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How to be a fashionable traveler

How to be a fashionable traveler
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My little red backpack is my trustworthy travel buddy. I’ve jammed a few days of clothes to a month’s worth inside the raggedy, zipped interior. The first thing people always ask me is, “That’s all you’re taking?” Damn straight! Regardless of how long my trip is, I opt to only take a carry on. Ninety-nine percent of the time it’s my High Sierra Backpack. The second thing people always say is, “All those outfits were packed inside that backpack?” And my Minnesotan reply is, “You betcha!”

I scroll through Pinterest on the daily lusting after wanderlust photos. After years of epic fails, I’ve finally found the right balance between comfortable and cute. Here are a few tips on how to be the most fashionable traveler:

1. Thrift and find diamond-in-the-rough pieces to take with you

The best travel photos are the ones with beautiful fabrics and prints juxtaposed against a serene, lush landscape. And of course, a person with the biggest grin on their face. Sometimes it costs a fortune for these outfits. I opt to hit the thrift store racks and find pieces that no one else has and at a fraction of the cost.

As an added bonus, you’ll look especially hip and trendy if you dare to bring back vintage styles — hello, bell bottoms! I love looking at styles from different eras and wearing “throwbacks” on my trips. It makes you stand out, and if you wear it with confidence, it says you’re not scared to be yourself and strut yourself. Honestly, it feels like you’re giving the fashion industry a big middle finger, which is so empowering!

No, you can’t dictate what looks good on me and what I should wear. I decide that.

Read more about my thrifting addiction and how it is the No. 1 way I save for travel

2. Avoid athletic shoes like the plague

Unless you’re hiking or engaging in some athletic excursion, leave the athletic shoes at home! They’re bulky, not unique and hard to make a cute outfit with. Instead, I opt for a more durable shoe that has a little more pizzazz. For instance, when hiking in El Yunque I wore olive green loafers. The shoes were comfortable and weren’t an eye sore. For walking around major metropolitan areas, find a flat or a sandal that’s comfortable to wear. I constantly switch it up! (If you know me well, you know I’m a shoe addict and own nearly 100 pairs of shoes!)

If you must take athletic shoes with, I have a few additional tips on how to make them look stylish. Head over to my hiking fashion blog post to read more about it.

3. Dress comfortably

Nothing screams “unfashionable” faster than seeing someone struggling to walk or who is constantly adjusting to prevent a wardrobe malfunction. Yes, those stilettos may be the hottest thing off the runway, but personally, it isn’t appealing when the person donning them is writhing in pain. When you’re comfortable in what you are in, you’ll exude more confidence and look happier and more stylish.

4. Sometimes timeless and classic is the best bet

Timeless and classic is something that’ll never go out of style. (Can anyone say black and white stripes and bright red shoes?!) Classic is always a safe bet, and it’s always an easier way to pack. When packing I channel my inner Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. The styles from the 50s and 60s just scream fashionista and classic to me — mostly because of the simple prints and faltering silhouettes. To create the timeless look, stick to neutrals and basic pieces. Instead, splurge on accessories to dress up or down an outfit. Work with different fabric scarves and layering jewelry to add another element to your outfit.

5. Versatile pieces are your best friend

It goes hand in hand with classic pieces; versatile pieces are the best pieces to pack. Packing a black-and-white striped shirt? Pair it bright colored accessories for a fun beach look, or with more subtle accessories for a more sophisticated vibe. That striped shirt can be worn with a patterned or plain skirt, shorts and pants, and even with textured and multicolored scarves.

6. Take notes from the locals

Mimic the locals’ style. Flaunt the same patterned fabrics and get inspired by the clothing they wear. While in Colorado, I became obsessed with my olive green, army-inspired, cargo jacket. I wore it with several scarves and tops and it made me feel like a million bucks. All thanks to a lady I saw walking down the street!

The most important part about traveling abroad is to experience new cultures and to feel good doing it. If you look back years from now and laugh at what you considered “fashionable,” it’s OK. What truly matters are the memories you’ve created on that wondrous trip and that you felt like a million bucks making them.

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