In Paris, Milan and New York we’re always asked how we manage to look so good when we climb out of the long-distance bus. Now the Road Junky editors share their tips to dressing well on the road.
On every traveler’s list of priorities, just after avoiding getting mugged, scammed, sick, ending up broke, going insane wondering what to pack or working out where to go when the world ends, is the need to stay in touch with the latest travel fashion.
Sadly, there’s not a single glossy magazine dedicated to the backpacker and for some reason FTV rarely decks out those leggy Russian supermodels in tie-dye.
So as the Road Junky editors are notorious for setting the style even after a 30 hour bus journey, we’ve decided to share some of the secrets of looking good on the road.
Jeans were invented for travelers. And cowboys. They don’t need ironing, no thief can get his hand in the front pocket, and you can wipe your sweat, grease and mucous on them without making too much of a stain.
2. A Hooded Top
Sometimes you just want to curl up and hide on the road without a hundred curious pairs of eyes seeking yours. Pull up the hood and you’re in world of your own. It’ll also save you from catching your death of cold when hitchhiking on a windy mountain road.
3. Decent Shoes
Your footwear is worth investing in. Sandals just don’t cut it with immigration and going barefoot leaves you open to catching ringworm. Boots are heavy to cart around and are too hot in tropical climates. A good pair of leather deck shoes, though will suit you in any climate. Just make sure they’re dark enough not to look too beaten up after the first few scratches.
4. A Blanket
Like Ford Prefect’s towel, a blanket can keep you dry, warm and serves as a useful weapon in close hand-to-hand fighting. A blanket can be a cushion on uncomfortable bus journeys and you’ll eventually learn to sleep with it pulled entirely over your head, protecting you from the cold, mosquitoes and curious passersby when sleeping outside.
5. A Lunghi
A lunghi is the oriental version of the blanket. Lightweight and easy to wash, it makes a good towel and can be worn around the neck to mop up facial sweat.
6. Something Smart
Even if you’re going to be hanging out with grungy hippies most of the time, there will be times when you need to look the part. Maybe you’re going for a visa extension, maybe you’re about to catch a plane and don’t want to look like a drug smuggler. A good wrinkle-free shirt or dress can transform your appearance from vagabond to respectable tourist in moments.
Staying clean and smelling good on the road will win you the respect of the locals, make you welcome in people’s homes and improve your love life no end. So carry a bar of soap and a ball of string to make an impromptu washing line beneath the fan in your hotel room.
8. No Iron
Only the most uptight traveler would travel with a plug-in iron but you can still lose the wrinkled I-slept-in-a-ditch-last-night look by shaking out your wet laundry before you hang them up. That way all the water goes to the bottom of the clothes and gravity helps pull it straight.
9. Don’t Buy Clothes in Tourist Shops
The thin grab on sale in backpacker ghettoes usually tears in a matter of days and marks you out as the kind of idiot who buys clothes in shops made for travelers. If you wonder why you get hassled to buy stuff all the time, take a look at what you’re wearing.
10. Bury Incense in Your Backpack
It’s tough to stay fresh and clean all the time. Get caught in the rainy season and your clothes might not dry or it might be so hot that you get through your entire wardrobe every 3 days. Bury a few opened packets of incense in your backpack and you’ll carry exotic scents with you wherever you go.