People who travel a lot know that you don’t need a whole separate wardrobe for travel. With a few extreme exceptions (hiking Nepal, or white water rafting the Grand Canyon) you probably don’t need to buy high tech travel clothes.
Most people are urban travelers, and what you really need to travel light and travel well, is a carefully chosen capsule wardrobe of clothing that is versatile, flexible, layers seamlessly, and is good quality.
Start by choosing clothing that fits well. If you feel great wearing them, you’ll look great, and you’ll enjoy your trip more. Put some thought into the fabrics you choose. Fabrics that dry quickly can make your trip easier because you can hand wash them in the sink and they’re dry by morning, so you don’t need to pack as much. Merino wool is a staple of any good travel wardrobe because it’s both warm and cool, depending on what you need, it wears well, layers beautifully and doesn’t stink, so you’ll be washing less often.
If you’re looking to build out your travel capsule wardrobe with good quality pieces that will go the distance, here are some of the best picks in each category, tested by travelers and worth the investment.
General Travel Clothes (Build Your Capsule Wardrobe)
Water-resistant and moisture managing, these pants have 3% Spandex for a lovely stretch. Reviewers gush about their breathability and comfort. With a button-close instead of a drawstring, these pants don’t flap or sag. Two rear flap pockets help accentuate your bum and provide some welcomed tailoring. Because these pants are made out of nylon, you won’t need to worry about wrinkles. Plus, they’re quick-drying and woven with durable water repellent finish, so you won’t have to dart for cover in a rainstorm.
The Bluffworks tailored fit chinos might be the best pair of pants I’ve ever worn—travel pants or otherwise. At just under $100, they might seem pricey, but they’re honestly worth every penny. These pants look good but don’t scream “travel pants”. Despite having high tech travel features like security zippered pockets (awesome by the way), and wrinkle-resistant material. They feel great, pack down to practically nothing, look awesome, take a beating, don’t wrinkle in your bag, and fit the way I want them to. The 32×32 is true to fit, but what’s really nice is that I don’t have to wear a belt to keep them at my waist, even when my pockets are full. They’re snug without pinching or cinching at my waist, even if your weight fluctuates a little. No one’s judging. The soft wrinkle-resistant fabric in these pants and additional stretch material make these pants a comfy, cozy fit. They handle heat and cold equally well, and stood up to the elements in India, which is really saying something.
Ok. Wow. This thing. Let’s start with the elephant in the room. This travel vest has 42 pockets. That’s nuts, but what’s even crazier is that it doesn’t look like it has 42 pockets. And that’s why it’s my favorite travel vest.
This vest is perfect for die-hard or long haul travelers who like to have a lot of gadgets and gear close to hand, especially on the plane. It’s also ideal for photographers as the hyper organized pocket layout can handle all your camera gear. There’s even a huge back pocket for oversized gear.
Yes, this vest is pricey, but it’s worth it. Teflon treated for weather and stain resistance, so you don’t have to worry about your stuff getting ruined, it looks awesome, features a stowable hood for rainy days, and even boasts a “weight management system” so that you don’t look or feel like a garbage bag when you pack this thing to the gills. This travel vest is a boss, and is a great piece of gear for die-hard travelers looking to level up their carry on packing game.
The first thing that hits you about this travel vest is the quality of the fabric. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but plush comfy fabric wasn’t at the top of the list. However, the Bluffworks vest is one of the more comfortable pieces of clothing I own. And not just travel clothing.
It looks great, feels even better, and travels like a boss. This vest is a 3-season workhorse. In fact, this travel vest has turned into an almost proxy day bag for jaunts around the town.
I keep bigger stuff in the interior pocket (it’s big enough for a notebook), and the zippered chest pocket is great for earbuds or chapstick, to keep me organized. I like having the option of both a snap and zipper closures for both bundling up on windy/rainy days (zipper) or letting a little breeze in when I’m on the go (snaps).
Best T-Shirts for Travel
This versatile shirt is perfect for travel.
Reversible front to back, so you have two options for necklines – cowl or boatneck. The sleeves also change length from cap sleeve, sleeveless, to dolman sleeve. The secret is the hidden snaps underneath the shoulder, and hidden in the sleeve.
The lux, eco-friendly fabric (derived from beech tree pulp!) is easy to dress up or down, making it an essential piece for both travel and everyday life.
This shirt feels almost too soft to be a travel shirt, but then you realize that you’ve worn it for three straight days and it still looks brand new. This shirt travels like a boss.
The high quality merino wool fights odors and wrinkles and is (again), so soft to the touch, lightweight, and comfy that you can wear this shirt for days (even weeks if you push it) without having to be washed.
If you really want to streamline your packing list while still looking (and feeling) great, Unbound Merino is a great travel t-shirt to build around. I have two of the crew neck merino t-shirts (black and blue). They’re that good. And at $65, they’re smack more affordable than a lot of other travel shirts, especially merino t-shirts
Best Jeans for Travel
Ok, yes, I admit it. I was skeptical. Especially with a name like “best travel jeans in the world.”
But these jeans score a 10/10 in the toughest category to master: deep pockets that double as a purse. I can’t get over how beautifully deep they are — these jeans are your perfect sidekick for concerts, nightlife, or strolling the city at night. Not those rinky-dink little “pockets” that barely hold a lip balm that are usually found on women’s pants. Plus, they have a hidden zippered pocket inside one of the back pockets.
The thicker material feels like jeans, not wannabe cotton hoping to pass as jeans. And I loved the mid to high waist which protected against unwanted plumber’s crack.
They claim to be the best travel jeans in the world… and they might just be. The 70/30 polycotton spandex blend (2% spandex) allows for just the right amount of stretch and give without looking (or feeling) like jeggings.
Features like the two hidden zippered pockets (plus the 5 regular pockets) feel natural, not tacked on like so many other travel gear gizmos. Although, the belt loop clip is a rad new feature. Bonus: the pockets are actually big enough for a passport AND a phone.
These jeans feel great on the plane, and look stylish enough to wear out on the town. I could easily travel for a week with just these and a pair of shorts. Plus, they come in odd numbered waist sizes so you can find the perfect fit.
Best Travel Underwear
The fit of these undies is superb. They’re light against my skin and it feels like going commando… without the fear of exposure or other unwanted embarrassments. Never once did I need to readjust. Also, the sizing is spot-on. Because they’re anti-microbial, I’ve gladly worn these undies for 24+ hours. Without any unwanted, smelly side effects. They dry quickly (less than four hours), they don’t roll or bunch, and there is no visible panty line under clingy clothes. Thank you very much. The price is a little steep, but they’re worth every penny.
A little on the higher end of the price scale, these travel underwear sound ridiculous, but just give them a minute.
Imagine a pair of men’s travel underwear that keeps your junk… separate from everything else. Saxx has made that dream a reality. The patented BallPark pouch of Saxx make a huge difference. It’s a sea change in the way travel underwear function.
The best part about Saxx travel underwear, is that you can customize the pair to your needs. They feature several different lines of men’s underwear including:
- ($43.95) — extra warmth and windblocking design for winter activities
- Kinetic ($36.95) — high performance wicking and aerobic stretch for athletes
- Force ($41.95) — muscle compression underwear for peak athletic performance
- Blacksheep ($44.95) — 85% merino performance wool
If you’re an active guy on the go, Saxx travel underwear get the job done in a way that other underwear simply doesn’t.
Available in petite, regular, and tall sizes, this crisp blazer from J. Crew is sure to be a new packing staple in your carry on.
Crafted from extra fine super 120s wool, it feels silky smooth finish and a beautiful drape that keeps you warm in wintery-cold boardrooms and cool in the summer sun. A classic piece, this blazer goes with everything and will play double duty in your travel capsule wardrobe. Well tailored and classy looking, you’ll move seamlessly from board meeting to evenings out and it will keep you warm on a chilly airplane.
This wrinkle-free travel blazer fits great, looks awesome, with all the right stretch and give to take everything from airport lounges to after hour raves. Machine washable (which is a surprisingly rare feature for travel blazers) and super comfortable, thanks to the stretchy polyester, the Bluffworks travel blazer features 10 pockets, many with zippered enclosures, to keep your stuff safe and organized while in transit.
Honestly, one of the best parts of a travel blazer is how it performs in airport security. No more dumping everything in that little tray. Put your phone, wallet, passport, boarding pass, headphones, and even a snack in the pockets and breezing through security looking dapper as heck.
As with everything Bluffworks makes, it’s high quality and built for travel.
Best Jackets for Travel
Reflective details, breathable fabric, warm midweight merino wool, and a fitted hood. The zippered chest pocket with media cord port, and zippered hand pockets make this jacket perfect for tucking away all of the little things you need to carry on a travel day. You can’t go wrong with merino for it’s natural odor resistance, which is important on the road. This jacket checks all the correct boxes for a travel-ready lightweight jacket that’s warm, sleek, breathable and ready to go.
Jeremy, co-founder of Tortuga, recommends a Lululemon hoodie like this one. He says, “They’re super comfortable for flights and tend to have an abundance of sleek pockets that are either zippered or have snaps. They last forever and dress up or down. All of mine have been in black.”
This particular hoodie boasts Lycra fabric so your jacket doesn’t go saggy and hidden pockets for your smartphone and coins.
Pockets really do make a dress perfect, right? If you agree, then you’ll want to know about Everlane’s Sleeveless V-Neck Dress.
Comfortable to wear and made of a triacetate fabric that’s resistant to wrinkles, this timeless piece is a great addition to your travel wardrobe for urban adventures or business trips. Both the black and white version are timeless in design and easy to style. Simply throw a long-line blazer over it for a business trip, or pair with sneakers for a casual day of walking around the city.
If you prefer something in a different style, great news: Everlane has a whole line of GoWeave dresses in varying cuts, colors, and prices, but made of that same wrinkle-resistant fabric that makes this dress travel ready.
For travel-ready outfits, I can’t get enough of ADAY, a technical clothing brand for women with stylish yet durable pieces. Whatever I wear from them, I’m confident it’ll pack down well, look great, and wash/dry easily. All of these things can, of course, be said about their Back to Front dress.
A long-sleeve dress makes a great option for cold weather travel. For warmer days, roll up the sleeves and wear it on its own. When temperatures drop, style it with a jacket or over a pair of leggings for a cute but warm look.
Best yet, the design allows you to create five different styles out of it, so even if it’s the only dress in your bag, it won’t feel that way. Button up in the back for a classy night-time look, or turn them into the front for a casual daytime or business casual outfit.
Best Travel Leggings
These leggings are great for long haul flights. It’s hard to compete with Athleta’s signature legging, described as, “Style made to give your jeans a day off with handy pockets, sweet seam lines and super stretchy fabric that supports your love of adventure.” These pants are wicking, rated UPF 50+, made of a signature Nylon/Lycra® Spandex blend, and they feel lightweight. The high waist is comfortable well into hour 12 of your trans-Pacific flight and their compact nature makes them a breeze to roll up and add to your backpack once you land. These have a more athletic look, but can be dressed up into stylish and comfortable travel outfits for the airport and beyond. A reliable recipe includes a pull over or oversized cardigan to dress up the travel leggings look.
A Day’s Throw it Higher Leggings are the best leggings for urban travel, they’re also Tortuganaut Angela’s travel legging of choice—at 59% nylon, 41% elastane, these leggings are comfy, fit true to size, and have a stretch that hugs you in all the right places.
Their utility is on point too. Angela shares: “I can put my passport, phone, and wallet in the side pocket, making them super functional.” Designed to resist pilling and offer UV protection, they’re also quick drying and sweat wicking. These are the travel leggings any lady strutting in a foreign city can feel good about. Pair ’em with a bomber or leather jacket and your favorite ankle boots and be ready to hit the town from day to night.
Best Travel Bras
The Travel Bra looks like a sports bra, but with hidden pockets for your most valuables. This bra stashes things like credit cards, extra cash, and passport… not just your boobs, like normal bras.
Made from breathable bamboo that is anti-microbacterial and anti-odor, this bra is underwire-free and made for comfort.
On a recent trip to rural Columbia, Tammy tested out the Travel Bra:
“I had to travel on a dirt track with hundreds of potholes for a number of hours. The bra really supported my chest and kept it bounce-free despite all of the potholes. Support: passed!”
What about sporty activities?
“The travel bra is like a sports bra, so I also tried it out for some sporty activities, including hiking and yoga. To test it to the limit I even wore it during a hot yoga class. As you can imagine this is a sweaty old business, but the bra absorbed the sweat really well and didn’t leave any sweat stains. Sporty activities: passed!”
Her only complaint? The passport pocket dangling off the bra.
“[My] passport dangles around a bit if you wear a loose top on top of it, but if your top is tight, this won’t happen.”
Best Travel Socks
There is consensus on team Tortuga that Smartwool socks rock. Made of high quality merino, nylon & elastine blend, they hold their shape, resist odors and they wear hard and long. The micro-cushioning on the foot makes your feet more comfortable, even on long travel days. Yes, they’re more expensive than department store socks. But there’s no comparison. Invest in good quality merino socks.
If you’re flying often, compression socks are a smart investment in your comfort and your health. Reduce the risk of flight related pulmonary embolisms with a pair of compression socks. Sockwell socks are made in the USA of a blend of merino, bamboo, and rayon with a commitment to sustainably sourced materials. These socks are quality and will go the distance, even if that’s 15 hours in the air on your direct flight to Hong Kong.
Warm Weather Travel Clothes
Best Travel Shorts
Great material, UPF protected, a preferable inseam length (no wedgies here), and multiple sizes are what make these a winner.
This pair of travel shorts for women includes Columbia’s signature sun protection, Omni-Shade™, as well as its advanced repellency technology, Omni-Shield™ (ideal if you tend to spill on yourself at every meal, like me). Made with 96% nylon, these quick dry shorts are light, wrinkle resistant, and will be ready for action just as much as you are!
I love Colombia’s Saturday Trail short for women for their affordability and their variety of neutral colors—perfect for wearing over and over again.
These shorts are comfy, beautifully designed, and perfect for traveling. The cut, fit, and moisture wicking, poly blend nylon fabric somehow manage to thread the needle for almost any situation—from the office (yeah) to a beach bbq. They just look good.
But, the performance is why they make such great travel pants. The two zippered front pockets keep your phone and wallet safe, and if you have more to carry the back pockets are roomy enough for snacks and headphones.
The only controversial feature (which happens to be my favorite part) is the elastic waist. Some people prefer belt loops to cinch up their travel shorts, but if you get the right fit, the comfy elastic waistband will fit like a gentle hug. And they have a lot of colors to choose from.
Best Swimsuits for Travel
If you can only pack one swimsuit for your beach vacation, but don’t want to wear the same thing every time you jump in the water, opt for a reversible swimsuit.
While there are dozens of brands making creative and stylish reversible suits, Athleta stands out because their suits are sturdy, stylish, and more affordable than boutique or high-fashion brands. Plus, their cuts tend to be more conservative, provide great coverage, and stay put while you’re wearing it.
Rest assured: no embarrassing bikini malfunctions here.
Patagonia’s all-wear hybrid shorts are exactly the kind of multi-purpose shorts every traveler should look for. Made from 98% organic cotton, they’re incredibly comfortable, but also incorporate a 2% spandex weave for stretch and give when you’re on the trail or biking through a new city.
The best part is that these shorts look completely normal for wearing around town. The front fly zipper lies flat, the back pocket buttons shut, and they only weigh 8 oz so you can toss them in your bag for any occasion without adding much bulk.
Cold Weather Clothes
Best Travel Sweaters
Ladies, this is your fashion-forward, eco-friendly, quick-dry option.
Yes, it’s technically a sweatshirt, but ADAY’s Like a Boss Sweatshirt is a damn fashionable one that will leave you looking street-ready, not sloppy. But that alone doesn’t make it a great travel piece. It’s also impossible to wrinkle, warm, comfortable, breathable, quick-dry, doesn’t pill, and is surprisingly wind resistant. Need I go on?
The only con is that it doesn’t pack down super small—it’s on the bulkier side of light weight—but otherwise it pretty much hits all our needs in a travel sweater. So, maybe wear this one on the plane?
If you like ordering clothing online (like I do), you’ll love Bonobos merino travel sweater. If you’re unfamiliar, Bonobos is an online-only retailer. That means they have stores in select cities, but you can’t take anything home with you. They’re just for fit. Once you know you’re size, you’re good to go. And these sweaters are definitely built to go.The 100% merino sweaters are sleek, stylish, perfect for layering, and full of all the benefits you’d expect from merino wool. Plus, they’re machine washable. You can roll (or fold) this sweater up and stash it in your bag for that important skype meeting, then grab an Aperol Spritz for sunset. Classy merino sweaters don’t have to break the bank or your backpack.
Best Hoodies for Travel
If you’re a fan of features, the Betabrand Knockout travel hoodie is packed with a few that I actually recommend. The stash sleeve pockets are thoughtful and well designed, and the clip on the hoodie drawstrings does make a passable, if a tad impractical, eye mask in a pinch, so if you really want to pack light, this hoodie can keep the light out of your eyes on your next long haul flight.
The jersey knit is comfortable, stretchy, and woven with a little spandex for that extra give. The cuff thumb holes are solid, and the cut is stylish. I’m not sure how I feel about the fur lined hood which claims to act like a travel pillow (it doesn’t), while blocking out sound. If you’re always worried about the cold when you fly, it’s a worthwhile inclusion to your capsule wardrobe.
This insanely compact hoodie is made from superfine merino wool so it’ll keep you warm in actual cold weather without taking up any extra space in your backpacks. Odor-resistant, it packs down to the size of a t-shirt and can last for weeks without needing a wash. A great travel hoodie isn’t about 45 pockets and a million minor features. It’s about a layer that packs down small, keeps you warm, and can last for weeks on the road. Superfine merino is even wrinkle-resistant, so you won’t look like crap when you land.
Best Travel Scarves
For years now, these have been my go to neck warmer because they keep it simple. Whether it’s a blustery day on a boardwalk, a winter meeting at an outdoor coffee chop or tacking on a few extra days of adventure after a business trip – Buff works.
Choose from cotton, fleece, merino and more. Layer these neck warmers under your blanket scarf, hoodie, or jacket. Shove it in a pocket when the sunshine comes out, or double it as a headband when you grab a yoga class in the middle of your workday.
Buy more than one and fling them in every bag you have.
Speakeasy Travel Supply is a company founded by travelers. Their creative designs have been featured around the globe and their scarves continue to change our travel experience. I have the Palm Springs cotton scarf.
Aside from feeling childlike joy knowing I’m the owner of a magical hidden secret (the zipper pocket!), what I love about this friendly, travel-minded company is that their scarves come in an assortment of fabrics, allowing me to choose both feel and style. The founders handcraft most of the scarves themselves and have been featured by some of the biggest names in travel. Their collections constantly change – check out their summer collection here.
Best Winter Jackets for Travel
I love the flexibility of a 3-in-1 travel jacket, but so often the insulated layer/outer shell combo is more like a 3-in-none. Not so with the Helly Hansen Squamish jacket.
The insulated layer is great for keeping you warm around the bonfire or a chilly clear night out without the added protection of the outer shell. Just zip it off and you’re good to go. Bonus: It doesn’t look like the “inside” of a jacket, so that’s good.
The outer shell layer is perfect all by itself for a fall hike with rain in the forecast. Fully seam sealed so it’s wind and waterproof, the jacket features nice touches like a storm flap on the front zipper pocket, and waterproof pockets for your phone, as well as adjustable cuffs (super important). If you wear both layers together take solace in the fact that you can adapt to warmer temps or sunny weather as the day changes.
This Patagonia Crankset travel jacket is what a lightweight winter travel jacket should look and feel like. Weighing less than a pound, it’s water-resistant, stylish, insulated, with adjustable cuffs and hems, and it packs into its own pocket/stuff sack. Not too shabby.
Patagonia says, “The best warmth for weight of any jacket we’ve ever built, the Micro Puff® Jacket delivers ultralightweight, water-resistant, down-like warmth with PlumaFill synthetic insulation—a revolutionary featherlight down alternative. Fair Trade Certified™ sewn.”
The shell and lining are 0.7-oz 10-denier 100% nylon ripstop Pertex Quantum® with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish.
Even better, Patagonia’s bluesign® approved process offers the highest level of consumer safety by employing methods and materials in their manufacture that conserve resources and minimize impacts on people and the environment.
Best Flannel Shirts for Travel
Our Marketing Director, Taylor Coil, straight up loves the LL Bean Flannel shirt:
“I hardcore recommend the LL Bean Scotch Plaid Slightly Fitted.”
And it’s easy to see why she likes it so much.
Made from 100% top-quality cotton, the slightly fitted flannel shirt falls at the low hip with just enough shape to make it perfect for any occasion (even work). LL Bean knows how to make a great flannel shirt, and the Scotch Plaid is just the latest in a long line of top quality travel friendly gear. Comfy, stylish, and affordable.
LL Bean is still the biggest name around when it comes to 100% brushed cotton flannel.
The signature Castine Flannel shirt is a 3-season flannel that’s light enough to travel with, yet sturdy enough to work as a rugged outer layer. The chest pockets are great for keeping your stuff safe in transit, the shirt tail is stylish and works tucked or untucked, and LL Bean makes enough patterns to find one that suits your taste.
Affordable, versatile, lightweight, and stylish as heck. LL Bean flannels are timeless travel clothing that just plain works.
Best Gloves for Travel
Northface stepped up its travel glove game with the latest edition of their Etip gloves. These fleece beauties are warm enough for unseasonable cold spells, but generally light enough for even a few degree dip below your comfort zone. They’re perfect for shoulder season travel, when fall fades to winter (and GREAT for layering). There’s a women’s specific version for people with petite hands.
These may not be the sexiest gloves on the market, but it’s hard to beat the value. For $20, you get a sleek, slim glove that works as both a liner or a standalone option for mild weather—perfect for spring and fall travel. I love how lightweight and thin these puppies are, and that dexterity isn’t sacrificed. Take these on trips where you expect cool weather. They’re great for people who plan to exercise outside in the cold (but not below freezing) weather.
Best Base Layers for Travel
Oh my, this shirt. It’s soft — silky even — and drapes well. My favorite part? It’s long, so no more gapping. Woolx dialled down perfection in this shirt. Light enough to layer beautifully, and, thanks to its 100% Merino wool composition, no stink. This is day 30 of it escaping a bath, being thrown on the floor, folded away in my drawer, worn consecutively for 5 days (two of which were in the high 60s) and it smells fresh. Clean, even.
Did you know that silk is naturally insulating?
This long camisole blends silk, cotton, and Merino wool for a superb, sleek camisole. It’s longer than normal, so say buh-bye to stray breezes sneaking up your back. Going on day 30 of no-washings,it still passes the sniff test — despite hanging out on my floor for a couple days and being worn at least 7 consecutive days.
One caveat: this is meant as a base layer, so sizing is tight. It might fit a bit smaller than you expect.