only do you stand out, but you could become a target for thieves.
5. All-white sneakers: In Europe in particular, sneakers are for athletic activities only. White, lace-up tennis shoes are the calling card of American tourists. In addition, white sneakers will show every speck of dirt picked up along the way.
6. Crocs: Love ’em or hate ’em, Crocs were originally designed to be a simple boat shoe. The clogs are great for gardening. That said, if those two activities aren’t listed on your itinerary, consider leaving your Crocs at home.
7. Open-toe shoes: It’s wise to stick with closed-toe shoes. They can help prevent insect bites, cuts, bumps, and bruises. In addition, it’s unsanitary to wear flip-flops and other open toes shoes to some areas of the world due to the risk of infection.
8. Fanny pack or backpack: Lose the fanny pack. If you’re in need of a hands-free solution to carry some of your travel gear, try a money belt or cross-body bag. They’re much more flattering (and socially acceptable) than fanny packs.
Unless you’re specifically on a backpacking trip, avoid carrying any kind of backpack, big or small, while walking around. Bring a secondary bag like a small fabric tote to replace the backpack during every day activities. This same bag can carry your camera (see #4) and be used to store souvenirs instead of plastic shopping bags.
9. Camouflage clothing: Unless you have reason to wear an official uniform, a full outfit of camouflage clothing seems out of place in everyday life. In some parts of the world, it’s even illegal for civilians to wear. If you’re favorite travel outfit includes camo, be sure to check that there’s no legal risk involved at your destination.
10. Shorts: This one is tricky since Americans do love to wear shorts. Most other cultures don’t wear them for everyday walking around. Unless you’re headed to the beach, a soccer game, a hiking trail, or on safari consider not wearing them. Our habit of dressing down is puzzling to many overseas.