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Travel Pants | How Many to Pack for a Trip

Travel shorts, convertible zip-off pants, capris, jeans, cargo pants

Whether you are packing for a one week trip or a one month trip, or even longer, all you really need is three pairs of pants. Really! Three pairs will do more most trips.

One pair on your body, one pair in the wash, and one pair that's clean and ready to wear (This includes the pair you will be wearing to travel in, so only 2 pairs need to go in your suitcase).

3-pants rule: A much-travelled friend told me about this three-pants rule years ago, when we were going to China (see China travel clothing page). I was a travel newbie at the time, so I followed his advice when packing for my next trip. It worked like a charm.

Exception: If you are packing for a cruise or a resort, where you won't be on the move each day or two, then go ahead, toss in another pair of pants, capris or a pair of shorts! See packing for Dominican Republic for travel wardrobe ideas for that type of trip.


Good Colors, Fabrics for Travel Pants:

Choose neutral colors Black, gray, charcoal, khaki, tan, navy, blue, camel etc. as these colors tend not to show grime or spills as white or light pants would. Solid colors are easy to coordinate with Travel Shirts to make several outfits.

Choose lightweight fast dry fabrics that are easy to wash at night and be dry in a few hours. For travel to cool climates, choose travel pants with enough room to allow you to wear silk long johns or tights underneath for warmth when you need it. Look for fabric that won't wrinkle.

Basic black dress slacks / travel pants will take you to museums, dinner, theatre etc in style. Add a white shirt and colorful scarf or necklace, and you're all set!


Convertible Travel Pants: Turn Pants into Shorts, Capris

'Convertible' means that they are designed with zippers at the knees or just below to remove the lower part of the legs.

This zipper converts pants to capris or Bermuda length shorts. (See some convertible styles on Amazon.)

Belts: If at all possible, choose travel pants that have belt loops. That way, if the waist closure breaks, or a button falls off, or if you just want to loosen your waistband for whatever reason, your pants will stay securely up near your middle. Pack one belt that matches all pants.

[Travel Skirts: If you prefer to wear skirts  (see tips on skirts page), then substitute a skirt for a pair of pants, so the total is only three items of clothing for covering you from the waist down.]


Travel Pants in Black go from day to night.

My backpacking daughter helped me choose my first pair of travel pants. They were lightweight, a neutral color, made from quick-dry fabric, had reinforced seams and zippered (secret) inner pockets. The lower legs zipped off, too, just below knee length, so they could be worn as shorts.

After a number of years, though, I wanted a dressier version. I found a pair in black, and without the zip-off leg, which can add a bulky look to thighs. This much-dressier black pair performed very well, and dressed up nicely for business or a night out on the town. They rinsed out easily, and dried within an hour or two. ( See on Amazon)


Travel Shorts and Capris

Pack shorts only if you will be at a beach resort. For touring around, they have limited use (bus and taxi seats can be grubby -- do you really want your bare legs against them?). As well, you have to apply sunscreen to your legs.

Sometimes people who would never dream of wearing shorts in a five star hotel in their home town will happily do so while on holiday. Keep in mind the culture you are in.

Blend in instead of standing out. Capris or travel pants that can be worn at capri length are a good compromise, and useful for tours that include a stop at a beach or waterfalls pool. Look for fast-drying fabrics.

To see examples of the type of travel pants that I am talking about, have a look at them online at Amazon. You'll notice that these items are in neutral colors to coordinate with other travel clothing. Clothing may not be available for shipping outside USA.