Over the years I’ve been travelling, I’ve been everything from a budget backpacker to a luxury traveller and I’ve loved every single experience. I don’t think I’ll ever just fit into one category of travel and I love that, but sometimes my wardrobe struggles to keep up with me. You see, every different style of travel really requires a whole different look, from the smarter dresses and occasion wear suitable for the upmarket establishments to my backpacker uniform of tie-dye, shorts and flip-flops. When you’re travelling full time, it can be hard to really try and cram all this into your luggage but it’s necessary if you’re going to make the most of every travel opportunity that comes your way.

When you’re backpacking, it’s so important to have a flexible wardrobe that will suit all occasions – it’s easy to get caught in thinking you’ll just fill it with tie-dye crop tops, tiny shorts and bikinis but backpacker life is so much more than just the beach. I remember when I first went travelling, I started with five months in Asia so naturally I packed very little and bought a lot of clothes out there, planning to buy stuff later on for Australia and New Zealand. This worked out great for me because I’ve mostly stuck to hotter places where my bikini is my uniform, but it has caught me out a few times like when I arrived in Sydney’s winter without a jumper or a coat!Let’s be honest, you don’t really want to spend your travelling budget on a new wardrobe in every place – so what key items do you need to pack to avoid spending a fortune? Here are the top 5 items I never travel without:

 

  • A simple black dress that can be dressed up or down – very useful if you end up going to a fancy club/bar with a dress code.
  • Sandals/shoes – because sometimes you can’t get away with trainers or flip-flops!
  • Long skirt or trousers – sometimes you need something a bit more conservative if visiting religious sites or mire reserved countries.
  • Warmer layers – even if you’re going to Thailand mid-season, it gets chilly in some places. Think if you head to the mountains on a trekking trip and end up camping, then you’ll be glad of a sweater.
  • A pashmina – I never travel without one, useful for dressing up an outfit, to keep the air con at bay on transport and to cover up when sightseeing in certain places.

But let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been travelling or how well prepared you are. There will always be situations when you need to buy an outfit. I love shopping when I’m abroad because the clothes are so unique and different to those at home. I often treasure these pieces so much more because they hold memories in their folds. Got to buy clothes on the road? Here are my top 5 ways to shop abroad and stay within that budget:

  • Shop local – look for markets and local dressmakers for serious bargains – in Asia I had clothes made in Vietnam and shopped like crazy for bargains at the markets.
  • Go vintage – Op shops and charity shops are a goldmine in places like Australia, New Zealand and London – use them and spend the time looking through the racks for seriously stylish pieces.
  • Recycle – talk to backpacker friends and swap clothes you’re sick of for theirs, or make friends with anyone who is leaving soon. I had lots of friends in Australia who were off to Asia and had to offload their old clothes, I got a brand new wardrobe out of it!
  • Look for sales – when you’re travelling, you’re on the move constantly and hitting up new cities, check the shops for seasonal sales and pick up your clothes at a fraction of the usual price.
  • Travel smart – if you’re on the way to New Zealand but know clothes are expensive there, why not plan in a layover somewhere like Bangkok where shopping is much cheaper?

It’s such a strange adjustment when you come from the UK where clothes are so disposable and really available, to live with a backpack and the tiniest wardrobe you could dream of. But it really does make you value each piece of clothing and learn the art of accessorising. My addiction when I was previously travelling was always jewellery because it’s so small and easily fits in my bag – it takes just a small piece of jewellery and a bit of hair styling to completely change an outfit. Travelling makes you braver, both with your body and with colour, I know when I’m backpacking I feel so much more confident in my clothing and always choose louder, more colourful garms. This creativity, both with budget and with style, is something that really defines a backpacker and it doesn’t matter how much luxury travel I do, I will always be inspired by the incredible creativity and vibrancy of backpacker style.

What do you love about travelling style? Do you feel braver with your fashion choices when you travel? What are your must-have travel fashion items?