When it comes to being ‘Miss Practical’, you can guarantee that I wont be winning prizes anytime soon. After all I am the girl who is inappropriately dressed for any occasion, who thinks that it is acceptable to wander into Tesco’s looking like I am about to go to the grand ol’ ball. In fact it was only a few days ago, that upon clambering into my Uber, that the driver asked if I was about to get married, as I sat there resplendent in a unicorn flower crown, an embroidered white rose bodycon dress, rose gold heels and an intricately sequinned cropped jacket in nude. So arguably the thought of me, aka miss ‘overdressed’ for any occasion giving you advice on how to look stylish and fashionable while backpacking is laughable. I can picture you all now, tears streaming down your face at the thought of me hiking in 10 inch heels, but contrary to popular belief I A. love backpacking B. think that hiking around the mountains is quite freeing and C. yes I am usually a lot more flashier than your average backpacker. After all backpacking is tremendous fun. You get to travel the world on a shoestring budget, make new friends from all walks of life, and live a life largely free of responsibility. What could be more enjoyable?
It isn’t all a bed of roses, however. Travelling on overnight trains and buses, sleeping in hostels, and surviving on meagre rations can play havoc with your look. At home, you have access to a full wardrobe of clothing and can go shopping as often as your budget allows. Backpacking through Thailand however is a very different kettle of fish. Whilst you can pick up inexpensive printed t-shirts and dresses, it can all start to feel a bit samey after a while. And if you are not careful, you will look exactly the same as every other backpacker following a well-worn route through Southeast Asia. And let’s be clear, no one wants to look the same as somebody else. So without further ado here are some tips to help you stay fashionable and stylish throughout your backpacking adventure, even when you only have access to a limited selection of clothing and accessories. The good news is that you don’t need to spend a fortune to achieve a memorable look for your holiday selfies either, just take it from someone who is constantly broke like myself!
Make Sure That You Carry the Right Bag
While I am the kind of gal that normally carries a suitcase everywhere I go, when it comes to backpacking, a suitcase just does not cut the mustard, especially when it’s a large rolling suitcase that takes up more space than your entire wardrobe. For the most part, suitcases are incompatible with cheap transport in remote parts of the world. You are better off investing in a decent rucksack with plenty of small storage pockets for the little things that make life more bearable, such as lip balm and body spray. Because if you are like me and have lips that are constantly chapped and bleeding, you definitely need some R&R tucked away in your bag of tricks.
The key is to spend time looking for a backpack that suits your style and isn’t too large. For example if you are extra like me, then a jazzy floral rucksack might be your bag of choice and there are even new types of backpack hybrids like a backpack trolley, which has wheels and is easier to move around. Check out your options and try a few on for size. Try not to super-size your luggage, as it will encourage you to take more than you need. The whole point of backpacking is that you live a simple life. Yes, it is possible! Besides, you will need a bit of space for the souvenirs you collect along the way. And while it pains me to leave behind my entire wardrobe, the magic of backpacking is that t it teaches you to look beyond materialism, encourages you to embrace frugality and above all shows you a world outside of your reality that is utterly magical.
Learn How To Design The Ultimate Capsule Wardrobe
Learning how to create a capsule wardrobe that can work for you is entirely dependent on where you would be travelling to. For example if you are travelling to warm destinations then lighter fabrics like cotton, will keep you cool in the sun, while warmer fabrics like faux fur and Chenille will be ideal for colder destinations. The trick is to take a selection of items that you can mix and match. Consider the climates you will be travelling in and select garments accordingly. Pay close attention to how much space you have in your bag and avoid packing bulky items that take up a lot of room, so no giant teddy bear coats or glorious faux fur jackets (I know so emotional). Simple separates in plain colours are also easy to mix and match with wardrobe staples like denim shorts and skinny jeans. For example if you wear a lot of red like me, then chances are you are going to pack a lot of red and white (as its contrasting colour), whereas blue would be great with pink and so forth. It is important to pack a selection of t-shirts and vest tops that you can wear anywhere, while dressier ‘outfits’ should also be added in case you get invited to a ball and meet your Prince Charming . Or ya know something like that!
It might also be a good idea to add some lightweight cotton dresses and long-sleeve tops to protect you from bugs and the sun, while including patterned fabrics is also a good shout, as patterned fabric are more forgiving if you spill juice or your lunch down your top, which is quite likely if you are as clumsy as me!
While I am the queen of ‘cheap and cheerful’, those designer enthusiasts among us, don’t need to compromise on their love of designer, even when backpacking. Just adding a few designer items can help to boost your style barometer, so shop for a few items from your favourite Vegan designer brands such as Stella McCartney , Matt & Nat, Vivienne Westwood, OlsenHause and Calvin Klein. You don’t have to pack a full wardrobe of designer gear in your rucksack – that would make you stand out for all the wrong reasons. But, a small Matt & Nat backpack for nights out or a cool Balenciaga t-shirt or hoodie sets you apart from your backpacking pals. You can check out Ssense’s collection who stock all of these designer brands and invest in one or two key pieces. It will be worth it!
Compile A List Of Your Must-Have Items
Once you have your capsule wardrobe all sorted, check that it includes the following must-have items:
- Comfortable leggings or trousers you can do the splits in are essential for long trips on planes, trains, and buses. For me because I am not a ‘leggings’ kinda girl anymore (although my 14 year old self was always in jeggings-remember them?), I tend to go for palazzo, or slim fit floral trousers as my comfortable trouser of choice, so its entirely up to you.
- A hat – The sun can get extremely hot in some countries, so don’t risk sunstroke or worse by refusing to wear a hat. Good news is that hats are not expensive, have a beautiful range of styles and best of all keep you safe in the sun. While my hat collection includes berets, fedoras, trilbys, floppy hats and baker boy hats, a floppy straw hat is best for keeping you out of the sun.
- A sarong for the beach – a sarong or beach coverup is not only stylish, but it also great for when you decide to stop being a mermaid and need to catch your breath on land. And if you don’t want to get changed after your swim with the mermaids, a sarong is an ideal choice for stepping into a beach café for a bite to eat.
- Sunglasses – again, this is a chance to splash out on a designer brand without appearing too ostentatious, and will help your beach selfies look on point. If you are like me, then you are a firm believer that you can never have too many sunglasses, so pack a few to coordinate with different outfits.
Wear Cute Flats
If you are like me, then chances are you are A.clumsy, B. always in heels and C. impractically dressed for any occasion. But when it comes to backpacking, wearing heels as you climb cliffs and jump into caves is never an easy feat in heels – believe me I tried- so packing comfortable flats- whether that be trainers or sandals- is a lot more practical than 5 inch heels. Unless you idea of backpacking is teetering around Paris with a large handbag and a return ticket on the Eurostar, leave the heels at home and pick up some cute flats instead. You don’t need to sacrifice style completely and spend six months wearing a pair of crocs either. Look for some embellished sliders or pretty gladiator sandals with a tough sole. These will look great with any outfit and you can dance the night away in comfort at a Full Moon Party . Or if hanging out with unicorns and mermaids are more your thing, there are plenty o super extra flats to suit even an avid heel wearer like myself. The question is what will you wear when backpacking?
What Are Your Tips For Looking Stylish While Backpacking?