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The 2024 Summer Travel Essentials Guide

With warm weather and long sunny days, the summer season simply begs to be spent outside. Whether you’re planning a beach vacation, a mountain getaway, or a leisurely staycation, these are the editor-approved essentials you’ll want to bring to make your summer travels better. 

Anymaka Hammock Kit

Anymaka’s Hammock Kit

Nothing says “summer relaxation” like lounging in a hammock. Upgrade your experience with Anymaka’s Hammock Kit. This portable hammock stand is perfect for travel since you can set it up anywhere within seconds (no need to find two perfect trees to hang from). It’s great to bring to a vacation rental with a backyard or a campground. 

The hammock stand is made from aircraft-grade aluminum, which is actually quite lightweight. This makes it easy to load and unload into your car and carry until you find a good spot. We didn’t have any trouble lifting the hammock stand on our own. 

Although the Anymaka hammock stand looks like it requires a lot of assembly, it’s actually super easy. We set it up in under a minute—simply unfold the stand, snap it into place, and lock in the hammock using the included carabiners. 

The hammock stand adjusts to multiple positions, so you can lounge sitting up or lying down. We highly recommend splurging on the full-pack enhanced kit, which includes a travel bag with padded shoulder straps for easy carrying, a double hammock, a cup holder, a canopy kit, and an insect net. 

We tested out the hammock kit in New England, where black flies can be vicious in the summer, and the insect net was amazing and protected us from bugs and bites while still being able to enjoy being outside. Likewise, the sun shade is a great addition on days when the sun is extra strong and you want to relax without burning or overheating. 

Teva Original Universal Slim Sandals

Teva’s Original Universal Sandals are beloved among travelers for their light weight, comfort, and ability to transition from water activities to dry land effortlessly. These cult favorite sandals have recently gotten a minimalist makeover, with slimmed-down straps in the Original Universal Slim version that make these shoes even more versatile. 

The new, smaller straps make these Tevas ones you can pack for any type of trip, from European vacations to festivals, since they look more casual and stylish than the hiker-vibe the original sandals give off.

We tried them out and found that they were just as comfortable as the old version—and also appreciated the built-in peppermint-based anti-odor treatment that comes in handy when packing these on hot weather trips.

Kuhl Freeflex Shorts

We’ve been hunting for the best shorts for summer activities and finally found them in Kuhl’s Freeflex Shorts. These shorts are the perfect 4-inch length—long enough to be appropriate for most settings but not so long that they’re unflattering or frumpy.

Made from a quick-drying, moisture-wicking material with UPF 50+ sun protection, the Freeflex shorts are packable and perfect for hikes or walks. 

Best of all, the shorts have four pockets: two concealed zip pockets in the front and two chino-style pockets in the back. 

Snoozeband Pro

SnoozeBand™ Pro 2.0 - Bluetooth Sleep Mask

Long summer days mean the sun rises earlier in the morning, waking you up well before your alarm clock—especially if you’re staying in a hotel or vacation rental with flimsy curtains. To cope, we’re packing the Snoozeband Pro on all of our summer trips. This sleep mask not only blocks out light, but it has ultra-thin headphones built-in, so you can listen to white noise or relaxing music to help block out sounds and sleep better.

The rechargeable battery lasts up to 15 hours so you can get a full night’s sleep. The mask’s 3D eye cups won’t restrict your eye movement (or mess up your eyelashes), helping you to sleep better. 

Bilby Headlamp

Bilby 400 Headlamp

One cardinal rule of hiking safety is to always carry a light source with you, even if you plan to return well before dark. (And no, your phone’s flashlight doesn’t count.) If you get lost, hurt, or otherwise delayed, a light is crucial safety equipment to help you light your way home. 

That’s why we always keep the Bilby 400 Headlamp in our daypack, just in case. This ultra-bright headlamp features 400 lumens and a beam that can reach over 300 feet  (which will not only help you see well in the dark but can be used to signal rescuers.) 

The Bilby is rechargeable and has an easy-to-see battery indicator that helps us see if the headlamp needs to be charged before we head out. Other cool features include a silicone strap that can be wiped clean, an electronic tilt function that lights up where we’re looking, and multiple light options that can be programmed via an app. 

Oleu Boardshirt

If you’ve ever emerged from the water after a day of snorkeling with an epic sunburn on your back, you know that swimming in a shirt can sometimes be a better solution than having to keep reapplying sunscreen. Most shirts aren’t water-friendly though, which is why we’re packing Oleu’s Boardshirts for all our beach trips from now on. 

Made from a UPF 50+ fabric, these shirts are designed to be comfortable in and out of the water. The snap-front shirt can be worn open or closed and dries extremely quickly, so you can wear it from the ocean to the bar. 

Osea Discovery Travel Set

Osea Discovery Travel Set

When impromptu summer trips arise, we’re prepared with Osea’s Bestsellers Discovery Set. We keep this kit stocked so that we can grab it and throw it in our suitcase without repacking essential toiletries every time we travel.

This four-piece set is perfectly sized for air travel (with everything well under the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule) and comes in a nice, zippered bag to keep everything organized. 

The set includes everything you need to keep your skincare routine going while on the road: Undaria Algae Body Oil, Hyaluronic Sea Serum, Seabiotic Water Cream, and Ocean Cleanser.  

Charleston Shoe Company Gladys Sandals

Sandals are a summer style essential, but most of them look much worse for wear by the end of the season—that’s why we love Charleston Shoe Company’s Gladys Sandal. These espadrilles are machine washable, so you can keep them clean and fresh no matter how many miles you walk in them.

The mini one-inch wedge is the ideal height for travel, as it can be worn up or down and is just as comfortable as a flat shoe. 

Orvis DriCast Quarter-Zip Pullover Shirt

Orvis DriCast Quarter-Zip Pullover Shirt

Some sun-protective clothing can feel stiff, but Orvis’ new DriCast fabric feels just like a comfortable t-shirt. Orvis’ DriCast Quarter-Zip, available in men’s and women’s specific fits, is lightweight enough to wear on hot summer days for extra UPF protection. 

The material is sweat-wicking, quick-drying, breathable, and equipped with Orvis’ trademarked OutSmart Fresh fabric which resists odors—so you can wear it multiple times on one trip. The quarter-zip comes in lots of bright and fun colors and patterns that are great for livening up your summer wardrobe.

Nisolo Huarache Sandals

Nisolo Huarache Sandals

Huarache Sandals are the ideal summer shoe, offering the airy ventilation of a sandal with the protection and comfort of a shoe. Nisolo’s Huaraches, available for men and women, are our favorite pair, thanks to their soft, handwoven leather—which is even water-resistant.

The slip-on design is excellent for travel days, and the shock-absorbing foam midsole provides plenty of cushioning to make these comfortable for long walks. Dress these sandals up or down—they work with shorts, dresses, jeans, and pretty much any outfit. 

Uniqlo Linen Blend Pants

Uniqlo Linen Blend Pants

Linen is a classic summer fabric for a good reason—it’s light, cooling, and easy to wear. Our editors are a big fan of Uniqlo’s Linen-Blend Relaxed Pants, an affordable option for hot days when you don’t want to wear shorts. These pants are great for long flights, with loose-fitting legs and an elastic waistband. 

Roll up the cuffs to customize these pants to the perfect length (and add a touch of style.)

SeaVees Cardinal Sneaker

Cardinal Sneaker in White

A classic white sneaker is the most versatile shoe you can own for summer, and we’re wearing SeaVees Cardinal Sneaker on repeat. This popular shoe combines comfort and style—as a nod to the brand’s history, it incorporates vintage-inspired webbing reminiscent of the original 1960s SeaVees. The distinctive sport logo on the tongue gives it a unique flair that elevates it from being a boring white sneaker. 

A cushiony memory foam insole, padded collar, and deep cupsole design provide exceptional support that will have you racking up the miles on foot.

Neutrogena Sunscreen Stick

Neutrogena Sunscreen Stick

Our editor recommends keeping Neutrogena’s Sunscreen Stick in your bag so you’ll be prepared for outdoor summer lunches, unexpectedly long walks, or any other scenarios where you’ll wish you had sunscreen.Neutrogena Sunscreen Stick

The stick format is easy to apply and mess-free and is perfect for travel since there’s no risk of spillage.

All of the products featured in this story were hand-selected by our travel editors. Some of the links featured in this story are affiliate links, and SmarterTravel may collect a commission (at no cost to you) if you shop through them.

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We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

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