The following guest post has been submitted by Amy Lyons. See all packing list posts here.
Growing up in rainy damp Ireland the ultimate goal of every holiday or trip was to bask in some heat. I craved warm breezes, feeling sun on my skin, and not having to take a jacket out at night!
But what sometimes comes hand in hand with heat is the dreaded humidity! Nothing puts a dampener (literally) on your day like non-stop sweating in muggy weather.
We sweat to keep cool, but when the humidity is high, the sweat evaporates more slowly – which means we stay hotter and extremely uncomfortable!
During a recent week-long trip to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam the weather was predicted to stay above 30 degrees (Celsius) with 100% humidity. And as I would be based in the city I couldn’t get away with wearing a sarong and flip flops, my usual go-to outfit to cool off!
I set myself a challenge:
- pack appropriate clothing
- pack light (carry on only)
- attempt to look funky!
I’ve come a long way from lugging huge suitcases packed with clothing that never saw the light of day. I’ve learned from the items I went back to over and over again.
The main things to think about when packing for humidity:
FABRIC and FIT
For humid weather, you really want fabrics that breathe as much as possible, and natural fabrics, as opposed to synthetics, tend to do just that. Anything that locks in moisture, and without air flow, is going to make you feel quite uncomfortable in an environment where moisture doesn’t evaporate so easily to begin with.
Please see comments for more ideas on the following information:
Cotton is an excellent material for humid climates as it allows air to flow in and around the skin, creating a cooling effect. It also absorbs the sweat and moisture from your body which keeps you dry and more comfortable.
Linen is also cool, airy and absorbent… but we all know how wrinkled it gets in a bag! I packed a linen/cotton blend top on this trip which felt really nice against my skin and didn’t wrinkle too much in my backpack.
Rayon is a unique fabric since it is technically synthetically manufactured but from natural raw materials. The end result is a fabric that can feel like silk yet is similar to cotton and linen in its cool, airy construction. It does not trap body heat and absorbs moisture easily.
Silk and Wool tend to retain heat and so are not good options for a humid climate. (Actually a good merino wool might do well. A blended merino wool would do even better. Check out the Icebreaker Cool-Lite line, blended with tencel.)
>>See why you should always pack at least one outfit made of quick-dry material.
Above all else, STAY AWAY from Polyester! This fabric blocks the outward flow of moisture and heat which causes the sweat to build up, making for one very irritated traveler!
Clothing for humid climates should be loose and comfortable. This encourages air flow around the body and allows moisture and sweat to evaporate, preventing a lot of irritation!
Items that work well are:
- Loose fitting singlets that skim the body
- Loose shorts that hang at the hip
- Maxi dresses, loose and billowy, also good for the evening time when the mosquitoes come out!
Vietnam Packing List
Black shorts – Cotton – go with everything, loose fit
Patterned shorts – lots of colours- matches with everything, loose fit
White singlet – cotton/linen blend
Black singlet – cotton
Purple singlet – cotton
Green dress – cotton
Black/white maxi skirt – rayon
Black strappy top – cotton
Necklace x 2
Underwear x 5
Bra x 2
Essential oils (for perfume)
Tea tree (mosquito bites, cuts, spots – anything)
Makeup bag: foundation, mascara, bronzer, eyeliner, lip balm
Black slip ons
Black thongs (flip flops for North Americans)
>> A comfy walking sandal would be useful if sightseeing.
Small over shoulder bag for daily use
To sum it all up – go loose, free and natural with your clothing and enjoy those tropical temperatures and exotic locations!
>>For more packing tips for this region, read our female packing list for Southeast Asia.
Book a Viator Tour for Your Trip to Vietnam
Experience two of the most popular activities in Ho Chi Minh on one convenient tour.
Hike for several hours each day to hill tribe villages belonging to the Black Hmong and Dzay ethnic minorities.
About the author: Amy is a twenty -something very far from home with relentless itchy feet… Having left the teeny isle of Ireland in 2009 her wanderings have brought her to the Americas, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands and beyond. She is about to launch her very first travel blog to chart her next epic travel plan – a 2-3 year adventure across Central/South America and Europe volunteering on sustainable farms and eco-retreats in order to learn how to set up one of her own! Watch this space!
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