How to prove you're a hardcore traveller

Freedom. It’s one of the big reasons many people travel. Freedom to go anywhere, do anything, be whatever you want to be.

And yet, with all this freedom, long-term travellers all seem to end up looking exactly the same after a while. Doesn’t matter where you’re from, there are certain clothing staples that all travellers feel the need to display.

So for those of you new to this game, maybe just setting out on your first trip, here’s what you need to ensure everyone knows you’re a hardcore traveller (not a tourist - urgh).

Teva sandals
Are Tevas really any better than other sandals? Do they actually look any good? I’ll let you decide the answer to both those questions, but the truth remains that if you want to look like you take this travelling business seriously, you need a pair of Tevas strapped to your feet. Normal thongs are for showering, man.

Zip-off pants
Can’t people see you’re in a hurry? There are sights to be sighted! Attractions to be attracted to! You don’t have time for such trifling inconveniences as taking off your long pants and putting some shorts on. You need a combination garment! And who cares if they look ridiculous? This isn’t a fashion show.

Thai fisherman pants
You don’t want to look like a “tourist” wearing your fancy Western clothes. You want to fit in, do what the locals do, wear what the locals wear. So you don some Thai fisherman pants, and wind up looking like a “tourist” that stole someone else’s clothes.

Beer Chang T-shirt
Unfortunately, they don’t make “pad Thai” T-shirts or “banana pancakes” spray jackets, so you just have to be content advertising the beer you’ve been drinking over your entire stay. A good traveller will be able to interchange one of these with a Beerlao singlet and one of those red T-shirts that has Coca-Cola written in Thai on it.

Hardcore hiking boots
Sure, the only trek you’ve done in the last few weeks is from the hostel to the backpacker bar around the corner. But you never know when that Everest base camp hike is going to happen. It pays to be prepared.

A single lock of braided hair
Because nothing says “I’ve been to a country that does hair braiding” like some braided hair. You don’t want to get your whole head done though – that would look silly.

When you think about it, it’s the perfect travelling hairstyle – no maintenance necessary. But let’s see how many people hang onto them when they go back to their real lives at home and try to get a job. (Fine, I’m just jealous that I can’t grow them.)

An elastic headband/bandana thingy
This is mostly for the girls. Because you’re so laidback, you don’t even bother doing your hair anymore. But, like, you don’t want people to actually see what that looks like...

A keffiyeh
This piece of traditional Arabian headwear will provide definitive proof that you’ve been to either Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, or Cotton On down at your local Westfield. It shows you appreciate cultural diversity, but not at the expense of style.
A backpack with patches
Don’t wait to bore your fellow travellers with tales of where you’ve been and things you’ve seen – advertise them on your backpack! That way you’ll immediately know how many more places you’ve been to than the backpacker travelling next to you. See someone sporting an intimidating number of patches? Move away.

Expensive camera equipment
Your clothes might be ratty and your pack might be falling apart, but that’s no excuse not to be sporting thousands of dollars’ worth of high-end camera equipment and the sort of telephoto lens that will allow you to take photos of Mars. And nothing says “fitting in with the locals” like poking a giant camera in their faces.

An abundance of woven necklaces/bracelets
“Yeah, you know, I just pick one up wherever I go. It’s sort of supporting the local economy, you know? Giving back and stuff.”

What do you think hardcore travellers should wear?

My travel memoir, Five Ways to Carry a Goat, is in bookstores now – it’s the tale of my travels staying with you, the kindly readers of this blog. For more information, or to check out photos from the trip, head to my website. Otherwise, send topic suggestions/personal abuse to

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