How many clothes do you need? How do you decide?  Consider:

  1. The season:  hot, cold, dry, wet
  2. Your activities: camping, elegant dinners, hostels vs hotels
  3. Your feet! Flip flops for the beach or heavy duty hikers
  4. The weight that you are prepared to carry.

See Rule Number 3 in previous post: no one will be impressed by your clothing, or even remember it.

My criteria for selecting my clothes will differ greatly from yours, I’m sure.  

1. On this trip we are expecting the beginning of the rainy winter season (but just the beginning), highs during the day of 15 to 18 degrees and lows at night of 10 to 12 degrees (Celcius) which is quite pleasant weather. I will be taking one fleece jacket that zips up and has zipped pockets on the outside as well as interior pockets.  It is warm enough for this type of weather.  Will also take one light-weight rain jacket (rain proof, not rain resistant).  It has a hood so it will be great on a rainy day and should it get colder than we anticipate, it will provide a second layer for warmth.  

2. Casual activities will be the name of the game so I don’t need any “dress up” clothing. Do you— really?

3. We walk a million miles a day - but do not climb mountains. I have a great pair of closed-toe runners (thoroughly broken in) for cooler days and my absolute favourite walking Tevas.  I only take two pairs of shoes - ever. If the shower seems grungy, My Tevas are waterproof and can be worn in the shower.  If I’m caught in the rain with them on, they dry quickly. Don’t take dress shoes that you may only wear once!

4.  I count on washing out clothes on an almost-nightly basis.  I have a tiny clothesline (folded up, it fits into a case about 2 cm square) I take a small bottle of laundry soap — and a rubber sink stopper.

5.  I normally wear skirts with leggings.  My husband wears shorts or easy-to-dry pants. After years of trying to buy the “perfect” travel skirt and being hugely disappointed with all contenders, I have started making my own skirts.  1.  They are made of a knit/jersey type of polyester that is absolutely and completely wrinkle proof.  2.  The afore-mentioned jersey will drip dry overnight.  3.  The cost is less than $10 per skirt and take about an hour to make.  4.  I can add pockets anywhere I like, including “secret” ones along the waistband.  5.  I choose a pattern that is compatible with black tops and will not show red wine or spaghetti spills.  6.  The skirt, a black top and leggings can look quite smart 7. AND the jersey material doesn’t weigh very much. 8. Another note: the reason I choose patterned skirts and black tops vs the opposite (black skirts and coloured tops) is that most spills happen on your lap and sitting on various park benches and getting a grubby behind will not be as noticeable.

6.  For this trip, I will wear one skirt and take 2 others.  I will wear one black top and take 3 other. I will take a few pair of underwear and 3 pairs of leggings (not cotton-they don’t dry fast enough). I will take 2 pairs of ankle socks.

That’s not very many clothes! But it’s enough for 5 weeks of travel.  And yes, I admit that I may be tired of those skirts by the time I get home. And it’s one of the reasons my carry-on bag only weighs 14 pounds!!!

Next post: other “essentials”