Why I Broke my Backpacking Rule

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I have commented on many people’s packing lists, professing that jeans are completely impractical.

They are heavy, they take too long to dry and are often too hot to wear. I have felt so strongly that I have stated this opinion with a holier than thou attitude.

I have not worn jeans for over six months.

That is, until today.

But let me give you some lame excuses:

1) Bogota is cold. I know 18C seems warm but I’m used to 40C
2) No one here wears shorts and I’ve fallen prey to the idea of not looking like a backpacker
3) People often think I’m Colombian until they see my clothes, my fitting in I have less chance of being robbed
4) My zip off pants are warm but I can’t wear them every single day
5) Jeans are 1/10 of the price I would spend at home
6) I’ll need warm weather clothes for Peru and Chile as well, I’ll wear them again

and most importantly…

7) I had to replace my pants that had a hole in the ass

These are all good reasons to be a hypocrite, right?

Join the Conversation

  1. Rules were meant to be broken! Sounds like too good a price to pass up anyway.

  2. I’m wore jeans to the office today – yep on a Thursday. That’s breaking the rules for me too. : )

  3. Were you able to get jeans that were the right length???

  4. …and to think you gave me so much crap for having jeans once.

  5. Haha. Good for you girl! You rebel!!

  6. Leggings anyone?

  7. Ayngelina Author says:

    Not the right length but only a little bit scrunched at the bottom.

    You had jeans when it was 40C outside, I stand behind my position that you were ridiculous 🙂

    Okay if I get into a position where they are damp and I’m running for a bus I promise to leave them behind!

  8. Camels & Chocolate says:

    I hardly ever pack jeans when I travel, only because I find them so darn uncomfortable and constricting! I tend to always wear dresses–and thick leggings if it’s cold. I get why you did it, though 😉

  9. Sorry Ayngelina…I’m not buying your excuses. Jeans for the traveler? C’mon! Ever try to dry them out on an overcast day when you got a bus to catch? They look real good draped over your backpack, don’t they?
    Let’s also forget that they weigh the same as the sum of all your other traveling possessions.
    Get it together, girl. ;]

  10. When I backpacked South America for 5 months I didn’t bring jeans because of what I read online. However, after actually backpacking, I really wanted them. I wanted to be able to look nice if I went out, I wanted to fit in and not look like backpacker from time to time… so yes, on my upcoming trip. I’m going to bring jeans!

  11. I actually love jeans for traveling. But they must be heavy jeans, so that they don’t get holes to early… 🙂

  12. Rules like this can always be broken or changed. If the benefits outweigh the disadvantage, I say you do it.

  13. as a weight saving measure, you could consider cutting holes in them. a side benefit to this would also be fashion.

  14. Nope. Nothing wrong with changing your mind and admitting the error of your ways.
    I actually did the same thing on my own RTW trip. After traveling for 6 months with the same clothes I was SICK of them and down to one pair of shoes which were boots!
    When we got to Europe I felt so frumpy in my backpacker clothes, I bought two pairs of jeans in Paris and a new pair of shoes in Spain which ((gasp)) had a wedge heel. Suddenly my self-image was much improved.
    Do what makes you feel good and makes you happy.

  15. Congratulations!!! I know all of the packing lists say don’t take jeans, but I never travel without them. Ditch those mega hiking boots, unless you really do climb mountains regularly, and pack a pair of jeans I say.

  16. You do what you have to do 🙂

  17. Good for you! I’ve had a pair of jeans in my pack for the last 5 months and got a lot of use out of them in Europe. To be honest I reckon all the received wisdom about not taking jeans travelling is over blown anyway – travel slow and be a little organized and getting them dry isn’t an issue. You look less like a backpacker, feel less like a dork and they are hard wearing as hell.

    I’ll happily take a pair on my next trip as well! 😉

  18. I’m going to buck the trend here and say that I live in jeans and can’t be without them when travelling. The key is to not wear them on hot days as others have said and to not wear them when doing activities that will require you to wash them a lot. Nights only, really.

  19. Oh honey, I have seen what is in your backpack…you don’t have to justify buying anything new…now you will be able to share your seat on the bus!

  20. A Tramp Abroad says:

    Ah man, I couldn’t live without one pair of jeans. But I hear you about the practicalities – cold in the winter, hot and sticky in the summer. They do protect against the mosquitoes though!

  21. I recently caved and bought a pair of jeans in Thailand. It’s still pretty hot to wear them, but sometimes, I just want to feel “normal” again instead of walking around in hippie traveler pants. Plus, you can dress them up a bit if you go out somewhere nice.

  22. I didn’t bring jeans…and next time I totally would!! The world wears jeans not convertible travelers pants!

  23. Jodi (legalnomads) says:

    I left my jeans out of my backpack until I got to South America and realized it was something I really missed. Now I don’t leave home without them – plenty of stretchy, thin jeans that roll up tiny but can be worn with everything. I agree with your decision!

  24. I absolutely love jeans for traveling. They are my dress down clothes, dress up clothes and my fit in with the crowd clothes.

  25. Are those acid-washed?

  26. How can you do without the trusted Levis? Took three pairs on my last trip. Would rather go without the ciggies then give them up!

  27. Rules are definitely made to be broken, but having said that I’m not a jeans girl. Believe it or not, I have never owned a pair in my life!!!

  28. Nancy D. Brown says:

    While I’m not a backpacker, I am a horseback rider. Even in Hawaii I will pack my jeans and riding boots. Actually, I will wear them on the plane.

  29. I think I’ve read those same post that say not to bring jeans but ummm I was gonna bring them anyway. I love blue jeans & used to own over 30 (now that I’m trying to become a minimilast & travel the world I have only 7). I know for sure I’m bringing a pair or two, because I know I will wear them all the time!!!

  30. Everyone “needs” a great pair of jeans…and those ones look cute!

  31. Devin the Travel Writer says:

    While I understand the weight and drying time. I still always travel with jeans. They are just too comfortable and go with everything.

  32. I always pack one pair of jeans – I can’t help. Everyone wears them now, and sometimes I feel out of place with my non-jean pants.

  33. You know, everytime you say “never”… that thing is going to happen 🙂
    Jeans are heavy, true, but they can replace 2 or 3 pairs of other trousers, as they are perfect in almost every situation and are so comfortable!
    And anyway you had very good reasons to break your rule 🙂

  34. David @ Malaysia Asia says:

    I stopped wearing jeans on my travels as they are simply too bulky and heavy, more so taking up too much of my small bag. 🙂 I love my cargo shorts too much.


  35. Hogga aka @ _thetraveller_ says:

    I just buy 3 pairs of the same black pants haha. They are cozy, yet look nice and can be dressed up, but also hiked in.
    I hate jeans. Yup… it’s out, I’m a jeans hater! A pants racist !!!

  36. Hahaha, hey, gotta be prepared to deal with the unexpected, right? I don’t judge you. 😉

  37. joshywashington says:

    Perfectly legitimate rule digression in progress. Every friggin pair of jeans I have packed for long term travel were eventually abandoned in some hostel for the reasons you outlined.

    Other things I have packed and ditched include; dress shoes, extra large magnifying glasses, giant hammocks and a box of Powerbars.

  38. I think jeans are unnecessary when travelling in the tropics but in cooler climates they are great to have. You will wear them a lot in South America. My pair are quite light weight and I’ve never had a problem with them drying as we get our clothes washed and dried at lavanderias for a few dollars.

  39. Cornelius Aesop says:

    A wise man once told me, rules are more like guidelines. Although that didn’t get me out of my last speeding ticket @(^_^)@

  40. You should consider getting some bling for the ass of your jeans. If you put the bling on your ass pockets, maybe strange guys on the bus won’t grab your buns anymore?

  41. hehe, the 7th point is really worth breaking your backpacking rules 😛

  42. Joseph Condron says:

    Rules are to make people’s lives easier not to make our lives difficult! So I say – wear the jeans!

  43. Scribetrotter says:

    I’m afraid I’ll still to my ‘no jeans’ rule – with one exception: if I’m going to be somewhere several weeks and won’t be on the road day after day, then I’ll run out and buy a pair for sure! But to carry around, no thanks. I can live with the weight, but not with the mildew. If I’m traveling in hot climates, they’re the last thing I’d wear. They look great but washing them means you’d better find a hot dry place to dry them… stuffing damp jeans into your backpack can wreck both the jeans and other items near them…

  44. Cheap jeans are always a delight.

  45. Only once did I carry jeans…but that’s because i was going to Norway!

  46. I’m still faithful with my non-jeans pants. However in Sydney’s summer, jeans shorts are everywhere. They are super cute, and at one point I lost control: I bought a pair. And worse, just a month or so ago I already bought the replacement! The new one is comfier, makes sense, right. So yeah, very likely I will have a pair of short jeans in incoming journey to Central America and Caribbean. But just the short one, for now.
    (Btw, true that it’s difficult to hand wash. But it’s jeans. We don’t need to wash it frequently, right… or ever!)

  47. I followed the no jeans advice of so many my first trips to Europe and really regretted it! And then, my last trip to SE Asia – in the hot humid rainy season no less!- I took them, and I would do the same again. So nice to not feel and look so much like a backpacker! And even in the tropics there can be windy, wet nights when they are comfy.
    Great blog btw – I also left a girlfriend, job and home to travel – worth it! Look forward to reading more on here – I came across it when looking for blog posts on jeans as I was writing one on my “travel gear” section.

  48. Katherina says:

    I loved this post! Actually, I’m a bacpacking cheater, cause I always take a pair of jeans with me despite all those packing rules. Why? Cause me backpacking means I’ll also might end up in a rather cute restaurant or night club and don’t want to be that tourist in shorts…

  49. I’m breaking the rule once I can find somewhere that sells jeans. I can’t handle it anymore. I’m half considering shipping my damn chucks down because I hate looking like a backpacker.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I felt the very same way. So tired of zip off pants and technical clothing. I am preparing to go to Europe now and I am just bringing regular clothes. I am tired of looking like a gringo.

  50. The Travel Chica says:

    If only I had bought jeans before Buenos Aires 🙁

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      So cheap in Colombia although the best quality stuff is in Peru and very cheap too.

  51. Had a similar experience in India. Didn’t pack jeans thinking they’d be to hot and western, only to find all the local young women were wearing them, at least in urban settings, so bought jeans to “blend in” better.

  52. I agree with you…i’m from Canada and I’ve been to Bogota…the first time there I was very surprised by how cold it was. Just checking out your website on packing suggestions ( going to Argentina and Chile in a couple days)…going to take the jeans! I hate the travel pants with the zip off legs–they sure scream tourist!
    Another point that I totally agree with you on is about packing cubes. They are truly the best for staying organized.

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