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The Best Pajamas for Packing Light

best travel sleepwear for packing light

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Sleepwear for travel can be almost as hard to pick as the perfect pair of travel shoes. It is possible to pack light and have comfortable, packable pajamas.

In fact, choosing the best travel pajamas can help you to pack light! 

Keep reading to discover the best lightweight sleepwear for travel and ways to get double-duty from your pajamas.

Hint: Getting double-duty from your travel pajamas is actually one of our favorite packing light hacks. You’ll soon understand why!

Picking Travel Sleepwear for Women

Choosing the right pajamas (or pyjamas depending on where you’re from) to sleep in while traveling is simple. We’ve broken down the process into three steps to help you choose your perfect travel sleepwear. 

Step 1: Identify your pajamas preferences and trip parameters

The first step is to identify what you want from your sleepwear on a particular trip. 

Everyone has preferences, even for pajamas. Maybe you prefer comfort above all else. Maybe modesty is most important to you. Maybe, like us, you most want your sleepwear to have a dual purpose.

Preferences can also change with each trip. Maybe comfort is your first priority, but when you stay with a host family modesty is more important than when you stay in a hotel.

Ask yourself these questions to identify your pajama preferences for your specific trip.

  • What do you usually wear?
  • Who will you travel with?
  • What are your accommodations?
  • What specific concerns do you have about sleepwear for this trip?

Answering these questions will help you identify the best lightweight travel pajamas for you and your trip.

For example, you might say that you usually wear a long t-shirt, you’re traveling alone and staying in shared hostel rooms, and your specific concerns on this trip are modesty and warmth.

In this example, you may decide to swap your typical oversized t-shirt for a long-sleeved t-shirt (for warmth) with a bralette and shorts (for modesty).

Step 2: Consider these helpful qualities in travel sleepwear for women

Like all the best travel clothing, women’s travel pajamas should be comfortable, lightweight, quick to dry, and able to be worn in multiple outfits.

Bamboo fabric is great for sleepwear, especially in the summer.

The lightest weight pajamas, of course, is to wear nothing. But not everyone is comfortable sleeping in the nude or your travel plans might not allow for it. The next best thing is to make your quick-dry sleepwear for travel dual purpose.

Step 3: Make your travel pajamas dual-purpose if possible

Did you know that choosing the right travel pajamas helps you to pack a lighter bag?

When you choose clothing that does double duty, you feel like you have more options even when you’re packing less. (We love packing all things that are multipurpose.)

Instead of “dedicated travel pajamas”, perhaps it’s more useful to look at using these types of non-sleepwear items as your sleepwear.

Some of our favorite examples of double-duty travel pajamas include:

1) T-shirt dress

A t-shirt dress makes the best travel nightgown because it can be used as a day dress or a swimsuit coverup, keeping you from packing one “just in case.” This is a good option for people who normally wear a nightgown. 

If you don’t normally wear a dress, but want to pack one “just in case,” a t-shirt dress for pajamas might be a good option.

Lola Pocket Tee Dress from Wool&
The Lola Pocket Tee Dress from Wool&

2) Leggings and cami

We love using leggings and a cami or tank top as pajamas. Depending on what you choose, this combo can be good for situations when fuller coverage is a concern or when you want a “just in case” option for a workout. 

Leggings and a cami can double as a warm underlayer (like under a dress) or be worn separately as part of other outfits.

3) Workout shorts and t-shirt

This is the obvious choice if you normally wear shorts and a t-shirt to sleep in. Choose your shorts and t-shirt carefully and they can be a good option for when you want a little more coverage from your sleepwear or if you want your pajamas to double as daywear. 

The right shorts and a t-shirt can also be worn under your day clothes if you need a little extra warmth.

4) Backup clothes

A set of comfortable day clothes to sleep in gives you backup clothes without packing a just-in-case outfit. I’ve used black scrubs as sleepwear with the plan to use the pants as backup if the jeans I was wearing got wet or otherwise unwearable.

Nowadays, there are plenty of office-ready pants that fit with the comfort of pajamas that could serve the same purpose (Encircled’s dressy sweatpants come to mind).

Hint: A dressier t-shirt that you could wear to the office can be just as comfortable as a workout or sleep shirt, but look more dressed up. A t-shirt like this can be great for doubling as sleepwear and backup clothes.

5) Baselayers

Cold-weather base layers are perfect for winter travel pajamas. Base layers are designed to be cozy and easy to move in. If you’re cold during the day, they fit easily under your outer clothes! Even better, base layers are usually lightweight. 

Base layers are a top pick for cold-weather travel pajamas that have a dual purpose. Some base layers can even be used as part of an outfit, like as leggings under a skirt.

6) Bathing suit coverup

A swimsuit coverup might be one of the least modest options for travel sleepwear, but you can find some beautiful, lightweight, and comfortable options that dry quickly. 

A bathing suit coverup might be a good choice if you prefer to sleep in sensual lingerie and also want your sleepwear to serve another purpose. It’s also a good choice if you’re tempted to pack a coverup “just in case.”

Special Situations That May Affect Your Travel Sleepwear


If you plan to sleep on the airplane, you might wonder about the best pajamas for flying. Our suggestion is to wear comfortable day clothes, like leggings and a tunic.

Brooke's plane outfits over the years
Brooke’s various plane outfits over the years have a similar style. Comfy enough for travel days and sleeping on the plane!

The beach

Beach vacation pajamas might be tricky if you’re sharing a house with another family. It might be hot and you want to sleep in the coolest thing you can find. Or, the air conditioning might be blasting and you want your winter pajamas!

(Or, you’re taking a beach vacation in the off-season and need something extra cozy.)

You might prioritize modesty or want something you can wear to drink your morning coffee on the beach. A t-shirt dress or shorts and a tank top/t-shirt might be ideal in these situations.

Wear a long-sleeved t-shirt and lightweight sweatpants if you want more warmth. 

Hostels and shared housing

Like a beach vacation, hostels and shared housing might mean that you can’t control the indoor temperature or want to feel good if you run into someone in the middle of the night.

Day clothes that are comfortable enough to sleep in are good options for these situations.

Camping and rugged accommodations

If you’ll be sleeping in a tent or in other places without modern comforts, temperature control and protection from insects might be your biggest priority. Baselayers or warm (or cool) athletic wear will help in these contexts. 

If modesty isn’t a concern, in hot weather, a chiffon robe might be a lightweight option that could double as a swimsuit coverup.

Very cold or hot places

Comfort will be your priority in very hot or cold places. In very cold places, merino wool base layers might be an option. For even more warmth, you could layer your day sweatshirt on top. You may also want to wear a beanie or scarf to keep you warmer while you sleep.  

In very hot places, shorts and a tank top in wicking, breathable sports fabric could help and can also be worn as backup clothing.

Special occasion travel

Traveling for a honeymoon, a wedding, or another special occasion may prompt you to pack special sleepwear to celebrate the occasion. The good news is that traditional lingerie tends to pack very small and dry quickly. 

If you’d still like your sleepwear to be dual purpose, try packing special occasion pajamas that you could also wear as a cocktails dress (In my 20s, I wore an opaque black slip as a semi-formal dress), as a beach coverup, or as a layer in your outfit (like lingerie serving as a fancy camisole peeking out of a buttoned-up cardigan).

Cultural considerations

If you’re staying with a conservative host family or in an area where you’d feel uncomfortable if you had to run out of the hotel in your pajamas during a fire, you might want to pack more opaque sleepwear that covers from elbows to knees, like shorts and a t-shirt. You may prefer wearing a bralette or other soft bra to sleep in. 

At the very least, it might be worth the space in your bag to pack a long sweater or other piece of outerwear that could double as a robe. A merino wool wrap cardigan, like the cypress wrap cardigan from Wool&, makes a great option.

Where to Buy Travel Pajamas

If you’re after traditional travel pajamas, we have some suggestions.

A search for “travel pajamas” on Amazon will give you all kinds of results. Look in the description for words like “quick dry” or “lightweight” to see if they would help you to pack lightly. Fabrics like microfiber, modal, chiffon, and some cotton lawn, silks, satins, and bamboo knit often pack up very small.

Travelsmith Pajamas

Travelsmith pajamas, of course, are made specifically with travel in mind. Browse through their Sleepwear & Intimates section to find pajamas, nightgowns, and robes. Some of the options could easily double as daywear.

Our Travelsmith pick for cold-season travel is the Rib-Knit Lounge Pants because they could double as workout pants or casual wear.

Silk travel pajamas

Silk pajamas can be found at a few price points, but they do tend to be more expensive, if more luxurious, than other options. Read the descriptions carefully if true (not synthetic) silk is important to you. Retailers include Silk Living, Kim Allan, and others.

Our pick is the Silkspun Longline Sleeveless tank top from Silk Living because it can be used for sleeping, an underlayer in cooler weather, or on its own as a day shirt in warmer weather.

Silkspun Longline Sleeveless tank top

Hint: “Silky” often indicates that the item is made from synthetic fabric, not true silk. 

Bamboo Travel Pajamas

Bamboo fabric feels amazing on the skin and tends to be slightly less expensive than silk. It’s also temperature regulating fabric that retains less odor than cotton. Two of our favorite bamboo clothing brands are Boody and Bamboo Body.

Our pick from Boody would be the Goodnight Sleep Cami (that you can pair with any of their leggings or shorts). This cami would work perfectly as an extra warmth layer or a statement top under a cardigan.

Our pick from Bamboo Body is the Niah Night Dress which could easily be worn as a tunic with leggings.

Niah Night Dress from Bamboo Body
Niah Night Dress by Bamboo Body

Cocoon travel pajamas

Better known for their lightweight sleep sacks, Cocoon also makes silk-blend sleepwear in traditional pajama styles. 

Our pick is their nightgown called the Day & Night Dress that is a relaxed dual-duty nightgown or day dress.

Cocoon Day & Night Dress
Cocoon Day & Night Dress

Department and discount stores

Don’t discount the places you normally shop. If you find pajamas you like, scrunch them up. Do they pack small? Are they lightweight? If so, it might be worth bringing them home and seeing how quickly a sleeve dries after being handwashed.

Conclusion: The Best Travel Pajamas for Packing Light

This might seem like a lot of thought to put into something as utilitarian as sleepwear. Remember, the goal is to travel unencumbered by heavy luggage. One step towards that goal is to find clothing that works in multiple ways so that you can pack the lightest bag with the most outfit options possible.

The best travel pajamas for women help you to pack light and get more out of your clothing. They account for your personal preferences, your destination, and your type of trip.

From quick-dry workout clothes to luxurious silk base layers, sleepwear for travel can be comfortable and useful.  

Written by Jill

Jill Hames is a freelance writer, musician, and ESL teacher who, at the age of four, said she wanted to learn every language in the world. She hasn’t managed that yet, but is proud to have taught herself enough Swahili to understand context from native speakers. She's too busy having fun with music and language to be found online.

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Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

Handbag Packing Masterclass – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing class run by HPL founder, Brooke.

Creative Ways to Minimize Your Toiletry & Beauty Kit – Practical tips alongside DIY recipes designed to help you pack lighter, smaller & with fewer liquids. (Also included as a bonus to Handbag Packing Masterclass.)

Book Your Trip

Viator – Enhance your trip experience by booking from thousands of tours across the globe. – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.