I spent 10 days in Kabul and found the best clothing to be loose-fitting
jeans or dark slacks, a sweater or long blouse and jacket to cover
the area between the waist and knee and a head covering such as
a scarf. Keep arms and legs covered. It's important to keep the
groin area concealed, too. For clothing, think conservative colors;
head scarves can be a bit more colorful. Sturdy shoes were useful
and got dirty quickly. I visited in March when temperatures were
cool to moderate.
Jennifer, Tallahassee, USA
I've been working in Afghanistan for over a year (2007). Dressing
appropriately is very important and can save you from a lot of hassle
and it will give you respect. Kabul is more moderate than the rest
of the country (logical, as there are a lot of international people
working in Kabul). You don't see the traditional burka here so often.
In the countryside, things are far less relaxed. While in Kabul
in a restaurant you can take off your headscarf, doing so on in
the countryside depends a lot on where you are and with whom - women
usually do not even go to restaurants, and if they do, there are
special family and women rooms (guess that explains a lot).
You are on the safe side if you wear long trousers, a loose shirt
with long sleeves and a scarf nicely tossed around your head. The
Indian style is very much appreciated here, but you will score extra
points if you get clothes with Afghan embroidery and get a shirt
made for you. It won't cost you more than $20. The popular colours
here are not as bright as those in India. It is more white, blue,
green that are more popular here; but it is okay to wear bright
colours. Just, well, you stand out.
However you stand out in any case, as outside of Kabul you don't
(actually) see women on the street, you see burkas - the head to
toe covering blue or green dress that does not allow one glimpse
except for the feet and hands maybe. So you will be stared at no
matter how you dress, because seeing a woman not totally covered
is something men just aren't used to. You'll feel much better though
if you are covered in loose clothing. You can wear any shoes you
like, I mostly had flip flops for the office and sneakers on the
street. The streets are bad, either muddy or dusty and full of cracks
and holes, so don't try wearing heels.
Winter gets cold and wet or ice/snowy, and as electricity is not
really working you might be freezing a lot. You can get a fur coat
for $40 but you have to realise that then you stand out even more
as somebody who has a lot of money. I hope this is of need! Afghanistan
is not the most frequent destination, I know.
Christine, Kabul, Afganistan
I travelled to Tanzania. I went on safari at the Ngorongoro Crater.
I recommend wearing leisure clothing and good walking shoes. You
also must remember to bring a hat, sunglasses and bandana as it
is quite dusty on safari. I was there in the winter months but it
was still quite hot on the crater floor. I recommend a fleece or
a vest for at night, since it tends to get quite cool due to the
high altitude. As far as Zanzibar (part of Republic of Tanzania)
goes, I would dress modestly. It is quite hot in Zanzibar, much
hotter than mainland Tanzania so I naturally recommend dressing
in light clothing. While I was there I wore knee-length skirts and
short sleeve shirts. If you are walking around Stone Town, I would
recommend wearing closed toe shoes.
Lauren, Bethesda, USA
I lived and volunteered in rural Uganda (East Africa) for 3 months.
In Kampala and most of the big cities including Entebbe, Jinja and
Lira, western clothes including jeans and t-shirts are completely
acceptable. Tank tops are acceptable, but try to stay away from
shorts. Most Ugandans don't wear them. Whenever possible, especially
in the smaller cities, wear long skirts. Most of the women in Uganda
wear skirts. Also try to stay modest as much as possible. Most places
in Uganda are pretty laid back and most types of clothing are acceptable.
I would stay away from jeans in the smaller cities though. You will
get alot of stares. When traveling in the north, dress very conservatively.
It is a highly Muslim area and can be quite dangerous.
Allison, Salt Lake City, Utah (2007)
Naturally relaxed jeans, naturally relaxed sweater - black. Naturally
relaxed to me means fit for YOUR body, not thin model tight or the
current baggy "androgynous" look, 1 to 1 1/2 inch black boots, invest
in a nice tweed/wool jacket (black or charcoal), and carry a nice
head scarf around, wherever you go. Being a Black American woman,
who is an avid traveller, this ensemble has gotten me appreciative
glances and nods from men and women, especially in France and Norway.
In Africa/Saudi Arabia, ditch the jacket and opt for a white button
down shirt, jeans and sandals (oh yeah, the scarf comes in real
handy here). It's about being tasteful and respectful of oneself
and others. Not looking too rich or poor. Just think Audrey Hepburn
and you won't go wrong.
Ife, Washington, USA
When I was in the rural parts of Kenya, interacting with the community
there, I was told that they prefer modest dress, i.e. shorts or
skirts that go past the knee and no open sleeved tops. I think this
has something to do with religious reasons. In saying this though,
they are easygoing people and will not criticise you or be too offended
if you don't follow the code.
Susan, Christchurch, New Zealand
My advice to women touring Kenya, is to leave your mini-skirts,
tight jeans, short shorts and the like at home. You may resent having
to dress like, what may seem to you, a "middle-aged woman." But
most young Kenyan women, especially outside the large cities, will
be dressed in loose-fitting, mid-calf length skirts or dresses.
If you dress the same way, you will fit in and appear to be "at
Evelyn Staus, St. Paul, USA
I travelled in West Africa and I'm glad I brought a good pair
of hiking boots to keep my feet happy in the rugged West African
terrain. This footwear saved me from lots of sprains and pains during
my stay there. In this part of the world, remember two things about
your boots, please--making them water-resistant is a plus during
the rainy season, and to avoid any nasty surprises, remember to
shake them out before putting them on! There are lots of interesting
creepy-crawlies ready to take refuge in your boots.
Sharon, Montreal, Canada
In Mali, West Africa, most women use only short pants for sports
and play. These are tolerated for casual wear, but sometimes not
appreciated. Exposing your breasts is generally more accepted than
exposing your thighs.
Sharon, Montreal, Canada
Learned my lesson! I brought lots of white with me to dusty West
Africa and found that it got too dirty too fast!
Michelle, San Francisco, USA
Cover yourself with light weight neutral fabric and colors. In
Muslim countries they treat you with respect if you honor their
culture while visiting. Modesty is not usually a strong North American
trait and in these countries it needs to be considered important.
Bright colors, uncovered arms and legs scream tourist. The natural
fabrics are, believe it or not, cooler in the heat. They breath
and hold moisture which is a good thing.
Phyllis, Santa Barbara, USA
Sudanese society is a very conservative one but at the same time
a very hospitable one. Revealing clothes in public places would
invite severe critism. Dress very conservatively whilst in public
- longer skirts to at least mid shin or loose trousers and tops
with sleeves at the very minimum up to the elbows. Should you have
the pleasure of being invited to a family home, do check whether
is it a more 'traditional' or more 'modern' family you will be visiting.
In either case, I would suggest dressing on the conservative side
for your first visit. Sudan is very hot and dusty in the northern
provinces, and light-weight, light coloured clothing would be more
comfortable. A hat is not a bad idea too. Hope you have an enjoyable
Elsudaniya, DRCongo, Africa
Mauritania, in northwest Africa is a Muslim country but it is tolerant.
Dress modestly and very understated. Even the cheapest watch that
you own will seem amazing to a nomad child. The women wear brightly
colored dresses or long skirts, their heads are covered but usually
you can partially see their hair. I bought some cotton skirts before
my trip. The heat here is a hot dry heat, so the long skirt kept
me surprisingly cool by reflecting the intense heat from the sand
and sun. I covered my head with a lightweight scarf to protect myself
from sun, but it was also useful to avoid curious stares, as I have
blonde hair. Forget about contact lens, there is often blowing sand.
While it may not seem to matter what you wear on first glance,
please know that only prostitutes and school boys wear shorts in
Cameroun. It is important to keep your knees covered here. The Kaba
(muu-muu) is really the perfect outfit to wear. Simply modify it
to have many pockets to hide things in. A local tailor can do this
for you. Wearing a muu-muu you'll be glad when you disembark from
the bush taxi desperate to pee with no cover in sight that you don't
have to pull down any pants.
In some places in Buenos Aires it's safer for a woman not to wear
skirts. They're considered to be provocative and men (mostly low
class men) could tease us, say embarrassing things when we pass
Griselda, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Argentine women, in business situations, dress in a way that would
be considered too provocative in the US. However, as a US business
woman working in that country, I want to appear professionally "nun-like."
Here are my two personal basic rules of dress. Stick with tailored
suits with above-the-knee skirts or pant suits. Add one more accessory
than you normally would in the US. For example, in the US you might
only wear a pin on a blazer. In Argentina wear a pin and a necklace.
P.S. Plan to dress in layers. It can be cool in Buenos Aires especially
in the evenings. (And down to the 40s in the winter June-August).
Wear a blazer or bring a sweater that you can take off when it warms
Argentina is as varied as the United States when it comes to climate
and landscape. However, when you visit Buenos Aires, you will soon
realize it's nothing like the rest of the country. The standard
attire is neat, fitted clothing, black leather coats, smart boots
with heels, small jewelry. You will feel out of place wearing baggy
jeans and flannel. Solid, sober colors and earthtones fit in better
than bright flashy prints. The key is to be neat and sleek. Outside
of Buenos Aires, stick to jeans, khakis, more casual (but conservative
in color and cut) clothing, especially if traveling with women only.
When traveling the countryside, wear comfortable clothing, layer
when possible. Avoid the miniskirt/short shorts, although you will
see it occasionally. For dressier occasions, stick to the Buenos
Holly, Fargo, USA
In Melbourne, the weather is very changable - you can have a nice,
sunny morning and by afternoon it's overcast and cloudy. Bring along
a range of clothing - jeans, t-shirts/blouses and long sleeved tops.
(Some skirts and/or shorts if you feel comfortable in them.) It
would be a good idea to pack a jacket - preferably a waterproof
one with a hood (or an umbrella), as it tends to rain quite often.
And, please avoid calling that bag that fits on your waist a 'fanny
pack' - you'll get lots of strange looks. Call them a 'bum bag'
Caroline, Melbourne, Australia
Travelling to Australia? It's best you to pack 1 or 2 formal dresses,
in case you might want to go to a posh restaurant. Otherwise jeans,
shorts and lots and lots of t-shirts are good. As for footwear-
track shoes and a pair of nice shoes are perfect
Sharon, Singapore, South Asia
When traveling in Australia, you could encounter several different
climates in one trip as I did when I visited. I went to Sydney,
Melbourne where it was winter, Ayers Rock which has a desert climate,
Cairns and an Island on the Reef which were very tropical. Knowing
I had to carry my own bags anywhere I went, I packed light. My advice
is to pack neutral colors in solid colors that can be layered. Earthy
colors like white, tan, khaki, navy and black are great for Australia.
A long cotton skirt, a pair of khaki pants, a plain white t-shirt,
a navy blazer, a pair of shorts and a cotton sweater and you're
set for just about any climate. If you plan to go out to someplace
dressy, you may want to include something to fancy up a basic outfit.
Mix and match and layering is key.
Sherry, Washington, USA
I traveled in Australia. My advice is to wear a bra under t-shirts
or any other thin fabrics.
Ed. note: Another little bit of advice. Roots
sweatshirts and T-shirts that are so popular in Canada are a no-no
as women's wear in Australia (unless you want to attract a lot of
attention). There, the term "rooting" is slang for "sexual intercourse."
I traveled to Australia and my advice is to pack neutral colours.
(I'm talking khakies). If your shorts, pants, and skirts are all
the same colour, then your shirts (what you need the most of) will
match everything. Only take a couple of pairs of pants, a few pairs
of shorts, a couple of long-sleeved tops, one skirt, and as many
t-shirts as you like. You'll be ready for any situation!
Heidi, Waterloo, Canada
Ed. note: Any situation? Theatre? Fancy lunch?
in Azerbaijan. Pants and longer shorts are acceptable in the major
cities (such as Baku). However once you get beyond the major cities,
only longer skirts (definitely below the knee) and dresses are appropriate.
Mindy, Costa Mesa, USA