What is the weather likely to be in each destination – plan for that and for the exact opposite. Example: We planned on hiking in Switzerland in July – it snowed.
Does any part of your itinerary call for formal wear? Example: An elegant restaurant, a symphony, a formal dinner party?
Will you be visiting churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, wats, or other holy places? If so, make sure that you have a long sleeved blouse that is not sheer or a shawl that you can wrap around your upper body, so that your shoulders and arms are covered. For both men and women – some religious establishments require you to cover your head, while in others it’s a no-no.
Read up on what may be considered inappropriate dress in the countries you’ll be visiting. Example: Americans are very comfortable being out on the street in shorts. In many countries, it’s totally inappropriate whereas in others it’s fine.
Do certain colors have a specific meaning in the country you’ll be visiting? Example: White can signify death and mourning in one country, purity and virginity in another, absolutely nothing in another.
Set your clothes out on your bed where you can see them all together. Mix and match them to create as many outfits as you can using as few items of clothing as possible. Tip: Pack a light-weight scarf, a string of beads, and be creative. The goal is to try and pack as little as possible without feeling as though you look the same day in day out. Remember: Whether you plan to or not you are highly likely to purchase odds and ends along the way.
Choose a color scheme. I like dark gray as opposed to black – black shows marks, and if you happen to wear a scarf or sweater that sheds you’ll be covered in gray or white bits of fluff. Which is not to say that I don’t have a couple of black items as a staple.
I also like taupe and greens, for travel gear. These team up with gray, black, camel, lighter shades of green, rusty tones, and oatmeal. These colors can be boring – especially when you wear them day in and day out – but they work and traveling light adds so much to the enjoyment of one’s trip.
The basics of my travel wardrobe:
A couple of pairs of good looking, fast drying hiking pants – with lots of pockets. Preferably ones where the legs zip off leaving me with a pair of shorts for hot weather, cycling, working out etc.
A couple of short sleeve tees – that are good quality and preferably quick drying.
A couple of long sleeve tees that can be worn tied around my shoulders which also saves space in the suitcase.
A thin soft warm fleece. (Northface do a great job as do Patagonia). This can be tied around my waist while traveling to save space in my suitcase and to keep me warm on ice cold flights as well as when the weather suddenly changes.
A very light, waterproof and windproof, quick drying outer shell with a covered zipper (to keep wind out) and a hood that can be tightened under my chin. I roll ours into a ball, place two large elastic bands around them and carry them in the bottom of our backpacks.
If we are traveling to a cool climate, I pack a lightweight warm scarf or pashmina, gloves, and woolen cap.
A sunhat that is light and shades my face, neck and ears. Even the winter sun can be brutal.
Quick drying underwear.
A bathing suit and flip-flops. Even when visiting a cold climate there may be hot springs, thermal pools, spas, indoor pools – which call for a bathing suit.
Good looking flip-flops which should be slip-ons – not those that fit between the toes. These can be carried in your backpack so that you can remove your shoes when traveling and wear them with your socks to give your feet a rest. They can be worn in your hotel room, to the pool, and out on the street.
If your itinerary calls for some serious hiking and climbing in rugged terrain, wear lightweight low tops or medium top boots that have been worn in. Wear your heaviest shoes when you are traveling between destinations to avoid having to pack them.
A lightweight comfortable pair of shoes for the hours of walking you are most likely to be doing.
For women – a light pair of elegant sandals or flat shoes that take up very little space for evening wear IF you plan on dressing up a little.
A pair of compression socks to wear on long flights. They weigh nothing and help to prevent swelling of the feet and ankles.
If your itinerary and plans call for more dressy attire – a pair of black slacks or a black skirt for women is very versatile. They can be dressed up or down by accessorizing with an attractive scarf or some beads and earrings.
Leave all valuable jewelry at home. I wear a silver watch, a silver band on my wedding finger, and a pair of silver earrings. The only other jewelry I may pack is a strand of inexpensive beads. Not only do you not want your valuables stolen, but you don’t want to attract attention. Tip: Avoid wearing clothing that displays designer labels. It’s best to attract as little attention as possible.