we believe that the way a woman dresses as she moves around
the world is very important. It affects her safety. It
affects her social interactions. It can make or break
her travel adventure. (And, if she packs too much, carrying
her bags can make her very tired, very cranky and very
How lucky we are
to benefit from the experiences of other women travellers
in the Journeywoman Network who are willing to share their
"culturally correct" clothing tips with all of us...
travelling in Mexico I learned the hard way. The one thing
I regret is trying to wear strappy sundresses to keep
me cool. Even though they were knee length, the low-cut
necks and armholes elicited unwanted attention and cat
calls. Tank tops somehow were better. Not as sexy and
therefore less harassment!
Kiki, Seattle, USA
When travelling in
Mexico City and/or Oaxaca (interior, non-beach areas)
bring long, cool cotton skirts and light pants and if
you are travelling with a man tell him to bring long pants,
too. No one in Mexico City/Oaxaca wears shorts, except
for children and tourists and you feel a bit uncomfortable
when you find that you are the only one in the subway
station in shorts. It can be hot in longer pants but your
body adjusts quite quickly and you will be happy to blend
in just a little more.
Ingrid, Seattle, Washington
As an American living
in Rome, I always cringe when I see my countrywomen walking
around in shorts, tennis shoes and T-shirts. I know this
makes them an easy target for pickpockets who can easily
spot them as American tourists. (Tourists are known to
carry around lots of money; especially, everyone thinks
Americans are usually well off). Also most churches won't
allow you to enter with shorts, short sleeves, or mini
skirts. Wear a longer skirt and a loose top with sleeves.
Melissa, Rome, Italy
Are you a Journeywoman
who is heading off into the sizzling Sahara for a camel
trek? I suggest you definitely take a bandanna or two
along. Try drenching it in water and tying it around your
neck. I found that this is a wonderful way to stay cool(er).
Diane, Arlington, USA
Gosh, her collar
bone is showing! Western women travelling in Morocco are
not expected to dress like traditional Moroccan women,
and, indeed, many sophisticated or foreign-educated Moroccan
women have now adopted European fashion styles themselves.
However, no matter how snug the pants or short the skirt,
they "always" keep that collar bone covered up. So pack
carefully. Your own V-neck sweaters, even blouses, no
matter how chaste you may think them, may be interpreted
as risqu�, disrespectful, or inappropriate in Morocco.
Ed. note: Though
there are no hard and fast rules, Journeywoman always
recommends that you play it safe. Keep your clothes looser
and longer especially when you're out shopping in markets,
if you want to tour the many cathedrals in Spain. I wore
a denim skirt, to the knee, with a tank top for coolness.
I also had a blouse slung over my shoulders to cover up
when appropriate. Nobody ever had a problem with the way
Danielle, Miami, USA
Egypt you should cover your arms and chest. Wear dresses
below the knee. Never, never wear shorts or above the
knee skirts or dresses in public. Simple cottons in conservative
colors will keep you cool and out of the limelight.
Sheila, Tucson, USA
Though Egyptian cities
are very modern and local women may appear in public with
makeup, jewelry and flowing black hair, they always dress
conservatively. They do not show their shoulders or wear
tight shirts. Their skirts are always just past their
knees, or they wear slacks. It is rare to see an Egyptian
woman or man in shorts. In the smaller towns of Egypt,
many females will wear the traditional galabiyya (loose
gowns) and most will cover their hair.
Johanna Sinclair, Toronto, Canada