Of all the non-negotiables we have on our lists for traveling (rolling suitcases, slip-on sneakers, beauty products that won't get confiscated by TSA), the *one* item that should be at the tippy top of said list is comfy clothing. More specifically, a comfortable pair of travel pants; If you've been stuck on a cross-country flight in jeans, or worse, shorts (brr), you'll know that your choice of bottoms can be the difference between a first-class experience and coach.
What makes a good travel pant? First and foremost, the best pants for travel are stylish but don't compromise comfort for aesthetics. Oftentimes, they look like a pair of trendy slacks, but behind the "seams" are durable, comfy, and stretchy enough that you can move freely on your adventures. They don't get wrinkled when you shove them in a backpack or suitcase, nor do they stay sticky and sweaty after you've sprinted to make a flight. They're breathable in stuffy situations (because your cheeks need air, too), but not so airy that you freeze when the AC kicks on. Most importantly, they're splash resistant and moisture-wicking, because spills happen! Turbulence and road work love to throw your iced coffee for a loop.
With so many options in the market, it can be hard to narrow down pants worth packing along. Luckily, our jet-setting editors know how to pack a bag or two. No matter the distance, these are the best pants for traveling that won't stretch, wrinkle, or make you overheat wherever you roam.
The best pants for traveling, according to editors
Erica Sloan, lifestyle editor
Pants tested: Athleta Savannah Jogger
Originally $98, now $33
Sizes available: 0-26
“To me, athleisure joggers are generally the ideal travel pants—flowy and stretchy enough to stay comfortable for hours and yet structured enough to make you feel put together in nearly any travel setting. That’s why I’ve sworn by a singular pair of Athleta joggers as my go-to travel pants for years (they’ve been on at least 30 planes and trains with me) in a neutral mauve color. And after recently learning they’d been discontinued upon finally deciding to buy a second pair, I immediately purchased the closest possible thing.
These pull-on Savannah joggers have a comfy waistband, loose silhouette, and *zippable* pockets that can easily fit and secure a phone or passport. And they’re made from a recycled polyester that’s breathable and wrinkle-resistant, so you can smoosh them into a packed suitcase for hours and then slip ‘em on good as new. A bonus? They’re great in rainy or sweaty scenarios (or if you spill something on them), as liquids just slide right off the quick-drying fabric.”
- Comfy waistband
- Has zippered pockets
- May be too baggy for some
- Final sale item
Francesca Krempa, associate commerce editor
Pants tested: Kuhl Haven Jogger
Available sizes: XS-XL
“I have two pairs of travel pants: my hard and soft pants. These are my ‘hard’ pants and are what I wear when I’m traveling long days and need a pant that can wick sweat, spills, and whatever else I inevitably get on them. They’re technically an outdoor pant made for hiking and climbing, made from a soft-yet-durable nylon that’s comfortable whether you’re lounging in the airport or rushing through security. They also have zip-up pockets on both the front and back which is great because I can put things in them and not worrying about them falling out. And there’s no zipper or button fly—they pull on, making changing or going to bathroom easy peasy.”
- Lightweight and durable
- Zippered pockets
- UPF 50+
- Drawstring for easy pull-on/off
- Slim, tapered leg might be uncomfortable for some
Pants tested: Free Fly Bamboo Fleece Lounge Pant
Sizes available: XS-XL
“These are my ‘soft’ pants and true to their name, they’re pretty much butter for your bottom half. I swear by these for car rides and long travel days when I’m not moving my body as much and need something cozy to curl up in. They’re made from viscose from bamboo, a sustainable, cooling fabric that’s stretchy and breathable. There’s two pockets for stashing stuff in the front (though they’re not zippered, so I typically won’t put anything super valuable in them) and a drawstring waist that eliminates buttons and zippers digging in when I’m balled up in the passenger seat of my car or driving myself.”
- Buttery soft
- Easy to put on and off
- No zippered pockets
- Aren’t tumble-dryer friendly
Catie Jaffe, senior commerce manager
Pants tested: FP Movement Stadium Printed Pants
Sizes available: XS-XL
“To be honest, I feel pretty okay at packing. At this point in my life, I generally know what I will wear and try to keep myself from buying—or packing—items I like but might not feel that comfy in when it’s game time. However, what to wear when actually traveling? A riddle I am constantly trying to solve. In the search for pants (because ew, germs on a plane) that are comfy to sit in for long periods of time, won’t wrinkle, have pockets for quick access to airport necessities such as ID and boarding pass, work in any climate, and can look like a *real outfit* when I get to my destination, I tried the Free People Printed Stadium Pants. I tried this pair in a printed camo style because I was looking for something a bit different than the basic jeans and leggings I was throwing in my bag, but there are also solid colors in the same style.
The drawstring is nice for giving yourself more or less room to get comfy, and the pockets are key for speeding through the airport. The Stadium Pants are also a “wear-over” style which is great for if you are going somewhere that has a different climate. I recently went skiing, and I could just throw leggings on under these for a cute and warm outfit once I arrived in a colder climate. The wide leg design is indeed very wide, making the pants swish together a bit when walking, but I followed the advice of one reviewer and washed the pants, and the swishes subsided. ”
- Unique and trendy
- Can be worn over layers
- Drawstring waist
- Can be wide
- Runs long
Kayla Hui, commerce writer
Pants tested: Athleta Trekkie North Jogger
Sizes available: 0-16
“Whenever I am traveling, I refuse to leave the house without a comfy pair of joggers and Athleta’s Trekkie North Joggers has recently been my go-to pair. What makes this pair ideal for travel is the nylon and elastane blend, making these pants super comfy (it feels like second skin) and resistant to crunchy wrinkles. I packed this pair in a box during my move to the Lone Star state and unfolded them a week later shocked to find that they had not held one crinkle (amazing, I know). If I packed these in a suitcase, I’d expect the same results.
I’m not a fan of how elasticated waistbands look, but the Trekkies do a great job at concealing the elastic in a smooth waistband. Not only does it look like a part of the pant, it’s compressive and hugs me in without the need for strings. Additionally, I love how these pants look on me. While these pants are originally made for trail running or hikes, I see these being a part of my everyday wardrobe. The tapered hem doesn’t overwhelm my short frame, and the jogger’s sleek look will easily have me confusing the pair for slacks. Also notable: zippered pockets—which comfortably hold my keys, ID, and a small wallet. Next time I hit the road, I’ll pack these pants.”
- Zippered pockets
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