What Not to Wear When Traveling

Fanny pack and suitcases in Cincinnati. tr.robinson
By Kara Murphy

While packing for a trip, we often run across items that raise questions like: "It's functional, but is it stylish enough?" or "Can I wear this to certain tourist sites?"

To help you avoid any fashion blunders, we've put together a list of 10 items you should always skip when packing for your next trip.

Photo Caption: Avoid the ultimate fashion faux pas -- wearing a fanny pack when traveling.
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Bringing back the fanny pack, at Mount Rushmore. rokabiri
Though practical and lightweight, a fanny pack just doesn't look good on anyone. In fact, it's one of the most unflattering accessories you can wear. So unless your vacation falls during Halloween and you're planning to attend a party as a 1980s jogger, lose the fanny pack.

What to Pack Instead: If you're in need of a hands-free solution, try a money belt or a small cross-body bag. They're much more flattering -- and socially acceptable.

Photo Caption: Don't let your fashion mistake detract from the real tourist attractions, such as Mount Rushmore.
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On the steps of La Place des Artes, Montreal. Francis Bourgouin
Unless you're wearing sandals on the plane and need to quickly warm up your feet, never pair sandals with socks. And even then, stick to solid-colored socks and remove them well before your plane lands -- the fewer people who spot you wearing them, the better. The best option is to avoid the geeky-looking duo altogether.

What to Pack Instead: If you don't want your feet to be overexposed (or if you're trying to prevent blisters), go with closed-toe shoes. There are plenty of stylish pairs out there, including breathable sneakers and flats that will keep your toes at just the right temp.

Photo Caption: Don't replicate this major fashion misstep at La Place des Artes, Montreal.
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Woman in high heels walking on cobblestones in Tribeca, New York City. Passetti
It can be tempting to throw a flirty pair of four-inch heels in your bag, especially if you're planning a dressy night out while on your vacation. But it's best to leave these shoes at home, especially if you're traveling to a city riddled with cobblestone streets. Not only are they bulkier than flats and take up more room in your suitcase, but stilettos are also incredibly uncomfortable (don't let the three minutes you wore them in the store fool you).

What to Pack Instead: Opt for a cute pair of flats or sandals. You'll be thankful you did when you avoid a trip to the emergency room because of a sprained ankle.

Photo Caption: A woman staggers along in high heels over the cobblestone streets in Tribeca, New York City.
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A family of Croc-wearers at Banff National Park in Alberta. Maggie T
Love 'em or hate 'em, Crocs were originally designed to be a simple boat shoe. The clogs are also great for gardening. That said, unless you intend to do any sailing or seed planting on your next vacation, leave your Crocs behind! As an everyday shoe, they're too clunky to be flattering, especially the brightly colored ones.

What to Pack Instead:
Choose a comfortable yet stylish sneaker if you'll be doing a lot of walking.

Photo Caption: Matching Crocs are a recipe for a fashion disaster, as seen by this family in Alberta's Banff National Park. The tie-dye shirt is another story.
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White sneakers and suit at the airport in Vancouver. Lloyd Dewolf
Not only is their level of stylishness up for serious debate -- particularly in Europe where pairing them with jeans is a definite fashion "don't" -- but bright white sneakers will show every speck of dirt. So unless you plan to carry around a toothbrush and a bottle of sneaker cleaner with you, stay away from them while traveling. Plus, white shoes can make your feet look larger than they actually are.

What to Pack Instead: As a general rule, it's best to avoid wearing white clothing and accessories when traveling. Go with darker colors that hide dirt well.

Photo Caption: A fashion "don't" is spotted at the airport in Vancouver.
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Tourist in Budapest. Alex E. Proimos
Just like tube tops, up-to-there shorts are only appropriate when worn on a beach over a bathing suit. For everywhere else, a little bit of modesty goes a long way.

What to Pack Instead: Stick to pairs with longer inseams to avoid any fashion mishaps. And remember that some churches, such as St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, won't allow you to enter if you're wearing shorts. Wear a skirt that falls below the knee, and bring a pashmina to cover your shoulders.

Photo Caption: Skimpy shorts should be worn on the beach, not while sightseeing in Budapest.
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Studded black leather bag. Meet Tyrone
Heavily studded accessories have the potential to be a major inconvenience while traveling. While trendy, studded belts, handbags, and shoes will definitely slow you down at airport security checkpoints. And your fashion statement may even set off metal detectors in random security sweeps at churches and museums.

What to Pack Instead: Sleek, simple accessories without too many embellishments are best bets. If you have a studded accessory that you absolutely cannot part with, consider packing it in your checked luggage. Only wear the item when you know it won't set off any security alarms.

Photo Caption: Studded accessories may cause more problems at security checkpoints than the trend is worth.
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Wading at Colorado River Beach, demonstrating the virtues of zip-off pants. Kazbad
You know the ones that detach at the knees -- unzip them and voilĂ ! Suddenly you're wearing shorts. In theory, convertible pants are a great idea. Unfortunately, they're not the most fashionable of options. So unless you're headed to a safari camp in eastern Africa where it'll be just be you and a guide scouting for animals, leave them at home!

What to Pack Instead: If you're traveling to a place where temperatures are inconsistent, pack a variety of clothing, including ample pairs of both pants and shorts. Throw extra layers in your day pack so you're not caught off-guard.

Photo Caption: Unless your trip calls for a true adventure, zip-off pants should be left at home.
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A lot of camouflage in Los Angeles. Malingering
Unless you have reason to wear an official uniform, a full-on camo getup looks out of place in civilian life. And in some areas of the world, such as Trinidad and Tobago and the Seychelles islands, it's actually illegal for civilians to wear. If you insist on wearing a camo-printed item, be sure to check there's no legal -- or fashion -- risk involved.

What to Pack Instead: Pick pieces that are the same shades of green and tan found in camo prints. Mix-and-match prints and solids to channel the same rugged vibe.

Photo Caption: Wearing too much camouflage feels out of place in Los Angeles.
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Wintertime jog on the beach in Coney Island, Brooklyn. balisane
In general, American men should avoid packing Speedo swim briefs for beach vacations. Reserve these bottoms strictly for swimming competitions where speed takes precedent over fashion. Ladies, you should only wear a thong bikini if you're modeling for Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition. There's something to be said about leaving some things to the imagination.

What to Pack Instead: It's hard for men to go wrong with a cool pair of trunks or board shorts. Women should plan to pack at least two swimsuits: one for sunbathing and one for more active adventures. It's wise to familiarize yourself with local customs before traveling to beaches in Europe, Asia, Australia, or the Middle East.

Photo Caption: There is no good reason for American travelers to wear Speedo bottoms, especially not while jogging in the winter at Coney Island, Brooklyn.
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