Traveling with jewelry and accessories is a great idea– they’re lightweight, take up next to no packing space, and can jazz up even the most ragged and unwashed outfit. But don’t just pour your entire jewelry box into backpack. Instead, you need to think about the following things:
Is it valuable?
Whether financially, emotionally, or both, you need to assess whether the enjoyment you’ll get from wearing your favorite bits and bobs would compensate for their loss.
Follow the same rule that applies for anything of value you might choose to take travelling: is it worth losing this? If the answer is “no,” then leave it at home.
In other words: do take a few cheap and cheerful pieces that brighten up an outfit and bring a smile to your face, but don’t take the priceless diamond engagement ring that your great-grandmother left to you on her death bed.
The other important thing to remember is that wearing flashy-looking jewelry is going to make you more of a target for robbery no matter where you are in the world – but that this is going to be particularly the case in developing countries where poverty is rife and visiting foreigners may well be perceived as being in possession of unimaginable wealth.
Use your common sense – if you’re going to somewhere like Japan, which has very low crime rates, you’re a lot less likely to be robbed for your jewels than you are in Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval – and assess the risk before you go.
Also keep in mind that hotels and hostels aren’t always as secure as you would like them to be. Other travelers in shared dormitories and light-fingered staff have been known to pilfer bits and pieces, and it’s not unknown for valuables to go missing from a hotel safe box or from inside lockers.
If the thought of leaving a beloved or meaningful piece of jewelry at home makes you sad, you can always make it a habit to try and pick up a new piece at every new place you visit – it doesn’t have to be fancy – and wear that on your travels. When you get home you’ll have a new piece that’s full of happy memories that’s great for lifting your mood on a grey Monday morning.
Is it versatile?
Ideally everything in your backpack or suitcase will have multiple uses, to get the most efficiency in the smallest space possible. Decide what clothes you’re going to take with you first, and then pick the jewelry and accessories to match. There’s no point brining a bling-tastic diamante choker when you’re only packing t-shirts and beach shorts, after all.
Lightweight scarves are the most versatile travel accessory of them all – as Teresa has already written about in more detail, you can use them to jazz up an outfit, for additional warmth, as a shawl to make yourself modest, or as a makeshift pillow, towel or sarong. If you’re still feeling uninspired then try watching some of the many video tutorials available online for some creative suggestions!
When choosing which pieces to take, set yourself a limit before you begin: it’s easy to keep on bunging jewelry into your bag because it’s so small, but it will just means you’re carrying more stuff to lose. A few choice necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets should be fine, plus maybe the off brooch, belt or hair band.
Will you feel comfortable wearing it?
Not only do you want something that won’t draw attention to you because it’s expensive-looking, but you probably don’t want something that will draw negative attention to you full stop. This means that jewelry and accessories emblazoned with political or ideological emblems or phrases aren’t always going to be universally appropriate (although I did find that this feminist necklace did go down a treat in Italy, and will be taking it on all future travels). Don’t know what I mean? Try wearing a “Free Tibet” brooch in China and see where that gets you.
Another seemingly obvious but easy-to-forget point is that you need to take things that are actually comfortable to wear – that is, no earrings that weigh more than your make-up bag, belts that are a smidgeon too tight, or necklaces that dig in awkwardly. If the thought of wearing something on a 24 hour bus ride is not a pleasant one, you probably shouldn’t take it.
You’ll also want to only take jewelry that won’t tarnish at the slightest contact with salt water, snow or sun cream (real pearls are therefore not recommended), and also keep in mind that it is common for women’s weight to fluctuate during long-term travel – so watch out for rings that might get too tight/ start sliding off!
Which jewelry and accessories do you usually take on your travels? Let us know!