What Are You Packing?

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I made a crucial mistake when planning to travel abroad for a year.

See, I’m no fashionista, but I love high-waisted neon pants and Jeffrey Campbell rompers. 40% of my wardrobe could be found in a costume shop because color makes me happy and MORE color makes me do jazz hands.  Luckily, where I come from (San Francisco,) Rainbow Brite is basically the fashion mascot.

So I was at a loss when I started packing for a year on the road.  I scoured travel blogs looking for advice – and they all said to:

  • bring dark colors to hide the dirt,
  • avoid patterns so you can maximize the mix and match possibilities,
  • don’t bring anything short or revealing so that you don’t attract attention, and
  • above all else – function over fashion.

Basically, leave myself at home and borrow from my mom’s closet, right? So I took the internet’s advice (first mistake) and gave away my furry vests and platform shoes.  I put on a brave face to hide my growing panic because I was going to be a new me – sensible world traveler.

How has it worked out, you might be wondering? Well, there are only so many days that I want to wear t-shirts and jeans, and every day is not one of them. I understand that, in principle, clothes shouldn’t matter, but I do wish that I had packed for me and not the strangers I’ve never met. It drives me mad to look like a Lands’ End catalog.

And now that we have been to five countries and more than 20 cities, I can’t believe I was worried at all. Styles vary so much from place to place that I’ve realized it doesn’t matter what I wear as long as I am comfortable and respectful of local customs. Now I always have my eye on other stylish travelers I meet – when I can, I’ll do a trade with them or score something free that they don’t want to carry any longer.  One piece at a time, I’m rebuilding my wacky wardrobe.

So my advice to you is – don’t wear a prom dress to climb Everest, but do pack a couple of your favorite pieces.  What we wear is a reflection of who we are.  I choose to be me – always at home in a romper, no matter where I am.

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