Secrets to Looking Stylish and Staying Comfortable on Vacation

Shannon McMahon, April 05, 2016
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    Looking and feeling put-together on your travels doesn't have to be an uphill battle. Simple style rules and packing hacks can be the difference between looking like a badly-dressed tourist and fitting in with the locals. You may actually lighten your load by packing with these tips in mind.

    Here's how to opt for chic clothes and still feel great.


    The number one rule for staying the right temperature and minimizing clothing bulk also happens to be on an on-trend habit—layering. Whether you're shivering on the plane or working up a sweat exploring on foot, thin yet sturdy layers will keep you warm when you need it, and are easily stashed in a bag when you start to overheat.

    Women can opt for sleek leggings like RejuvaWear's compression wear, which will ensure good circulation on a long flight and are way more comfortable than jeans. Top them with a tunic or travel dress and a soft cardigan, and add a lightweight scarf to use as a blanket on the plane. (Tip: Tie the scarf around the straps of your purse when you're not wearing it.)

    For men, layering options include vests like Patagonia's Mighty Light Vest and light-weight cardigans like this versatile Port Authority V-Neck. Avoid denim that doesn't breathe—chambray is a better alternative.

    RELATED: How to Effectively Layer for Any Kind of Trip


    Repeat after me—heels aren't worth it. Not only are they painful, they're impossible to pack, and the chances you'll ever truly need them are incredibly slim. A solid walking shoe doesn't have to be heavy or bulky: When it comes to comfort, flat and packable options should be your go-to. Yosi Samra flats come in various prints and neutrals that can go with anything, and they fold in half so they can be easily shoved into your carry-on.


    Designer and high-end shoes are often made for looks rather than comfort, and walking shoes can look dated or clunky. Make any shoe more comfortable with the addition of gel insoles that massage your feet as you walk. They'll work wonders on trendy yet flat-soled ankle boots, like this Ralph Lauren pair you can wear everywhere. The same goes for any high-end men's shoes that lack cushioning.

    Bonus: Don't worry about getting gel insoles past security—the TSA briefly banned gel-filled insoles after 9/11, but updated 3-1-1 guidelines now allow for them.

    RELATED: How to Look and Feel Flawless When You Get Off the Plane

    The Right Bag

    Having a travel bag that doesn't resemble a fanny pack or a money belt is a must, and there are convenient, cool options for both men and women. Toupons Unisex Weekend Duffel Bag can fit all your carry-on items and double as a tote for your camera and jacket while you're exploring a new city. And the shoulder strap will come in handy when you need a cross-body strap to sling a jacket or scarf around.

    RELATED: The Best Travel Bags for Guys

    The Right Fit

    Your new travel clothes are worthless if they don't fit correctly. If you ever find yourself buying a size down to motivate weight loss—stop. Pants should have enough room for you to comfortably fit one or two fingers in the waistband, and shirts shouldn't be narrow enough to restrict arm and shoulder movement. Take a good look at how clothes hang on your body before buying or packing them—are they puckering or rippling near your joints? Do you find yourself slouching or sucking in to fit in them? Will they shrink in the wash? The right size is especially important on planes, where you'll be sitting for hours on end and will want to spread out as much as you can in your tiny seat.

    Quality Over Quantity

    Packing is easier when you have less, and even better when you start with classic, core pieces to mix and match (rather than a closet brimming with junk). Don't be afraid of spending a little bit more on the right item in order to avoid replacing a cheaper version several times. Well-made, neutral-colored basics like blazers, cardigans, cotton dress shirts, and well-made leggings or trousers will last you years and can be dressed up or down with accessories and denim. Don't be afraid to reuse items for different outfits—it'll save space for all the souvenirs you'll want to bring home.

    RELATED: 10 Travel Clothes You Can Wear Anywhere

    Emergency Comfort Kit

    When all else fails, have a back-up comfort kit. Its contents will depend on your personal packing tendencies, but items like band-aids, insoles, moleskin tape, and double-stick tape can solve all types of clothing woes. Moleskin tape works far better than band-aids on blistered toes, and double-stick tape can doctor a missing hidden button. Stash these packable items in your carry-on for easy access when you need them most.

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    Read the original story: Secrets to Looking Stylish and Staying Comfortable on Vacation by Shannon McMahon, who is a regular contributor to SmarterTravel.