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To Jeans or not to Jeans?

I'm going to Italy for 3weeks over the summer and will be living out of one backpack. In Rick's book he is against jeans during summer travel. In Italy all they wear are jeans (everyone under 30 anyway), so my question is: To jeans or not to jeans?

Posted by
427 posts

Tom and Bluedenim are right on target. I also take one pair of jeans, but wear them on the plane because of their bulk. They're a pain to wash because they take so long to dry. At this time of year, it's far too hot (for me anyway) to wear them during the day, but I'll usually throw them on for dinner.

Posted by
14917 posts

I believe the advice against jeans has more to do with their weight, bulk and length of time it takes them to dry if you do laundry. They are also hotter than lighter weight pants. But if you don't mind the weight, go ahead.

Posted by
421 posts

I will say one pair of jeans.....
that is what I perfect. Wear them on the flight to save room.
But honestly they are stylish even in paris.

Posted by
12040 posts

Simple advice: are you comfortable wearing jeans in 30-35 degree C weather? Thinking practically, not only are jeans bulkier and hotter, but in that kind of weather, you will probably sweat through your undergarments wearing denim. It all depends on how often you want to do laundry and how many extra pairs of underpants you want to carry. Italians may wear jeans in the summer, but they are not traveling with their entire wardrobes on their backs either.

Posted by
49 posts

I agree with everybody: jeans are too hot, too bulky, and they take forever to dry.

Nonetheless, my daughter insisted upon taking jeans, they took over 24 hours to air-dry in Venice.

Posted by
160 posts

NOTE: During my first two 16-day trips I lived out of a relatively small REI Alpine pack I bought on the clearance rack for 60% off.

On my first Euro trip (June 2003: Holland, France, England, Spain) I didn't bring jeans. But on my 2nd one (May-June 2005: Scandinavia) I wore them a lot because I like how they feel. It seemed to help me blend in a lot better - in fact, many Norskes in Oslo would start speaking their lingo to me like I was a local (it helps that I'm full-blood Scandi, I suppose). They were quite surprised when I enlightened them to my US-tourist status.

Anyway, I like jeans too much to give them up, so I'm planning on wearing a pair to Europe next month. However, since I'm hiking the Camino I probably won't wear them as much (I have two lightweight North Face pants that can convert to shorts). Since I'll have to hump all my gear in an internal-frame Gregory pack, I may order a pair of lighter travel jeans from TravelSmith.

So, it''s up to you!

Posted by
153 posts

We were in Italy in April, and it was already kind of warm for jeans. I brought two pair of light khaki slacks and wore them most of the time. Jeans were for the plane.

Remember, shorts don't work so well over there. Nobody wears them and you can't enter a church wearing shorts.

Posted by
800 posts

Tom - poster above hit it right. Can you stand to wear jeans when it is 90 and above? If so, great - bring them, wear them, you'll be fine. Italy in the summer (July & August) is just about the only place I would never bring jeans. Especially for men - your jeans just tend to be bigger and heavier than some of the denim stuff that women have. Other posters who state they brought jeans and loved them went to cooler places (like Scandinavia). We lived in our jeans for 1/2 of our trip to Ireland - the other half they were part of the now standard summer European heat wave and everyone was complaining of the unusually high temps.

Posted by
13 posts

JEANS! you are going to want to blend in, it makes it easier to meet people. if you pack correctly you can get a pair or two in easily.

Posted by
365 posts

Tom, much overseas travel during summer causes me to conclude that I always overpack. If I have two pairs of pants, I only wear one. The one pair I wear are khaki convertible pants of thin synthetic material. You can wash and dry them in an evening. Even more important to me, they have internal zipped pockets so I can dispense with money belts and similar contraptions. It's true that you won't see many European men wearing shorts, but if you're done touring for the day and are just hanging around the pool you might like the zip-off leg feature. This topic is always humorous to me, the way some people hyperventilate about jeans as a fashion decision. Tourists don't blend in, pants choices notwithstanding. We're not "fooling" anybody. The best way to meet people is to exude a friendly positive attitude and have good manners. The existence of people who would judge you out of hand for committing the crime of not wearing jeans is highly overstated.

Posted by
53 posts

If you like wearing jeans, you will feel most comfortable in them. There are lightweight jeans out there, but be sure to purchase before you go. My husband found lightweight jeans (a US brand) in Avignon and paid a fortune for them. They do look good. He has since bought more lightweight jeans for our travels. Jeans will make you fit in, are comfy, and can be worn two or three times before washing. The lightweight ones can be washed out in the sink if needed. Have a great trip.

Posted by
14 posts

I too always avoided jeans after our first trip to Europe because they took forever to dry. Last year I purchased a pair of travel jeans from LL Bean. I have found that they are great! They are lighter than traditional jeans and their fabric also allows them to dry fairly quickly - not the days that ordinary jeans take.

Posted by
13 posts

I have taken 1 pair of jeans on every trip I have taken to europe. I have been to europe 5 times. I have found that jeans with a stetch more comfortable and the fabric a little thinner than a regular pair.

Posted by
466 posts


Jeans, Jeans and more Jeans. You can't go wrong!!!

Posted by
689 posts

My husband and I usually wear jeans on the plane over and back - then lug them around with us while in country as it is too hot to wear them. But we always have a car so lugging isn't an issue.

Posted by
7 posts

We just left Paris and are now in Germany and they are everywhere and worn by everyone. The weather in Paris was a little cool and jeans seemed to be the choice for locals. It is warmer in Germany but same goes. We did not bring any however I wish I would have. The bulk is something to consider if you are packing light but you will have no trouble fitting in with jeans if that is a concern. Have fun!

Posted by
683 posts

Both Sara and I wore jeans part of the time during our Eurotrips these past 3 yrs. They have been fine wherever we have gone (Eastern E, Italy, Spain,Germany, UK)/ We have not had trouble drying them, so long as they were thoroly wrung out before being hung to dry.
Even bought some jeans there!! Still wearing ones I got in Poland and another pair from Spain

Posted by
223 posts


I think the issue is more that you'll be living out of one backpack rather than one of fashion or drying times. Jeans are simply more bulky and heavier than dockers, etc.

After you pack your backpack, you might decide to leave the jeans at home simply due to the weight and bulk.


Posted by
31 posts

Now that it is clear that jeans are okay ...
What is more acceptable or less acceptable between black, new-blue, well-washed and/or well-worn blue, torn, loose fit, tight fit?
I'm figuring "comfortable" but do wonder if black is considered dressy or if well-worn is okay, too.


Posted by
2020 posts

If you are only taking one pair, I recommend a good pair of black jeans, but not super-baggy ones. If you're bringing a wardrobe of them -- any other type would be OK, in the right setting. Well worn or ripped jeans would not be appropriate for going to a nice restaurant or bar, but for sightseeing they would be fine. But since you may be limited on what you are bringing in your backpack, go for the better ones. You will not go wrong.

Posted by
2 posts

Jeans...that's for sure. Last year(May & June) I traveled to eight european countries by train and buses, staying in hostel in eleven cities for 38 wondelful days. My backpack was very pair of jeans and another regular pair,dark color. Jean was my salvation..... you blend easily everywhere and you can wear it longer than normal pants before it needs laundry.I say go for jeans!!!!Words from a "older" traveler in his 50's that still enjoy backpacking and hostel.

Posted by
71 posts

Look, be sensible, buy a pair of cargo pants. They are comfortable and lighter weight. Get one where the bottom portion of the legs zips off to make a pair of shorts. The pockets are handy of a few non-valuable things like post-it notes. I would recommend a drab olive or army green. Don't forget the Tide to Go stain pen no matter what you take.

Posted by
104 posts

Jeans! Everywhere we went we saw people in jeans as stated above it's become more the norm to see alot of non travelers in jeans, all colors and finishes.

We got more questions & looks about our sunglasses than anything.

Comfort is key!

Posted by
22 posts

I wore nothing but jeans on my trip to central Europe this June. Vienna was a little uncomfortable (it was 90 degrees), but you know, I am used to jeans and didn't find it that bad. I had two pairs, both pretty lightweight. Next time I would probably bring something else, but I'd still probably bring two pairs of jeans.

Posted by
14 posts

I would jeans-style trousers in another fabric. Denim is too heavy, both to wear in warm weather and for drying out if washed. I have a pair of lightweight khaki twill jeans that I bought at Costco a couple of years ago (Polo brand), and they keep ending up in my suitcase. They are casual, but not too much so, yet very comfortable. The neutral color means that almost everything I own matches them as well.

Posted by
12 posts

We recently got back from spending time in Rome, Florence and Cinque terra area. We had heard you need to pay attention to what to wear (long pants, etc.). However, we did not notice any kind of fashion trend among the locals or tourists. I would suggest you think comfort first, especially in the middle of summer.

Posted by
144 posts

in winter, i always take jeans. in summer, i don't because it's generally just too warm.

my husband takes jeans, a pair of khakis, a pair of cargo shorts, and usually a pair of man capris (you see them a lot in germany).

i find jeans horribly uncomfortable for the long flight to europe, no matter which ones i wear. i just got off a plane last night, and i swear i could feel every bit of texture, not to mention every seam in my clothing, by the time i got home. now i know why so many people wear sweats on the plane!

when you talk about style, jeans are always in. when you talk about comfort, it's a personal thing.

Posted by
4 posts

Jeans will be too hot and hard to dry, however, if you want to blend in do not wear khaki colored clothing. One can always spot the American in Europe, we are dressed in beige and we have white socks on. Europeans wear lots of color.

Posted by
1455 posts

If you were talking about winter, I would say yes to jeans. But Italy in the summer? No! Its very hot and stiff.

My husband wore the light Dockers style pants and a light cotton button down shirt. It takes up 1/2 the room, is much lighter, and can be worn in a nice resturant.

Besides, if you decide on getting a new pair of pants, its a good excuse to go shopping in Italy!