backpacking is not conducive to fashion.

In just a few days, I will be embarking on a crazy adventure to South America.  (Have no fear, dedicated readers. SWTCTW will be getting a guest blogger!)

I can’t wait.

In my mind, I had visions of looking somewhat cute in my pictures.  My rose-colored legit backpacker’s backpack, cute hiking shorts and a tank top, chilling in my Rainbows with a nice tan.  You know…looking like a really cool world traveler in her twenties. Then reality hit me like a case of food poisoning while shopping at EMS today–  I’m going to look absolutely heinous.

This ugly realization happened while perusing the shoe section.  I looked at the hiking running shoes.  Ugh.  All repulsive.  I usually mock people who wear these shoes, but in my defense it’s because they unnecessarily wear them as everyday shoes.  I would actually “need” them.  So I tried on a pair that was less offensive than the rest.  After deciding I could live with them, I asked the guy if they were good for backpacking.  “You will die if you wear those shoes,” he said.  Quite forcefully, too.  DIE?!  I’m scared enough as it is!  I don’t need your fear-mongering on top of my parents’ completely-expected-but-still-a-little-confidence-rattling paranoia, EMS dude.  He then pointed me to a pair of shoes that made my stomach lurch.  Yes, the ones pictured above.  I was panicked.  He told me I was going to die if I didn’t get these shoes!

The truth is that I’m just not that hardcore.  When I say backpacking, I mean exploring the continent with a backpack…not spelunking and scaling mountains.

And I’ve changed the mental picture I have of myself traveling.  I’m not looking to sound or act prissy.  So what if I’m wearing clothes that aren’t the most flattering?  So what if I don’t look my absolute best?  Who am I trying to impress?  I’m just glad I’m going.  I’m going to see the world and I don’t care what I have to look like to get there.

But those shoes?  NO WAY.  My old pair of kicks will just have to do.

[Posted by Kathleen]


Filed under adventures, fashion, humor, pop culture, random, thoughts, travel

4 responses to “backpacking is not conducive to fashion.

  1. Beefchocolatecheesesaltgarlic

    Kathleen, I have a group of friends coming down here to “backpack” in like 6 months, and we have already had a conference call regarding footwear. I will never forget my feeling of horror upon seeing one of my close friends, a mentor, really, walk up to me in Paris wearing the most hideouos outfit ever, complete with really really really really really ugly “backpackers’ sandals.” I get dirtyish clothes and athletic-wear and all that, but there has got to be a better option for our feet! Being adventuresome young people setting out on the trip of a lifetime should not come at such an ugly price! Resist! Fight the system! And when you find cute yet practical shoes, send me a link! Hasta pronto!

  2. Ok, I stumbled upon this post, but I have to shamelessly admit that I am going through the exact same dilemma. 3 of my best friends and I are about to travel around the world for 4 months and I am terrified of having to pack everything in a backpack, let alone take only 2 or 3 pairs of shoes. We’re going to such diverse countries (thailand, morocco, greece, etc) that it seems impossible to limit my wardrobe down.. but i’m glad to know i’m not alone in hating a lot of the ugly hiking/travel gear. Maybe we should start our own line…

  3. omg. despite stumbling across this post nearly two years after the fact, i simultaneously laughed and cried just now at how much it resonates with my current life stage. i’ve been working at my first post-grad job for the past 1.5 years and i recently decided to branch out & leave the company, but first am going backpacking through europe/a splash of africa for like nine weeks. and fack, i love clothes so i don’t wanna look like a dumpy bum with hideous skecher-esque clonkers. hence how i stumbled across your blog post (i simply googled “backpacking fashion”). i also read your “quarter-life crisis” post and wondering aloud why the eff i couldn’t have discovered this jewel of a blog earlier. you effin’ rock.

  4. estequestaqui

    hi, altough this post is two years old, i´d like to point out a few things. I am venezuelan, and when you north americans say travl to south america, i don´t know if yourealize how vast and wide this is in terms of weathers… and yes, i´ve seen tourist that look like they are going to discover the source of the amazon river…

    but moslty, at least in venezuela, you dont need more than shorts and sandals and some sun protector

    so, the bottomline is WHERE exactly are you going? and then answer the oufit issues. is completely different to go to any latinamerican city where you have all the comfort you can have in any city of the world, or go hiking the andes, or to the amazonas, or to a caribbean town

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