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This Month's Hot Deals

20 Clothing Tips and Packing Secrets ...

Evelyn Hannon

How lucky we are to have so many women in our Journeywoman Network who have travelled to so many different places. Their first-hand practical information on packing and culturally correct dressing comes from a myriad of female-centered experiences. A huge thank you to everyone who submitted the tips. These 20 bits of handy advice will make all our travels simpler, safer and so much better.

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SAN FRANCISCO - Every San Francisco guidebook tells you this but it's worth saying once again. Dress in layers. During my stay (March 30 - April 1) I met a girlfriend for dinner and we both confessed to wearing an undershirt under our T-shirt, sweater and rain jacket. During the warmer days, I took my jacket with me just in case the weather turned ... and it usually did. As I do for changeable climates, I packed a light, roomy and colorful, easily packable shopping bag. I kept it in my backpack but when I discarded my layers, the bag was perfect for carrying larger pieces of extra clothing in.

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MISMATCHED BLACK SOCKS - I buy only black socks. Some get eaten by my washing machine and some develop holes faster than others. Don't discard the singles. Pack them for use when you travel. Nobody else knows they are mismatched and you can discard them along the way, if you like.

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SUMMER IN ICELAND NOT NECESSARILY WARM - My hubby and I visited Iceland in August this year and just a quick note to say that it was COLD. The three days we were there the weather was in the low 40 degrees F, windy, and rainy. The locals commented that the weather is usually not this cold in August but is changeable and unpredictable. All Journeywomen going to Iceland should be prepared with layers of clothing and a packable rain jacket if touring out of doors. The atmosphere is very casual there - jeans with a sweater or long sleeved top, add a scarf for a punch of color and contrast - and you're good for any restaurant or venue (Roseann, Phoenix, USA)

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PROPER CLOTHING IN SAUDI ARABIA IS VERY IMPORTANT - It is mandatory for all women to wear the abaya (cloak) however foreign women are not required to wear the hijab (headscarf). It is prudent to keep one with you in case you encounter any of the religious police so I did keep it loosely wrapped around my neck however I didn't experience any problems in this regard. I saw very few women without the hijab. Abayas are primarily black but may be embellished with rhinestones, jewels or embroidery. Multi-coloured abayas do exist but they are not common especially for women over age 25 or so and I was reluctant to draw attention to myself by wearing one. You do see some multi-coloured hijabs worn by women of all ages but again black is by far the most common. I wore close-toed shoes and socks the entire time. Younger women do wear open toed sandals and even flip flops. Worthy of note - showing the bottom of your feet is considered an insult in Arabian culture, so whether you have shoes or sandals it's wise to be careful about crossing your legs and inadvertently showing your soles. Abayas should be loose rather than form fitting, with long wide sleeves that go to your wrists and overall long enough to brush the floor. They must close completely in the front. Beware of those that are open in front with closures that allow gaps or only go partway; this style is intended to be worn as a coat over another full length abaya and with the temperatures in Saudi you definitely don't need another layer! (Ruth, USA)

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BUY A SCARF - When travelling, I wear one scarf, I pack one scarf and I try to buy one fabulous souvenir scarf at my destination. They keep my all black travel wardrobe looking new and interesting.

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AUSTRALIA IS NOT ALWAYS INFORMAL - As an English girl who emigrated to Australia 15 years ago I offer this advice - women visitors to Australia often follow the guidance given that applies to men - i.e. jeans, shorts, t-shirts are fine for any situation. While it is true that women can also wear these and feel fine, for some cities and particularly if you are having dinner or going to other than totally casual events, you may feel underdressed.

In Melbourne - black rules - think Australian European - and fashionable/ classy cuts definitely abound as do good materials - . Of course you can go to the theatre and dinner in 'good' jeans and t shirt but Melbourne ladies do dress up much more - even if their male partners might wear jeans and t-shirts! . . .. and no trainers or tennis shoes for either gender unless you are teen/early twenties heading to the clubs.

In Sydney - Perhaps to distinguish itself from Melbourne, grey seems to feature as the basic colour - as with Melbourne though - colours are added with scarves, or even shoes

In Brisbane - Basically even when sitting at the airport you can tell when someone from 'north' has arrived - bright colours and no sleeves! - but... the ubiquitous black is still there - think a bright top with black shorts or skirt and flat shoes or sandals - remember it is hot and often humid - think cotton and a cotton jacket to cover up in the hot sun to avoid bright red skin! - in Brisbane, it is common to see light coloured or patterned umbrellas being used as sunshades - add the darkest sunglasses you can find and you will be fine (Jennie, Brisbane, Australia)

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THIS WILL SURPRISE YOU ABOUT MOROCCO - I spent a semester at school in Morocco and this is what I learned. The cities in Morocco are much more fashion-focused than other parts of the Middle East or West Africa. I packed lots of long skirts and dresses, and ended up looking incredibly out of place for a young woman. Practically everyone (especially in cities) wore "Western" clothing: jeans, boots, dressy tops. The only really important thing is to have a top that is long enough to cover your hips and backside (like a longer tunic). The best advice I can offer is: dress fashionably/professionally to fit in; cover your backside, elbows, and knees; and carry a scarf with you. There were never expectations that I cover my head, but I would wrap it around my light-colored hair when going on long walks to not attract so much attention. However, when going into busy market places or some of the more conservative areas (looking at you, Fes), I found it better to wear black leggings and a dark-colored dress. It was easier to blend into the crowd (Katy, Texas, USA)

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TWO PAIRS OF SHOES - Want to save space and weight on shoes yet still be able to change up for comfort, dryness or different thickness of socks? Wear one, pack one and (magic add on) take along extra removable insoles (Marti, Florida, USA)

Thieves Read Journeywoman Too ...


The best tactic I have found to feel safe is to travel in disguise. Like disguising myself as a poor backpacker with tatty clothes, I also disguise my expensive camera in an insulated lunch bag (not a suspicious camera bag advertising Canon). I disguise my small camera, not in a pouch but in a small contact lens travel bag and my (cheap but silver) jewelry is kept in a plastic film container This doesn't always help -- but it does give the impression that you have no valuables on you. (It's just a shame that the same people who are doing the stealing are probably reading all this on your site, too! ) (Yolanda, Oostkapelle, Netherlands)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Thieves, reading Journeywoman? Hopefully, they're female thieves who are learning lots of other juicy things by coming to our website.






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