How to pack for conservative countries

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You’re going to a conservative country...what the heck do you wear?!

Okay before we get started, let’s define conservative country. My rule of thumb is if you’re traveling to a country that has a large Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist influence, you’ll most likely need to cover up.  While you might not practice these religions, you’re on their turf and it’s a sign of respect to follow their customs. You NEVER want to be THAT person when you’re visiting a new place.

But if you’re used to wearing whatever the heck you want, figuring out what to bring can be totally difficult. So I’ve put together a list of some of the essentials you’ll want to pack.

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A good rule of thumb: cover your knees and shoulders. And if you’re visiting a VERY conservative country (Saudi Arabia, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, etc) I think of the song ‘Head, shoulders, knees and toes…’ Lol good way to remember what to cover.

Speaking of your head, you might not need to wear a headscarf everywhere you go but it might be required in some religious monuments. So, always good to have a scarf in your backpack to pull out when needed.

I used this list to help me pack for my trips to Turkey, India, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Morocco. The weather might be different in each location so adjust accordingly.

Okay, let’s get started!

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Must Haves:

Scarf // This will be your new best friend. I always bring a few of these to match different outfits. You can use this to cover your head or your shoulders when the situation requires it.  I also love to use them in the evenings as a wrap when a jacket might be too warm.

Hat // You guys know I love my hats and I never travel without a big one. The Brixton hat I linked is what I LIVED in all summer. I also love this Lack of Color Rancher (it’s what I wore all throughout India). I’ll be honest, the main reason I bring them is style but they also serve a great purpose - blocking the sun!

Sunglasses // speaking of sun, protect your eyes! Many of these countries might be in the desert or an area that gets lots of sun. You want to make sure it’s not just your shoulders you’re covering.

Comfortable shoes // I know I’m not the best person to be speaking about “practical shoes” but I’ve been burned enough times to know the importance of a good pair of walking shoes. And listen...they don’t have to be ugly burks (even though I own a pair). But you’re going to want a solid pair of shoes wherever you go. These are the shoes I wore EVERYDAY in India and Dubai and I never once got a blister. Also I love a good pair of espadrilles if you want to keep your feet covered.

Backpack // I recently started carrying a backpack for all my day trips and I can’t believe it took me this long to do so.  Coming from a girl who has a ton of crap to carry around all the time, this is an essential item. Again, it doesn’t have to be ugly. I’ve been carrying around a cute Forever 21 backpack and it does the trick! But now it’s falling apart and I need a new one.

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Dresses:

Maxi Dresses // I am not joking when I say I brought about 15 of these to India. Now if you’re more practical than me you might only need 5 for a long trip. Either way these are a staple.  Look for some that are loose and light. I bring a variety of sleeve lengths too (spaghetti,t-shirt, long sleeve,etc)

Midi Dresses // These are perfect for days when you’re walking around. They go past your knees so it’s still appropriate but it’s much cooler than a maxi dress. Plus you don’t need to be holding it up the whole time. ( I also love this one & this one).

Caftans // This is my way of bringing a little bit of Palm Springs with me wherever I go. These are great cover ups or evening attire.  I even wore one I found at the Fine Art of Design in Palm Springs to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. I mainly find these when I go vintage shopping.

Jumpsuit // These are my favorite! Mainly because they’re super easy and comfortable. I try to find ones that are loose and easy to get in and out of.

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Tops:

Tunic // These are awesome because they cover your butt lol. They’re great too because you can dress them down for day tours or up for evenings out.

Long Sleeve or Short Sleeve Blouse // These are a staple if you need to cover your shoulders.  Try to find ones that aren’t too see through so you don’t need to wear an undershirt.

Cotton Top // I mean what do you really say here. It’s a basic and a staple.

Kimono // I love these because they’re super stylish and they breathe! You can use them as a coverup too!

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Bottoms:

Maxi skirt // Same as the maxi dress, these will be your new best friend. I try and take a long one that touches the ground and one that’s a bit shorter that doesn’t drag.  Make sure the material breathes or else you’ll have swamp a$$ wherever you go lol.

Loose pants // keyword LOOSE. These are my favorite pants to rock, mainly because they’re forgiving. I also call these my eating pants. These are totally in style now and won’t be hard to find.

Leggings // I try to avoid these as much as possible. For two reasons: 1. They don’t breathe that much and 2. Many countries find them offensive (too tight). They do come in handy though. When I visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque my caftan had slits up the side.  You literally cannot show any skin there and the guards are really looking at everyone thoroughly. So I popped on a pair of leggings underneath to make sure I was fully covered.

IN CASE YOU NEED HELP PACKING FOR A LONG TRIP CHECK OUT MY VIDEO GUIDE!

OR IF YOU’RE GOING TO INDIA AND PLAN TO WEAR A SAREE - HERE’S A VIDEO SHOWING YOU (KINDA) HOW TO WRAP ONE (IT’S MOSTLY BLOOPERS)

I hope these tips were helpful! I’d love to hear from you if you’re visiting a conservative country, where you’re going! Let me know if you have any other questions. Comment below or send me a DM on Instagram, I’d love to hear from you!

Adventure awaits!!

xx

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