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Home » Travel Gear

The top ten essential travelling clothes

Photo from Flickr by Roitsch

Photo from Flickr by Roitsch

You’ve got your flights booked, route planned, you’ve memorised the word for beer in six different languages, but the biggest challenge is still ahead of you: packing your bag. After all, you want to be prepared for every possible situation, but your bag still needs to be light enough to carry for long periods of time. With a little planning it’s possible to choose clothes that will work in multiple situations, so you can keep your bag light but still be sure you have everything you need.

Remember, packing light isn’t just about saving money or time; it defines you as a discerning traveller rather than an inexperienced tourist. In no particular order, here’s our top ten of the essential travelling clothes. With these things, you’ll be able to feel comfortable, look good, and most importantly be free to have the best adventure possible.

Everyone has a favourite pair of jeans, but when you’re travelling it’s likely that they will also be your only pair, so it’s important to choose one that’s comfortable and goes with everything. A classic, dark pair of jeans will see you through every situation and look great on a night out when temperatures will be cooler.

A lightweight jumper

A typically-British error is to assume that any country with a warm climate is warm at all times of the day, all year round. Even hot places can be struck by sudden bad weather and the evenings are usually dramatically cooler than the daytime, so it’s important to be prepared with at least one lightweight jumper or fleece.
A simple shirt

A simple, long-sleeved shirt will be your most versatile travel companion. Perfect for wearing in the day with shorts or at night with some jeans, and with long sleeves that you can roll down on visits to religious sites, there isn’t really a situation when a basic cotton shirt won’t come in handy.
Comfortable shoes

Even if you don’t plan on scaling mountains or trekking through the Amazon, it’s likely that you’ll be spending the majority of your time exploring on foot, so it’s a good idea to take a pair of comfortable shoes. This doesn’t have to mean bulky hiking boots, as plenty of mainstream footwear shops now sell more stylish, lightweight shoes that are comfortable enough to walk in all day.

Flip flops

Not just for wear on the beach, flip flops will be your go-to shoe for exploring on hot days. They’ll also come in handy for wearing in communal showers in any hostels you stay in. If you’re going travelling for a long time it’s worth investing in some classic Havaianas, which should last through your whole trip.


You may see raincoats as being the typical wear of train-spotters, but you’ll certainly be grateful for one if you’re caught in a sudden thunderstorm. Many camping shops sell thin waterproof jackets that fold up to fit in an envelope-sized bag, so even if you never need it, it won’t take up too much space in your bag.
Sun hat

Whilst you’re probably aware of the dangers of sun damage to the skin, you may underestimate how intense UV exposure can be in hot countries. A good straw fedora is perfect for travelling as it will keep its shape even after being stuffed in your backpack.


For day-to-day travelling wear, nothing beats a simple t-shirt. Comfortable, and easy to roll up and stuff in your bag, t-shirts will end up being what you wear day after day, so make sure to bring along some of your favourites.
Board shorts

A good pair of board shorts is essential for any travelling experience, and you’ll want to make sure that you have a pair you really like as you’ll probably be wearing them a lot. If you like to stand out, get a brightly-coloured pair with a bold pattern.

You’ll probably be wearing sunglasses every day, so it’s important that you get a pair that will look good and provide maximum protection from the sun. You could get an expensive pair but it might be best to get a couple of cheaper pairs instead, so it won’t feel like such a loss if you break or lose them.


Aaron Bradford has written 156 articles. Aaron is the leader, mentor and chief geek of the Happytime team. He put together this crack team of travel writers known by codename “The Firm“. Twitter: @b4ubackpack | Google profile |

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