Respect Other Cultures: How to Pack for International Travel
For many of us, packing is a daunting task but it becomes even more complicated if you’re traveling to a destination with a cultural dress code. The standards and expectations vary from country to country, so it’s essential to do your research to ensure that you’re being respectful to the sensitivities of each culture.
That’s why we’re discussing some considerations which should be made when choosing what to pack for your trip. From different outfit options to must-pack essentials, this post will leave you prepared and excited to experience the distinctive and diverse cultures the world offers.
Bring a scarf
When traveling to countries with religious beliefs, you should choose conservative clothing. Covering up is often an integral part of respecting religious values, so it’s essential to keep this in mind when packing for your trip.
The requirements for covering up often varies between cities and even what activities you’re planning to undertake. For example, if you’re going to a temple in Bali, you may only need to cover your knees, elbows and wrap a scarf around your neck. Loose clothing is perfect for covering up these areas, while also being effective for keeping you cool in hot climates. From effortless maxi dresses to luxury, statement abayas which are perfect for lightweight everyday wearing, dressing with religion at the forefront of the mind doesn’t mean compromising on fashion.
However, in stricter areas such as those which obey Islamic codes, you may be required to cover your head or hair with a head scarf. For example, if you’re planning on visiting a Mosque, it’s a necessity to always cover your hair entirely so plan your outfits with this in mind. An effective way to ensure that you’re dressed appropriately for all occasions is to purchase a versatile square scarf which can be used for covering hair or shoulders depending on where you’re planning to go. This is particularly useful if you’re traveling for a long stint and are planning to immerse yourself in many cultures throughout your trip.
When dressing for modest cultures, it’s easy to forget about the temperature, however this could leave you sweltering in high temperatures, particularly if you opt for unbreathable fabrics such as Viscose.
Instead, while you’re doing your all important vacation shopping, keep a look out for breathable materials such as cotton, nylon and polyester, and avoid anything tight fitting. Not only is it important to be modest, but loose clothing is much more comfortable in the heat. Linen is another great choice of breathable fabric which is favorable in hot conditions, particularly if you’re planning on doing a lot of sightseeing or walking. Since you won’t be able to take your clothing off when you get too hot, thinking carefully about the material that you’re purchasing is essential.
Choose Versatile shoes
For some customs, you may be required to remove some items of clothing. In countries where it’s polite or customary to remove your shoes when you’re entering a home, you may want to wear shoes that are easily removable. Some essentials to pack are flip flops or sandals with few straps, so that you can take them off quickly if you’re traveling on a group excursion or are visiting a number of places in one day. In Muslim mosques or Buddhist temples, it’s often a requirement to enter that your feet are covered, so packing an extra pair of trainers or sandals is beneficial for these experiences.
Fit in with the locals
Unless you’ve been to the country that you’re visiting before, it’s unlikely that your dress code will blend in with the locals upon arrival. If you’re traveling on your own, adapting to the style of the locals is one way to feel a little more at home — particularly if you’re planning on staying there for a while.
While it’s impossible to fully understand any culture from research, wearing any clothing which is going to attract attention or make an obvious statement is unlikely to help you assimilate with the culture. So, we recommend staying away from figure-hugging materials or bright colors and loud prints to ensure that you’re prioritizing cultural sensitivity in your clothing choices.
With our tips, we hope that your suitcase will be filled with items that adhere to cultural sensitivity on your next trip. It’s essential that your travel wardrobe aligns respectfully with cultural values so you can get the most from your experience.
Abi Proud is a content creator for AbayaButh - retailers of abayas, hijabs and a range of modest Islamic clothing for women