Buying quality vs buying cheap
A recurring theme you’ll see in all of my travel-stuff recommendations is to spend a little extra money on quality. It took me years of buying loads of cheap crap before I finally figured out that — in the long run — I was actually spending more money by penny pinching and purchasing garbage instead of quality products.
A relevant current example of this concept is my travel shirts. Brand new, my current favorite travel t-shirt, the Patagonia Capilene Lightweight short sleeve shirt, runs around $40 a piece. That’s a lot of cash for a single shirt. My favorite shirt model from earlier this decade was a similar one made by Columbia that cost between 30 and 40 bucks as well. Was it worth the cost? It was absolutely worth the cost. Not only are these extremely comfortable shirts that fit well and exude quality, but those older shirts that I bought in 2010 are still in my rotation today nearly 8 years later, and they’re still in tip top shape.
If you pay for quality once, it will generally last you a very long time. If you buy a cheap polyester shirt from Walmart, yes it will still dry relatively quickly and perform sufficiently as a travel shirt in the short term, but it won’t be nearly as comfortable, and after a few months it’ll likely turn into a piece of trash. I’ve experienced this enough times in the past to have learned my lesson. Better to have 2 top-of-the-line pieces of clothing than 5 budget model ones that aren’t built to last.
Given that you don’t need that many pieces of clothing to travel light (check out my own personal packing list if you’re new to this site), I always encourage people to save up and buy the good stuff, even if you’re on a budget. I’d say especially if you’re on a budget since you have limited resources compared someone who makes gobs of money and you want to make sure every single dollar is used as efficiently as possible. If I had to do it over with the knowledge I have now, I’d time travel back to my broke grad school days and tell my younger self to spend my money on two sets of really good travel clothes to start with and be extra diligent about doing a wash every single night.