Choosing Footwear and Clothing as a mature traveller.
While our programme materials always contain advice on specific climates, there are a number of helpful general principles to bear in mind while preparing for your trip. Packing for an overseas adventure can seem overwhelming, but these few simple tips can make it more manageable, and ensure that you arrive at your destination appropriately attired.
The right footwear is absolutely critical for a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience.
Prioritizing comfortable and snug footwear is never a bad idea. The ideal travel shoes are comfortable, lightweight, and durable to last the entire trip. Aside from the 3 essential criteria above, other factors to consider include breath-ability, style, and versatility.
You may be tempted to bring along an old pair of sneakers to discard at the end of your trip, but is it worth the aching feet at the end of each day? Always be sure to break them in before travelling; with new shoes, we recommend wearing them for a week or two to prevent blisters.
While specialized travel shoes are ideal, everyday shoes that are appropriate for city and country walking are suitable on most Odyssey tours. Multiple pairs of shoes are fine if each serves a different function. Additional footwear will depend on the nature of your programme, so be sure to look out for those instructions.
The following footwear options are commonly used by Odyssey travellers and our programme leaders.
Hiking Boots / Walking Shoes
While a lighter, multi-purpose pair of shoes is fine for a city tour, if you’re going on nature trails or a dedicated walking tour, pack yourself a pair of hiking boots. You want reliable ankle support and durability for outdoor activities. Remember to pick a pair suited for the terrain and climate. Cushioning is another important feature; shoes used for hill walking or backpacking should have more cushioning than those used for scrambling or climbing. Tip: choose boots that are 12-15 millimeters longer than your foot.
Odyssey advises you to invest in a quality pair of boots/shoes to prevent injuries on uneven terrain. As Sian Lewis writes, while shopping, try on as many pairs as you can. And wear the socks that you intend to pack in order to properly test the fit.
The Mystery of the Shoelace
How do you knot your laces? Is this article seriously telling me how to tie my laces? Worst case scenario: tripping on your laces can potentially shorten your trip, so it’s better to stay safe than sorry, right? The mystery of unraveling laces has long baffled some scientists. Their studies indicate that shoelaces became untied from both stomping and swinging motions.
The standard granny knot sees the same overhand motion repeated for both knot and bow. However, a square knot switches this action up: cross the lace from right hand in front of and over the left to knot, and cross right behind left to tie the bow. Confused? We are still trying to master it, too.
Waterproof footwear is always handy. While many hiking boots and walking shoes have waterproof lining, it does not necessarily make them waterproof.
A wet leather shoe is no good once it has been taken off. Leather shoes filled with paper will often take up to 2 days to dry. A gore-tex based shoe or equivalent will typically recover in a few hours. Found in clothing, gore-tex is also used as a breathable material for shoes.
Specialized travel sandals are easy to find nowadays, and they are perfect for walking and light trekking in hot weather.
Finding What Works for You
Socks are just as important as your shoes, helping to extend walking endurance. You can never go wrong with a good wool blend sock with a cushioned heel and ball. A blend of wool and synthetic material dries out overnight, ready for wearing again. Blisters form when you have too much movement in the shoe, so find a pair a socks that fits snugly.
Since clothes made from natural fibres are far more breathable than synthetics, consider purchasing clothes made from 100% cotton, linen, or hemp. You may spend a little bit more initially, but well-made clothes from natural materials are often extremely durable.
If you’re travelling in winter, or during cold weather, use natural fibre made from wool, alpaca, cashmere, or hemp to provide warmth while allowing your body to breathe. For travellers heading to warmer climates, we recommend light cotton, rayon, or linen. Pure wool actually works well in both climates, with the ability to keep you warm in winter, and cool and well-aerated in summer.
One disadvantage of natural fibres is that they take a little longer to dry than synthetics. A woolen coat, for instance, will need to be aired for much longer than a polar fleece coat. So be sure to weigh up these competing advantages and disadvantages when you make your choice.
Though a highly personal choice, we recommend packing darker and more neutral colours, which are easier to coordinate with other outfits. A darker clothing colour palette will also reduce the amount of time you need to wash them.
Since travel involves moving between spaces with different temperatures, we recommend dressing in layers that can be easily added or removed. Try to pack lighter clothing that can be layered; this also helps you to adjust to changing climates and seasons, and stay at a comfortable temperature while travelling.
Wrinkles and Creases
Where possible, keep an eye out for garments that don’t wrinkle, to save time on ironing. Likewise, carefully fold items when packing your suitcase to minimize creases. Keeping clothing in packing folders can also help to maintain cleanliness and freshness of garments.
Most clothing offers some degree of UV protection, but certified sun-protection clothing offers a much higher level, with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) that will limit both UVA and UVB rays. Always use 50UPF sunblock in warmer climates, which will block 98% of all UV rays. Sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat are also useful travel items in most destinations.
Luggage allowances for mature travellers may be generous on international flights, but always check with your airline. The challenge is often short haul flights within Europe, and local flights where allowances can fall to 20kg. For 3 or more weeks of travelling, this can be a challenge.
We want you to take in your surroundings, not be distracted by discomfort from your attire. It is also good to keep in mind that what is acceptable, or modestly appropriate in some cultures might not be so in others.
Are you ready for your next adventure?
Small group tours for senior travellers
Odyssey Traveller is famous for our small groups, and we average eight participants per tour. Our maximum group size is eighteen people, which ensures quality, flexibility and care that is tailored to our clients. We specialise in small group tours for the senior traveller who is seeking adventure or is curious about the world we live in. Typically, our clients begin travelling with us from their mid 50’s onward. But be prepared to meet fellow travellers in their 80s and beyond! Both couples and solo travellers are very welcome on our tours.
About Odyssey Traveller
Odyssey Traveller is committed to charitable activities that support the environment and cultural development of Australian and New Zealand communities. Accordingly, we are pleased to announce that since 2012, Odyssey has been awarding $10,000 Equity & Merit Cash Scholarships each year. We award scholarships on the basis of academic performance and demonstrated financial need. We award at least one scholarship per year. We’re supported through our educational travel programs, and your participation helps Odyssey achieve its goals.