Men’s travel fashion doesn’t come up on the blogosphere radar very often, perhaps due to the fact that you can often tell when a man is on vacation just by looking at him. He’s wearing either plaid shorts, or cargo pants with a dozen pockets, each one bulging with maps, sunscreen, and probably a couple dozen more things he doesn’t really need. He’s wearing sandals with white socks, a tee-shirt with a slogan on it, and a bill cap. He may be carrying a backpack that’s too heavy with a selfie stick poking out of the top. He takes his wife to a nice restaurant, but once they’re seated, you know the waiters are back in the kitchen laughing. He has heard the phrase “travel like a local” but doesn’t quite get its meaning.
It is possible for a man to travel in style, while still being comfortable and having easy access to all those little odds and ends, souvenirs, and travel guides.
Leave the backpack. Clueless travelers wearing stuffed-to-the-brim backpacks are often unaware of how much space they take up (never mind the fact that they look like a camel with that big hump on their backs), and there’s always one or two travelers in a crowd who turn around too fast and smacks some hapless bystander in the head with it. Do you really need all that stuff? Probably not. Travel light. The heavy backpack causes more problems than just being unsightly – travelers need to sit the backpack down to retrieve something, and it often gets placed on the sidewalk simply because there’s no other alternative. It’s unsanitary, and the backpack gets dirty very quickly.
“There’s nothing less comfortable than walking around with too much weight on your back,” said Chris Rivett, travel expert at HotelsCombined. “You can enjoy your sightseeing without having to lug around so many things. The best way to avoid this uncomfortable scenario is to select a hotel that is centrally located, near everything you want to see – that way you don’t have to carry everything with you, and it’s easier to just take a short jaunt back to your hotel room if you need something.”
Carry only what you need, make good use of your smartphone to replace all those paper guides with more convenient travel apps, and switch out that unsightly backpack for a crossbody men’s city bag. It’s small and light enough so that you don’t have to place it on the sidewalk when you need something, it’s unobtrusive and stylish, and it’s not going to give you a backache when you go back to your hotel later in the evening.
There are of course, some situations where a backpack just won’t do. Going to a Broadway show? Unless you’ve bought an extra seat for your backpack, you’re going to be out of luck. The city bag works in this case because it just doesn’t take up that much space.
Take along one set of casual dress clothes. You don’t want to be that guy in the restaurant. First of all, restaurants tend to keep their air conditioning cold, so even in the summer you may feel uncomfortably chilly in your tee-shirt and jorts combination. Bring one pair of nice slacks, a shirt with buttons on it and a classic blue or linen blazer. You don’t even need a necktie – you’ll look great, be comfortable, and fit right in with all the local powerbrokers at the next table.
Keep your destinations in mind when you pack your clothes. Visiting historic cathedrals in Europe, or Buddhist temples in Thailand? Dressing respectfully in those destinations is always appreciated by the caretakers, priests, and holy men present, and it may be mandatory – often at those destinations, shorts and tee-shirts are not allowed. Inside the Buddhist temples, you won’t be allowed to wear shoes, so make sure you have some clean socks on hand!
Make your feet happy. You’ll need two pairs of shoes: A good pair of walking shoes for sightseeing, and a nice pair of Oxfords or wingtips to go along with the casual dress clothes you’re going to wear to the theater or to that fine dining restaurant you’ve heard so much about.
If space in the suitcase is tight, you may even be able to get away with one pair of shoes which are good for both. While those sports shoes just won’t complete your dressier ensemble for restaurants and the theater, look at the category of “fashion-casual” which may just fit all situations equally. A pair of WORLDboots’ black Hemeras would work well in a casual sightseeing situation as well as in a semi-formal setting when you’re wearing slacks and a blazer.
Never, nope, not a chance. Besides the oversized backpack, there are a few things that you absolutely need to leave behind when you head out on vacation. First of all, leave the tank tops. Nobody wants to see that much of your armpit hair. Hawaiian shirts? Well, maybe. Depending on your destination, but usually not. And those graphic tee-shirts with racy or offensive slogans and veiled curse words? That might have worked when you were 16 years old and daring the world to take you on, and it may still work when you’re sitting around with your drinking buddies, but for vacation? Just don’t. And sweatpants? Seriously, dude. Leave them for the exercise bike in your back room at home. When you wear them in any other situation, they scream “I’m a slob and I don’t care.”
Great vacations start with packing great clothes – you may need to take a little extra time with your suitcase, and maybe even pick up an extra item or two, but there’s a lot to be said for fitting in with the locals when you travel, looking respectful when the destination calls for it, and achieving just the right blend of casual comfort and style.
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