What To Wear When You Are Going Abroad

The key question is where are you going and what will you be doing when you get there? Your clothes packing should reflect the specifics of your trip.

shutterstock_71470042I operate on the notion that when abroad I am a guest in another country. Whatever opinion I may hold of the local customs, it is polite to observe them to the degree I am able. It is also smart: the less you stand out the safer you are. In the interests of not embarrassing your fellow countrymen, be aware of local mores and dress to acknowledge them.

If you are going on a cruise you can likely wear whatever suits you with the possible exception of dinner attire. The same will be true for most resorts.

If you are on a business trip, opt for more conservative clothes, particularly in conservative countries. You won’t offend anyone by wearing standard business attire. The same cannot be said for chinos and a shirt which may be interpreted as a lack of respect for the locals. If you are attending a meeting in Tunis no one will care that your office in San Francisco is casual – they will just note that you did not respect them enough to dress.

Most city dwellers dress up more than we do in the US. They also pay more attention to grooming. If you are 21 most people don’t care what you wear on the assumption that you will outgrow it. If you are 50, you may want to reconsider torn jeans and tees with silly sayings. I’d appreciate it if you’d reconsider them here as well.

Muslim countries vary greatly in terms of how they view the proper attire for women. I suggest you wear longer skirts, or ¾ or longer sleeves, and, please, spare us all the décolleté. I just choose modest clothes. Why ask for trouble?

Want to be assured everyone will know you are a tourist? I suggest: jeans and tee shirts (wrinkled is best); backpacks and fanny packs; anything labeled with a destination; shorts anywhere but a beach; vests with multiple pockets; hats with chin straps and clothing not appropriate to a city. If unsure what is appropriate for a city, look at the locals. And it doesn’t matter whether you are in San Francisco or Shanghai.

If you live in sweat pants and are one your way to Budapest, please, go shopping.