As an avid traveler, there are certain apparel items I absolutely must have. These items make my trip more comfortable and keep my suitcase lean. But such versatile items can be pricey—unless you know where to look for great alternatives! These travel dupes will show you how to pack sensibly and travel smart for less.
Instead of: Lole Travel Pants, $85
Try: Columbia Travel Pants, $24.95
To ease discomfort on a long plane ride and to make sure you have enough pockets to store fun souvenirs and treasures, a classic, comfortable pair of travel pants are essential. But rather than break the bank at $85 for a pair of Loles, take a cue from famed travel guru Rick Steves: his recommended brand of Columbia offers a still stylish yet much more affordable option for a third of the price. Columbia is also a brand readily accessible at on-ground sporting goods stores like Academy, Sports Authority, and REI (find out more about how to save at REI here) along with online stores like Sierra Trading Post, where these $24 straight-leg pants available in two colors are a steal.
Instead of: Patagonia Pliant Tights, $85
Try: GapFit gBalance pants, $39.50
In addition to travel pants, a carefree pair of stretch pants will help any traveler be comfy without looking frumpy. While I love the look of these Patagonia pants, the $85 price point takes too much away from a travel budget. Gap offers a similar pair that is ridiculously comfortable (I know from experience!) and holds up exceptionally well. These can be easily rolled into a suitcase, taking up minimal space. Plus the little change in color on the waistband is instantly slimming—what a bonus!
Instead of: Chicos Classic Travelers Mea Jacket, $89
Try: Soma Drape Front Cardigan, $24.98
A basic black, open-style cardigan is a must for cool nights or slipping on over a dress or swimsuit. A no-wrinkle fabric is perfect, but purchasing something from a specific traveler’s collection like Chico’s will set you back. Not to worry! Their sister company Soma offers a comparable product that’s just as breezy and versatile, with several more color options. And at the ultra-low price of $17-$27 (depending on color), you may just want to snap up more than one.
Instead of: Athleta Sprint Seamless gear bra, $49
Try: Oakley Continuity gear bra, $28
Let’s face it: the last thing a women needs when traveling is hassle from an uncomfortable underwire bra or a bulky padded number. Sports bras are perfect for long hours spent on an airplane (no annoying clasp in the back to bug you while seated) or for rolling up and tucking into a carry-on bag. The super-soft mesh knit material will make you forget you have it on—which is a good thing! The anti-bacterial properties in the material of the affordable Oakley and the option to choose from 11 fun colors make this a must-have.
Instead of: Exofficio Boy Cut Give-N-Go underwear, $20
Try: Victoria’s Secret Pink Boy Short Panty, $10.50
Lightweight, seamless panties are perfect for traveling, especially ones like Exofficio’s that can be washed in a hotel sink and hung over a rod for quick drying. But, from personal experience, Victoria’s Secret nylon/spandex blend in its Pink line works as well for hand-washing and quick-drying purposes (and the patterns are so much cuter!). Read this article for more info on how to save at Victoria’s Secret.
Instead of: Jambu Terra Marine Tropics, $89
Try: Lands’ End Mary Jane Water Shoes, $29.40
If water adventures are park of your travel plans, consider packing some slip-on traction shoes specifically made for the water. Jambu’s designs make boring water shoes colorful and chic, but the price is hefty at close to $100 a pair. Save by ordering a more economical pair from Lands’ End for about a third of the price. Shoes are also available in wide sizes. And if you’ll be picking up something else for your trip from Lands’ End, use these tips to save even more on your purchase.
Instead of: J.Crew White Linen Scarf, $49.50
Try: Forever21 White Frayed Lace Scarf, $8.80
I never travel without a scarf. One comes in handy culturally (like when I needed to cover my shoulders to tour the Blue Mosque in Istanbul) or stylishly (as a simple way to take a rather drab-colored outfit from day to night). Scarves are no-fuss, low-weight items that can be a girl’s best travel-accessory friend. Forever 21 carries lots of versatile color options, but this sophisticated dupe of a J.Crew staple is my favorite.
Instead of: The North Face Short Sleeve Reaxion Tee, $25
Try: Danskin Now Women’s Poly Tee, $11.92 for a pack of two
Easy-to-wash, easy-to-wear solid-color tees help stretch any women’s travel wardrobe. Whether worn by themselves or in layers, packing several of these for a trip is a smart choice. Made from the same material (100% polyester jersey), both buys are available in an array of color choices. But when four Danskin shirts are available for the price of one North Face, the most economical choice becomes clear.
Instead of: Sport Buff Headband, $20
Try: PrAna headband, $10
Ever since I saw the first season of Survivor, I wanted a wear-everywhere buff. I got my wish with one as a gift, and it turned into a great travel accessory—until I lost it. Rather than replace it at $20, I purchased a $10 prAna headband that I’ve found many more uses for—since I can loop it around my neck, ring it around my wrist, or tie it to a backpack. And it doesn’t make my head nearly as hot as a Buff. Alas, I can’t wear it as a tube top like the female contestants on Survivor, but (let’s face it) that wasn’t in my travel-accessory plan anyway. To save even more, keep your eyes peeled for style/color markdowns on prAna at retailers. It’s not unusual to see markdowns for a $6-$7 price point.
You don’t have to spend a lot to get quality, practical apparel for your trip. Seek less expensive but comparable quality products, and you’ll end up with more money to spend on your actual trip. Happy travels!