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What Clothes Should I Take?

What Clothes Should I Take?

The kind of clothes you take will really depend on where you intend to go and what you intend to do on your gap year. A mixture of beach gear, casual clothes, a fleece and a waterproof jacket is a good start. However, if you are going in for a spot of mountain climbing your kit list will need to be completely different: You may need all sorts of specialist kit, so have a think about the sorts of activities you want to do.

Do your research

Research the climate of the destinations you will be visiting. Remember, you can always buy more clothes when you arrive. You may start your trip in warm weather then find another country is in the middle of their winter. In this situation, you could begin with summer clothes then buy some cheap winter bits if they are required later. If you then find the sunshine again you can give away what you no longer need to other travellers.

Key clothes checklist

There are some key points to consider when deciding what you should include in your gap year kit list. Ideally your clothes should be practical, lightweight and quick drying. The essential items of clothing recommended are:

Waterproof jacket

It will almost certainly rain at some point in your trip. If you happen to be travelling during the wet season or in the tropics, then you’ll be glad you took one. It can rain heavily and relentlessly for long periods of time and feeling cold and wet while you travel is not the nicest of experiences. You can buy anoraks which fold into a tiny bag for a few pounds, or alternatively you can spend a bit more money and get a waterproof jacket that protects you from the wind and keeps you nice and warm. Again, it depends what kind of activities you plan to do, whether that be adventure travel or a less strenuous trip sightseeing on a guided tour .


Cotton casual trousers are great for guys and girls. A combination of full length and ¾ lengths is a good mix. Not only are they light, comfortable and quick drying but they roll up easily and don’t take up a lot of room in your backpack. They can keep you warm, but even in hot climates they are useful for protecting you from the sun and from mosquitoes at night.  Black, grey or green go with most colours, but more importantly they hide the dirt. Avoid military camouflage print as it’s illegal in some countries and you could be arrested if you wear it.


Many travellers will find themselves in nice hot climates so shorts and skirts are essential. They are great for keeping you cool and are brilliant for the beach. A note to girls; please respect the local cultures. In some countries you will need to cover up and not show off your legs. Wearing short skirts and showing off your cleavage in some places can cause offence and may even find you on the wrong side of the law.

T-shirts and vest tops

These items will probably make up most of your backpacking wardrobe and can be bought cheaply as you travel around. Another note to girls; in some countries it’s appropriate and respectable to cover your shoulders. Check before you go and perhaps take a mixture of t-shirts and vest tops.

Long sleeve tops

It is good to keep one or two in your backpack, because, as with long trousers, they are useful for keeping you warm on cooler nights. They can offer protection from insect bites and are great for chucking in your hand luggage when travelling around, as the air-con on flights and bus journeys can be colder than you expect. They offer some sun protection but can also be used for covering shoulders when decency is required, such as visiting temples.


Carry one with you to keep warm, but remember they can also double as a pillow on long journeys, or when the hostel pillows are too hard or dirty.


A bikini or swimming costume and swimming shorts should be in everyone’s daypack when travelling around warm countries. You never know when you are going to stumble across a gorgeous waterfall or beach. You may simply decide you want a refreshing dip in the sea or catch some sun rays on a beautiful beach, so keep them to hand.

Cap or sun hat

Sunstroke is something you definitely don’t want to experience. You may feel you are not really a hat person, but in sunny climates you most definitely need one. It can not only help protect you from sunburn but can also keep you cool and allow you to enjoy the sunshine safely. At the very least it’ll hide a bad hair day!


A sarong has many uses. It can be used to cover you up in the sun, be worn as a skirt or dress, and you can take it to the beach and use it as a towel or simply use it to dry off after a shower. It is light and dries easily.

It’s difficult to give a complete and exact kit list, as this will vary depending on your agenda and where you are planning to go. Our ‘What to Take’ section will give you some more detailed ideas and a helpful checklist. 

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