15 Things You Should Never Wear While Traveling

Traveling, whether by plane or train or car, is typically a stressful experience. Usually, you’re just trying to get where you need to go with all of your baggage in tow. (And, in the case of flying, with your dignity intact.) Whether you’re traveling home for the holidays or jetting off for a vacation, there are probably plenty of things on your mind. For instance, how you’re going to cram all the clothes you need into a carry-on.

But you should also think about the travel clothing you’ll wear en route, as well. Almost everybody knows that it’s comfortable, but the antithesis of style, to show up to the airport in a pair of pajamas. And similarly, most of us have realized that high heels are a no-go on a train, bus, plane, and just about every other mode of transportation. Need a little more guidance? Read on to check out the things that you should never wear while traveling.

1. Shoes with time-consuming laces, buckles, straps, or other closures

Young business traveller with carry-on bag on zebra crossing

Your shoes matter. | iStock.com/olaser

Especially if you’re flying, you should never wear shoes that are going to take you a long time to get on or off. You’ll hold up the security line if you’re fiddling with straps. And when you’re on your flight, or riding on a bus or a train, you won’t be able to easily take your shoes off to relax. The moral of the story? Wear shoes that are easy to put on and take off.

2. Complicated clothing

Young female passenger on smart phone and laptop sitting in terminal

Think practical when it comes to your travel clothing. | iStock.com/VladTeodor

On a similar note, avoid wearing clothes that make it complicated to go to the bathroom. Restrooms at airports, train stations, bus stations, and on planes are notoriously small and unsanitary. Don’t make things harder on yourself by wearing an outfit that will make it more difficult to go to the bathroom without dropping your possessions on the floor. Bodysuits, for instance, sound comfortable, but are a bigger hassle than they’re worth when you’re traveling. 

3. Shoes that aren’t great for walking

legs of elegant woman going on business trip

Sky-high heels are a major don’t. | iStock.com/YakobchukOlena

No matter how you travel, it’s a good idea to wear shoes that you can easily walk around in. Comfortable shoes are important if you’re running to catch your flight or if you’re climbing the steep stairs of a bus. They’re also good to have when you get out of the car on a long road trip and don’t want to fall over when your foot is unexpectedly asleep. High heels, shoes that pinch, and anything that’s uncomfortable for walking should be left at home. And ditch the flip-flops. Airports are dirty places, and flip-flops will neither protect you against the grime nor stay securely on your feet.

4. Flashy or valuable jewelry

diva arrives from flight

This is not the time to wear your finest jewels. | iStock.com/Trish233

There’s no need to be actively suspicious of everyone you meet while traveling, but there’s also no need to show off your most valuable jewelry. There’s nothing wrong with wearing your wedding band or engagement ring. Just keep the other jewelry to a minimum. You’ll reduce the chances of something getting broken or lost in transit. Additionally, you’ll lessen your chances of setting off the metal detector. 

5. Uncomfortable clothes

casual caucasian lady napping on uncomfortable seat

You need to be able to sleep. | iStock.com/kasto80

If you’re folding yourself into an airplane seat or spending long hours in the car, you want to be comfortable. So, don’t make that more difficult by choosing uncomfortable clothes. Some people like high-waisted skinny jeans, but others find them restrictive. Some love loose, draped cardigans, while others find all the extra fabric annoying. Know what will and won’t annoy you on a long travel day, and dress accordingly. 

6. Pajamas or sweatpants

curly girl sitting on big brown bed and reading

Save PJs for your hotel room. | iStock.com/DeanDrobot

It is, on the other hand, possible to err on the side of too comfortable when you’re getting dressed to travel. (If you’re in your own car, there will at least be fewer people to judge you.) Wearing your pajamas or a pair of sweatpants to the airport typically looks lazy and sloppy, which won’t work in your favor if you’re trying to get a free upgrade or attempting to convince the gate agent that you really do have somewhere to be and don’t want to be rescheduled on a later flight. 

7. Designer logos all over

tired beautiful woman on dark background

Save your designer duds for another occasion | iStock.com/Viktor_Gladkov

Another attention-grabbing look to avoid? Draping yourself in designer logos from head to toe. Many people, especially abroad, consider such outfits tacky. But they also make you a target for anybody looking for something valuable to steal. After all, there’s a major market for secondhand designer goods. So, if you don’t want your baggage or your many accessories to go missing, perhaps select items that don’t have logos plastered all over them. 

8. Tees with offensive slogans or graphics

disgusted girl on a white background

Don’t offend your fellow passengers. | iStock.com/VladimirFLoyd

It’s true that people can be offended by just about anything these days, but don’t push your luck by wearing a tee with a potentially offensive slogan or graphic. Tensions run high at the airport, and you don’t know who you’re going to meet at the train station or at a bus stop. Play it safe and keep your swear words and political views to yourself. The last thing you want to do is get kicked off your plane or train due to a poor attire choices.

9. Extremely heavy pieces

beautiful woman standing in the airport hallway

Your thermal coat will leave you overheated. | iStock.com/CreativaImages

Some people argue for wearing your thickest sweater, your heaviest coat, and your bulkiest shoes on the plane. That may not be the best strategy if you actually want to be comfortable when you’re moving around the airport, though. It’ll just make you sweaty as you navigate the climate-controlled airport. A better option is to dress in light layers, and to carry your coat along with you. 

10. Excessively revealing clothes

Happy girl with long straight brown hair

You’ll get awfully cold in the airport. | iStock.com/alexandr_1958

Another kind of outfit to avoid? One that reveals way too much of your body. While we’re all for people being confident in their skin, low-cut tops, super-short skirts or shorts, and similar pieces are rarely a good idea while you’re traveling. You’re setting yourself up for a wardrobe malfunction as you stow and retrieve your baggage, plus you’ll likely be uncomfortable if the cabin gets chilly. And you risk attracting unwanted attention.

11. Clothes that break with local custom

young visitor meets giant stone heads at the top terrace of the Bayon, at Angkor Thom, Cambodia

Dress for the setting. | iStock.com/ookpiks

If you’re traveling abroad, it’s a good idea to read up on local customs and dress accordingly. In particularly conservative countries or settings, you’ll likely stand out and even offend some people by dressing in revealing clothing. For instance, bare shoulders and uncovered legs may be a no-go if you’re visiting a religious site. Do your research. Local customs may be different than what you’re used to. But you need to follow them if you want to get the most out of your trip.

12. Excessively bright colors, or overly casual clothes

young woman with long blowing blonde hair in neon yellow tank top

Electric yellow might be a mistake. | iStock.com/Halfpoint

Speaking of traveling abroad, it’s a good idea to try to blend in instead of stand out when you’re in an unfamiliar region. In most cases, that means that you’ll want to leave your brightest clothes and your most casual pieces at home. In many countries, people don’t wear shorts and sneakers as liberally as Americans do. And in others, classic colors like navy blue and gray are a better bet than neon shades. Jeans are often alright, but you should make sure they, like your other clothes, fit well and aren’t excessively casual. 

13. Clothes that don’t breathe

Business woman at international airport sitting and drinking coffee

Just say no to polyester. | iStock.com/romrodinka

If you want to be comfortable in the variety of micro-climates you’ll likely encounter at the airport and on the plane, you should wear clothes made of breathable fabrics. You don’t want your clothes to hold sweat against your skin. Wear natural fibers whenever you can to stay comfortable, even on long trips.

14. Perfume or cologne

Young woman buying perfume in a shop or store

Leave your perfume at home. | iStock.com/kzenon

Especially when you’re traveling by plane, it’s a good idea to forego the perfume or cologne. It may smell great (and subtle) to you, but that may not be the case for the person sitting next to you. People with allergies, those with asthma, or anyone prone to headaches may be bothered by your choice in fragrance. And others may simply find the scent unpleasant. Our advice? Pack your fragrance and apply it later, preferably when you won’t be in such close quarters with hundreds of other people. Opt for deodorant instead. 

15. Contact lenses

Attractive mature lady putting on contact lenses

Wait until you arrive. | iStock.com/julief514

If you’re flying, taking the bus, or traveling by train, chances are good you’ll be dealing with dry air. Do your eyes a favor and wear your glasses instead of contact lenses. Your glasses will be a lot more comfortable than your contacts, and they’ll cause fewer problems if you want to shut your eyes for a quick nap.