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It's always difficult to decide what clothes to take with you when you go to a new place. Usually I check Wikipedia to get an idea of approximate climate and weather conditions, but it often doesn't have much data besides average temperatures. Other factors, such as wind and precipitation, might enter into the equation, and the same temperature can "feel like" differently in two distinct locations.

Perhaps not the same factors are important whether one travels to tropical/equatorial locations, or to temperate/subarctic places.

So, in short:

If I travel to a new place, which weather factors should I look into to decide what to take with me?

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Even when precipitation is included it usually doesn't differentiate between rain/hail/sleet/snow which can be a big factor in clothes and driving. Another factor is that seasons are very different outside the temperate regions. Tropical regions typically have two seasons rather than four. Plus there are natural disaster seasons in many places that suffer hurricanes, typhoons, tornadoes, etc. In NT Australia we talk about the "build up" and "build down" like seasons when the humitidy moves very quickly between very low and very high. –  hippietrail Oct 7 '11 at 9:23
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3 Answers

One quick and easy tip - if there are sights there, like, let's say - Machu Picchu in Peru, do a Google Image search for Machu Picchu tourists (if you don't say tourists you just get nice shots of a mountain), and see what the people in the photos are wearing. It gives you a good guide of what might be suitable. Even add in a month to your search - for example Jordan in December might not be as warm as you think - especially in the Petra Canyon, it was FREEZING, and I was clueless ;)

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"see what the people on photos are wearing"!!! Ha ha ha!! :-) +100 –  Tomas Oct 15 '11 at 1:02
    
this is a great answer, with note that some places have an extreme climate like Sahara where the temperature can swing from 37.5C on the daytime to -0.5C at night. (in the other words: might need to check Google Image for both night and day time) –  Rudy Gunawan Oct 18 '11 at 4:05
    
and do keep in mind that a lot of those people are probably highly uncomfortable because they brought the wrong clothing, determining what to bring based on looking at pictures of what previous tourists were wearing :) –  jwenting Jan 31 '12 at 11:48
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I also have a friend who insists on removing all outer layers before posing for any photos, so that it looks like it's great and warm no matter where she is. That would cause some problems with the theory :) –  Mark Mayo Jan 31 '12 at 11:50
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Basically, because I also like sleeping outdoors (preferably without a tent), I do look for:

  • minimal nightly temperature
  • maximum daily temperature
  • number of rainy days
  • dew point (note that humidity is not at all good parameter, because how it feels depends on temperature!). The higher, the less comfort - then you would prefer more functional materials over cotton.

In some countries, like Spain & Morocco, the nightly temperatures could be surprisingly low. We were sleeping in tent in Spain at the beginning of April and it was only 3C! But if I go to Spain in September, I usually take only 3 t-shirts, shorts and sandals :-)

When going to tropical destinations, I'm trying to find out when there are rainy and dry seasons. It might sometimes be tricky, e.g. on Philippines, where this doesn't work. The east (Pacific) coast is almost always rainy, while the Indian (west) coasts are mild with nice weather during dry season. In the east coast, like Samar & Leyte, the Philippinos say they have only rainy season and wet season. :-)

As regards to what to take with yourself, unless you go to Sahara, always take something light and little waterproof to prevent from wind and light rain with you. Even if I go in Spain in summer, it comes in handy as there can be strong and not so hot wind near the sea.

EDIT: I forgot to add about colors: if you plan going outdoors, it's much better to have neutral colors like khaki, dull green or grey. The same applies for bag and other equipment. You will see much more animals and also less people will see you, which is good if you plan to sleep outdoors (the less people know where you sleep the better of course, especially if they are owners of the land :-)). When expecting hot weather, I prefer light colors over dark.

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When I am in doubt, I try to bring as little as possible. At the destination I then go shopping for new clothes.

It is always much more fun to buy clothes abroad then at home.

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If you are not trying to buy boots of size 12US (45) in Asia :-) (my case). Moreover, I hate shopping so why to spoil my vacation :-) No, seriously: my experience is quite the opposite, as I'm an outdoor guy. I find it much better to go well equiped, in your hometown city you know much better where to go shopping for special wear. On the vacation you can loose precious time and buy something which is not the best fit for you. This is only a "emergency solution" for me. –  Tomas Oct 18 '11 at 2:19
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@Tomas otoh the idea to travel light is a good one. Bring clothes that can serve multiple purposes, like a T shirt and a dress shirt, when it gets chilly just wear both. –  jwenting Jan 31 '12 at 11:49
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