Stephen F. Dennstedt
I wish the following was my quote but it’s not: There is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing (Billy Connelly). That along with my motto (live simple, live cheap, live free) sums up my philosophy on travel nicely. There is always an excuse not to do something.
I plucked this quote from a fellow blogger who is a professional house-sitter, she and her husband travel the world full-time like me and visit countries for extended periods of time by house-sitting. I also like to burrow into a country and peel the onion as it were. That’s the whole point of Slō-Travel.
Slō-Travel is another term I picked up along the way (I think from my friend Paul France another veteran world trekker). Slō-Travel implies visiting fewer places but staying longer, seeing less but experiencing more. Getting to know a place intimately (burrowing beneath its surface) and making new friends. Euphemisms can be great for helping to define hard to explain concepts. Another one I use often comes from fellow travel photographer Elia Locardi.
Tierra del Fuego (Southern Patagonia) Argentina
Location-Independent. Basically Location-Independent means that you are technically homeless with no permanent residence (house, city or country) and that has been my status for almost six years. I often refer to myself as a turtle or crab, I carry my house on my back in the form of an Osprey rucksack and my office rolls behind me in a Pelican hard case (containing my photography kit). My house is on my back but the world is my home and every person I meet is potentially a new friend. It’s a lifestyle not suited to everyone but for me it works. Some need the security of place and stuff.
The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Back to the opening quote about weather. I don’t pay too much attention to weather when travelling—it is what it is. I just try to have the proper clothing with me to accommodate myself to any given meteorological challenge that might present itself. I’ve been in hot deserts during the summer and high mountain peaks in the winter. I’ve travelled in tropical climates during monsoonal rains and lounged on beaches anticipating tropical storms and even hurricanes. Actually, visiting places in their so-called off-season can be a real advantage: lower prices, fewer people and a different perspective.
Natural Limestone Cenote – Yucatan, Mexico
When travelling, especially full-time like I do, my advice is to think layers. I’ve been bundled up (head to toe) in five layers while travelling through Southern Patagonia in Argentina and down to one layer (bathing suit and flip-flops) on the beaches of Playa Samara in Costa Rica. In cold rainy weather waterproofs (as the British call them) are useful, it hot rainy weather just get wet and enjoy the respite. Clothing should be rugged and durable and sized for comfortable layering. If you’re travelling on holiday (and staying in all-inclusive resorts) clothing isn’t much of a problem.
Valle de la Muerte – Atacama Desert, Chile
But if you’re trekking the world on a budget, with just a rucksack like me, each piece of clothing becomes increasingly important. Space and weight are at a premium because you’re carrying everything on your back so plan wisely. Always choose function over form, your clothing has to perform as advertised regardless of the fashion statement it makes. When I travel I look like I just returned from an African safari, that’s because I find safari type clothing to be eminently practical. I recommend wool for base-layers (underwear and socks), poly-cotton blends for mid-layers (pants and shirts).
And don’t forget water-resistant (or waterproof) clothing for your outer-layers. Mix and match as needed depending on the weather at hand. A wide-brimmed hat (not a baseball cap) is indispensable for both sun and rain (hot and cold) and gloves and scarfs are mighty handy in cold and windy weather. The purpose of your clothes is to protect you not necessarily to flatter you—again, function over form and not vice versa. I hope it’s obvious I’m talking about longterm adventure travel (backpacking the world months at a time) and not all-inclusive resort tourist travel.
If you’re on short-term holiday in a resort dress however you want and enjoy your margaritas. But if you’re planning to be a serious trekker and adventure traveller then plan seriously and do your research. Each item of travel kit needs to serve a purpose and be fully functional. It must be rugged and durable. At the risk of sounding sexist I think men are typically better at this (there are exceptions of course). But I’ve seen lots of women on the trail wearing inappropriate footwear, for example: flimsy Italian strappy sandals instead of heavy-duty shoes, Keen sandals or boots. Plan smart to be smart.
Stephen F. Dennstedt – Northern Amazon River Basin, Cuyabeno, Ecuador