6 Summer-Travel Fashion Tips to Keep You Cool

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Linen Pants
Photo by Nick Gray / CC BY-SA 2.0

As a recent expat to the sunny land of Costa Rica and frequent world traveler, I am beginning to understand the dynamics behind dressing for the heat.

It’s hot here. I can’t even begin to describe how the humidity makes it feel so hot. It’s hot all the time, unless it’s raining, which makes it colder, yet, wet.

If you’re planning on moving to the land of perpetual summer or if you’re just planning for a one-week tropical vacation, here are some tips to keep you dry and cool while traveling in humid climates:

1. Don’t wear jeans.

Americans are obsessed with jeans. I was once like that. In my older years, I have come to view jeans as the worlds most uncomfortable comfort blanket. It’s time to get over it. They’re thick, they’re hard; They cut into my side and give me an awkward muffin top. I am not built for jeans.

Wearing jeans in the middle of summer at the beach or in a tropical area just screams, “American tourist.” You might as well be wearing a fanny pack. Don’t be that person.

Katie in Thailand
Katie in Thailand

Above is a photo of my first trip to Thailand. It was sweltering and I was hiking in jeans, two cotton t-shirts, and a pair of Vans slip-on shoes. Don’t be me. Prepare yourself for the climate and bring the right shoes if you’re going to hike.

2. Do wear non-jean shorts and light, flowing pants.

Instead of wearing your sweaty jeans, invest in some linen pants. These linen pants from Roxy will keep you cool, they won’t break the bank, and you don’t have to up your sense of style. These pants have become my favorite piece to wear. Alternatively, brightly colored, flowing harem pants are universally stylish now, so pick yourself up a pair of those as well.

For the more luxury traveler, Level 99’s linen-blend shorts are amazing. The price is a bit steep but you won’t regret it.

3. Don’t wear cotton*.

This will be hard for Americans to accept, as we’re raised to think cotton the comfortable fabric around. The issue with cotton is its inability to completely air dry.  Electric driers are spares or expensive in Costa Rica and other tropical regions. Cotton tends to stay damp and carry a moldy smell if left to air dry. Be smart and get some of these alternatives listed below.

*Linen-cotton blends don’t count. You need the cotton mixed in so you don’t look like a wrinkly mess.

4. Do wear dri-fit or linen

My boyfriend purchased a ton of dri-fit t-shirts from Hanes before we left and he practically lives in them. When I wore dri-fit clothing in America I always found myself stinky, but if you’re sweating all the time, the fabric actually helps wick away the moisture. I can’t smell him at all. For myself, I purchased some cheap linen t-shirts from Target before I left. Uniqlo, to my despair, released an entire line of well-made, cheap linen-blend clothing items immediately after I left for my trip. I missed out, but you don’t have to.

5. Don’t bring anything leather

Think you need your leather bags, shoes, or belts? Think again. Tropical regions are so wet here that your fancy leather bag or sassy leather sandals will mold.

6. Do buy some 100% rubber sandals.

I picked up these iPanema sandals, thanks to a tip from Travel Fashion Girl, and I am happy with the purchase. The sandals are cute and comfortable. Stepping through the mud is never an issue since they’re easy to rinse. I have worn these everywhere; from walking through the rainforest (I tend to never wear the right shoes while hiking), to playing inside of a rocky ocean. These sandals are amazing.

Rubber Sandals

Above: The Rainforest Botanical Garden in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. iPanema sandals and light-weight, crazy harem pants. Practicing what I preach, y’all.

What are some of your tips for keeping cool & dry in the tropics? Is something I said completely bullshit? Post a comment to let me know or e-mail me directly at katie@katiestrails.com!

If you need more tips on what shoes to bring to the tropics, check out my article on Travel Shoes for Women at KatiesTrails.com today!

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