These Travel Pants Are Perfect for Long Days and Bumpy Flights

It's 2024. No more flying in sweats.

Updated April 16, 2024 9:06 am
a model in a pair of travel pants on a cloud background
Buck Mason/Getty Images

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Unless your flight is under two hours or you identify strongly with the sociopathic community, you shouldn’t be flying in jeans. Or chinos. Pack all the stiff, scratchy, belt-requiring pair of pants you want, but don’t wear them to the airport. This, of course, presents the general conundrum of not looking like a total scrub on your travel days — while the ’90s era of massive airport ‘fits are long gone, it doesn’t mean you need to look like you just rolled out of bed. No, you need a pair of travel pants.

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Flights are uncomfortable enough (and getting more uncomfortable — less legroom is the new normal) without you needing to fidget and readjust after every hint of turbulence. No matter what’s waiting at your destination, whether it’s a meeting, a honeymoon, or just home, it was always worth taking two minutes post-baggage-check and pre-Uber to commandeer an airport bathroom stall and, Dopp kit in hand, change into something more presentable, than to sacrifice comfort for a formal aesthetic.

What Is a Travel Pant?

There’s no need to change these days. A cohort of young, plucky labels and heritage brands alike have taken it upon themselves to create a new breed of pants in recent years that match (or even trump) the comfort of a pajama pant or sweatpant, in colors and cuts that look appropriate in a variety of situations, whether with sneakers or chukka boots.

These new digs are ultra-technical, often sporting weather (or more likely, spill) resistant materials and sweat-wicking tech for the most comfortable possible ride. Interal drawstrings or self-belting e-waists are industry standard, as are a cabal of pockets for everything from your passport to your Nintendo Switch. They’re a fortunate offshoot of the clothing revolution pioneered by activewear, and perfectly applicable to a day spent at the airport and in the sky.

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Below, we’ve rounded up 11 superior examples from brands in the space. These pants often have stretch capabilities (with cotton-synthetic blends), come packed with zippered pockets, and will not require you to take off a belt in the security line. They’re all comfy as hell, too, and easy to fall asleep in when it matters most. From Mack Weldon to lululemon, here are the best travel pants in 2024.

Fit: relaxed | Sizes: XS—XXL | Fabric: 46% elastomultiester, 40% cotton, 14% elastane | Waist: drawstring | Colors: 4

A longtime maker of some of our favorite pairs of travel pants (the ABC Slim-Fit Pants remain a versatile beast) lululemon has been a long-time favorite of InsideHook editors. Their latest pantovation comes in the form of the ABC Light Utilitech Pull-On Pant, a less-expensive cousin the the classic 5-pocket pants that made the brand famous. Featuring the same ABC (anti-ball crushing) technology, but a more relaxed leg and belted drawstring waist, these stretch pants are comprised of a cotton-blend Light Utilitech fabric and feature tons of hidden pockets, so you don’t lose your passport back at baggage check. One of our editors once said he wants to be buried in them, so if that’s not enough to pick up a couple of pairs we don’t know what is.

Fit: tapered | Sizes: S—XXL | Fabric: 91% polyester, 9% spandex | Waist: snap closure | Colors: 4

Much like their other wares — Mack’s Silver Trunk took top prize in our best underwear round-up earlier this year — Mack Weldon’s in-house comfiness gold standard applies to its pants, too, which are made from a technical, weather-resistant blend. Prepping for a big meeting mere hours after you land? Probably not a bad idea for any flight out of your time zone to just wear Mack Weldon briefs and a pair of the office-appropriate Radius Flex Joggers. That combo could even make the middle seat bearable.

Fit: classic | Waist: 28-40 | Inseam: 26-36 | Fabric: flex-knit fabric | Waist: snap closure | Colors: 10

They may be priced at a premium, but you know what you’re getting with Rhone. They’ve doubled down on their “transit” offerings in recent years, often with surprisingly formal-seeming looks. For those extremely busy, completely-unwilling-to-get-changed folks, you can reasonably wear these to a meeting for dinner. They’re made from a Japanese stretch fabric that’s got a bit of polyester, so they’ll come in handy, too, if you’ve gotta make a run for the gate. Choose from a ton of colors, and pick your exact size.

Fit: slim | Sizes: XS—XXL | Fabric: 89% recycled polyester, 11% elastane | Waist: drawstring | Colors: 9

We wear these pants to the gym over a pair of shorts, usually with keys and assorted cards tucked into the zippered back pocket. They are unconscionably soft and made by Vuori, a San Diego County-based activewear brand that’s been around since 2013. This is a great option for people who don’t vibe with the tailored look of a jogger or ribbed sweatpants; it’s a straight travel pant, and loose in all the right regions.

Fit: straight-taper | Sizes: 28-38 | Fabric: 100% cotton poplin | Waist: snap closure | Colors: 4

Matching perfectly with one of our favorite travel blazers, the Buck Mason Carry-On Pant’s lightweight 5.5 oz twill blend gives it just enough shape and weight to stay relatively unhampered and fundamentally comfortable, even considering it’s dressed-up vibe. Ditch the massive garment bag and avoid cramming your wedding get-up into the weekender — just were these bad boys on the plane, instead.

More Travel Pants We Love

Slim-fitting and built to move, these Everlane chinos feature an elastic interior waistband, 4-way stretch and a sweat-wicking finish.

Chicago-based Public Rec was a Kickstarter darling back in 2015 when they sold 2,000 pairs of sweatpants. They’ve since branched out to all manner of versatile activewear, but the original All Day Every Pant is still their crown jewel, and now available in nine different colors. What makes it so special? Four zippered pockets, tapered legs, elastic waistband, and creatively — a faux front fly, so you’ll look reasonably formal. Joke’s on them.

Pants specifically designed with international travel in mind? Now you’re talking.

Yes, we know we said no jeans on planes. But Bonobos’ ultra-light, ultra-stretchy denim is the sole exception.

Proof’s Rover Pants are built for adventure, meaning they should be able to more than handle your layover in Minneapolis.

For when you have your flight at 10:00 AM, and your backpacking trip at 3:00 PM.

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