Dress Customs When Traveling to a Foreign Country
If you plan to travel to a foreign country here are some valuable guidelines when deciding on what to pack. Normally first thing to consider when packing for a trip is that you want to look good and at the same time be comfortable. You can do both at the same time! If there is a will, there is a way. When traveling to a foreign country, what you need to pack might take some research. To be treated well by the locals and if you want to be able to visit inside of religious buildings you’ll need to be dress like a local. If you’re wearing something that will make you stand out or isn’t following the local customs or religious beliefs it could be the same thing as wearing a neon sign
Remember, standing out in some countries may be asking for unwanted attention. Other countries you might find yourself in front of a judge. So if you’re still not sure if something is ok to pack, I suggest that you contact your travel agent.
How to Dress While Traveling in Europe
Local people in most European cities dress well at all times. To fit in you’ll need fitted clothes. You will be treated better if you are dressed up a bit. You’ll need comfort and at the same time, you want to be stylish like the locals. A few things to stay away from are white athletic shoes, tee shirts that represent any type of country or sporting teams and baseball style caps.
Europeans are known to be fashionably dressed. To fit in go for that tailored look 100%. I’d recommend a dressy top with a nice pair of slim fitting ankle length jeans, crisp & newer looking. For shoes go for the wedge look or a cute stylish flat.
If you’re traveling during the summer months you won’t want to be stuck indoors. Beat the heat by wearing breathable fabrics like cotton, linen or rayon.
If people do 1 thing in Europe, it’s walk. On the days that you plan to walk until you drop remember some of the “old town” areas are still old cobblestone.
You’re going to need shoes that are stylish and still provide comfort. Trust me your dogs will be barking extra loud on those uneven, bumpy streets.
I’d go for not an athletic shoe but more of a stylish sneaker. Not in white or you’ll look like a tourist. You’re not going to be able to enjoy your trip as much if your feet are hurting or worse you get blisters on them.
How to Dress in The Middle-East, Western Asia and India
Local customs and even expectations of how to dress vary quite a bit throughout the world. We all know that there are differences & laws with the way that people dress within each country. Did you know that the laws that get enforced could change depending on the city that you’re in?
Many Middle Eastern countries are very strict about enforcing their modest dress codes, especially for tourists. The dress codes are very different than Europe or the West. No shorts ever, no jewelry, nothing flashy. Especially no religious symbols, a cross will be sure to offend. Most area customs require women, local or tourist, to keep their hair covered. A good rule of thumb is to dress modestly in all public areas. Cover your arms and legs so that you don’t find yourself in an unwanted situation.
Women need to be prepared to wear a hijab (headscarf). If you’re not sure when a headscarf is required, assume that you need to cover up. You’ll need pants or a full-length skirt and a long sleeve, high neckline tunic that goes down to the mid thigh. Also, a manteau or mantoo is how it’s pronounced in Iran. There are manteau stores on the internet if you want to purchase one ahead of time, some are very fashionable.
Pants or skirt should cover our ankles. If you’re wearing tight-fitting leggings or skinny pants it’s best to wear a longer manteau to cover the knees. Another option is loose fitting pants or skirts with a long sleeve tunic that covers your bum. Open toe shoes are acceptable. The dress will depend on where you are traveling.
Dress for men is always more simple. Keep knees and shoulders covered, no flip-flops. Some Persian Gulf areas I’d suggest that it’s best to do long pants and long sleeve shirts. For some Middle Eastern countries, the key is to expose as little skin as possible. That goes for both men and women.
If you’re going to visit the dunes you’ll need a long scarf to tie around your head and face to keep out the blowing sands. Avoid bright/loud colors. Dress code for Saudi nationals can be quite strict. Men and women in shorts can be thought of as offensive. No shorts except in beach areas. Some places in the United Arab Emirates women aren’t allowed to wear swimsuits on public beaches and men must wear shirts.
Women visiting Saudi Arabia must have their hair covered by an abaya that will go over clothing and they are required to wear loose-fitting skirts of pants and a top that covers shoulders and midsection.
Men need long pants and a shirt with sleeves at all times. The traditional Saudi dress for men is referred to as the thobe. A long sleeved piece dress that covers the whole body. Usually seen in white, found very clean and crisp. Darker colors are worn during the winter months. The headdress is made up of 3 parts, usually white or red and white checkered. The taiga/tagiyah is a small white hat. The gutra/shumagg is a large square cloth. The aigal/ogal is the double black cord.
How to Dress in Eastern and South-Central Asia
Conservative doesn’t mean boring. Asia is considerably more modest in their style of dress when comparing to the western world. It’s important to be respectful to the locals. Dress to impress.
If you’re wearing sneakers out to any place other than the gym, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb, I mean a western tourist. Do take fancy, dressy footwear and sandals for everyday wear.
Some Asian countries do think that it’s disrespectful to show your knees or arms. Sleeveless tops are considered bad mannered in Thailand. It’s a good idea to pack light. Carry a fancy sarong with you to quickly dress up an outfit, use as a scarf, shawl, belt or cover up.
The Asian culture dress code is quite modest. They don’t show a lot of skin. It’s encouraged to wear sleeves and to keep your knees covered. If you want to wear your favorite sleeveless shirt you can pull a shrug or bolero over it.
Even though Hong Kong temperatures will heat up most of the year, you won’t find the locals wearing sleeveless shirts, short skirts or athletic shoes. Instead, choose to pack a plain color maxi skirt that can be dressed up or down by simply changing your shirt.
**Tip: Do a web search or youtube.com video search for more ideas of what the locals are wearing. A good option to start your search would be to look for most current events or the news
Temples and Synagogues
Keep a large lightweight scarf in your bag so that it can be quickly pulled out to cover your head. This may be required for entering religious areas.
Pack long skirts and shirts with ¾ sleeves to allow you to respectfully enter any a house of worship.
If you are in an area with a hotter climate and it’s acceptable to less covering. It’s a good idea to do this except for religious areas or buildings.
Be aware of your surroundings.
Keep a solid color scarf handy or pack some leggings and a shawl in your bag so that you can quickly slip when needed.
The Middle East predominantly practice the Islamic faith. They live with strict religious dress codes, especially for women. They do expect anyone visiting to follow them. It’s obligatory for men and women to cover their body with long sleeves and long pants or skirt. Some areas whether you’re a visitor a national all Muslim women must wear a hijab (head covering) or scarf to cover their hair once they reach puberty. A chador (full body robe) is a must when visiting some mosques or holy shrines. Men must also completely cover arms and legs with a long sleeved shirt with a high neckline and long pants.
Jordan is part Islam, part Christian. While visiting Muslim areas women hair must be dry and covered with a scarf or worn up. Some of the non- Muslim areas of Jordan especially Christian
Saudi Arabia forbids women to be out in the public without covering their heads. You’ll find most Saudi woman will wear niqabs (veil) in public.
Some of the popular Mosques may provide robes to tourists.
Dress code rules for men visiting Saudi Arabia should show respect by wearing long sleeve button up shirt and long pants for covering their skin while in public places.
**Tip: A good option for you is to pack light. Plan to purchase clothes when you arrive at your destination. This way you can wear exactly what the locals are wearing.
Muslim head gear explained:
Abaya: Robe that covers the entire body and veil covers the head and hair but the face is open and visible.
Burqa: Completely covers a woman from head to toe, including her hands and entire face so that even the eyes are not visible.
Niqab: The same as a Burqa except there is a small slit for the eyes.
Hijab: Traditional head covering worn in many places all over the world.
Chador: Similar to Hihab and will drape over the shoulders
Most Churches in Italy require arms and knees be covered
Vatican Appropriate: Knee and shoulder coverage will be required.
The Vatican is usually very crowded so they do keep their air conditioning turned way up.
I would recommend having a jacket or cardigan to quickly cover up your shoulders inside and for the warmth.
It’s understandable if you want to wear a sleeveless shirt while you are in line outside waiting to get in.
I’ve been there in the spring and trust me the beautiful sunshine was heating up.
You’ll need long pants /Jeans or a long skirt that covers your knees to get in.
Be respectful of the required wardrobe. You don’t want to be embarrassed.
Plus they want you to be able to visit just as much as you want to.
“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign”
–Robert Louis Stevenson
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