It will rain during your trip, so this is a must. This one is similar to the Marmot Precip. It was significantly less expensive than the ones with Gortex (about $120 compared to upwards of $300), but I wish I had splurged on a Gortex one because it would have lasted after the trip as well. The ones without Gortex do keep you dry for the most part, but they don’t breathe. No matter what the temperature is, I am always sweating under this jacket. Make sure you get one large enough to fit over a fleece for when it gets really cold.
A fleece is essential, because it keeps you warm without weight. I’ve worn the Khumbu fleece for years. I got a new one for the trip. It is super comfy and warm without being too bulky.
These also roll up to capris. Because they are a blend, they feel more comfortable than a lot of the technical pants. They usually dry overnight after washing. They run pretty small, so I had to size up.
Although the fabric is polyester, making them in the technical pants category, they don’t feel like overly synthetic. They have a higher rise than the North Face pants. I ordered the tall online and had it delivered to the store for free, because most of the technical plants were floods on me (even with flat shoes). From a performance standpoint, these are great: they dry fast, don’t show dirt, and are lightweight. Sometimes I feel like a dork wearing them because I would never wear something like this at home.
At first, we were not going to bring jeans. But we live in jeans at home. Although they can’t really be handwashed, they can last longer between washings. Look for ones that are not too heavy; mine usually dry overnight if I hang them the right way. Unless you are solely going to really hot climates, I think jeans are a good item to have to look and feel normal. I got a new pair to bring on the trip and went with my favorite because I knew they would hold up. Yes, I am probably the only backpacker who had her travelwear specially hemmed at Nordstroms to make sure they were the correct length with trailrunners. Go ahead and laugh.
All of the technical shorts looked weird on me, so I decided to go with tried and true. They are cotton and lightweight. They are more conservative due to their length. They can get more wrinkled than some of my other clothes, but isn’t that how JCrew shows them in the catalogs anyway? I liked these so much that when I dropped weight at the beginning of the trip, I had my friend bring me another smaller pair when she visited us in Ireland.
Same as above, just lighter. If I can find a skirt I like, I may ditch these at some point because unlike the other ones, I didn’t swap these for the smaller size.
I’ve only actually used these twice for exercising. I now wear these to sleep in. They are comfortable and fast drying. If you are someone who likes to wear pajamas to bed, make sure your sleepingwear is lightweight so you can wash it in the morning and have it be dry by night. Also make sure it is presentable to walk down the hall for when you have a shared bath.
The softness suckered me in, and they roll up small. But in the interest of lightness, I sent them home after two months and now use my running clothes as pajamas.
I don’t love this dress, but it met my requirements – basic, black, short sleeve, and soft, easy to travel fabric. It is a little more lowcut than I would have liked, necessitating a scarf at times.
This is the first time I tried Athleta and I am impressed. This has an underwire top and it is nicely lined.
I wear lots of cardis at home and I am always cold so I figured one to throw over my dress or sleeveless shirt would be indispensible. This shirt takes longer to dry than my Icebreaker clothes, but it is not too bad. The only problem is that it majorly pilled after just a couple of washings.
Icebreaker costs a fortune, but gets absolute rave reviews for being stylish, easy to pack, moisture wicking, smell repelling, and durable. I find the first three to be true, but the jury is still out on the second two. I don’t know that it necessarily is more smell repellant than cotton after wearing it a few times on hot days (a sad requirement of travelling). More worrisome is that all of the 150 weight shirts I bought have developed a small hole or fraying towards the bottom of the shirts after just about 4 months. So far, they holes are small enough to not be noticeable, but I would have expected problems this early in the trip. I do like this shirt a lot because it nicely layers with the short sleeve Icebreaker v-neck shirts I brought. It also feels a little dressier than cotton. I live in this shirt when the weather is cooler.
Once we left home, I realized I packed mostly for warmer climates. Unless I wanted to wear my long sleeve Icebreaker shirt every.single.day in Europe, I decided another shirt is in order. I picked this up at a Gap in Paris. It doesn’t dry as fast as the Icebreaker shirt, but it is not too bad.
This one has a subtle design and it is slightly thicker than the 150 weight. It still keeps me cool though, and it feels more durable than the 150 weight. As I mentioned, it layers nicely and looks slightly dressier than cotton.
I wear this shirt or the blue one almost every day, either as the top or base layer. This one dries super fast. As I mentioned above, this one developed some fraying on the hem, but so far nothing more.
Between the black color and the detailing at the neck, this shirt is cute, slightly dressy, and feels like a normal shirt I would wear at home. and the organic nature of the cotton. It’s a cute shirt and I figured I might want to wear a “normal” shirt from time to time.
Originally, I brought this for exercising, but it is now my pajama shirt. It feels like real cotton, despite it being moisture wicking. It pilled like crazy early on, so I don’t know if a shirt like this would work for a regular shirt.
I mostly brought ones I would typically wear at home, but decided to also try out some fancy travel ones from Patagonia to see if they are worth their price tag. I like the Patagonia ones the best. They dry quickly and are holding up well. No matter what, you will end up handwashing underwear every couple of days. You could get by with less, but you will be handwashing more often.
I’ve heard some people say they mostly wore sports bras, but I can’t imagine doing that for a year. The one I am not wearing doesn’t get too squished in a packing cube.
Sean and I have differing opinions. Like the Icebreaker shirts, these get rave reviews. So far, I’m in love. They are like little sweaters for your feet, and I think your feet don’t get overheated in them. They provide some extra cushioning and make my shoes more comfortable. At $10-$15 a pair, they are not cheap, though.
Finding a good travel shoe is difficult. I wanted something lightweight, waterproof, and aesthetically pleasing. I wanted the ability to hike, run, and walk around in the shoes. These seemed to fit the bill. So far, they are comfortable, but the firm sole takes some getting used to. I think they are good for walking or hiking, but I don’t like them for running. But then again, I don’t like running.
Many people rave about the Chaco sandals, or sometimes Tevas. Their reviews always have an asterisk about how atrocious they are. Try as I might, I could not bring myself to wear Chacos or Tevas. I’ve always hated those sandals. So I decided if I was going to get flip flops, I had to find supportive ones. After an initial breaking in period, they are very comfortable and more supportive than your average flip flop. These Olu Kais can be dressed up or down, so they will work with my pants, shorts, and dress. Since they are waterproof, I also wear them to the beach and in the shower when necessary.
I wanted an alternative to my trail runners other than flip flops for heavy walking days. The Keens are kinda like a dog who is so ugly that it is cute. I bought them for comfort, but decided after a month that they didn’t fit my feet correctly. I sent them home (pointless, because someone stole them out of the package sometime between Spain and the US) and bought Wonders sandals, a Spanish brand, while we were in Spain. The Wonders sandals are cute, with blue leather straps and a rubber footbed. They are comfortable, but I still prefer my trail runners if we are doing a lot of walking.
Unfortunately, I am blind as a bat and have very sensitive eyes. I wear daily disposable contacts, which means we are lugging around a lot of extra weight. I took a 6 month supply, and got a hand delivery of the rest from our friends when they visited us in Ireland.
Score – $20.00 Cole Haan sunglasses at Marshalls. Then I left them on the table on a restaurant in Lisbon the same day our camera got stolen. I bought another pair in Spain. The new ones are polarized, which is nice, but still relatively inexpensive in case I lose them again.
I haven’t worn a watch in forever, but I needed a way to tell time without a cell phone, especially when Sean and I separate. Water resistant and plastic, a Swatch was a fun travel friendly option.
Because it is braided, it folds up small. A belt is a must with varying weight loss and gain.
Both purchased from Etsy for about $50 total, including a “fake” wedding ring. I normally wear my engagement ring and wedding band when I travel, but I did not want to worry about scratching or losing my real rings on this trip. I ended up ditching the plain band I bought and got a fun twisted silver ring in Spain at an arts festival.
One is my favorite necklace that I wear all of the time, and the other has a little “Freebird” charm (a going away present from some of my old co-workers).
I highly recommend bringing or buying some fun, colorful jewelry to add spice and variety to what would otherwise be a small, pathetic rotation of clothes. The right jewelry really dresses up a travel outfit. Jewelry is a fun, inexpensive memento to buy in different countries. Sean grumbles about weight every time I buy a new piece, but I can usually appease him by sending home some with other things we’ve shipped home.
Before I left, Katie, one of my best and oldest friends gave me a handkerchief her father carried with him during the Vietnam War. When he died a couple of year ago, he gave it to her and told her it always kept him safe. She entrusted it to me to carry with me this year to in turn keep me safe. So far, it is working.