I have now gone on my vacation and returned, and I’m going to share what I packed and how it all turned out during my 12-day whirlwind trip to Hanoi, Vietnam and Tokyo/Fukuoka, Japan.

Not shown but also taken: my Alpha Direct hooded Marie-Claude (Jalie pattern), a Jalie Veltori in midweight Power Grid “Moroccan Blue”, and a pair of blue mystery knit Brassie joggers.

Things that went well with this wardrobe:

  • Four t-shirts and a tank top were about right for the journey.
  • The Power Dry t-shirt (grey/blue brushstrokes, on the right) was my favourite of the trip. It was perfect to wear in the heat/humidity in Vietnam. The Sun Lite ‘Veltori’ top (on the left above) was my second favourite fabric to wear, but because it was white, it started to show a little grime around the neckline.
  • Having a ‘pretty’ dress was good – we did find an opportunity to go for a nice dinner at an onsen, and I would have felt badly underdressed in anything else.
  • That Hip Pack was worn every single day. It was super useful. The only thing I’d change is perhaps making one that can be more easily transitioned to an over-the-shoulder purse sort of thing. The straps are just a wee bit short on this for that purpose.
  • Having my Neoshell rain jacket on hand (I wore it to/from the airport in Canada) was a lifesaver on the Sunday we arrived in Tokyo to find it pouring with a rain that would make Vancouverites take notice. My lightweight shell didn’t hold up for longer than 4 minutes in that rain.
  • The Alpha Direct hoodie wasn’t useful while ‘on the ground’ but I wore it on the way home over top of the Jalie Veltori and it was really lovely on the plane and under my Neoshell jacket on the ferry. Since it was so light and squishy, the Alpha Direct top was a good option for travel and I’d take it again as a versatile layer.

Things that were so-so:

  • I like the ITS blue cotton/denim skirt, but in Hanoi it was too hot to consider wearing denim. In Tokyo it felt like the most appropriate ‘bottoms’ garment I had, but I had to wear thigh-protecting shorts (the undershorts from the bright blue dress) which got a little warm after a while.
  • The merino t-shirt felt too warm to wear in Hanoi.
  • Not shown in this image are the many pairs of underwear I made out of various weights of Power Dry, Power Stretch, Yoga Lining, and cotton jersey. The Yoga Lining and cotton jersey ones were the most comfortable to wear in the heat. It turns out I’m not a huge fan of undies with fabric bands at the legs – I prefer picot elastic turned over for my underwear, thanks! Now that I’ve established this preference, I can go ahead and order a bunch of picot elastics on AliExpress and get some new undies made up. These other ones will be donated.

Things that were not so good:

  • I didn’t realize how short all of my shorts/skort were until I saw them in photos and wore them on the Tokyo subway, where I felt nearly naked. I wished I’d brought the Pattern Adventure hiking/walking shorts instead of the Brassie shorts I made at the last minute. Perhaps it was because I was already taller than most people around me, but I really felt the ‘naked leg’ phenomenon a lot.
  • Those khaki microfiber pants… yeesh. After spending so much time and effort on them for the Sewing Bee earlier this year and getting eliminated on them, I haven’t really loved them. In Hanoi they were way too hot and clingy to wear. I tried wearing them for a day but by lunchtime I was shopping for alternatives. When they’re pulled up to capris, the dangling cord ends irritate my legs. The fabric was too light to feel like they offer any sort of coverage, yet also sweaty. I don’t think that stuff breathes well. I kept wanting to just chuck them out, but my travelling companion made me keep them as a ‘sample’ of the kind of sewing I can do. I’m not so sure I’m proud of these but I dragged them back to Canada anyways.

There are only three things I took with me that didn’t get any use at all: the pajama pants, the swimsuit and a purchased-on-Amazon travel towel. I was misinformed by our hotel clerk that there wouldn’t be any swimming on the Ha Long Bay day trip. There was, and I was left to purchase a swimsuit and towel at the dock in Ha Long — the choices for a full-size Canadian women were pathetic, and I left the suit I bought behind because it was truly hideous. I brought home the towel though – it took up a lot of space but it doubled as an extra pillow and I was annoyed at throwing out perfectly good fabric. The other thing I didn’t use was the pajama pants I brought in case it was cool at night in Fukuoka, but it was delightfully warm (but not hot!) the whole time we were there.

The big lesson learned for me was that while the wardrobe looked really neat and full of activewear, I felt out of place in the cities we were visiting. I stood out rather dramatically in my bright colours, which I don’t mind so much except I felt like the garments weren’t quite appropriate, especially the length of the shorts/skort. I did not make the mistake of wearing bare shoulders into temples (I saw a few tourists get asked to put on a shawl) but my legs felt pretty bare. When I start planning my next trip, whether it is to Asia or Europe in 2026, I am going to think more about what ‘vibe’ I am dressing for. Sportswear/activewear is very much a North American thing.

It was a seriously wonderful trip, all that aside! If you’re not familiar with my Instagram, you should check out the photos there! https://www.instagram.com/Sue_in_victoria

By suelow

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