To look good or to be comfortable? That’s often the question when it comes to figuring out which clothes to bring along. A lot of times, the destination determines the answer—I packed differently for Paris than I did for Pakse. But there are a few items I’ve found to be so indispensable I’d include them for almost any trip, and that goes for guys as well as gals.
- Merino wool – the beauty is that it adjusts to body temperature, and it doesn’t retain
body odor. It’s thin to pack, great for layering, doesn’t wrinkle, wearable even in moderately warm weather, and barely needs to be washed! You can get short-sleeved, long-sleeved, and tank tops. My favorites are made by Icebreaker, and I buy the previous year’s stock at sale prices from a variety of online outdoor gear sites.
- Convertible pants with a passport pocket – made of nylon, these zip off just above the knee and become instant shorts. They fall into the category of ‘quick dry,’ as in, rinse them in the sink, hang them up, and they’re dry within hours. Style-wise, they’ve come a long way from the early days, when the only colors available were variations of khaki. And now, I always look for a pair that has a zippered passport pocket because I despise wearing money belts.
- A corduroy hat – when I don’t want to look like I’m going on safari or to the game of a
franchised American sports team, I choose a cap of corduroy, cut in a military style. It’s a little more stylish than a regular baseball cap shape, and can get scrunched in a suitcase, no problem. Carhartt makes some good ones.
- Slip-on shoes with good support – okay, don’t pack these. Wear them to the airport and make your stroll through the TSA checkpoint a little less annoying. With all of the selection out there now, I am *so* over laces. Two of my go-to magic shoe-making companies are Keen and Jambu.
- A shell – not conch or clam, no. A rain shell. As in, super thin and unlined with taped interior seams to keep those raindrops out. And then, you can wear a week’s worth of Merino wool tops layered underneath all at the same time if it gets cold! Perfect.
Alright, I snuck one in just for those of my own gender.
- Sarong-slash-shawl – what can’t it do? It’s a bathing suit cover-up, a shawl or head
covering in countries that require such coverage, a skirt (but recommend using a safety pin in this scenario), a pillow case, a hobo sack shopping bag, and a curtain. Choose a fabric like rayon or a silk-cotton blend that can be rinsed in the sink and will dry quickly, or take two: a wool blend for dress-up (which are also amazingly warm) and a rayon one for kicking around.
What pieces of clothing have you come to love as part of your vacation wardrobe? And what, if anything, completely failed you?