Choosing what to pack for conservative countries can sometimes be tricky to navigate, especially for female travelers. While some countries are much more strict with their cultural and social expectations, I always err on the side of caution and dress conservatively to avoid any unwanted attention or to cause offense.
For the most part, countries that have a large Muslim, Hindu and/or Buddhist influence are the countries that you’ll need to cover up in. It’s important to respect local and religious traditions at all times, and you should be aware of your behavior to ensure it doesn’t offend local customs — and that begins with dressing modestly.
Take time to think through your outfits and pack for your trip to a conservative country!
It is considered a sign of respect to keep your knees and shoulders covered, and so I’d recommend making sure you have items in your suitcase to do just that. When visiting very conservative destination, you may need to go as far as to cover your arms (down to the hands), hair, and feet.
Headscarves may not be required everywhere in a conservative country, but from my experience in Morocco, I found that whenever I received unwanted attention as a tourist, all I had to do was cover my head and nobody would bother me. My rule of thumb is to always have something I could drape around my shoulders and cover my legs with, in case it’s necessary while I’m out exploring.
Use my packing ideas below, but revise as needed based on weather and season for when you plan your own trip to a conservative country like Morocco, Jordan, Turkey, Dubai, Indonesia, and more!
1. Sun Hat // You’ll definitely need a wide-brim hat to protect you from the rays. Pack 1 or 2 just to be safe, and make sure they aren’t made of thick material that will make you sweat!
2. Light Scarf // I pack a scarf on every trip but you’ll definitely want a few throughout conservative countries. They’re great for covering your shoulder and chest, and still allow you to show off some style!
3. Sunglasses // Always protect your eyes.
4. Sandals // You’ll spend lots of time walking, so I highly recommend investing in a comfortable pair of supportive (and cute!) sandals. Check out my new travel sandals — available now!
5. Day Bag // I typically travel the ONA Prince Street Messenger because it’s made of high quality, sturdy materials, and it can fit all of my camera gear and wallet easily.
6. Long Sleeve Blouse // Pick thin, soft material for your blouses — they’re great for layering, and offers coverage of your shoulders and chest.
7. Short Sleeve Blouses // When you don’t need to cover your arms, short sleeve is much cooler — just be sure to watch the cleavage.
8. Denim Shirt // They look super cute with most bottoms and are perfect for layering.
9. Shawl // I brought one to cover my shoulders, but also allows you to wear something more lightweight like a tank top, while still being covered.
10. Kaftans // I travel with kaftans, shawls, and kimonos everywhere because they’re so easy to throw on to cover your shoulders, and mix and match with dresses.
11. Short Tunic // I paired a few different tunics with white jeans or tucked into a maxi skirt. Make sure the fabric is soft and breathable!
12. Longer Tunic // Same as the shorter tunic but you can layer with comfortable leggings, while still covering your backside (tight clothing like leggings alone can be frowned upon).
13. Maxi Dresses // You can’t go wrong with multiple, lightweight maxi dresses. I like solid colors so they can go with any scarf, shawl or kimono!
14. Midi Dress // A dress longer than your knees, with breathable fabric, is great when you’re out exploring (but cooler than a maxi!).
15. Leggings // I rocked white leggings A LOT on my trip. They were perfect for layering under tunics and shawls, and kept cooler than black pants. Make sure the fabric is stretchy and breathable!
16. Maxi Skirt // Having a maxi skirt or two makes it easy to throw together an outfit — pair it with a blouse, or a shorter kimono.
17. Flowy Pants // Who doesn’t love a comfy pair of flowy pants?! Mix and match patterns and colors.