Yes, you read that right. The following article is your guide to looking stylish during a long-term backpacking trip. Note: This does not apply to backpacking adventures through the great outdoors, that article will come later. I was utterly shocked in the last week of my recent 2-month European adventure when I had multiple people tell me they were completely surprised that I was actually backpacking. Each of them said something along the lines of “You look so good for someone who has been backpacking for so long! If you are wondering how I managed this, read below and I will share my secrets to ensuring you don’t feel like a stereotypical backpacker while you are backpacking.
- It’s all in the shoes: Though you may be doing more walking than you do at home that doesn’t mean you need to wear hardcore hiking shoes while taking strolls through the city. In some areas such as mountain villages this is, of course, acceptable but if you are strolling through Paris in walking shoes then please pop over to the Galeries Lafayette and pick up a pair of on-trend flats. I promise they are just as comfortable and will avoid you from getting any strange looks from the Parisians.
- Pack neutral colors: Though I’m never against a good pop of color, neutral colors are the best bet for long-term travel. They make the easiest versatile pieces that can fit just about any occasion. Black is always chic. So is white, but only if you are graceful enough to keep it clean. I fully admit I am not one of those lucky people so I tend to go for darker neutral colors.
- Take care of your hair: While it can be easy to throw your hair into a bun after weeks on the road it is incredibly important to keep your hair clean and healthy. Pack your normal shampoo and conditioner in travel containers so your hair has some consistency while on the road. While at home I normally straighten my hair, but after blowing out half the power of an entire hotel with my straightener in Spain a few years back I decided it was not a good decision to bring one on future trips. Though my hair was not always to the standard I keep at home I made certain it never looked like a mess.
- Nails, don’t forget about them: The number one aspect of my look that made me feel like an unorganized traveler was having chipped nails. Whether you can afford to pop for a manicure or plan to bring your own bottles of nail polish, keeping your fingers and toes pretty will do wonders for your psyche. Just make sure your lids are on tight if you are traveling by plane with nail polish as I have had mine explode! Tip: If you are going on a shorter trip get gel nail polish from a salon. It generally lasts at least two weeks!
- Accessories are your saviors: Since they are small and easy to pack, accessories make for the perfect way to dress up your look. Throw on a classy watch and your outfit will be instantly upgraded. Don’t go overboard on the accessories, just a few simple pieces and a casual set of earrings will pull a look together.
- Bring a handbag: If you use a handbag at home then it will make your life a million times easier to just bring it with you. If you walk around each city carrying a small backpack, you will still look like a tourist/backpacker. Bring a handbag big enough to stow away items such as an umbrella and your camera so that you still are prepared for the unexpected. Another plus is that the more you blend in with the locals, the less likely you are to get pickpocketed.
- Don’t forget skincare: One of the most important self-care aspects on the road is your skin care. If you have a specific face wash, bring it! Just because you are traveling doesn’t mean you should forget to take care of your skin. In fact, traveling often causes breakouts more often than at home due to changes in air quality and humidity. I would be absolutely lost without my moisturizer.
While it is near impossible to make a backpack look chic these steps will ensure the only time you are identified as a backpacker is when you have one strapped to your back. Don’t be afraid to throw in your favorite handbag, flats, and nail polish. When you feel good about yourself your entire outlook on the world changes. Make sure you are feeling chic so you can fully embrace your travels.