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Knowing what NOT to wear when traveling abroad can make a big difference on your vacation. In the United States we are used to freedom of speech and freedom of expression in our attire.
It’s a very different issue when we go abroad, especially in countries where such freedoms make you a target. You always want to travel safely on your family adventures.
I’m all for enjoying your vacation, so let’s learn what NOT to pack when traveling internationally.
Dress to Blend in and Not Offend
One key to being safe is to not call attention to yourself. I remember visiting Germany and wondering how everyone seemed to know we were American tourists. Then I looked around. We were dressed in bright colors and bright white athletic shoes glowing on their feet.
We looked nothing like the locals around us, who were all dressed modestly and in muted colors. In that environment we weren’t in any danger, but did we have to shout “American” quite so loudly. Just be aware and tone it down a bit. Always respect the local culture, and the locals will, in turn, respect you.
Here are 5 things to leave at home in your closet when you are packing to go abroad:
This is especially true when traveling to any country that holds deeply religious views, such as those in the Middle East. It’s also true when you will be visiting churches or cathedrals in many of the old town areas of Europe.
Women in particular need to avoid short skirts, short shorts, tank tops, and anything revealing. If wearing a sleeveless top, always have a shawl or scarf available to cover up. A wrap skirt can cover up shorts on a really hot day. Generally, think in terms of slacks for men and capris for women and shirts with sleeves and modest necklines. You can be denied entry if you are not dressed conservatively when entering any church or holy site, especially the Vatican museums or St. Peter’s Cathedral and any of the Mosques in Istanbul.
White Sneakers & Open Toed Shoes
Nothing will single you out as an American faster than white sneakers or athletic shoes. In Europe, sneakers are for sporting activities only. Instead, go for comfortable leather walking shoes.
Consider that since you will be walking on many cobblestone streets where the stones hit your feet in unusual places, you need good solid closed-toe shoes, not sandals. Also consider that drainage is not the best in some countries and flip-flops can leave you open to some very unsanitary experiences. Save the sandals for the beach.
Do not make a target of yourself by wearing expensive jewelry or even costume jewelry that looks expensive. Your tennis bracelet may be fake, but only you know that. Leave valuables at home. If you have an expensive camera, take your picture, then put it away.
The same is true of cell phones. Use them and put them out of sight. Consider carrying a conservative tote bag or case for this purpose. Pickpockets run rampant through many foreign touristy cities, especially around the most popular sites. They don’t want to hurt you…they just want your money. Don’t make it easy for them!
Clothing with Religious Symbolism, Designer Labels, Obscene Words, or Political Messages
Respect the culture and do not flaunt your viewpoint. You are a visitor, a guest in their country. There is no need to spark an emotional response or get arrested in countries with zero tolerance for diverse viewpoints, especially in today’s crazy political climate! Remember…”Blend and don’t offend”.
Leave anything with camouflage patterns on it at home. This one is tough for Tim, who thinks camo is actually a color. LOL!
This is especially true of many countries in the Caribbean, Latin and South America.
You always want to be safe on your travels, especially to other countries. Do you have any tips on what to wear when visiting abroad?