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The Best Summer Travel Outfits for Your Next Trip

We are just weeks away from our summer vacation to Japan. We've got lots of activities planned so I've been giving a lot of thought to my packing list. 

I like to travel light (with just a carry-on bag if I can!) so I'm aiming to put together a summer travel capsule wardrobe that will have me looking stylish and ready for every occasion. That means the best travel outfits to get me through long sightseeing days or a short road trip, cute Instagram-worthy opportunities, and versatile enough to transition from a beach day to a nice dinner out.

summer travel outfit ideas, travel capsule wardrobe, summer vacation outfits

This post will guide you through selecting the best summer travel outfits, offering practical tips on essential clothing items, footwear, and accessories to ensure you accentuate your personal style and feel your best. 

Choosing the right travel outfits is crucial for a hassle-free vacation. With the right outfits, you can focus on making unforgettable memories rather than worrying about what to wear.

Note: affiliate links have been included in this post for shopping convenience

Key Considerations for Summer Travel Outfits

Climate and Weather

Before packing for your summer trip, one of the first things you'll want to check is the weather forecast for your destination. Knowing what to expect can help you avoid overpacking or bringing inappropriate clothing. 

For example, a trip to a New York City might have you melting in the sun during the daytime and feeling chilled in the indoor air conditioning, while a beach vacation might require options to cover up from the sun's hot rays. The last thing you want is to arrive with luggage full of shorts when your European vacation is calling for rain and a dramatic drop in temperatures!

summer travel outfits mix and match khaki linen vacation wardrobe


Even if your destination has warm weather year round, you may need to deal with varying temperatures at night so consider packing layers. 

A comfortable lightweight cardigan or light denim jacket can be added over tank tops or removed as needed. A midi skirt or wide leg pants can be worn over a swimsuit to have you looking chic at the pool bar. 

Also, think about bringing clothes made from breathable fabrics like cotton or linen, which can help you stay cool during the day and comfortable at night.

Activities and Itinerary

There are different types of travelers. There are those who love nothing more than to lounge on the beach or pool at their tropical paradise. There are those who grab their crossbody bag, comfortable shoes, and set off for a day of adventure. 

Different activities require different types of clothing, so it's important to plan accordingly. If your trip includes a lot of sightseeing, you'll need comfortable walking shoes and outfits that allow for easy movement.

summer travel outfits summer dresses for European vacation


I like to pack mostly pants and dresses for walking around. One comfortable choice is wide-leg trousers or linen pants paired with white sneakers and a short-sleeve top. This is a great option for travel to a new city where you might be visiting museums, parks, and religious or cultural centres and want to look pulled together and dressed appropriately for the right places.

Similarly, a two-piece outfit with a matching set of top and skirt or shorts (they're on trend these days!) or a flowy dress will have you looking cute and comfortable. As a tourist, have a bit of fun with your summer capsule wardrobe and wear outfits you might not normally wear at home. 

I love to wear dresses in brighter colors in the summer time and accent with simple jewelry. A sleeveless midi dress will keep you cool. Opt for a breathable cotton and top it with a cropped cardigan or shrug for an extra layer.

Comfort and Practicality

When it comes to the world of summer travel outfits, comfort and practicality should be your top priority. There is nothing that ruins a vacation faster than feeling hot, sticky, and uncomfortable, am I right??

Breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, and moisture-wicking materials are perfect for keeping you cool and comfortable in hot weather. These fabrics allow air to circulate, reducing the risk of overheating and making long days of walking or exploring so much more pleasant.

I'm a huge fan of moisture-wicking clothing like the AIRism collection from Uniqlo. The material feels smooth and silky and it works quickly to absorb or disperse sweat. Adventure brands like Mountain Warehouse and Columbia also carry pretty breathable dresses and shorts so you can stay cool and not compromise on style.

cozy summer travel outfit for the plane ride long flight


Airplane Travel Outfit

You'll also want to consider what you'll be wearing on the plane or on long travel days. For short flights, shorts or skirts with bare legs might be fine. But we are creatures of comfort so a long flight requires clothing that is loose, cozy, non-restrictive. The longer your flight, the more comfortable you'll want to dress. That doesn't mean you need to look dumpy. Fashionable fliers know that stylish athleisure wear is the way to go.

Even in summer, planes can get cold so you'll want to have layers to keep you warm. Soft pants, socks, a comfy t-shirt, and a long-sleeve zip-up hoodie or open-front cardigan for when you're feeling chilled are a great choice. Leave the high-waisted pants or tight fitting shirt for later in your trip - you'll want clothes you can sleep and sit in comfortably for those long-haul flights. Leggings, joggers, pants with a bit of stretch or comfort waistbands are well suited for travel days.

summer travel outfits linen neutral dresses and sandals


Essential Summer Travel Clothing Items

When it comes to curating the perfect summer travel wardrobe, selecting the right clothing items is key to ensuring comfort, versatility, and style throughout your trip. Essential summer travel clothing items, such as versatile tops, comfortable bottoms, chic dresses, jumpsuits, and practical swimwear, and practical footwear can make packing a breeze and outfit planning effortless.

There's a few rules I abide by when selecting the pieces that make it into my suitcase:
  1. Stick to 3 or 4 colors so you can mix and match pieces. Having lots of color in your wardrobe may lead to overpacking. By bringing fewer pieces in black, white, and a neutral beige or grey, you can easily create enough different outfits for a two or three week trip.
  2. Avoid dry clean only fabrics. Chances are you might have a clothing mishap or spill something on yourself while you're off on your adventures. You don't want to ruin a blouse early in your trip and not be able to wear it until you get to the dry cleaners - back home.
  3. Don't bring a one-time use outfit (unless you have a very specific occasion you need it for). While it would be wonderful to wear a two-piece satin dress, your favourite stilettos, and sequin clutch purse for a romantic dinner along the Seine, those items will just sit in your luggage for the majority of the trip. Conversely, women's sweatsuits might the comfiest choice for the plane ride but will prove to be a bulky outfit you don't want to lug around. Save the luggage space for versatile clothing that can be used for different looks.

summer travel outfit for beach vacation, one piece swimsuit for women over 50


Packing List for a Two Week Vacation

Planning on a two-week vacation? Your itinerary might include a mix of of sightseeing, dinners out, a beach day, and museum visits so you'll want a versatile wardrobe that offers both comfort and style. Here's a suggested packing list to help you cover all your activities without overpacking:


  • 3-4 Lightweight T-Shirts: Keep these neutral and easy to mix and match.
  • 2-3 Tank Tops: Great for layering under a cardigan or wearing alone in hot weather. I also like tank tops with built in bras for even fewer layers
  • 2-3 Blouses or Dressy Tops: Suitable for dinners out or more polished looks. Wrinkle-resistant fabrics are ideal.
  • 1 Lightweight Cardigan: For layering in cooler evenings or air-conditioned places.


  • 2-3 Pairs of Shorts or Capris: Comfortable for sightseeing and casual outings.
  • 1-2 Skirts: Versatile for both day and night, especially in breathable fabrics.
  • 1-2 Pair of Pants: Linen or cotton pants are great for cooler days or more conservative settings.
  • 1 Pair of Jeans: For cooler weather or casual evenings.

Dresses and Jumpsuits

  • 2-3 Casual Dresses: Sundresses that can be dressed up or down.
  • 1 Dressy Dress or Jumpsuit: For dinner out or special occasions.


  • 2 Swimsuits: One for beach/pool and one spare.
  • 1 Cover-Up: Lightweight and stylish for transitioning between beach and other activities.
  • 1 Pair of Comfortable Walking Shoes: Essential for sightseeing and long days. My favourite for extended walking or running is the New Balance X880 - you feel like you're walking on a cloud!
  • 1 Pair of Sandals or Heels: For dinners out or dressier occasions.
  • 1 Pair of Casual Shoes or Flip-Flops: For the beach and casual outings.
Make sure all of your shoes are cushioned, supportive, and broken-in well before your trip!

Outerwear and Accessories

  • 1 Lightweight Jacket: For cooler evenings or unexpected weather.
  • 1 Hat: For sun protection.
  • Sunglasses: Essential for eye protection.
  • 1 Crossbody Bag: Practical for day trips and sightseeing.
  • 1 Tote Bag or small backpack: Great for the beach or shopping.
  • 1 foldable duffel bag: For those instances when you absolutely need to bring home a souvenir and have no room left in your luggage

Travel Capsule Wardrobe

Bringing a minimal capsule wardrobe of summer travel essentials is a great way to ensure you have a variety of outfits and you're not overpacking. Ready to see some cute summer travel outfits? Here's a travel capsule wardrobe for summer that I've used to create 10 different outfits. I hope these ideas get you inspired for your own summer getaway!

summer travel outfits with capsule wardrobe of green, white, black, and cream clothing

summer travel outfit with midi dress, sightseeing outift

summer travel outfit for European vacation with black linen pants, espadrilles

2 week vacation summer travel outfit ideas

two week summer vacation, travel outfit ideas for 2 week vacation

European vacation summer outfits, summer travel outfit ideas

Having the right clothing can make all the difference in your comfort and confidence. By focusing on essential items that can be mixed and matched, you'll maximize your wardrobe options without overpacking. Remember to consider the climate, your activities, and the importance of comfort and practicality when choosing your outfits. 

With these tips in mind, you'll be ready to embark on your next road trip or family vacations, looking great and feeling prepared for whatever comes your way. Bon voyage and happy packing!

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