Guide to What to Wear when Traveling

Traveling is always an exciting time in getting to go somewhere different that’s off the beaten path of your everyday life. It’s also pretty stressful. There is a lot of planning that goes into going someplace else and living out of a suitcase.

Forgetting an item can make the stress feel even worse when you’re gone. Either you have to spend money on a replacement that you could be spending on something else or have to go without an item while you’re gone. There’s a reason people joke about needing a vacation from their vacation. Use this guide to help you know what to pack on your upcoming travels.

Destination Clues

One of the first things you need to keep in mind when determining what to wear when traveling is researching your destination. Where you are going and what plans you have once you get there will impact what you bring along. Visiting Bali will require a different wardrobe than Backpacking for a week will require packing items different from a cruise vacation.

Before you start packing, look at the local weather forecast to get an idea of what you’ll want to wear. You may find that the area is experiencing an unusual cold snap or heat wave that is beyond the usual temperature fluctuations. It can be off-putting to plan on the typical weather for the time of year you’re traveling only to find that it’s not what you expected when you arrive.

You should also consider your itinerary. Plans to hike in a forest may hint that you should bring along long sleeve shirts and pants to protect your body from bug bites. Going to the beach may prompt you to wear unique clothing that acts as a sunscreen to protect you from the sun. You may have activities come up that you don’t plan on experiencing before you leave, but making sure you bring along a good variety should help you prepare for anything.

Pack the Basics

When it comes to basics, think of items that can pull double duty for your vacation. The t-shirts that can look great paired with some jeans for exploring the shops in the area you’re visiting, but also work great with a pair of slacks. These are all items that you will be able to use multiple ways during your trip.

Also, when you think about your basics, try to stay with more neutral colors. It will make it easier for you to mix and match the clothing that you bring along on your trip. If you bring bright contrasting colors, you may find that you are more limited in what you can wear on your journey.

Casual Wear

You will want to bring along clothing that’s casual and ready for adventure. Jeans, sweat pants, shorts, cargo pants, chinos are all great pant choices for casual wear. You want your casual wear to be comfortable. Think about how the item feels when you’re wearing them and how you may feel when being active or after a large meal.

When it comes to your casual shirt choices, there are plenty of options. You can choose from t-shirts, polos, button-down shirts, flannels, sweatshirts, and sweaters. A mix of long sleeve and short sleeve options can help to make it easy to create layered looks when you’re on vacation.

Formal Wear

Dress shirts, ties, slacks, and even suit coats may be necessary for your vacation getaway, depending on your trip. If you are mixing business with pleasure or are planning on going to exclusive restaurants, you’ll want to look the part.

Be sure to pack these items with care in a garment bag to prevent any wrinkling. A traveling tip is that if your clothing does end up wrinkled, you can often let them sit in your bathroom while you take a hot shower. The steam from the shower can help to remove any wrinkles before putting the garment on.


Exercise may not be on your mind, but you may want to bring along some activewear. You may find that your hotel offers an exercise room or conditioning classes you want to experience. A yoga class or a pick-up basketball game may also come up during your trip. Sweat pants, jogging pants, sweatshirts, t-shirts, or a tracksuit are all excellent choices to bring along to stay comfortable while being active.

Specialized Clothing and Items

You may not need to worry about wearing any specialized clothing during your trip, depending on your plans, but it’s a good idea to think about it. Some specialized clothing options you may need to think about bringing along include swimwear, underwater goggles, ski gear, gloves, hats, scarfs, and any other items that will fit into your traveling plans. Often, some things, such as some of the ski gear, are available for rent at your destination and not necessary for you to bring along in your luggage. Space can always be an issue, and some specialized clothing can take up a lot of it. The rental fees may be worth it.

Other specialized items you may want to bring along include belts, sunglasses, watch, ball cap, jewelry, and scarves. You may want to leave the more expensive items at home during your trip. They could become lost or broken while gone. Taking the time to purchase inexpensive things to use while traveling can be beneficial. You should also look for items that can be used in different ways, such as a reversible belt.

Don’t Forget Underwear and Pajamas

It’s easy to forget bringing along the clothing that no one else usually sees. Your underwear is a vital part of your outfit that helps to keep you comfortable during your vacation. It can be helpful to pack a few extra pairs in your luggage since you never know when you might get dirty and need to change while gone.

Pajamas are a personal choice. However, they are often beneficial, especially if you plan on staying in a hostel or other hotel arrangement where you may have to leave the room to visit the bathroom at night. No one expects a fire alarm going off during the night, but it’s always better to be safe. Sleep shorts, pants, or shirts can be comfortable and easy to pack. You can also choose to bring along sweat pants and t-shirts that can do double duty during your vacation.

An additional tip is to bring along a sheet or sleeping bag liner. You may find that some of your accommodations aren’t as expected, and you could feel more comfortable with an extra layer from home between you and the provided bed. Also, some hostels and similar places to stay may not provide towels. It can be helpful to bring along a towel or microfiber cloth in case you run into this issue.

Packing Layers

Layers sound like something you could expect your mother to tell you to pack, but layering on vacation can be beneficial. It’s not like being at home when you can stop back to your house to grab a long-sleeve shirt or change into shorts. When selecting your basics, it’s helpful to create them into outfits that are layered to maximize your packing. For instance, a favorite hoodie that can be shed as the day gets warmer is a great choice. A pair of shorts that’s comfortable to wear under your pants is another option for those days when you won’t be able to head back to the hotel.

Proper Footwear

Keep your vacation theme in mind when packing your footwear. Even if you’re planning a beach getaway, you probably shouldn’t bring just one pair of sandals. During that beach vacation, you may take a hike, go out for a night on the town, or some other excursion that will make that one pair of sandals not enough.

You may want to consider bringing along a pair of sneakers, boots, sandals or flip-flops, loafers, and a more formal pair of shoes. Think not only about how they look, but how you feel when walking in them. A day of walking around sightseeing in an exciting destination city won’t be much fun if your shoes cause your feet to hurt.

One issue you may run into, is having enough room to pack everything. If you’re not planning on visiting any exclusive places that require specific formal wear, you may be able to get away with allowing a pair of new black sneakers or boots to stand in when going to an area that goes a bit beyond casual. You’ll want to make sure they are clean and in good repair to make them blend in with the rest of your outfit.

Water shoes are an additional footwear item you may want to consider if you plan on being on the beach or other destinations where you could be hiking by water. Water shoes are great because they protect your feet from hidden dangers in the water while not being uncomfortable for walking in when they are wet.

One final footwear consideration to bring along are socks. Similar to underwear, socks don’t take a large amount of space in your luggage. It can be beneficial to bring along a few different types of socks, such as thicker socks for hiking or dress socks to wear with your dress shoes for an evening out. Bring along some extras for those days when puddles can be an issue.


It can often be tempting to not bring any outerwear along on vacation, especially if visiting a destination that’s known for being temperate. Some outwear you may consider bringing along with you includes a light jacket for the early morning or evening hours when it could be chilly outside and a raincoat. Rain is never on anyone’s vacation plans, but it happens. You’ll be happy you brought along your mac rather than either suffering in the rain or shelling out more money than you want on a rain slicker. You may even want to consider the portable ponchos that are sold in case space is an issue.

Dirty Laundry

It can be helpful if you’re taking a shorter trip and don’t plan on doing laundry during your stay to bring along a small bag or two for your dirty laundry. The small bag will act as a barrier in keeping your clean clothes away from your dirty clothes. It should prevent any dirt, sweat, and smells from getting on your clean clothes. You may find it necessary to move your clothing around in your luggage in case the small bag isn’t enough.


Before packing and after you’ve done your homework, it can be helpful to create a checklist of what you plan on bringing along to wear on your vacation. As you put items into your bag, you can check it off of the list. Your checklist can also be beneficial in case you need to go shopping to pick up any items that you may be missing in your closet before your trip.

Lay Items Out Before Packing

It may seem like you’ve added enough clothing for the layers you want or to have X amount of outfits to get through a trip only to find that you didn’t. Laying out your different outfits before putting everything in your luggage can help you to gauge if you’re missing anything that needs to be added.

Pack Early

It may seem like you’re okay to wait until the last minute to pack as long as you follow your checklist and laying everything out, but you may be surprised to find that everything you want to bring doesn’t all fit in your luggage. You may need to change up what items come along on your trip due to space, so taking some time early on will allow you to make these adjustments without issue.

Knowing what to wear when traveling doesn’t have to be complicated. A little planning and research can have you comfortable during your entire stay. Often, it’s all about having the basics that you can use to layer upon to get a variety of looks while keeping your packing light while remembering to pack layers.