What a challenge! Who knows what they’ll wear – in advance – for 14+months on an around-the-world trip? We read blogs about packing, got advice from other travelers, and thought a lot about what clothes we already had and how to build a simple travel wardrobe. We made lists – and adjusted the list often – in the months leading up to our trip. Now we’re back and friends have asked, “Just what did you wear?”
We started with a core wardrobe: neutral, packable, lightweight pants with interchangeable tops that would easily fit in our suitcase. Did we mention we each traveled with a carry-on sized suitcase?
Not all clothing was purchased for the trip or marketed as “travel” clothing. Joe’s REI shirt is at least 10 years old. Beth’s Columbia Sportswear shirt is at least 12 years ago. They’re important items in our wardrobes and we’re happy they made the trip with us. Photo taken at Bay of Islands, North Island, New Zealand.
Joe’s favorite shirt for many years wore out before the trip. Why not have one sewn for him while we were in Hoi An, Vietnam? He loves the brilliant blue. Beth is wearing her favorite Royal Robbins pants. So lightweight and cool! Photo taken on the island of Madeira, Portugal.
Joe brought his old standby REI pants on the trip. He did splurge on a Tommy Bahama black t-shirt, picked up in Naples FL on our drive across the US in 2013. Photo taken in Sydney, Australia.
Most of Beth’s clothes were neutral colors. However, she had a bright red Chico’s top that was so lightweight for packing it made the cut. Photo with son, Joshua, taken in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
We needed earth-tone shirts for the safari we planned to take on our 14-month trip. So Joe picked up a few shirts that he knew he’d be able to use, even if we weren’t on a safari. Photo taken on the Samaria Gorge hike, Crete, Greece.
Beth brought Eileen Fisher grey linen capris which she’d almost worn out before the trip. To pack or not to pack? In the end, she threw them in the suitcase. They were just too perfect. Sadly after nine months they started to literally fall apart. Beth picked up these replacement linen pants on Crete. The shirt was purchased at a tiny shop bordering a causeway in southern Florida. The sign said “2 shirts for $25”. This was one. Photo taken on the island of Madeira, Portugal.
We both like Royal Robbins pants: well-made, good fit, lightweight and ever so packable. Joe often wears long sleeve shirts as protection from the sun. He found this one on sale a few years ago at a Territory Ahead store in Santa Barbara. Photo taken in Tokyo, Japan.
Did we make any mistakes packing? YES! This shirt would have been fine to wear in some places, but looked out-of-place in just too many countries. We boxed it up and sent it back with other packing mistakes part-way through the trip. Photo taken in Hanoi, Vietnam.
For the number of pants and shirts packed – here’s the tally:
PANTS: Joe: 2; Beth: 4 (one was mailed back)
SHORT SLEEVE SHIRTS: Joe: 5 (two mailed back, one was added); Beth: 5 (one was mailed back)
¾ LENGTH SLEEVE SHIRTS: Beth: 2
LONG SLEEVE SHIRTS: Joe: 4 (two were mailed back, one was added); Beth: 3 (2 were mailed back)
If we learned anything from the experience we’d agree any clothing going into the suitcase should meet all of these criteria:
- you love it and would wear it every day if you had to;
- lightweight and packs well;
- easy to hand wash and will dry overnight;
- and can be worn with everything else in the suitcase – no clashing!
Now we’re back from the around the world trip and still find ourselves traveling, and – would you believe? – still wearing those same pants and shirts. After all, we love them and they pack so well.