Fashion by Continent: Easy Outfit Hacks for Wherever Travel Takes You

Photo: Liam Simpson (@liamsimpson)

Photo: Liam Simpson (@liamsimpson)

The prospect of an upcoming trip is always incredibly exciting. Whenever I have an exciting upcoming trip, I spend hours making itineraries, scouring through Airbnb options, and skimming through Pinterest photos of my destination. The trip is the only thing I can think about. Then suddenly, it's mere hours before the flight takes off when I stop to think, "Did I pack all the right things? Will I have everything I need?" This fear creeps into my mind without fail every single time I travel. Even though I have quite a few trips under my belt, I always think... will what I packed actually work?

Whether I was trekking through through the desert in Morocco, interning in Guatemala, or attending fashion events in Spain, I never quite knew what to expect when packing my wardrobe. This was often stressful, as I always wanted to be well prepared for any new adventure that came my way, and I knew that the things that I packed should reflect that desire. Now I know that with a few hacks, creating a packing list for your next travel plans can be much simpler than I was making it out to be. Once you find few ideas that fit and apply universally to most all adventures, you will be set to enjoy a trip without concern for your packing list!

1. Consider a Capsule Wardrobe

Regardless of your destination, a capsule wardrobe is a creative way to ensure enough variety for the duration of your trip. The simple idea behind a capsule wardrobe is compiling a group of basic clothing items that can be easily mixed and matched, so that you can stretch what you pack as far as possible.

One of my favorite minimalist bloggers, Caroline Rector, sums up her capsule wardrobe by saying, “a capsule wardrobe represents more time and energy for what really matters (less time spent deciding what to wear / less time spent shopping / less time doing laundry or caring for clothes) more money for our dreams + helping others (less money spent on clothes that never get worn) and more contentment and happiness”. A few key things to consider before choosing what you bring? Look at the weather at your destination, plan your daily travel activities, etc.

When I studied abroad in Spain for about six months, I used the capsule wardrobe idea on a larger format, but it can also be scaled down to weeklong or weekend trips! When I packed for a semester abroad, I stuck to a mainly neutral color palette consisting of black, white, tan, and blue. While it sounds slightly boring, it led to countless opportunities to mix and match outfits, as well as fit the European style of muted colors and minimalistic accents.

2. Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Before I jet off to a new destination, I always search that specific location on Instagram. By doing this, not only do I see some of the popular activities locals are doing in the area, but I also get a great glimpse at the fashion that they embrace. By searching different locations around the world, you can easily see what style of clothing is in fashion or acceptable to wear. This can give you great insight to a place that is thousands of miles away, all from the comfort of your own home.

Before traveling to Istanbul, I was curious to see what people in the city wore on a day-to-day basis, so I searched Istanbul using that feature on Instagram. Instantly, I saw photos of well-dressed men and women and gained a feel for the fashion current in Turkey. Additionally, I was able to tell from these photos what the weather was like at that time of year. Of course, looking at a weather app is simple and gives details in regard to the actual temperature and forecast, but by looking at photos of the actual people in a specific area, you can tell how locals are dressing for the weather in real time. Using this hack, I knew exactly which coat to bring with me and it paid off quite well!

3. Think About the Photos

Photo: Sebastien Gabriel (@kounterb)

Photo: Sebastien Gabriel (@kounterb)

As cliché as it sounds, the photos you take on your adventures stay with you for a lifetime. I have looked back at my travel photos more than I ever thought I would, so caring about what I pack from a photography perspective is important to me. When packing clothing options for a day of sightseeing that I knew lots of photo-taking would be involved, I would always aim for a healthy mix of both fashion and comfort.

To be honest, the clothes you wear should always make you feel comfortable and confident. While those are two key elements you need in everyday life, you need them more than ever while traveling, so be sure to take that into consideration. On days when I know lots of walking will be happening, I always pick my most comfortable shoes and then build the outfit from there. It’s tempting to want to look like some famous Instagram model, traveling the world with a full face of makeup, designer clothing, and perfect hair. However, when you’re in a new place with limited time to explore, often this isn’t the priority, nor is it a realistic expectation.

Start with comfortable items such as supportive shoes and proper outerwear, and after those key items are incorporated, add in fashionable elements to your outfit!

4. Be Practical About the Location

It is vital to be respectful of local people and places when choosing what to pack for your travels. For example, many Central and South American countries dress extremely conservatively both in major cities and in rural villages. Many places of worship around the world offer tours but require their visitors to wear head coverings.

Do your research to ensure that you can enjoy your trip while simultaneously paying respect to the culture you are immersing yourself in. Additionally, think about your own level of comfort when visiting that new place. When I spent time in Morocco, I made the choice to use a head covering during the entirety of my visit, as I not only wanted to pay respect to the local culture, but I also wanted to be personally comfortable and not attract unnecessary attention.

Photo: Stil Classics

Wherever your travels take you, they should always point you toward becoming a more global citizen. “A true global citizen possesses a wide view of the world and the part he or she plays in it,” explains Huffington Post global contributor Drew Alexander. Show respect and be courteous to local customs and cultures, and in doing so, you’ll receive respect from others as you travel the world.

In my own travels, after I take these tips into consideration, I always feel far more prepared to take on any experience, no matter the location. Packing for a trip can be tricky and there are a lot of things to think about. However, no matter what, the experiences that travel can open one up to will outweigh any stress or worries that occur prior to departure. All in all, don’t overthink things and try to focus on the rewarding experiences that will remain with you for a lifetime.


Written by Olivia Bleeker

Olivia Bleeker is a student at the University of Missouri and an avid traveler. In her spare time, she can be found trying to discover the world’s best cup of coffee, jamming to a ridiculous amount of music in Spanish, and writing her travel + fashion blog, A Drop in the Ocean. After spending three different stints living abroad, Olivia knows this is just the beginning of her time traveling and exploring countries around the world! Follow along and throw her some love on Instagram or Facebook.

Alex