A Backpacker’s Wardrobe: your guide to dressing on the other side of the world

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Struggling to plan outfits for your backpacking adventures? Our Fashion editor, Caitlin, gives you the run-down on how best to dress when travelling the world.


Backpacking isn’t a fashion show; you won’t find elephant trousers on the catwalks of Gucci. Forget which pair of Birkenstocks go best with your crochet kaftan and look for which ghastly printed trousers best show off your ankles. You need to be comfortable and practical on your trip! Seriously though, embrace it. There’s not many times in life you can become some sort of bohemian hippy overnight and totally work it. Here are a selection of outfits perfect for your backpacking adventure, inspired by my own:


The Temple outfit:

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Cold Shoulder Top – New Look

Tile Print Wide Leg Trousers – Topshop

Sandals – Birkenstock

In temples all over the world it is considered disrespectful to have your shoulders or your knees on show. This can be kind of difficult when its scorching hot outside and you’d love nothing more than strutting your stuff in a bikini. This just won’t go down in Asia. Floaty is the answer: Floaty trousers, floaty tops, God damn floaty shoes if it helps the situation. I wore a pair of wide legged elephant trousers- a backpacker must have, and a top, which could be worn both on and off the shoulder. Birkenstocks are the holy grail of sliders and I recommend them highly. Since you can’t wear slippers on the streets of Bangkok, these are the next best thing.


The ‘riding an elephant’ outfit:

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B&W Smock Dress- H&M

Cold Shoulder Smock Dress- New Look

It turns out; elephants aren’t the comfiest mode of transport. They also don’t come with their own air con; I wore a loose smock dress, which was ideal for keeping cool while travelling elephant-back .

The snorkelling outfit:

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Bikinis – both H&M

Sliders – Adidas

On this side of the world, nip slips are no joke. Tourists are expected to dress conservatively and even wearing a bikini in the first place is pushing it for a lot of places. For those times when wearing a bikini isn’t for the purpose of having enough skin on show for an optimum tan, look for a sport bikini. That thing won’t budge -trust me.

On the other hand, opt for a high neck bikini. The less cleavage on show, the better. Rubber sports sandals are ideal for the sea as salt and sand wears down sandals, I went for Adidas pool sliders and they served me well with no signs of wear and tear.



The abseiling outfit:

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Printed Joggers – Topshop

Cropped Vest – Topshop

Trainers – Superga

Backpacking can lead you to many wild and crazy activities, some you’d never expect yourself to do in a million years. With a fear of heights, this was definitely one thing I never saw myself doing. A sturdy pair of trainers is essential for those more daring activities.

With limited space in my backpack, I wasn’t prepared to bring along a pair of hiking boots. My canvas Superga’s were a lifesaver. Yes it was hot, yes it was sweaty, but I’m sure no one has ever abseiled a mountain and arrived at the bottom looking pristine.

Its best to cover up your legs when dealing with sharp rocks and unknown terrain, this is when my tailored indian trousers came in handy for something other then lounging on the plane. Paired with a Topshop ribbed vest, I was good to go.


The market outfit:

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Ribbed Vests- Topshop

Culottes (Left)- River Island

Culottes (Right) Topshop

Asia has markets galore and as a keen shopper I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some bargains, after some hefty bartering of course. Walking around in the heat requires a light outfit so I opted for a pair of trusty culottes with a ribbed vest. The hat is optional.


Got any of your own suggestions for backpacker wear? Tweet them to us at @LibertyBelleMag!


Words by Caitlin James 

Jess is your Deputy Editor

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