Don’t pack those clothes without thoroughly trying them out first. Photo by Sean.

It’s mighty tempting to go out and buy new clothes before a vacation. After all, planning for a trip is a big part of the fun, and it’s exciting to dream up outfits for your upcoming adventures. But buying and packing brand new clothes is not necessarily a good idea, and here’s why.

Have you ever put on an outfit and found yourself walking around all day tugging at it to make it fit just right? Maybe the straps of your top keep slipping off your shoulders, or your pants stretched out over the course of the day and now keep sliding down your waist. Perhaps your shirt wrinkles a lot more than expected, or maybe that jacket just isn’t as warm as you thought it would be. It happens to all of us – sometimes clothing just doesn’t wear the way you think it will.

The last thing you want is to discover that all the new clothes you packed for your vacation are sagging, pilling, itching your skin, or marred by some other problem that’s going to drive you batty all day. The solution? Road test your clothes before you hit the road. Here how:

1. Wear your new clothes. Make sure the articles of clothing are comfortable in a variety of situations. Ask yourself if it causes your skin to itch? Can your body breathe through the fibers? Is it too constricting? Does it lose its shape quickly requiring it to be washed frequently? Do the dyes transfer? Is it warm or cool enough? If you’ve bought any specialty clothing, make sure you do a test run of the activity they’re intended for (hiking, swimming, etc.) to be sure they’ll work in that situation.

2. Wash them. Do the colors run when you wash the item? Does it pill or felt? Does it shrink? Can the item be hand washed if necessary? Along the same lines, does the piece of clothing air dry quickly? Depending on where you’re traveling, you may not always have access to a washer and dryer (and in some European countries, I’ve found laundromats to be prohibitively expensive – e.g. €7 a load – which is not worth it to wash one or two things).

3. Note how the clothes hold up. Not all clothes are created equally, so take note of how the various pieces wear. Do the fabrics wrinkle horribly (nobody wants to spend their vacation ironing)? Are they fading? Wearing out quickly? Depending on how long your vacation or travels will be, you may need your clothes to last you a long time. Rotating a small number of outfits frequently – not to mention the fact that you’re typically more active when traveling than you are at home – will definitely cause your clothes to wear out faster than usual. The last thing you want is for your garments to fall apart when you’re in a country where they can’t be easily replaced (it can be hard to find large or tall sizes in Asian countries and it’s not always easy to find high quality western clothing in African countries).

Following these three simple tips can save you a lot of hassle and discomfort during your vacation.

What do you think? Do you buy new clothes for your vacations? Have you had problems with any of the garments you packed?