Okay. So I realise I may have said that this blog wasn’t going to include advice on what you should pack for a trip around the world – or any trip, really.
I changed my mind.
Kind of. What is about to follow isn’t really advice.
More like an epiphany. A denim epiphany.
So. You’ve finally found the perfect pair of travel pants.
They kick denim’s arse. They’re light-weight, super quick to dry. Dark coloured, water-resistant and moisture wicking so no need to worry about any potentially mortifying backside sweat patches that might plague other, lesser pants.
They even zip into shorts that you will probably never wear (but at least it makes them easier to wash in a tiny guesthouse sink!). They’re roomy enough to wear thermals under, keeping you plenty warm on a windy pass at 5,700m above sea level.
But they’re also not too constrictive. This means you can wear them in Upper Egypt in 50 degree celsius heat, ensuring you retain your modesty, thus one-upping the older European women on package tours wearing shorts, a crop top and heels to visit the Valley of the Kings.
Once upon a time, there was no room for denim in my backpack.
I loved my North Face pants. I bought them on the first day of my RTW trip when I power-shopped my way around San Francisco’s outdoor clothing stores, purchasing things that were two or three times cheaper than what I would have paid for them in Australia.
I wore my travel pants every day of my trip. Mostly.
I know what you’re thinking. That’s pretty gross. But they were quick dry!! So I could wash them and be wearing them again within an hour or so. Except for in colder climates, when I was wearing the aforementioned thermals underneath anyway.
But there was a problem.
With the weight I’d lost, they became hipsters that would make Britney Spears proud. It wasn’t really a look that went with my hiking boots.
And I’d met some travel companions who wore jeans everywhere.
There’s no way you can wear those on the Kailash kora, I insisted.
(The Kailash kora is a 53 kilometre circuit around Mt Kailash, in the far western reaches of Tibet. The entire trek lies above 4,500m and crosses the Drolma-la, a 5,700m pass. It takes foreigners three days to complete, and we were there at the beginning of winter)
They proved me wrong.
So, in New Delhi, I went to a fancy western chain store. And I bought a pair of jeans with more than three day’s worth of my budget.
And it was heaven.
I wore them in the cold, with thermals underneath.
I wore them with hiking boots.
I wore them with city boots.
I wore them with flip-flops.
And I wore them in Southern India – to the beach! – and I didn’t overheat.
Sure, they weren’t quick-dry. And the second time I put them on I accidentally put my foot through the small, fashionably pre-ripped hole in the knee, turning it into a gigantic tear through which my entire knee poked whenever I sat down. Locals in India and Burma found it incredibly amusing.
But I felt good. And not crusty. Even if I didn’t really wash them all that often.
In the end, it was the jeans that made it home. My North Face travel pants were left behind at a hostel in London as I frantically tried to fit all the crap I had acquired in Europe into my pack for my flight to Thailand.
For my trip to South America, I’m going to buy another pair of travel pants. Because they really are great for travel, especially trekking.
And no matter what may have been proved in Tibet, I don’t think I want to trek the Inca Trail in denim.
But I am going to pack some jeans.
I wear them nearly every day at home, no matter the season.
So why wouldn’t I want to wear them on the road?
What do you think? Jeans or no jeans? And if you’re on Team Jeans, how many pairs do you take and how often do they get washed?