Packing for Conservative Countries: A Lookbook

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When visiting conservative countries like India, Bhutan, Dubai – you might want to stay on the safer side when it comes to your sartorial sense. As most of the countries are in the throes of great change, it is best to remain cautious and dress according to their respective cultures. 

Some areas might just be tough to navigate through when it comes to what you’re wearing since some people can be super prudish, especially in some of the less metropolitan areas, which also happen to be more touristy.

Like for a recent road trip to Uttar Pradesh, I made sure loads of kurtas and traditional tunics were packed in. And that was the best decision of my life 🙂

 Moving around in 45 degrees temperature in a pair of tight-fit jeans can be the most horrendous solution! So you don’t really have to stuff yourself into a pair of jeans.

If you’re looking at a quick and easy checklist to keep you safe on your visit, here’s what you can expect and adhere to when it comes to packing for conservative countries!

For Women:

Try to keep most of your chest covered. Cleavage isn’t welcome and is often stared at, which will make you extremely uncomfortable in crowded areas. Divert unwanted attention by taking cues from my recent visit to Uttar Pradesh, India. 😉

# Kurtas/Kurtis (with leggings, skirts, etc)

Just PERFECT for your conservative country escapades! These are cool, these are comfy, and these are extremely stylish! Team up your kurta/kurti with anything comfortable on the bottom and put your best step foot forward.

travel clothes for women

This was the easiest look to put together! Hail Kurtis!

#Tunic and Loose Pants

A long shirt paired with a nice short jacket or a belt can work wonders as well! I am a big lover of loose pants – I swear by them for summers in India.

Most of the times I pick the ones made of natural fabrics and do not hesitate to wear them during long hour flights as well.

travel clothes for women

I found the tunic to be a bit boring so added a funky jacket over it

#Salwar Kameez

An Indian woman staple, Salwar Kameez can keep you cool and comfortable on the go. Just pair your salwar kameez with a nice dupatta or stole and you are good to travel around carefree.

Or if you do not wish to invest in a salwar kameez, just put together a boho look like me (a Kurti teamed up with loose pajamas and a colorful dupatta I picked up from Jaipur).

travel clothes for women

Put a boho look together and you are good to go

#Ghagras (When visiting cities like Varanasi and Lucknow, heck yes! )

They look and feel every bit of a skirt but have added ghera (girth) to them.

I personally love prancing around in ghagras as they make for one of the comfiest yet stylish Indian traditional attires – just perfect for the conservative societies!

travel clothes for women

Just perfect for exploring conservative places

# Long Skirts (with tops, tees, shirts)

Don’t wear mini skirts or teeny tiny shorts on an excursion! Especially when you’re going around the city, be it any city at that, wearing something that exposes a little too much is not a good option since you’ll be taking it rough and tough while traveling.

Do wear cotton skirts that are long and flowy! Not only do they look uber cool and modest, but they also keep the heat away.

You may pair your long skirt with a chic Shirt to keep it stylish! So don’t forget to add that to your list of travel clothes for women for conservative countries 😉

travel clothes for women

Paired my traditional skirt with a Shirt! Couldn’t have felt cooler

#Accessorize

Sarongs, scarves, and handkerchiefs can be your saviors so make sure you pack those colorful beauties in abundance.

travel clothes for women

Colorful scarves would surely make you look amazing

For Men:

#Shirts with Loose Pants

travel clothes for men

Loose pants can be your ideal pick for conservative countries

travel clothes for men

You could even wear them with your shirts

#Printed Cotton Pajamas

travel clothes for men

Colorful printed pajamas never go wrong

Additional Tips on Packing for Conservative Countries:

  • Don’t wear clothes that fit too tightly- although this goes for the women as well. Men, leave those super tight skinny jeans back home and spare people the sight of those ill-fitting parts. Besides, most places are too hot for wearing jeans in the summer.
  • Don’t wear shirts or T-shirts made out of flimsy, transparent cloth that makes your insides all too visible to the naked eye.
  • Do remember to carry a handkerchief when visiting holy places, to cover your head. Also, avoid wearing shorts to such places, and go for cotton pants instead.

This all might seem too overwhelming for the travelers as adhering to these ‘rules’ while keeping it stylish can be tough. But there are SO many gorgeous destinations which are way too conservative that it’s not worth missing out on them all because of a dress code.

Just a little bit effort and a tinge of kitschy and quirky travel clothes for women with colorful accessories can add life to your packing for the conservative countries. So put your most adventurous and boho foot forward, go get exploring without anything to worry in the world.

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Have you been to a country where dressing modestly was extremely essential? 

Are you planning a visit to India?  Read all our posts on India here!

If a visit to Bhutan interests you, here’s our complete itinerary! 😉

Author: Prerna

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23 Comments

  • Reply Miranda May 26, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    You two look so stylish! These are really great tips. I ALWAYS hear people ask about what’s appropriate to wear to fit in well with the culture, and I love that you also chose pieces that will keep you cool.

    • Reply admin June 20, 2017 at 1:00 pm

      Thank you so much, Miranda. You made our day! 🙂

  • Reply Melanie May 26, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    This is super helpful! It’s always hard to know what to wear in different countries. You make each outfit look so pretty and comfy!

    • Reply admin June 20, 2017 at 1:02 pm

      Thank you so much, Melanie! 🙂

  • Reply Vibeke Johannessen May 27, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    I think it is important to dress appropriately for these countries, I think I would feel really uncomfortable if I didn’t follow these rules. I have only done this when I visited southern Egypt and it was not a problem at all. Definitely using something loose because of the heat. I love using long skirts. The Kurtas looks super nice too 😀

    • Reply admin June 20, 2017 at 1:04 pm

      Besides being nice, kurtas will keep you cool as well! And yes, it’s really important to respect the culture of other countries!

  • Reply Ricci – When In My Journeys May 28, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    Thanks for this. Everyone should observe and respect other country’s culture especially when it comes to what needs to be worn. On a lighter note, you guys can get into traditional clothes but manage to make it look so chic.

    • Reply admin June 20, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      Hey, Ricci – so good to hear from you! You made our day! 🙂

  • Reply Ana Ojha May 30, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    For conservative places, a designer scarf or stole is always a good idea. Love all your outfits and you have completely nailed it!

  • Reply Sona June 12, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    You both look great and I love the idea of loose outfit on a bright sunny day. Very vibrant and nicely done!

    • Reply admin June 20, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      Thank you, Sona! 🙂

  • Reply ada June 12, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    All those clothes make you look like a princess 🙂 so beautiful! My favourite are of course shirts and dresses but I also love those tunic and loose pants! I remember I had to had proper dress code when I was visiting temples in Thailand. Good to know the fashion, I am sure ill need it again one day 🙂

    • Reply admin June 20, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      Your comment made us smile from ear to ear. Thank you, Ada! 🙂

  • Reply rajat June 12, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    You guys look super cool and trendy in those vibrant outfits. And it is the best way to beat the heat in India at least. And yes,every country does have their restrictions, especially at the spiritual places, and India is no different.
    In any case, Indian traditionals are unbeatably stylish! You guys have brought it out well!! Kudos!!

  • Reply Carola June 13, 2017 at 4:24 am

    I would actually say, there are more conservative countries where modest dress is more appropriate than short shorts and tank tops. But to me flowing clothes covering shoulders and knees come with an added advantage in Asia: They protect you from the scorching heat! With that, I am though trying to avoid cliched or folkloristic clothes as I find that something like a sari can easily look ridiculous on a Western European, blond woman…

    Happy continued travels!
    C

  • Reply Gina June 13, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    Thanks for all the great info. I plan to visit India soon and need to keep it cool 😉

    • Reply admin June 20, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      Happy to help, Gina. Happy travels to you! 🙂

  • Reply Hang Around The World June 13, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    We are two like your (girl and boy) so we love the fact that you covered the outfits for both genres. The photos make everything so easy so you can create an opinion, thanks!!

  • Reply Liana June 14, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    This is definitely super helpful, since it’s hard to ever find a guide explaining everything so you don’t make a mistake. It’s all about respect tho.

    • Reply admin June 20, 2017 at 1:24 pm

      Yes, it’s all about respect! 🙂

  • Reply Madhurima Maiti June 18, 2017 at 7:11 am

    These are actually some great tips! I often come across people asking what should they wear in particular countries and regions in the world. This blog would be really helpful 🙂

    • Reply admin June 20, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      Most of the travelers often have questions in regards to what to wear/what not wear when visiting certain countries, hence the article! Thanks for your kind words, Madhurima 🙂

  • Reply Marge July 28, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    I absolutely love your OOTD photos here! I love that you chose bold colors even while keeping a modest type of clothing. Who says one cannot be fashionable even with reserved clothing?! I always take the culture of the place I am going to in consideration when I pack my clothes. The last thing that I want is to attract unnecessary attention to myself or offend the locals.

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