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How to pack for vacation so you can sightsee in style

From your head to your toes, we've got you covered.
by Donna Freydkin /  / Updated  / Source: TODAY
Travel style: Button-down shirt, cardigan, leggings, dress, tunic
Tyler Essary/NBC

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Sure, you could wear frumpy, stretched-out sweatpants when you're rushing to make your next flight.

Or, you could make like Charlize Theron, Gwyneth Paltrow or Jennifer Lopez and rock a casual yet polished ensemble that turns every outing into your personal runway. It doesn't take much effort, or a ton of money, to slip into something that works both at 30,000 feet and on the ground. You simply don't wear anything constricting, or something that will wrinkle easily.

Style expert Melissa Garcia is here to help you be fashion-forward this summer. Her one travel dealbreaker: "Heels. It’s just not a good idea. Comfort plays a big role in airport style, so why put your feet through the pain? You can look cute and still be comfortable at the same time," she said.

And she has a simple rule of thumb when dressing for globe-trotting. "Lots of layers! Layering pieces are key when it comes to airport style," she said. "Add a big, lightweight scarf for the plane and use it as a blanket."

Travel style: Kate shirt
Tyler Essary/NBC

Here are her (and our) fashion faves.

Look one:

"A button-down always looks published and tailored, so this is an easy way to do it while traveling. If you want to pack lighter, this can double as a swimsuit cover-up!," said Garcia.

New York & Company Kate Shirt, $49.95, NY & Co.

TODAY editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! Just so you know, TODAY does have affiliate relationships. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.

We also love this shirt from Madewell, available at Nordstrom for $44.

Free People Dark Wash Denim Leggings, $58, Lulus

We also love these $20 leggings Amazon reviewers won't stop raving about and this list of jeans under $50.

Steve Madden Sneakers, $70, Zappos

Travel style: Midi dress
Tyler Essary/NBC

Look two:

"A maxi dress is super comfortable. And it also can double as a cover-up. You can wear it out to dinner with a wedge heel or during the day with a flat, strappy sandal," said Garcia.

Lane Bryant Knot-Hem Midi Dress, $60, Lane Bryant

Or how about this gorgeous scarlet number, which retails for only $18 on Amazon?

Old Navy Plus-Size Denim Jacket, $45, Old Navy

Or how about this fashionably functional Levi's jacket from Amazon, for $60?

Travel style: Cardigan sweater and scarf
Tyler Essary/NBC

Look three:

"Layering is essential when traveling through different climates," said Garcia. "I love the idea of putting a lightweight cardigan and scarf as a layering option. The shoes are easy to slip on and off."

Simple Pleasure Cardigan Sweater, $60, Lulus

Amazon has another elegant cardigan, which retails for $60.

Old Navy Lightweight Scarf, $10, Old Navy

Poppy Bow Front Mule Loafers, $20, Boohoo

And how cute are these Chinese Laundry loafers from Zappos? For a whole list of mules, check out TODAY Style's recent round up.

Travel style: Tunic and leggings
Tyler Essary/NBC

Look four:

"Leggings are the most comfortable travel pants. I would go with black because they go with everything," said Garcia. "And if it's too hot, just wear the tunic and you're all set.

Dotti Bali Beach Lace-Up Tunic Cover-Up, $42, Macy's

Athleta Meshblock Salutation Tight, $89, Athleta

We also love these $20 leggings Amazon reviewers won't stop raving about.

See more: The best bags and carry-on luggage for short and long trips

A few other travel staples:

Hue Double Knit Shaping Leggings, $48, Zappos

These are flattering and cozy, and the elastic waistband is key for comfort.

You can also buy these on Amazon.

Calvin Klein Solid Satin Finish Pashmina, $40, Zappos

Stay warm on those chilly planes with this elegant wrap.

Amazon has these in a ton of colors as well.

Beach'd Straw Beach Shoulder Bag, $50, Amazon

This baby holds your passport, sunscreen and water bottle.

Or check out this attention-grabbing raffia circular tote from Nordstrom.

Lark & Ro Women's Boat Neck Tunic Sweater, $35, Amazon

The style comes in a forgiving, lightweight fabric that is perfect for travel.

Macy's has these functional and fun hoodies as well.

Mod-o-doc Jersey Fit & Flared Dress, $95, Zappos

Collect seashells, and keep them in this dress's handy side pockets.

And for a dose of flower power, take a look at this dress from Nordstrom.

Express Striped Cut-Out Midi Dress, $80, Express

Show just a hint of skin with this frock.

Cult Gaia Mini Ark Handbag, $128, Nordstrom

If you're willing to splurge, let it be on this funky bag from the season's must-have brand.

You can also buy it at Shopbop.

Caudalie Favorites Set, $39, Amazon

And no need to clutter your carry-ons with a ton of skin care products. Instead, grab these must-haves, all in TSA-approved sizes.

It's also available at Sephora.

Supergoop! At Play Tote Value Set, $45, Amazon

And don't forget your sunscreen! We love this brand, which is an editor favorite.

And to help plan your trips:

5 unexpected places you need to visit in 2018

6 tips to save money when booking your next vacation

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